Ella Kirk is a high school student who looks for opportunities to explore her interests. Last summer, she picked up field hockey and became a varsity goalie. This summer, she’s learning about the justice system with the hopes of becoming a player in the legal profession.
“It’s as simple as knowing your rights. You should know what you are and aren’t allowed to do,” said Kirk, a 10th grader from Lewis Center.
She is one of 44 middle and high school students who took part in the Justice 4 All Summer Youth Camp at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. The event was organized by Franklin County Common Pleas Judges Jaiza Page and Daniel Hawkins. The judges introduced students to different fields of law – criminal, civil, and business.
“I learned more about the law in the last few days than I have in the rest of my life,” said Kirk.
The lessons showed students how to think like judges and lawyers. They applied what they learned in hypothetical situations such as contract disputes, civil liability claims, and encounters with law enforcement. It prepared them for their biggest assignment – mock trials at Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
“The collaboration was awesome, and I made so many new friends,” said Kirk.
The group also visited the Supreme Court at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center. Chief Justice Sharon L. Kennedy explained how trial cases can be appealed to the state’s highest court. She also shared her personal experience from police officer, to judge, and now leader of the Ohio judiciary. Each step in her career required a vision.
“The only thing you’re limited by is your imagination,” the chief justice encouraged students.
For Ella Kirk, the week broadened her knowledge of law and the many opportunities for a career in justice.
“I like the idea of helping in civil cases, and being a judge would also excite me because you get to bring justice through the law to people who wouldn’t otherwise get it,” she said.