Nearly 50 high school students complete 19th annual JYC

Issue Sept/Oct 2009 By Jennifer Rosinski

Learning about the law and working in the court system for 14 weeks this summer has changed the lives of nearly 50 public high school students from Boston and Worcester who participated in the Supreme Judicial Court's 19th annual Judicial Youth Corps program.

"It was a unique experience and it has prepared us for the future in ways I'm sure we can't even realize yet," said Nathan Raymond Bricault, a participant who spoke at JYC Appreciation Day on Aug. 21 at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston. Bricault is a student at the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

A $51,225 Fellows grant from the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the philanthropic partner of the Massachusetts Bar Association, made it possible to continue the Worcester portion of the program this year. The MBF has provided funding annually to the Worcester portion of the program since 2007.

"Part of what we get to do as lawyers is make justice every day … I really do think getting to participate in any piece of that is the greatest job you can do," MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus said to the students, who hailed from 15 Boston schools and seven Worcester schools.

"Congratulations to all of you. You have done a fabulous job. I'm delighted we could help support this in some way."

The JYC program, established by the SJC's Public Information Office in 1991, 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 participants worked in the housing, municipal, superior and family and probate courts in Boston and Worcester, among others.

"I'm so impressed with the students. You kids are so much smarter than my generation," said SJC Senior Associate Justice Roderick L. Ireland. "My hope for each one of you students when you move forward is you keep in mind the best is yet to come."

Bricault, the Worcester student, shared the lessons all students learned in the program. In addition to gaining an awareness of the law and the legal community, Bricault said he and fellow students learned how to interact with people from all walks of life and discovered that there are individuals behind the titles of judge, lawyer, victim and suspect.

"The importance of these lessons cannot be overstated," he said.

The Boston Private Industry Council and the City of Boston funded the Boston portion of the program.