Blomquist: Inspiring the Next Generation in the Shadow of Greatness

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blomquist-kerrySenator Richard Lugar. Judy O’Bannon. Congressman Andy Jacobs. Judge Cynthia Ayers, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Eugene B. Glick, Sidney Eskenazi…

What do all of these people have in common?

They are all alumni of Shortridge Legal Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy. Although it has only been designated such since 2009, clearly these alums show that the school was cranking out leaders well before the actual name change. The story behind Shortridge is fascinating. It is the oldest high school in the State of Indiana dating back to 1861. The school was closed between 1981 and 2007 and was then completely revamped from a middle school to a magnet school for grades six through 12. This past spring, Shortridge graduated its first class since the spring of 1981. Last month was the first Homecoming dance in over 30 years. Apparently, platform shoes never had the chance to go out of style at Shortridge.

The school today is nothing short of inspired. As the Indianapolis Public Schools Magnet School for Law and Public Policy, Shortridge has been designed to be the chosen path for future lawyers, legislators, business leaders and policymakers from Indianapolis. There is a Moot Court Room in the newly renovated building, and students are discovering their inner public speaker as early as grade six. Student “prosecutors” and “defense attorneys” are currently handling juvenile truancy cases for all IPS schools at Shortridge, putting a unique twist on the concept of teen court.

I first began reading about the metamorphosis of Shortridge well over a year ago, coincidentally when I was planning the implementation of the IndyBar Strategic Plan goals for 2013. One such goal was to begin to engage local middle and high school students in the practice of law. Seems the stars were in alignment for the IndyBar-Shortridge collaboration in 2013, and the project needed only dedicated leadership.

Enter United States Bankruptcy Court Clerk and longtime IndyBar volunteer Patricia Marshall. I asked Pat to spearhead this collaboration well over a year ago, and frankly, the woman just took off. With the help of her Public Outreach Committee, Pat facilitated a collaboration that included not one but three chances for IndyBar members to have a direct impact on the students at Shortridge, who will very likely be the future of this legal community.

On May 2nd of this year, Shortridge hosted its inaugural Naturalization Ceremony, which, as you may know is a moving reminder of the unparalleled value of U.S. citizenship. The ceremony was sponsored in part by the IndyBar Public Outreach Committee and graciously orchestrated and presided over by U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson and her wonderful staff. For young students of our legal system to be able to see, hear and indeed participate in a ceremony that underlines the value of our democracy is a pretty spectacular thing, and a reminder that what we often take for granted, many, many aspire to.

On June 4th of this year during Law Week, the IndyBar hosted a “Mentoring Day” by allowing Shortridge 8th grade honor students a chance to “shadow” an IndyBar member for part of their day. All transportation challenges aside, it was a great opportunity for these future lawyers to see, and yes I am overstating, just how the magic is done. A sincere thank you goes to the 20 to 25 IndyBar members who stepped up for this and showed their student a good time. Every comment I received was glowing, and nothing beats the life lesson of observation.

Finally, just last month and with the help of Public Outreach Committee members Beth White, Marion County Clerk, and Joan Champagne from White and Champagne, the IndyBar conducted a voter information program geared specifically to Shortridge 8th graders. The committee modified the existing “YVote!” program to help that class learn about the voting process and to facilitate their election of an 8th grade class representative on the Shortridge student council. From “declaring their candidacy” to campaigning and lobbying to the mandating of IDs before they could vote, these kids saw and experienced it all. Not to sounds like an advertisement for Visa, but simply: PRICELESS.

I’ve been parenting for a while now; my oldest just left his teens and I have one still solidly entrenched there. I, like many other contemporary parents, have at times struggled to remain cautiously optimistic about the future of this generation that at times seems to know more about Gandalf’s blood type than our system of checks and balances. But this new collaboration between the IndyBar and Shortridge Magnet School for Law and Public Policy is a bold reminder that as stewards of this profession and indeed this system of justice, we can, should and must take some responsibility in passing on those reigns. Well done, gang.•


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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.