MyTrack Law is Legal Learning
It’s a crime scene — a hypothetical one, anyway. The faux residence, constructed in a classroom, is being examined by students, who are collecting evidence such as a laptop loaded with crimes against children and interviewing "witnesses" on the scene. Members of the Internet Crimes Against Children team, a real life taskforce that investigates crimes across the country, are present to guide the fictional case and discuss students' findings. These findings are presented to the Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor.
“We set up a classroom as the ‘house’ and students had to search it, interview suspects, identify the evidence, and develop all of this into a report they delivered to two actual prosecutors who review these types of cases,” says Lora Winger, who teaches MyTrack Law courses at Padua Franciscan High School. “I’m very proud to say they were able to get their indictment and prove their case.”
An elective course, MyTrack Law is designed to let students interested in legal careers, law enforcement or social work to dig deeper into the reality of those careers. The program includes Law I and II, Legal Ethics and competitions like Mock Trial and Moot Court, field trips to the state courthouse and quarterly speakers.
Similar MyTrack programs offered at Padua focus on medicine, engineering, art, business and computer sciences. These experiences let kids explore subjects before committing to college courses, Winger says.
But even if they don't pursue careers in these fields, the projects students pursue in the courses, such as the crime scene simulation, offer experience in interviewing, shadowing professionals, public speaking and critical thinking.
“Even if they do not go into law, they will know the law as citizens,” she says. “And that is equally valuable.”
Labre Project Teaches Compassion in the Community
Life is just a little easier when you have the essentials.
That’s why, every Monday, participants of Walsh Jesuit High School’s Labre Project load into two school vans and hit the streets to seek out those in need. The group of six to 12 students provide members of Akron's homeless community with supplies such as bagged meals, socks, blankets and flashlights.
“We usually see about 60 people per night, and we are usually able to give out two bags of food to each person we see,” says Meghan McDonald, a Walsh alumnus and campus minister who volunteered with Labre Project and now heads up the school’s program. “The main point is to build long-term friendships with our friends on the streets, and some we have seen on a weekly basis for 10 years.”
Sure, approaching strangers on the street is uncomfortable at first for some students. But that’s part of the growth experience.
“It’s OK to not know what to say or do. We teach students to ask, ‘What is your name?’ and if they are comfortable, shake hands or give a fist bump,” says McDonald. “Our students get out of their comfort zones and find out we all have more in common than they thought.”
Microeconomics Teaches Kids To Take Care of Business
Some say schools can't teach entrepreneurship. Hershey Montessori begs to differ. In fact, student-run businesses are blossoming out of the school’s microeconomics program.
Hershey's “mini world” economy centers around the maker space, greenhouse and working farm on its 97-acre Huntsburg campus. There, adolescents get firsthand examples of how our economy ticks by serving various roles in their community.
“It’s a self-sustaining economic system that allows students to have agency and independence,” says head of school Paula Leigh-Doyle. “We are doing purposeful work in the areas of market endeavors and working on the farm and the many businesses that come out of it.”
For example, the school runs a bed and breakfast, packages honey from the farm’s beehives, creates products such as goat milk and maple syrup and produces woodwork such as cutting boards in the maker space. The Hershey Market sells the goods online. The microeconomy is accompanied with classroom lessons, including workshops in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, business management, marketing and sales and business law.
“They are working for the greater good of the community, and they understand the labor required,” Leigh-Doyle says. “They have to understand budgeting, pricing, prototyping, labor, the seasonal aspects — they’re making real-world decisions.”
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