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Nowell Academy Students Get a Lesson in the Law

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Nowell Leadership Academy students learned firsthand about the legal system, First Amendment rights in schools, and legal precedent by participating in the program “Students and the Law.” The program leverages a partnership with students from Roger Williams University Law School to support Nowell students in a moot court and in writing judicial opinions.

“Our students have truly enjoyed the opportunity to work with and learn from Roger Williams law students,” said Krissy Werner, a history educator at Nowell teaching the class. “They were challenged to think like a constitutional lawyer and make strong legal arguments defending their position. It opened their eyes to the profession, as well as the intersection of the legal system and their daily lives. We can’t thank Roger Williams Law School, Springpoint, and the Barr Foundation enough. We also were so fortunate to be able to use the courthouse and to have expert legal advice and feedback from real judges. Our students began to see the legal profession as a potential fulfilling career.”

Roger Williams law students facilitated discussions and preparation as well as mentored Nowell students through the moot court, diving into First Amendment cases involving schools as their area of focus. On Friday, October 21st, twenty students from Nowell participated in a moot court in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, where they offered arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court case Mahanoy v. B.L. After the simulated appellate court proceedings, students received feedback on the case from Chief Judge John McConnell and Judge Mary McElroy. 

“Students and the Law,” a Transformative Learning Experience created by Springpoint, Nowell’s innovative design partner, was supported by a grant through the Barr Foundation. 

Nowell junior Jaevon Gomes served as a judge in the Moot Court and enjoyed challenging both the petitioners and respondents about their arguments. Jaevon says, “this class got me thinking about how the First Amendment issues in schools have been settled by the Supreme Court and if I agree with it. It was also fun to challenge the lawyers on both sides in the Moot Court and push them to show me how their arguments are better.” Jaevon is considering a career in the law after the experience. 

Transformative Learning Experiences, like Students and the Law, align with Nowell’s mission providing engaging, meaningful learning experiences through a competency based educational framework.  

Nowell Leadership Academy is a public charter high school founded to serve pregnant and parenting young adults.  They serve approximately 160 students in downtown Providence. Nowell combines a rigorous, college and career-preparatory academic curriculum with a strong network of wrap-around supports to create a high-support, high-expectations school environment.

Nowell Academy students presenting at U.S. District Court

Nowell Academy students address the moot court judges.