For almost 20 years, social studies teacher Benton Billings has been having teen court activity days. With the help of teen court facilitator Michael Botke Everett students have the opportunity to give back to their peers and their community.
“It’s a great experience for not only students but the kids that have gotten in trouble,” said Billings.
Today a handful of students dressed to impress and filled into a bus to travel to Cooley Law School. There the handfuls of students transformed into a jury for teens who were in trouble.
“I haven’t gone to teen court but I’m excited. I think this can help teens get out of trouble and I like helping people, “ said senior Shyanna walker.
The students were told of the crime the student shad committed, allowed to ask questions, and then asked to deliberate a reasonable course of action. Throughout the day students participated in several parts of the courtroom including being jury members, the clerk, and also the bailiff. Possible consequences ranged from community service to letters of apology, and the student in trouble walked away from the day with no stains on their permanent record.
“The thing about teen court is that nobody is on trial. We don’t punish these students, we hold them accountable,” said Botke.
Going through the teen court programs entail a variety of programs to ensure that the respondent improves their behavior. They connect them with volunteer opportunities and drug and family counseling.
The students handled multiple cases throughout the day. Possible crimes were possession of drugs, larceny, and also fighting.
Many of the Everett students attending were interested in criminal justice or the legal system, so the trip gave them the opportunity to experience the field in a real life setting.
“It gives you a sense of the career. You kind of get a feel for what goes on in a courtroom,” said senior Jamie Smith.
This trip is offered twice a year, and if you are interested you should see Billings in room 128.