Teens form a jury for their peers

Gabriel Beasley, Page Editor

A group of Perry seniors has been telling tales of their time spent in and out of court houses.  

But they are not the ones being prosecuted.

These students participate in a Reach for Youth sponsored program known as “Teen Court,” which sets out to provide “constructive consequences,” such as counseling sessions or theft workshops for first-time offending teens. As the phrase describes, the consequences stress growth rather than arbitrary punishment.

Many of the defendants

Teenage volunteers, such as seniors Matthew Hayden, Dominick Heyob, Joseph Carper, Duncan Soughan and Elijah Carnes, sign up to be a juror or an attorney in these cases.

These jurors are the ones designing the defendant’s punishments, which often consist of growth-oriented and always a hug with their parents.

“Teen court is a valuable experience because it can be eye opening to see what people go through,” Hayden says.

The seniors are often found telling stories in Jacqui Sheehan’s classroom during lunch.

“It can be heartwarming,” Hayden says. “It can make you holistically grow as a person.”

The other boys shared similar feelings.

“I’ve really seen a shift, even during the trial, in the studentwanting to be a better person and make positive changes to their life,” he adds. “To me, that’s an incredible thing to behold.”

Besides watching growth, the group also enjoys the career-oriented benefits of Teen Court.

“If you are interested in law, then it’s a really good stepping stone,” Hayden says.

Whether it’s hearing stories from those with whom they are not familiar or learning the ins and outs of the courtroom, the group values the opportunity to participate.