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Gonzaga Law School Street Law Program Teaches Constitutional Rights to High School Students

Gonzaga Law student and Street Law volunteer Logan Bushell presents a lesson to Spokane-area high school students. Photo: Rajah Bose.

Gonzaga Law student and Street Law volunteer Logan Bushell presents a lesson to Spokane-area high school students. Photo: Rajah Bose.

SPOKANE, Wash – Students at Rogers and Lewis and Clark high schools will learn about the law today (Friday, Nov. 30) when 75 Gonzaga University School of Law volunteer students teach 18 classes about constitutional rights as a part of the Street Law program.

The national program, which started in 1972 and which Gonzaga Law Thomas More Scholarship students brought to the University in 2009, allows the law students to teach seven classes, one each month, on constitutional law topics, including freedom of speech, search and seizure, and discrimination. Today’s lesson is the third so far this semester.

“We want to show them that the law can be a force for good, a protection of the rights that they have both in and out of school,” said Caitlin McGrane, president of the Street Law Club at Gonzaga Law School.

The curriculum committee for Street Law often draws on real-world examples, which high school students can easily grasp. In their lessons, the GU law students will cover the theory and case law of a topic before addressing the practical applications of a particular law. Games, role-playing, and thoughtful discussion all are designed to improve learning.

“I think it is good that the law students teach the lessons, because they are young and the kids listen to them. Also, with their education in law, they can answer the students’ questions,” said Susie Gerard, a history teacher at Lewis and Clark High School.

Approximately 1 in every 6 Gonzaga law students have committed to teach in the program and follow up on the lessons. The law students teach in three- or four-member teams.

Gonzaga law students taught the program at Rogers High School in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. Last year, in response to a sharp increase in volunteers and requests, the program expanded to include both Rogers and Lewis and Clark. Street Law earned official independent club status at Gonzaga Law School last year.

“It is an aspiration of the program that in the future, we could expand even further, to include other high schools,” said McGrane. The program is funded mostly through fundraising events and a partnership with the Law School Admissions Council’s Discover Law program.

For more information, please contact Andrea Parrish, digital media specialist at Gonzaga University School of Law, at (509) 313-3771 or via e-mail.

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