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Lucas: Make this the year to support civic education

Kelly Lucas
September 12, 2012
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EidtPerspLucas-sigI knew that if I kept the faith, sooner or later it had to happen. Several days into my youngest son’s senior year of high school, God threw me a bone.

My son came home from school and told me that he planned to try out for his high school’s Model U.N. team. Now, this may not seem a big deal to you. But for this journalist who began her career working in the state Legislature and has always struggled to get the math and science aficionados that I live with to appreciate how intriguing government can be, it was a milestone moment.

So how did this happen – this kid who calls AP Calculus “easy” but considers reading a novel “a lot of work” decides that he wants to engage in government and take it on as an extra-curricular activity, no less? Someone inspired him.

There is no shortage of programs in our schools to engage and interest students in government and the law. Dedicated teachers and volunteers, many from the legal community, have given countless hours and personal resources to support programs that move students from a level of complacency of merely “showing up” to a level of intrigue that motivates them to “stand up.” But in a state that ranks 48th in the nation in voter turnout with only 39.4 percent of us bothering to cast a ballot, we must do more.

Indiana lawyers will have a unique opportunity to participate in a civic education program that will cast a national spotlight on our state and legal community. The 2013 National High School Mock Trial Championship will be held in Indianapolis May 9 to 11. Teams of high school students from almost every state, and some from outside the United States, will travel to Indianapolis to compete in this event that can make even the most experienced trial lawyer do a double-take to confirm that these are, in fact, high school students arguing matters of law.

Nearly 400 lawyer and non-lawyer volunteers are needed to serve as judges and timekeepers; assist out-of-town visitors at social events, hotels and courtroom sites; and serve in other volunteer capacities associated with this competition. If you are looking for more than a one-time volunteer opportunity, consider coaching an Indiana high school mock trial team that will compete for the opportunity to attend the national championship.

While hosting hundreds of the brightest high schoolers in the country in Indianapolis is exciting, it is not cheap. The committee is depending on the generosity of the legal community to provide resources to make the 2013 NHSMTC one to remember.

Information about Indiana Mock Trial and the national championship, along with volunteer opportunities and forms, can be obtained at www.inmocktrial.org. Donations may be made at www.inbf.org/giving_to_the_foundation. Be sure to note that your gift is for the Indiana High School Mock Trial Program. Questions may be directed to NHSMTC host committee chair Ann Marie Waldron at awaldron@rwylaw.com.

September is a month of new beginnings. For students, it represents a new school year – a clean slate – and anything is possible. For members of the legal community, it can be the time to consider volunteering and making a difference, perhaps becoming an inspiration to a kid. On behalf of parents everywhere whose child will discover a new area of interest this school year, I thank you.•

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