Black Belt Region Teens Take on the Courtroom: Eighth Annual High School Mock Trial Plaintiff Team to be Coached by Hare Wynn

Twenty high school students, heralding from the state’s Black Belt region, are spending four weeks in Birmingham this summer, immersed in an interactive educational program, providing continued learning throughout the summer. This academic “boot-camp” will culminate in a mock trial on June 28, to be held in the Jefferson County Courthouse and presided over by The Honorable Teresa T. Pulliam.

Students will have the opportunity to experience first-hand the difficulties that lawyers face in determining which facts of a case are relevant and what legal arguments are effective. Under the guidance of both Hare Wynn and Bradley lawyers, HASS students will form both a plaintiff and defense team and will learn to understand the law, practice critical thinking, and gain greater confidence with public speaking by assuming roles of attorneys and witnesses in criminal and civil cases.

Higher Academics Summer School, otherwise known as HASS, is a four-week academic summer program serving high achieving students from the Black Belt of Alabama. HASS was started in the year 2011 by two Teach For America teachers who recognized the importance of providing more opportunities for students to continue learning during the summer months. HASS serves students who lack many extracurricular opportunities in their rural communities, but wish to build the skills to become competitive college applicants.

The program seeks to remedy the educational disparity students in the Black Belt experience by providing them with four weeks of intensive, rigorous academic, cultural and leadership enrichment every summer throughout the duration of their high school career. HASS students attend classes that focus on public speaking, literature and literary analysis, and college-level lab research. Students also participate in a mock trial competition, financial literacy courses, and tour colleges and universities. In the time span of four weeks, students experience educational opportunities that they would not otherwise have access to in the Black Belt.

HASS is made possible through grants and individual and corporate sponsors including: Bradley Arant Boult & Cummings; Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton; Alabama Power; Daxco; Colliers International; Bridgeworth, LLC; Christian & Small LLC; SAIL Grant; The Goodrich Foundation and Birmingham Barons Baseball.

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