The Kids' Court at the S.J. Quinney College of Law
Kids' Court is an afterschool program founded by the 2008 — 2009 Minority Law Caucus Board at the S.J. College of Law at the University of Utah. Essentially, law student volunteers teach 5th and 6th grade students from under-served populations in Salt Lake City about the law and civic engagement through a weekly afterschool program.
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An integral aspect of the Foundations Unit in Kids’ Court is learning about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Constitution Lesson teaches the students about the importance of rules to our society and we conclude the lesson by creating our own Kids’ Court Constitution that includes rules such as, “Treat boys and girls equally,” “Don’t talk while the teacher is talking,” and “Throw all of your trash in the trash can.” In Park City, the students added a rule that had unintended consequences — “No eating until the end of the lesson.” The students thought that this rule was great but then they got candy in the middle of the lesson. A fourth grader, Roxana, wanted to eat her candy but realized that she had to wait until the end of the lesson. She was not happy about that! We explained the amendment process to the class and allowed the students to debate about the pro’s and con’s of the rule. Ultimately, the students convinced a majority of the students to vote to remove the rule and Roxana crossed it off of our constitution with delight.
After mastering the articles of the Constitution, we moved on to the Bill of the Rights. The students understood that they are guaranteed rights as citizens of the United States, but we wanted to make sure to convey the importance of each individual amendment as well as ensure comprehension. With only ten students, we decided to assign each student an amendment and work with them to create a drawing of what it represents. The students had such a great time talking with the law student teachers to figuring out what their amendment represented. After drawing in their “bluebooks” (books for handwriting exams at the law school that we’ve converted to journals for weekly exercises), the students presented their amendment to the class. This was one of my favorite lessons this year!
Here are a few examples:
Diana's First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Evelyn's Second Amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Vanessa's Third Amendment: "No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."
Evelyn C's Ninth Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
Wednesday November 2nd marked our annual law school field trip! The kids were so excited to see where their teachers go to school, and have a pizza party, in no particular order. The kids arrived at the law school and met in our reading room. After a tour of the law school, the kids were greeted by Associate Dean Reyes Aguilar and the Dean of the law school Hiram Chodosh in the Sutherland Moot Courtroom. Most of the kids had never been in a courtroom and they were so excited to see the chairs where the jury sits! The Deans had prepared a trial activity for the kids, but first, they had to accuse one of the students of a constitutional violation. In one of the first lessons, the kids write their own constitution, so the Deans cleverly coaxed one of students into violating their own rules. Then the Deans sent that student straight up to a Court of Appeals. They split the kids into groups and discussed arguments for each side. The kids were then asked to stand before judges (three of their fellow students) and argue their best case. It was so great to see the kids stand up and confidently argue their position. What a great field trip!
Rose Park kids and the Kids' Court Partners at the S.J.Q. School of Law
My name is Bebe Grill and I am 2011-2012 Kids’ Court Student Coordinator. For the next year, I will be updating this website about all things Kids’ Court! I welcome any questions about Kids’ Court (who we are, what we do, and why should you care, etc.) but I hope to answer all of those through weekly updates and posts. Kids’ Court is an after school program for under-served elementary school students. We talk about everything from the Revolutionary War and the Founding Fathers, to the Civil Rights Movement and what claims can be brought in small claims court. I am honored to be a part of this organization and I look forward to writing about our experiences as the weeks go by.
This semester is the Foundation Unit. We start the kids with the importance of rules to our society. After that, we introduce them to the Constitution, and process that we create the rules that govern our country. My favorite lesson so far was the lesson on the Bill of Rights. At Holy Cross Ministries we have a small group of ten students, the same number as the Bill of Rights! We decided to have each student draw a picture of one of the Amendments and explain to the class what their picture meant, and therefore what the Amendment meant. It was so fun for us teachers, and the kids had a great time. Be sure to look for the students’ Amendment artwork in an upcoming post! The next lesson is about the branches of government with specific focus on the judiciary (this is Kids’ Court after all).
Next week, the kids will have a mock trial for Goldy Locks. Did she steal the porridge?? Only time will tell! Thanks for stopping by and catching up with Kids’ Court. Another update is just around the corner.
It has been a while since I updated everyone on the progress of Kids’ Court. Don’t fret though! My absence is not the result of a lack of activity with Kids’ Court. In fact, quite the opposite, the Kids’ Court partners are busier then ever! The kids of Rose Park and Park City have participated in mock trials in front of federal judges, have gone on field trips to the federal courthouse, and now are preparing for graduation! The partners have also been busy prepping for the first ever Kids’ Court Camp for students in Jackson Elementary School’s Adelante Program. I’ll go into more detail about all those events in a future post, but for now I must tell you about our visit with the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court today!
About 25 of our Rose Park Elementary School Kids’ Court student had the opportunity to meet the Chief Justice this morning. Chief Justice Roberts spoke to the children about what his days entail, how he became a judge, the importance of education, and why he loves the law. He also left plenty of time for our students to ask him questions. I had the opportunity to watch the Chief preside over oral arguments just prior to and again after his meeting the Kids’ Court students, and I must say it was a pretty unique experience to hear the Chief Justice answer questions instead of asking them! Overall, the experience was unforgettable and absolutely incredible.
Thank you to everyone who made this meeting possible especially Dean Aguilar.
Also, the most sincere thanks to the Chief Justice for taking the time to share his experiences with our Kids’ Court students, and for being of such a great service to this country.
This semester Kids’ Court has such an incredible team volunteers! I have been so impressed by the level of dedication and commitment demonstrated by our volunteers. Our law student teachers over at Rose Park have taken our curriculum and brought it to life. More importantly, the elementary school students at Rose Park seem to be responding really well to consistency and creativity that the law students teachers are bringing to Kids’ Court each week.
The volunteers at Kids’ Court Park City are also quite remarkable. Due to the inconvenience of getting up to Park City each week, we had to get creative to find volunteers to help teach up in Park City. Sister Mary Ann of Holy Cross Ministries suggested that we team up with the Latinos in Action, a group of socially pro-active high school students from Park City High School. We couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to work with such an enthusiastic group off teenagers. We also loved the idea of mentoring relationships between law students, high school students, and our elementary school students, so we jumped at Sister Mary Ann’s suggestion. Last week at the first Kids’ Court session I met our four high school student volunteers. These girls were impressive! All four girls were attentive to the elementary school students and jumped right into the leadership roles I asked them to take on. The elementary school students also seemed to be excited to gain insight from the high schoolers. Furthermore, I am thrilled by the girls’ level of commitment; I have received word that the girls left Kids’ Court and began to brainstorm ways to address some of the issues that came up that first class! I cannot wait to see what these ambitious high school students bring to Kids’ Court Park City all year.
Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers!
As we embark on our third year running the Kids’ Court program, I would like to acknowledge the many dedicated supporters who have helped Kids’ Court to come this far. The following people and organizations have helped in varying methods and degrees, but all of them have been crucial to Kids’ Court in some way, so thank you for everything you have done thus far, and I look forward to continued successful partnerships! – Betsy
Carol and Ned Spurgeon
Copy Center at the S.J. Quinney College of Law
Department of Education at the University of Utah- Peggy McCandless and Matt Mitchell
Holland and Hart
Holy Cross Ministries
IT Department at the S.J. Quinney College of Law- Aaron Herd and Aaron DeWald
Minority Law Caucus at the S.J. Quinney College of Law
Office of Academic Outreach at the University of Utah- Nicole Miranda
Office of the Deans at the S.J. Quinney College of Law- Dean Aguilar, Dean Chodosh, Dean Dickey, and Matt Helmsley
Office of the Vice President of Academic Outreach at the University of Utah- Dr. Theresa Martinez
Rose Park Elementary School- all of our wonderful students, Marie Durazo and Ray Betancourt
United States District Court for the District of Utah- Michelle Roybal
Utah Minority Bar Association
Welcome! You have stumbled across the official website for Kids’ Court. Kids’ Court is after school program run by students at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. For now the site is under massive construction, so bear with us as we build a user friendly and effective means of transferring our incredible Kids’ Court experiences to you. Feel free to look around and start to learn about Kid’s Court, but please note that anything you see on here is still in the formative stages, and will likely be edited and changed around as we continue to develop the site.
Hope you are enjoying your summer!