DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.


 ...this year's Truman Trial Setting:

our 14th Annual 10th Grade Combo Truman Trial

The Date:  April 22-23, 1956


The Charges:

President Truman is hereby charged with crimes against humanity.


 (2014 Combo Class/ ACS Class of 2016)

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.


American Community Schools of Athens

10th Grade Honors Combo 

American Studies


The Combo Course:   The American Studies Sophomore “Combo” is team taught by David Nelson and Jonathan Ruelens and integrates the curriculum of Honors American Literature and Honors American Historical Studies. The course focuses on themes of American History, with an emphasis on the 20th Century, taking students through a study of American culture, legacy of the Constitution, American expansion,  the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, WWII and the Civil Rights struggle.



Mr. David Nelson, American History

Mr. Jonathan Ruelens, American Literature


History of the Course:  Initiated in 2001, the 10th Grade Combo was created in a collaborative effort by David Nelson and William Papatassos to provide a more holistic view of American Studies and to find ways to make the curriculum come alive for the students.  


The Truman Trial:  The first Truman Trial began in 2002, as a small simulation within a series of classes. Until 2006, the trial took place on a smaller scale in the classroom setting and in 2007 it was moved into the ACS Theater, where since it has continued to grow in scale and quality.  2009 saw the first on-line streaming of the trial, and 2015 represents the first on-line i2flex rendition offering even more collaborative preparation as well as audience participation.


Past Verdicts:  How has President Truman fared over the past years in the Combo class trial?  

Totals:  Not Guilty: 6 Years //Guilty: 7 Years

Not Guilty: Combo Class of 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014

Guilty: Combo Class of 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013


Trial Set-up:  The date of the trial changes from year to year, in order to make the experience more dynamic and unpredictable.   This year's trial is set in 1956, which means that the student witnesses and lawyers may only use information that would have existed prior to April 22, 1956.   They seek to locate primary sources, scientific studies, and expert opinions published prior to 1956.  Students can also use the expanded context in order to bring historical perspective to their case.


Each side of the trial is led by student lawyers, who apply for these challenging roles. The students of Combo are randomly divided into two sides, and the prosecution and defense are decided by a coin toss.  


Witnesses complete all of their own research, write their own constructive questions and answers, while the Cross Examination is completely impromptu.   The lawyers on the other side seek to uncover evidence and to put the witnesses on the spot in order to alter the jury members' perspectives.  


The Jury:  We have experimented with many renditions of the jury, but above all we seek to maintain a jury that is made up of a group of their peers or visiting guests to our school.  The goal is to create a jury pool that is as objective as possible.   We now use three separate juries, each meeting and deliberating on its own.   Each of the three jury pools comes to a decision and the sum of the three decisions create the final verdict.     


Download the Assignment Sheets and Process Here:


2015 Trial Assignment Sheet.doc

2015 Trial Roles.doc




DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.