John the Baptist Community School rang in Halloween in interesting style this year, with an exciting school wide murder mystery. As part of the school's Literacy and Numeracy plan, all subjects and teachers contributed to this excellent event that ran the last week to half term. On Monday, the shocking announcement was made over the intercom that Mrs. Jones, the Deputy Principal had been found "dead" in suspicious circumstances in the library. Students could inspect the crime scene after the Forensic Technicians and pathology team investigated over lunch time.
Students were encouraged to be Sherlock Holmes and solve the mystery to find the killer. Profiles and mug shots of all the prime suspects, mostly staff, were posted outside the library. Each day a new section of the story was read over the intercom and students used all of their sleuthing skills to indentify the prime suspect. Students voted daily on who they felt was the culprit and the odds were posted by the final bell. Hundreds voted each day, with huge excitement building as the week continued. For the last day, students donated ten cent per guess while teachers too gave generously to see if they could outsmart the killer! Over €200 was raised for Milford Hospice, a wonderful charity offering palliative care for the terminally ill.
Every subject got involved in the mystery with a range of activities emerging: from a study of Food Tolerances in Home Economics (a possible murder weapon), short story writing and the reading of famous murder tales in English to Mock trials in Irish and in-depth study of Forensic techniques in Science classes. Mathematics too got in on the act, compiling the odds each day and therefore learning about probability. Art students drew detailed mug shots and photo fits, with History looking at famous killings and assassinations throughout time, while Geography investigated grid systems used in cataloguing clues for map work and the different crime rates across the world. Moreover, religion classes debated the death penalty and the morality of crimes, where the Business classes examined Insurance, fraud and white collar crime, with Computer groups investigating online crimes such as hacking. French, German, Irish and Spanish students also learned new vocabulary around the murder, useful for later unseen work. CSPE linked to the key concepts of Law and Rights and Responsibilities, while SPHE examined drugs (a white substance was found at the scene), as well as issues of personal safety and care. Music classes looked at famous musical motifs on crime programmes and technical/practical subjects looked at the danger of tools. Physical Education wholeheartedly embraced the week also, with students completing a Detective Training Assault course set up in the gym. This was highly competitive and successful candidates were given a certificate. This is just a small selection of the activities undertaken by teachers and students, with more and more inventive ideas emerging over the week. Daily news bulletins, wanted posters and even a visit from the local Gardaí helped to keep the entire school on the edge of their seats.
The excitement reached fever pitch by Friday, the last day of term, with no one fully sure of the culprit. A number of alternative endings were written, with Mrs. Jones, whose ghost appeared on the final day, the only one to know the truth. At 11:30am, the final news bulletin was announced over the intercom with the killer found to be… Mrs. O'Neill, her weapon of choice a peanut laced chocolate treat she knew would bump off the highly allergic Mrs. Jones! All correct guesses on the final day were entered into a draw with a Senior and Junior winner selected. Alternative endings were also posted to keep the masses entertained. Congratulations to all the winners and to all those who made the whole week such a huge success! An special note of thanks has to go to Mrs. Jones, who literally put her "life on the line" for the betterment of the school's literacy and numeracy!