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Their day in court: Third-graders tour Prairie Justice Center, put Grinch on trial

WORTHINGTON -- Third-grade students from Prairie Elementary were treated to a tour of the Prairie Justice Center this past Tuesday and Thursday. The students were divided into two groups and participated in tours of both the courtroom and the Nob...

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Prairie Elementary School teacher Megan Kingery and her students pose Thursday for a pre-trial selfie. Robin Baumgarn/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON - Third-grade students from Prairie Elementary were treated to a tour of the Prairie Justice Center this past Tuesday and Thursday. The students were divided into two groups and participated in tours of both the courtroom and the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office and Worthington Police Department.

Nobles County Attorney Kathy Kusz led the tour of a courtroom Thursday morning at Prairie Justice Center. During the tour, students participated in a mock trial during which Kusz prosecuted Dr. Seuss’ infamous Grinch for stealing the presents of one of the students.
Kusz called the alleged victim to the stand along with a second student who portrayed the role of an officer on the scene who tried to catch the green perpetrator in the act. Following testimony and identification of the defendant, students in the jury rendered a guilty verdict for the Grinch - who was prosecuted in absentia.
After the mock trial, students toured the holding area in which inmates are kept while waiting to appear in court. In the room, Kusz showed students a fingerprinting machine and allowed the students to tour a holding cell.
Following the tour of the courthouse side, students switched with their classmates and were then led by Worthington Police Officer Dan Brouillet on a tour of both the police department and sheriff’s office. He also introduced the students to Worthington’s dispatchers, who offered lessons about the difference between emergencies and non-emergencies and when it’s appropriate to dial 9-1-1.

After meeting with dispatchers, students were shown evidence lockers before the conclusion of the tour - a demonstration from one of the K-9 officers.
Worthington Police Officer Dustin Roemeling and his partner, Frank’ee, demonstrated many of the skills Frank’ee has learned through his training. Roemeling led Frank’ee through an obedience demonstration for the students before conducting a drug search of a vehicle. The students were encouraged to tell Roemeling when Frank’ee alerted to the presence of the hidden narcotics.
After a successful find, Frank’ee was treated to his favorite tug-of-war toy along with praises and petting from the students as they left to return to school.

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