On April 4, 2014, the Essex campus of the Community College of Baltimore County hosted the Baltimore County Bar Association Civics & Law Academy. In partnership with the Baltimore County Public Schools, BCBA invited high school students from Chesapeake, Kenwood, Overlea and Parkville to participate in an interactive educational civics program.
The day began with check-in, when each student received a flash drive containing the entire program’s materials, as well as a pocket United States Constitution. The Master of Ceremonies, Jason Garber, had organized the final academy for the 2013-2014 term. Judge Philip N. Tirabassi provided introductory remarks, followed by Judge Pamila Brown, who brought greetings from the Maryland State Bar Association.
Dr. Sandra Kurtinitis, President of CCBC, showcased a 60 second video and encouraged the high school students to apply for college courses in the fall. This was followed by a review
of the Maryland judiciary which outlined the structure and functions of the various courts in Maryland. Mr. Garber asked students trivia questions related to the Maryland judicial system, and correct answers were awarded with gift certificates to McDonald’s that had been generously donated by CCBC.
The 70 students were assigned to two of five special interest sessions on topics including “Rights and Responsibilities;’ “Law and Justice;” “Free Speech, School Speech and Protected Speech;” “Power and Empowerment” and “Law in a Cyber-Age.” The students received the great benefit of having each session facilitated by three lawyers or two lawyers and a Baltimore County judge. The program ended with an informal roundtable discussion over lunch for everyone, where faculty and students had the opportunity to mix and mingle. The CCBC Admissions Office gave a brief presentation as well.
Rex Shepherd, Coordinator of Secondary Social Studies for Baltimore County Public Schools, has been instrumental in coordinating the students’ participation in each Academy. Shepherd said, “These academies have been an unqualified success. Because of the collaboration of the Baltimore County Bar Association and the Community College of Baltimore County, our students have a deeper understanding of the law and their rights as citizens, and they have been able to analyze their new insights under the guidance of judges and attorneys. They have also received a clear message: Educators and the legal community value the growth of our students and are committed to providing support and opportunities for their success.”
The BCBA plans to continue this program in 2014-2015. Anyone interested in volunteering for future sessions beginning in the fall of 2014 should contact the incoming chair, Tiffany Franc at TFranc@pklaw.com.
A special thank you to the all the Judges who participated in the April program: Judge Ensor, Judge Mayer, Judge Stone and Judge Tirabassi.