Senior Government students visit jail, Virginia Beach courthouse

CHS senior Government students took a field trip recently to the Virginia Beach courthouse to sit in on some on-going trials and visit the city jail on Tuesday, October 4, and Wednesday, October 5. Since only 60 spots were available for this much anticipated excursion, students waited anxiously prior to the trip as their names were drawn from a bowl to decide who would attend.

Students left the school around 9 AM and were required to dress as if they were on trial themselves, and they were actually going to appear in court. Upon arrival, the tour began at the courthouse. Students not only had to dress professionally, but they had to act professionally as they watched real-life court cases unfold that included both a sentencing and an early release.  The students then traveled through an underground tunnel that connects the courthouse and jail and on their journey they also had the opportunity to ask a working deputy questions about her role.

The jail itself encompasses three separate wings. Students also had the opportunity to enter an empty cell and imagine what life might be like if they were actually sentenced. The deputy continued to lead seniors through various parts of the jail; they saw the kitchen, the infirmary, and even where prisoners are held if put in solitary confinement.

The trip ended with an opportunity for students to hear an inmate’s story and ask them questions. Curiosity was piqued as questions ranged from, “Are there fights over the TV?” to “What’s the most creative weapon an inmate has made?” Students left the jail with a newfound knowledge of the court system and maybe a bit of a fear factor, which may prompt them to follow the law.

“It’s crazy how different jail and the courthouse actually is from what we see in the movies,” senior Morgan Lynch said.

Students were astounded by all of the working parts they saw at the courthouse and jail and were more than excited to attend the much anticipated trip after it had been canceled in previous years due to COVID.

“It’s one of the most popular and best field trips that I think the school system offers and it’s great to be able to go on it again after two years of not being able to,” Government teacher Mr. Baumann said.