According to a release issued by the Montgomery County Bar Association, lawyers and judges from throughout the county are teaming up to bring civics education to Norristown area middle schools. Now in its second year, the Montgomery Bar Association’s volunteer-based Liberty & Law program aims to help area youth understand the justice system, appreciate the Constitution and understand the rights and laws that affect their daily lives.
Throughout the school year, 15 teams comprised of one judge and two attorneys conduct six sessions of varying topics to all sixth-grade public school students in the Norristown Area School District. Each lesson is presented in a way that makes the topics fun and relatable to the students. The first session of the school year was on Oct. 5. Teams fanned out to classes in East Norriton Middle School, Eisenhower Science & Technology Leadership Academy and Stewart Middle School to present a lesson on laws to over 500 attentive and enthusiastic sixth grade students.
Accoring to the bar association, response from last year’s students was overwhelmingly positive and influenced the decision to continue the program. The MBA was flooded with thank you letters from each school.
Students aren’t the only ones benefitting from this program. Participation and interest in the program among the legal community has grown since last year’s launch. Because of the increased interest, an additional attorney has been added to each team, which also allows for more scheduling flexibility. MBA President and Judge Hon. Carolyn T. Carluccio is amazed by the reaction of the presenters.
“I’ve heard everything from, ‘I really loved that and can’t wait to come back’ to simply ‘OMG – that was super fun!’ I am so proud that my fellow bar members are clamoring for the opportunity to volunteer their time to give back to the community,” said Judge Carluccio.
He is equally enamored with the students.
“They spend hours talking about the lessons and anticipating our next visit," he said. "They want to share their ideas and thoughts with us, which are often humorous and always insightful and creative.”
The next session is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 4 and features a lesson on the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Four additional lessons are scheduled for the remainder of the 2011-2012 academic year. New to this year’s program are mock trials and trips to the Montgomery County Court House to see what a live courtroom looks and feels like.
Regarding the future of the program, Judge Carluccio remarked: “With the enthusiasm and positive feedback we have received from the lawyers, judges, teachers and most importantly the students, I hope this program will become a hallmark of our bar association for years to come. I expect each year will bring new ideas and more participants allowing us to eventually reach more students in our community.”
President-elect Donald J. Martin, Esq. echoed those sentiments and assured that the program will continue under his tenure in 2012.
“Judges, lawyers, teachers and kids – everyone loves the program," said Martin. "As I plan to focus on community outreach and service during my presidency, Liberty & Law will be an important part of my presidency.”