September 19, 2014

Pinconning High School hosts 74th District Court

By James Kuch
News Editor | news@arenacindependent.com
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PINCONNING — Juniors and seniors from Pinconning High School recently got a dose of reality when their gymnasium was transformed into the 74th District Court.

Students got to watch as defendants facing charges went before Judge Timothy Kelly on Wednesday, April 20.

This was the third year that the school’s gym held its Court To School program. Teacher Bradley Keenan said he believes students walked away with valuable life lessons, just as prom approaches.

“This was a dose of real life,” he said. “Students got the opportunity to see that their actions have consequences.”

Keenan said that the reason the program is held in front of juniors and seniors, is because it coincides with prom.

“Risk factors increase for students as they get further along in their high school career,” he said.

Keenan said defendants agreed to be sentenced at the school, which earned them one day’s credit toward community service or jail time.

One defendant was sentenced for driving under the influence of alcohol. Keenan said the defendant was a good example for the students because he was under the age of 21.

“He was under the state limit for blood alcohol content of 0.07,” he said. “But he was under 21. He was over the zero tolerance law of 0.02.”

That individual received probation, Keenan said. He added that other defendants were sentenced for possession of marijuana and driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

Many students watched in silence as verdicts were handed out to defendants. Keenan said many students were in disbelief as to what they were witnessing.

“This was very real,” he said. “From what I have been hearing, students have been giving great feedback.”

Keenan said watching defendants get sentenced had an effect on many students.

“Many of the students wanted to talk in class afterward,” he said.

Keenan said that the gym had to be converted into a courtroom with specific standards.

“We had to make the judge’s bench 12 to 18 inches off the floor and had to place the American flag in a certain place,” he said.

Keenan said that he knows other schools in the area have a similar event during the school year. He said the event was scheduled on April 20, because that day is traditionally known as a day where marijuana is consumed.

“I wanted this to have the most impact possible,” he said.

Keenan said that as long as he is teaching, the program will continue at Pinconning.

“We are looking at doing this every other year,” he said. “That way all of the students, at least, get to go through it once.”

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