A Night of Mystery to Support Financial Assistance

Sixth grade students immersed themeselves in an interactive murder mystery, traveling back to the 1920s to determine who was responsible for the (fictional?) death of Judge John Dewey.

Prior to the evening’s gumshoeing, student detectives enjoyed a pizza dinner, during which 5th grade teacher Mike McPharlin outlined the mystery at hand that night—the body of Judge John Dewey was found in the courtyard, and the students needed to figure out who among the nearly 20 adult suspects was responsible for the crime. Each suspect—staff and faculty members in full costume as 1920s characters—addressed the students to accuse each other of the crime.

During the next four hours, students worked in sections, rotating through a variety of themed activities, including learning how to dance the Charleston, constructing art deco buildings, throwing darts and playing blaster tag. At the end of each activity, students earned a clue to help them solve the mystery.

While half the students rotated through the activities, the other half spent time at Sarah Speakeasy’s casino—a nice place hidden within our Kovler Family Library—where students tested their luck on craps, blackjack, roulette and betting on (previously recorded) horse races. They then redeemed their winnings for more clues essential to cracking the case.

With all the clues in hand, students returned to the cafeteria for milkshakes and deliberation as they worked in sections to review their evidence. McPharlin then went around the room, soliciting accusations from each group before revealing they were all wrong: It was the Lady in Red who did the crime in the end!

Nearly 70 6th grade students enjoyed this most recent Mystery Night, delayed nearly two years due to COVID-19, one of two Mystery Night experiences from Auction 2019. Thanks to generous contributions from families of the classes of 2027 and 2028, the two events raised more than $60,000 for financial assistance. 

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.