SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A group of eighth graders in Springfield were in court on Friday, but they weren’t in trouble. 22News went along with them for a tour of the Hampden County Hall of Justice.
“To learn in a practical way as opposed to an abstract, academic way, I think it really resonates with them better,” said Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni.
The classroom came to life before the eyes of the eighth grade class from South End Middle School in Springfield. They were one of two schools involved in the Hampden District Attorney’s Adopt-A-Classroom program this year. Each year, students hear from a victim-witness advocate and a judge, and they witness real court proceedings happening in the Hampden County Hall of Justice.
“Maybe it influences them as they go along in their path toward a career and they say hey I want to be a probation officer, or I want to be a prosecutor, or I want to be a defense attorney, so we hope it just opens up their eyes and is a part of their diverse learning process in the things that they pick up as they go through school,” Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni told 22News.
Throughout the school year, students in the classroom learned everything from court terminology, to how the constitution works, and even held their own mock trial, but this was the day they were forward to: seeing it all take place in real life.
It may seem like some serious, complex topics for eighth graders, but they said the program was easy to understand, and was fun.
“About how criminal cases and how criminal justice is let through and how the whole process goes through and trial cases and the rights of the people and how they prosecute the cases,” said Jaseiry Guerra, an eighth-grader at the South End Middle School in Springfield.
Who knows? This group of students may very well be the next generation leading our legal system!