On March 7, 2014, the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County hosted the Baltimore County Bar Association’s “Civics & Law Academy.” In partnership with the Baltimore County Public Schools, BCBA invited students from Catonsville, Landsdowne, Western Tech and Dundalk high schools to participate in an interactive educational civics program.
At check-in each student received a flash drive containing the entire program’s materials and a pocket United States Constitution. Attorney Richard Abraham was the Master of Ceremonies and had organized the day’s program. Students were greeted by Judge Philip N. Tirabassi, President of BCBA. CCBC President Dr. Sandra Kurtinitis offered opening remarks and. showcased CCBC’s 60 second video about admissions. This was followed by a short video review of the Maryland judiciary outlining the structure and functions of the various courts in Maryland. Mr. Abraham asked students questions related to the Maryland judicial system and awarded gift certificates donated by CCBC for correct answers.
Each of the 74 students was assigned to two of the five special interest sessions on the topics of Rights and Responsibilities; Law and Justice; Free Speech, School Speech and Protected Speech; Power and Empowerment; and Law in a Cyber-Age. Either a Baltimore County judge and two lawyers or three lawyers facilitated each session. The program ended with an informal roundtable discussion over lunch for which gave faculty and students the opportunity to mix and mingle. The CCBC Admissions Office gave a brief presentation as well.
The Civics and Law Academy was the brain child of Judge Pamila Brown. The program started in 2011 following the State’s elimination of the government portion of the high school assessment test. It was modeled after the signature program of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Civic Education in the Nation’s Schools.
BCBA followed March’s program with another at CCBC Essex on April 4 for students from Overlea, Parkville, Chesapeake and Kenwood high schools. The volunteer coordinator for the program was Alice Arcieri Bonner, AABonner@lokerlaw.com.
BCBA appreciates the participation in the March program of Judges Vickie Ballou-Watts, Sally C. Chester, Steven D. Wyman and Judge Tirabassi.