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St. Louis students celebrate Law Day, event coordinators recognized for civic virtue

What happens when two judges, who care deeply about young people, decide to find a way to encourage students to study hard and stay out of trouble? More than 20 years ago, that was the question Judge Iris Ferguson and Juvenile Commissioner Anne-Marie Clarke, both of St. Louis, asked themselves. They reached out to judges, the Mound City Bar, The Missouri Bar and to their professional sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, for ideas and for help. The final result was a Law Day celebration for middle and high school students in St. Louis public and parochial schools held in the St. Louis City courts. Eventually, Ferguson and Clarke expanded the celebration to a Saturday event at the juvenile courts.

Throughout the years, Ferguson and Clarke have invited law enforcement officers, public defenders, prosecutors and judges to speak to the students about the law and about careers in the law. The 2017 celebration took place April 28 in the St. Louis Civil Courts Building. Speakers included Judge Michael Mullen; Rick Kroeger, deputy district defender; Lt. Perri Johnson, commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Juvenile Division; Annette Llewellyn, chief trial assistant in the circuit attorney’s office; and Sheriff Vernon Betts. In addition to hearing the various speakers, students from Northwest High School in St. Louis attended court proceedings and participated in mock trials. Delta Sigma Theta provided lunch for the students and The Missouri Bar provided transportation.

During the Law Day festivities, Millie Aulbur, director of citizenship education for The Missouri Bar, presented Ferguson and Clarke with The Missouri Bar Solomon Award for Civic Virtue. The Advisory Committee for Citizenship Education of The Missouri Bar established the Solomon award in 2001 to recognize individuals who exemplify civic virtue and who have promoted civic virtue among Missouri’s students. It is named for Dr. Warren H. Solomon, who was the social studies curriculum specialist with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for over 25 years, where he worked tirelessly to promote law-related education among Missouri teachers. In turn, Ferguson and Clarke presented Aulbur with several gifts to recognize her longtime commitment to the Law Day event. Aulbur is set to retire in December 2017. Ferguson, Clarke and Aulbur have worked with more than 1,000 students during their 22-year partnership for the Law Day project.

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