Clarkdale First-Graders Make Their Case to Squish or Save the Ant in Austell Courtroom

Austell Court cvr

To squish or not to squish, that is the question. After reading Hey, Little Ant with their teacher Saysha Jackson, a class of Clarkdale first-graders began preparing a case for and against squishing the pesky insects using some of the techniques they were learning in Persuasive Writing. Half of the class took the prosecution's side, while the other half formed the defense. It was decided that the answer to this critical question must be decided once and for all before a jury that included Austell Mayor Ollie Clemons in an actual courtroom at the Austell City Courthouse.


"I'm at the school often, and I read to the children, so when I saw them having their court in the Library at Clarkdale, I thought about how we could take the experience one step further," said Mayor Clemons. "This will help with their vocabulary and their understanding of formal courtroom proceedings. It was wonderful to have them here."

Ms. Jackson donned a black robe and took the bench as Judge over the case, listening intently as each side made opening statements, called their witnesses, and cross-examined. When it came time for closing statements, the anticipation level in the courtroom was high as each side summarized their best arguments for squishing ants or saving them.


The prosecution convincingly argued that ants can sneak in, eat your food, and damage your house. The defense countered with an argument that didn't dispute that ants can cause trouble but rather that they deserve to live as one of God's creatures in nature.

As the jury—made up of Mayor Clemons and Clarkdale staff—deliberated over all they heard, the students discussed the case among themselves. The prosecution was sure that a jury of adult homeowners would understand the problems ants bring, while the defense hoped their plea for compassion and understanding would be heeded. Ultimately, the jury sided with the defense and agreed that the ant should live to see another day.


"They worked really hard," said Judge/Teacher Jackson. "Everything they said, they wrote themselves. They have been learning the difference between stating an opinion and persuading someone, and they did a great job today. I'm so proud of them!"

Principal Dwan Jones agreed and was very happy with how her students represented Clarkdale. "As an arts-integrated school, this was a great opportunity for them to apply what they have been learning in the classroom. They know all about court cases and the different parts. Hopefully, having it here in an actual courtroom will help them retain all they have learned and experienced," Principal Jones said with pride for her first-grade litigators.


"This was a fun way to support the school and the community," said Mayor Clemons after the event. "We have a great relationship, and we'll always look for ways to work together like this."