Nebraska State Bar Foundation

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News 5th Graders Shadow Lawyers and Judges on Law Day

5th Graders Shadow Lawyers and Judges on Law Day

The Deputy Sheriff demonstrates the fingerprinting technique at the Holt County Courthouse.
The 10th Annual Law Day Job Shadowing activities for fifth graders took place in eight courthouses across the state this year. These activities are sponsored by the Bar Foundation and the Nebraska Supreme Court for the purpose of encouraging students to work hard and stay in school. Since the program began statewide in 2003, more than 2,000 students have participated. If you would like more information about the program, please check this web page: Here you will find photos, Job Shadowing FAQs, and informational videos for teachers and students about the program.


Student Feedback
Text of one student's thank you letter sent to Polly Olson:

I was so excited for law day that I actually wore a tie. The job that got my attention was the deputy. The reason why is because the deputy is an important role in the courtroom. What I learned is that there are a lot of rules in the court room and how an attorney can fight for the person who has done the wrong thing. And that is what I learned at law day and also if you wear a tie good things will happen.

"The morning was amazing!" commented Creek Valley Middle School teacher Jessica Cabela following Law Day Job Shadowing for fifth graders at the Deuel County Courthouse in Chappell. On May 6, Ms. Cabela and South Platte teacher Beverly Kyrklund accompanied a total of 31 fifth graders to the courthouse where Judge Derek C. Weimer and Judge Randin R. Roland headed up the team of hosts who showcased the jobs of judge, attorney, law enforcement officers, and court clerks. District Court Clerk Polly Olson coordinated this first-time Job Shadowing activity at Chappell, which also engaged the students in a discussion of the dangers of cyberbullying. Hosts agreed that the group of students were lots of fun and asked good questions.

Wayne, Neligh and Stanton

Stanton Middle School Teacher Tom King observes his fifth graders casting their votes as jurors in the State v. Bean mock trial.

Wayne Middle School Principal Rocky Ruhl, stated in a thank you letter to Judge Donna Taylor, "They (the students) were thrilled and had a lot of fun. I heard the kids talking about the court cases and what went on the next day in school." Judge Taylor, a veteran Job Shadowing coordinator for the counties she serves, this year added Wayne to the communities of Neligh and Stanton. Staff members from the Bar Foundation and Nebraska Supreme Court had the privilege of participating with teacher Tom King's class at the Stanton County Courthouse where students presented the mock trial case of State v. Bean (based on the Jack and the Beanstalk story.) In addition to participating in the Bean case, students at Wayne, Neligh, and Stanton also observed courtroom proceedings as a part of their job shadowing experiences. Melinda Cromer, teacher at St. Boniface in Elgin, sponsored her fifth graders' job shadowing experience in Neligh.

Kearney and Pleasanton

Touring the Emergency Operation Center at the Buffalo County Courthouse was a big hit for students from Kearney Public and Pleasanton. Teacher sponsors from Kearney Public were Linda Giesler, Pam Murdoch, Nancy Graham, Jane Mena-Werth, and Julie Tye. Pleasanton teachers were Cara Riessland and Brenda Paito. Judge John P. Icenogle and Judge William T. Wright spoke with the students and answered their questions. Twelve volunteer lawyers gave the students small-group tours of the courthouse and explained the jobs that they and other courthouse employees perform, also providing them a visit with the Court Interpreter. Coordinator Sharon Mauler received high marks from teachers and hosts alike who said it was a great day and well organized.


The K-9 dog is always popular with the students from Mary Lynch Elementary in Kimball. But this year both teachers, Carma Weisbrook and Laurie Janicek, agreed that hearing from a 23-year-old young man who had been convicted of motor vehicle homicide was a most powerful learning experience for their fifth graders. In the two hours the students spent at the courthouse, coordinator Angie Haun also orchestrated brief presentations by Judge Randin R. Roland, two state troopers, the Kimball Chief of Police, the county attorney, and the county sheriff and a deputy. Subjects discussed were Stranger Danger, sexting, and cyberbulling. One student commented that she was most surprised to learn that "you could go to jail for texting something inappropriate to someone else."


Mary Novak's fifth graders from St. Mary's School and students of Kelly Young and Kathy Kloppenborg from O'Neill Public Schools learned more about the Law Day theme, "Democracy and the Digital Age of Media," as a part of their job shadowing experience. Judge Alan Brodbeck demonstrated the technology used in the courtroom, including conferencing via Skype. The technology is often used to provide interpretation services between courthouses. The students also learned how the court reporter records everything that is spoken during court hearings. Small groups of students shadowed private practice attorneys and toured 911 Dispatch and the jail. A student responded following the jail tour, "I heard that when you go to jail, you don't get to pick your roommate!"

Pawnee City

Student Feedback
Comment of Lewiston student:

“Thank you for taking your day off for showing 5th graders the laws, how to go to court, and showing penaltys (sp) of running from crime scens (sp), lying in court, and doing the crime.”
LaRita Weber puts finishing touches on treats for 5th graders shadowing at Pawnee County Courthouse

LaRita Weber's cookies are always high on the list of "likes" of the students who job shadow at the Pawnee County Courthouse. For the past four years, Clerk Magistrate Weber has baked and hand decorated dozens and dozens of cookies as treats for students from Pawnee City, Lewiston, and Humboldt-Table Rock-Steinauer. But the students are also very much "into" the mock trial involving a car accident at a school. Judge Curtis L. Maschman presides over the trial, with involvement of the students. The county attorney and sheriff help the fifth graders understand the criminal trial process. Teacher sponsors are Carol Schmitz, Jean Kwiatkowski, and Shari Drake.


Wilber-Clatonia teacher Donna Zlab said she thinks "getting kids into the courtroom and discussing all the procedures and laws/consequences is always good for them!" She and teacher Tim Barada annually sponsor their fifth graders in the Law Day Job Shadowing activity where Saline County Clerk Magistrate conducts shows the students the county records, the jail, and the courtroom technology. He also explains the trial process to the students. Mrs. Zlab said that it was a "very enjoyable morning for the class!"

Law-Related Education