New court recording system unveiled for pre-law students at Seneca High School
Students, staff and alumni celebrated the installation of the new $30,000 recording system on Friday -- a gift made possible by a grant and donations from Jefferson Audio Video Systems and the Seneca Past and Present Alumni Association.
“Providing our scholars with engaging real-world experiences enhances their learning and gives them a tangible connection to their goals,” said Kim Harbolt, the principal of Seneca. “None of this would be possible without the help of our community partners.”
Four cameras and eight microphones with a Centro voice-activated mixer and public address system that allow cameras to switch to the person speaking in the courtroom and a document camera to display and record documents and evidence are now present in Seneca's Ellen B. Ewing Courtroom.
The courtroom is also now equipped with software that records the proceedings so that students and teachers can review trials to enhance the learning experience.
"I'm so excited about this program because it is helping me with my communication skills," said Danielle Polion, a freshman at Seneca. "These cameras are a huge benefit because it allows me to go back and see what areas I can improve upon."
The pre-law program at Seneca has grown from about 30 students taking an elective class four years ago to a full-curriculum that now boasts 225 students who are introduced to legal concepts covered in undergraduate and law school courses. The program is taught by two attorneys who have experience in corporate law and litigation.
The program also provides students with opportunities to participate in mock trial debates and student court and to enroll in dual college courses with relevance to law. Students also shadow lawyers, judges, and other professionals.
"It's been really exciting to see the program grow each year and to watch the students develop," said Emily Wirtzberger, an attorney who teaches at Seneca. "It's also exciting to see the support that this program has received from the district and the community. We are are really blessed."
The pre-law program is also helping Seneca students get college and career ready. Last year, 20 students took the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute assessment in criminal justice, with 17 students passing and earning certification, said Teresa Ohlman, the school's small learning community coordinator.
Cole Travis, 18, was one of the first students to enroll in the program as a freshman.
"I always liked law, so I signed up for it," said Travis, who is now a senior. "At the time, it was one class in a tiny room. I had no idea the program would turn into something like this. I've learned so much from it. Regardless of what I do with my life, I want to get a law degree. I think it would be very valuable."
Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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