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Crime Time At La Cueva High

Photos and story by Kelly Collins | Staff Writer

Student analyze the burned car crime scene. The car was from a junkyard, but it was supposed to belong to art teacher Ms. McCoy in the Forensic project.

Albuquerque fire and rescue arrived at the scene of the burning car. This year, the Forensic class crime scene staged at Balloon Fiesta Park. Photo by author.

Students wait in the background to analyze the crime scene while the car burns. Students were hoping it would blow up, but it just burned.

As the end of the year nears, final projects and endless numbers of tests are seen at every corner of La Cueva’s hallways. One project, however, includes more students and staff than just one class. The Forensics project for juniors and seniors comes around once a year and consists of about 130 students working on one goal: to solve a case.

“Last year I did a case based on the SAT.” Every year, Forensic Science faculty Mary Robinson prepares a mock crime scene and case for her students to solve. “I went to the office and asked, ‘how much before a test do the ACT’s get here?’ they said about two weeks. I wondered, what would a student do to get a perfect score? And so I based my crime off of that.” She gets help from her aids to collect lab requests, as if La Cueva is the police department and her students are her detectives.

Junior Tyler Lopez, a ‘Lead Investigator (Detective)’ of a group of three other people, is proud of the group he’s in. “My team is working hard to solve this case and reach our N-game. We’re working to get the best grade we can,” Lopez said.

This year, the case is much different. According to Lopez, “We went to Balloon Fiesta Park. [The City of Albuquerque Fire Department and Police Department] set a car on fire to simulate crime. Then we analyzed the scene and collected evidence.”

Robinson seems to have all of Albuquerque on her side, getting the Fire Department to light an old car on fire, and then put it out. Her students get as close to a real crime scene as you can as a high school student, and learning about crime and science is definitely her passion.

“I love it because every day is solving crimes, logical reasoning, analyzing evidence and finding the facts,” said Robinson. “Each class is different, each year is different. There’s something new every day.”

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