News Release - J.U.S.T. L.A.W. Initiative Student Essay Winners to be Recognized at Hall of Justice

City of Rochester

News Release

(Tuesday, March 12, 2019) – J.U.S.T. L.A.W., a new initiative launched at the start of the 2018-19 school year to promote better understanding between court officials and city youth, will hold an awards ceremony at the Hall of Justice (HOJ) on Thurs., March 14, 2019, to recognize the 12 middle-school students who were selected as this year’s essay contest winners. The ceremony will take place from noon to 2 p.m., in HOJ Courtroom 404, 99 Exchange Blvd. 

On hand to congratulate the students will be Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren, 7th Judicial District Administrative Judge Craig Doran, President of the Rochester Black Bar Association Anthony Orphe, WDKX radio personality Tariq Spence and Rochester City School District Interim Superintendent Daniel Lowengard.

J. U.S.T. L.A.W. is a collaborative effort between the City of Rochester, radio station 103.9fm WDKX, the 7th Judicial District, the Rochester Black Bar Association and the Rochester City School District.  The initiative provides an opportunity for 6th, 7th and 8th graders to interface with judges and other court officials in an effort to better educate middle-school students about the U.S. legal system.  The idea for the program was developed by WDKX Owner and General Manager Andre Langston, along with Justice Craig Doran.

During Thursday’s awards ceremony, the 12 honorees will be presented with special certificates and will have the opportunity to recite their winning essays in front of their parents, school principals, judges, Hall of Justice personnel and members of the Rochester Police Department.  As a grand prize, the students will receive Samsung Galaxy tablets with matching cases. WDKX will also present each of the winners with a check for $103.90.

The J.U.S.T. L.A.W. initiative kicked off this past September.  Over the course of the program, judges from the 7th Judicial District visited 18 RCSD middle schools, presenting information on how the justice system works and the role it plays in the community. Students then had the opportunity to share their own perspectives and experiences with the justice system, fostering dialogue between court officials and participating youth.

Following the formal presentations, students were asked to write a 250 word essay on the topic, “What Justice Means to Me.”  A total of 459 essays were submitted, with each student receiving free tickets to the 2018 WDKX Step Jam last December. Essays were then judged by the J.U.S.T. L.A.W. executive committee, and the top 12 essays were selected as the winners. The program selected 12 winners to mirror the jury selection process and the 12 jurors who play a critical role in the outcome of a trial.

The names of the winning students were announced on Dec. 6, 2018 at the WDKX Step Jam. Essay winners also had the opportunity to take a tour of the Hall of Justice in February.

The next phase of J.U.S.T. L.A.W., which involves a mentoring component, is scheduled to begin in April.  Students will be paired with members of the Rochester Black Bar Association who will serve as their mentors.

The 2018-2019 J.U.S.T. L.A.W. student winners are:

Ruwelda Abdulrahman                  World of Inquiry School 58                                           7th grade

Luis Y. Collazo                                    Flower City School 54                                                    6th grade

Asia Dillard                                          Henry Hudson School 28                                              7th grade

Arianna Dorado                                Enrico Fermi School 17                                                   8th grade

Erick Martinez Figueroa                 Abraham Lincoln School 22                                          6th grade

Skyler M. Johnson                           Dr. Louis A. Cerulli School 34                                        6th grade

Jayla Lebron                                       School of the Arts                                                            8th grade

Yuleizy Maysonet                            Henry Hudson School 28                                                8th grade

Shazia Muhammad                         World of Inquiry School 58                                           7th grade

Janetlise Ortiz                                    Integrated Arts & Technology HS                              8th grade

Omar Overstreet                             Dr. Louis A. Cerulli School 34                                        6th grade

Abdiel Soto                                         Abraham Lincoln School 22                                          6th grade

School administrators or students who would like more information on the J.U.S.T. L.A.W. program should contact Liliana Ruiz at (585) 428-7045.

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News Media: For more information, contact Press Officer Jessica Alaimo at 428-7135.