Alumni, students and College of Law Dean Mark visited Chicago Public School's Pritzker Elementary on January 29 to teach law-related lessons to sixth and seventh grade classrooms.
The event was organized by the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) and Chicago Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Lawyers in the Classroom program. Lawyers in the Classroom partners attorneys with elementary and middle school classrooms to help students understand the U.S. Constitution and our legal system.
Drawing fom lessons outlined by Lawyers in the Classroom, Dean Gregory Mark, alumnus Aaron Dozeman (JD '12) and student Christina Kuklinski (JD '15) led the seventh graders through a discussion on jury selection. The students examined the process by which a jury is selected and discussed the importance of selecting a fair and impartial jury. They were able to debate whether a list of hypothetical jurors would be likely to judge a trial impartially.
“I enjoyed engaging the students in discussion, and I appreciated their honest and creative responses to the difficult issues raised in the lesson," said Dozeman. "Lawyers in the Classroom allowed me to contribute in a way that doesn’t involve giving legal advice; volunteering as a lawyer doesn’t always require providing legal services. It was refreshing to step outside of the courtroom and into the classroom.”
Students were also asked to mediate a conflict between two “goods”—the right to practice religion and the right to be safe at school. The lesson involved a student who wanted to wear small knife or “kirpan” in observance of his religion, which was Sikhisim. The school, however, had a “no weapons allowed” policy. The students were asked to consider whether he should be allowed to wear the kirpan to school and thought about the issue from various perspectives; including the school principal, the parents of the student and his classmates' parents.
“The students enjoyed this fact pattern and engaged in a lively and thoughtful discussion," observed Cheryl Price, PBCSI director. "I was impressed with their ability to weigh this problem from differing viewpoints.”
For more information about the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative or how to get involved with DePaul’s Lawyers in the Classroom volunteer team, contact Cheryl Price at email@example.com.