SJHS Gets Justice!

Attributions: 
Claire Hatch, SJHS Staff Writer
Ninth grader Andrew Garza, a lawyer representing the defendant, in peer court

The SJHS Mission statement mentions that the students will be “responsible citizens” to help that happen, Mr. David Hansen’s Government and Law class has set up Peer Court. As the Springville Junior High School Handbook reads, “A Peer Court will be created as part of a Government and law class to give students the opportunity to be involved in addressing and enforcing school policy.”

So here’s how the peer court basically works: If a student is harassed, mocked, or bullied by another student, and no other person helps, there is a way to get justice.  Students can get a referral sheet from Mr. Hansen describing what happened.  Then, about a week later, the witnesses of whatever happened are taken out of first period and have to go to court.  Both the prosecutor and the accused have three or four fellow students working for them as lawyers.  There is also a council of three or four judges who decide the sentence, three bailiffs who keep order in the court, and three clerks keeping everything organized. Mr. Hansen, Utah Studies and Government and Law teacher at SJHS, said, “The most important thing about Peer Court is that students get to hear both sides of the argument and then give an opportunity decision either as a punishment or reward.”

There is also a new way that peer court can help people in the school to do good things.  If a student sees another student do a good deed without being noticed, they can get a different referral sheet from Mr. Hansen.  Then, the good-deed-doing student will be taken out of first period and given a candy bar.  “This,” as Sarah Clark, eighth grader and member of peer court at Springville Junior High School, said, “makes the school a better place.”