Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

BOCES legal studies program first year proves successful

Thu, Jun 28th 2018 05:00 pm
From left, John Granchelli, Assistant District Attorney - Niagara County District Attorney's Office. Back row, from left, Jonathan Huntington (Royalton-Hartland), Brennan Stevens (Lockport), Brandon LaForme (Royalton-Hartland). Front row, from left, Megan Smit (Niagara-Wheatfield), Grace Catalano (Newfane) and Chase Fifield (Lockport). Teacher Gene Newman, far right.
From left, John Granchelli, Assistant District Attorney - Niagara County District Attorney's Office. Back row, from left, Jonathan Huntington (Royalton-Hartland), Brennan Stevens (Lockport), Brandon LaForme (Royalton-Hartland). Front row, from left, Megan Smit (Niagara-Wheatfield), Grace Catalano (Newfane) and Chase Fifield (Lockport). Teacher Gene Newman, far right.
The Niagara Career and Technical Education Center rolled out the legal studies program this past school year to expand upon the very successful security and law enforcement program that is offered at both the Niagara and Orleans Career and Technical Education Centers.
The seven students who graduated from the program this June not only discovered the professions that might await them, but also performed exceptionally on the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) exam. All seven students passed the challenging legal services test that is nationally recognized as a rigorous competency test for students studying the legal professions. 
Lockport Senior High School graduate Brennan Stevens said, "The class was very informative because I just kept learning new things every day. I looked forward to class every morning."
Teacher Gene Newman taught this one-year senior-year program during the morning session at the Niagara Career and Technical Education Center. The focus was exploring the law and government career fields while providing an excellent academic foundation with exposure to a wide range of occupations and professions within those fields. The course helps students successfully transition from high school to college since it is designed to expose students to these varied careers before they make a commitment to a college major. As an added bonus, after successfully completing the program, students can receive three credits from Niagara University for introduction to criminal justice that will help them towards their degrees. 
In class, a wide variety of topics are covered such as law and the legal system, criminal law, civil law (torts), family law, consumer law, individual rights, policing and contemporary issues in law. During the program, students also interacted with many guest speakers from the legal and criminal justice fields, attended trials and visited related agencies for short shadowing or internship experiences.  Many of the students developed a network of professional connections as an outcome of their shadowing experience. 
"This year we were fortunate enough to shadow at the Niagara County Sheriffs Department for two weeks. Due to my small class size, I was able to have each one of my students assigned to a mentor in the department who had a leadership role," said Newman. "These lieutenants, captains and the jail superintendent provided a behind-the-scenes view of their leadership roles and how their division was run. It showed them in real life and real time what those jobs entail."
Niagara County Undersheriff Michael Filicetti said, "We try to open our doors to up-and-coming criminal justice professionals to give them a front row seat to see what we actually do. When I was a field studies student I had a great experience and my hope is for these kids to be enthusiastic about joining our law enforcement team."
Assistant District Attorney John Granchelli, who met with the students as a guest speaker, agreed. He said, "The Legal Academy exposes students in school districts served by Orleans-Niagara BOCES to various legal professions. I'm excited to discuss what it takes to become a prosecutor and the duties and responsibilities that I have on a daily basis. Those of us working in the legal arena have a tremendous opportunity to share our experiences to help guide students towards careers that fit their interests and aptitudes."
Many of the students were able to see what kind of jobs are available to them in the legal field that they didn't even realize existed and aligned with their interests. 
"I have a student who wants to be a teacher and she was able to see our BOCES continuing education teachers go in and teach the inmates to assist them in getting their degree," said Newman. "It was very eye opening for her as far as a potential career. Another student wants to be a probation officer or work for Child Protective Services. She was able to work with the personnel in the Office of Victim Services. This program has truly allowed students to explore many existing careers, to include attorneys, judges, social workers, intelligence agents, journalists, politicians, elected officials, law enforcement officers, etc." 
Newman said, "I believe this course is a great avenue for any aspect of the legal system or to give students a background for other career paths. We are privileged to have numerous agencies and legal experts who are volunteering their time to mentor the students. I would encourage students to think about this program as a way to get their feet wet before they commit to a college major or career or just to explore their options since in this day and age the money outlay is enormous."   
The students this year came in after completing one year of the security and law enforcement program at the Niagara and Orleans CTE Centers, but it is not necessary for students to have taken a BOCES program to enroll in the program. In fact this is a perfect choice for seniors who have time in their schedule to spend a half-day studied the law and exploring potential careers.
"If a student is interested in coming to the legal studies program as a senior, all they have to do is talk to their guidance counselor," said Newman. Interested students or their parents can also call the Niagara Career and Tech Center at 731-6800.

comments powered by Disqus