Street Law Visits Ellis County Court

Bob Leikam, JH Vice-Principal and HS Teacher, took his Street Law Class on an eye-opening field trip to the Ellis County Court House.  Students were given an audience with Judge Glenn Braun.  Braun went over two actual cases.  One a sex offenders case and the other a marijuana drug case.  He explained where the crimes fell on a chart, which determined how many years the defendant could receive and whether or not parole could be given.  In addition, he explained why felonies are typically harsher sentences than misdemeanors.  Another interesting point in the discussion was when Braun asked how many students were 18.  Five hands raised and Braun then asked how many of you are registered to vote?  All five hands went down.  He then read statistics on the percentages of people registered to vote.  Ages 50+ were anywhere from 70% – 89%.  Ages 18-24 were 28%.  This demonstrated why politicians listen so closely to those generations with higher voter turn out and so little to the youth of America.  All in all, it was an excellent example given to motivate young people to register to vote, in order to have a voice in the future.

Students were then given a tour by Assistant Police Chief Officer Brian Dawson.  They were granted a rare view into the Ellis County dispatch area where all emergencies are handled, as well as, 911 phone calls.  The squad room, detective offices, interview rooms and the Chief of Police Don Scheibler’s Office, were all on the tour.  However, the most interesting part had to be when the students were allowed to view the booking department.  This is where people that are arrested are brought to take a mug shot, be finger printed and are changed into an orange jump suit and placed in a holding cell.  Students were even allowed in the holding cell to view the tight quarters and less than desirable toilet sink combination.

This field trip was the culmination of several weeks worth of visits and classroom discussion.  Tom Drees, Ellis County Attorney, visited TMP-M Street Law to discuss many different facets of the law.  He made sure the students understood what consequences came with Driving Under the Influence, Minor in Possession, Minor in Consumption and a number of other commonly acquired convictions in High School and College.  He also went over how these convictions could and would affect the convicted for their entire life.

Officer Dawson visited Street Law to discuss anything from a speeding ticket to basic traffic violations to who covers what emergencies.  For example, he explained the difference between sheriffs, troopers and officers, county, town and rural and many other commonly confused terminology that deals with law enforcement.

Street Law is a curriculum that has been designed for young adults.  Students that take this class learn many aspects of life management besides just their lawful rights.  They learn what is a good credit score or a good loan interest rate.  How interest rates work for student loans.  What consolidation means and if it is a wise choice.  Moreover, they learn how to purchase a car or house and how to read and understand a rental contract.

Kayla Vitztum, a student in the Street Law Class, stated, “I will take away many things from this class but the most valuable to me was when Mr. Leikam talked about the relationships we will develop later in life and how to handle them if something goes wrong.  All students should take this class. You learn so many important things about life and Mr. Leikam makes it fun!”  Mr. Leikam allows the discussions to cover anything the students feel could affect their lives outside of TMP-Marian once they graduate.  All very important aspects of a young adults life.  What valuable knowledge they will enter into the world with because there is no better weapon than knowledge!