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ALLmeansALL! Walnut Valley USD is proud to be a National Schools to Watch District with numerous National Blue Ribbon, California Gold Ribbon, and California Distinguished School awards. Our motto is KIDS FIRST... Every Student, Every Day!  

Crack the Code!

September 20, 2021

By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources

WALNUT, CA--Eighth-grade super sleuths at Suzanne Middle School decoded clues to solve the mysterious murder of the Old Man by his lodger in the “The Tell-Tale Heart” escape room.

Teacher Alexis Lujan tasked students to work in cooperative groups and use critical thinking skills as they made their way through the three-part digital activity.

Since the ultimate goal was to keep the narrator of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic short story, locked in an insane asylum, students took on the role of detectives and collected evidence for their official reports, Lujan shared.

Student groups used a cipher wheel and number codes to piece together the plot and find the Old Man’s heart to avenge his killer.

Teams were responsible for completing a patient analysis, providing the burden of proof, and finally submitting their summary of findings in order to complete the challenge and break out of the escape room. 

“In the last part we deciphered a code to find out what his last sentence was before he was locked away,” explained Kaitlynn Tran after completing the Sept. 15 challenge.

“These escape rooms are fun – they bring out our competitive spirit!” added classmate Suki Hsu.

“And you learn how to cooperate with other people,” said Tran.

Lujan rewarded the clever investigators with Lifesaver candies after they solved the puzzle.

“I've missed seeing kids work together and have fun with their peers,” she commented.

“And my classroom was finally noisy again!"


Suzanne Middle School 8th graders solve clues in “The Tell-Tale Heart” escape room challenge on Sept. 15.