Attorneys, court staff members, judges and families gathered on Friday, Aug. 24, to celebrate the achievements of Worcester and Boston Judicial Youth Corps students.
“The MBA is proud of you,” MBA President-elect Edward W. McIntyre, a solo practitioner based near Worcester, told the teenagers. He urged them to pursue their goals of pursuing careers in the law. “You are part of the justice system,” he said. “Justice is not a destination. There is no way to justice; justice is the way.”
Designed for urban high school students, the program teaches young people about the judicial branch of government and fundamental principles of law. The four-month program consists of two educational components: a seven-week orientation to the court system and a seven-week courthouse internship session in July and August.
This year’s reception was especially significant because this summer marked the first time in seven years that the program has existed in Worcester. In recent years, the program had been limited to Boston students due to financial constraints. This year, the Supreme Judicial Court and MBA received a Fellows grant of more than $20,000 from the Massachusetts Bar Foundation to restore the program in Worcester. The program was a strong success, according to teacher and attorney Jim Rosseel, who coordinated the Worcester program.
“The kids all distinguished themselves on a day-to-day basis, demonstrated a wonderful work ethic and proved they could handle themselves in difficult situations,” Rosseel said proudly. He also noted that the program has wide support among the Worcester legal community and expressed hope that the program will return to the city in 2008.
David LeBoeuf, a student at Worcester’s South High Community School and Judicial Youth Corps participant, spoke about his summer experience. “This internship opened all of our eyes. We had the chance to see people at their best moments and at their worst moments. We saw the stories behind the pieces of paper,” he explained. “These are real people with real pain, and we were able to help them and treat them with dignity. It was not just a job; it was a duty.”
The program wrapped up with a speech from Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Roderick L. Ireland, who has played an important role as a mentor for the students and as a longtime advocate for the program. He believes that the program is an effective and powerful way to connect students and schools to the justice system. Roderick congratulated both the teenagers and their parents for their dedication and efforts in making the summer a success. “We hope that you continue to strive to be the best that you can be,” he said. “Whatever path you choose, we expect excellence of you all.”