SJC's Worcester JYC celebrates 5th anniversary

Issue September 2011 By Jennifer Rosinski

Past student participants of the Supreme Judicial Court's Judicial Youth Corps program in Worcester spoke about its life-changing effects during a five-year anniversary event held at the Worcester Trial Court on July 22.

"After working in the probation department, I was able to really see justice as a developing process, rather than a cut-and-dry administrative tool," said David LeBoeuf, a 2007 intern in the Central District Court Probation Department. He credited the experience with helping him choose his current area of study at Harvard University: urban studies and community development.

"It's not just about law and order, it's about rehabilitation," said LeBoeuf, a 2008 graduate of South High School in Worcester.

The Massachusetts Bar Association works with the SJC to administer the Worcester Judicial Youth Corps, a 14-week program that teaches public high school students about the judicial branch of government and fundamental principles of law. The program is also offered in Boston.

"The five-year anniversary of this remarkable program is an important milestone, but it will not be its last. We expect to celebrate again in coming years as the Judicial Youth Corps continues to flourish in Worcester," said Denise Squillante, whose term as MBA president ended Aug. 31.

The Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the philanthropic partner of the MBA, is the lead supporter of the program, with additional funding this year from the MBA Insurance Agency and the Worcester County Bar Foundation.

"This experience will likely stay with the participants for the rest of their lives," MBF President Joseph P.J. Vrabel Jr. said. "We're all very proud of you and your accomplishments."

The 2011 program included a seven-week orientation to the court system hosted at Bowditch & Dewey LLP in Worcester and seven-week paid internships within various Worcester court departments.

"I anticipate that many of these alumni here in Worcester will become teachers, CPAs, lawyers, police. Whatever career path that they choose, we know that they will perform well. Our goal has always been to expand their horizons," said SJC Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland, an advisor to and ardent supporter of the program since it began in 1991 in Boston.

"The JYC may be the one program where everyone involved feels they've done something good … and we have made a difference in the life of a child," Ireland said.

"My vision is to see this program in every city and town across the state. If we can expose young people to the third branch of government, it will make them good citizens and it will make our state a better state."

Jelisa Adair, a 2008 alum of the program and a 2009 graduate of Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, said all participants should recognize JYC as an amazing opportunity. "To actually be able to witness these various court proceedings is such a privilege -- it is all so impressive," she said. "Use the incredible resources you have at your disposal to make this an experience you will never forget."