Students participate in Law Day ceremony
Parkland and Allentown Central Catholic high school students presented compelling legal arguments on the First Amendment and student speech as they related to school dress codes and student walkouts during Law Day ceremonies May 1 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Allentown.
Parkland students Ryan Azar, Rishika Rohatgi and Kaitlin Shaul and Allentown Central Catholic students Anahbell Gonzalez, Morgan Dietz, Anna Hadded and Dylan Ferareza served as attorneys.
The student attorneys argued their oral arguments as they related to the 1969 Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines in a simulated court hearing before retired U.S. District Judge Edward N. Cahn and fellow student appellate judges.
Students serving as judges included Laura Quintanilla, Aashika Shah, Jillian Walls and Kira Kern, all from Parkland; and Justin Khoury, Jane Kamioner, Evan Renner and Noelle Boucher, all from Allentown Central Catholic.
Before the students practiced their civil discourse and question-and-answer skills, they worked with volunteer attorneys to prepare for their roles.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Sherri Stephan worked with Parkland students and Attorney Seth Weber, a professor at DeSales and Villa Nova, worked with Allentown Central Catholic.
After hearing the student attorneys’ oral arguments, Cahn and the student judges arrived at majority and dissenting opinions about what they heard before wrapping up the program with a question-and-answer session.
Before the close of the Law Day ceremonies, Cahn commented on the students’ participation.
“I think both arguments were well done,” he said. “I would first like to thank the lawyer coaches of the students. I have been blown away by the competency of these young people.
“They were pretty darn good and that means we have to complement their instructors back at their schools as well. They have handled themselves beautifully in really a very nerve racking situation.
“I hope some of you are thinking of a legal career down the line because it looks like you have some talent.”
Weber and Stephan also commented about the students efforts.
“I think they did wonderful. They knew what the law was,” Weber said. “We have mock trials for college students. Seriously you guys were way more prepared and ready to give your arguments than my college students are.
“I was very impressed. You knew the law; you handled the judge’s questions that you didn’t even know were coming, and you did an excellent job.”
Stephan said the students did a fabulous job.
“I think what I liked the most is that you really didn’t get a chance to do your full presentation [because all the student judges] started asking questions,” she stated. “They did a phenomenal job.”
Sami Jo Eckhart, Parkland business law teacher, also discussed the day.
“I am glad I made them do case presentations because then they could stand up in front of the crowd and talk,” she said. “You guys did great, I thoroughly enjoyed listening. You were awesome.”