Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Rising Together

Name: Ashley Ayala
From: Jurupa Valley , California
Grade: 10
School: Jurupa Valley High School
Votes: 0

            In my sophomore year of high school, I decided to join the Jurupa
Unified School District Youth Court. This was the first year that the
JUSD Student Youth Court would operate so my peers were and I the
founders or the beginning of this wonderful program that still
continues to run today. The goal of the JUSD Student Youth Court is
to give students in my school district a new pathway for discipline
rather than suspension or expulsion when it comes to behavioral
issues. I found this interesting since I saw many of my peers missing
school due to suspension. This lead me to join the JUSD Student Youth
Court to be able to make an impact not only in my school but the
schools that surround me. The JUSD Student Youth Court meets every
two weeks for four hours. Throughout those four hours we see cases
from different schools and we deliberate and come to a consensus on
what the consequences will be for the defendants. My responsibility
is to be a juror, I sit in a panel formed by about 6 people and we
get assigned a case for the day. We then review the case and prepare
any questions we might have when we are up at the podium.  

Volunteering in the JUSD Student Youth Court provided me with insightful
information on my peers, it opened my eyes to reality that there were
many students not only from my school but other ones who shared the
same problem with behavioral issues ranging from possession of a drug
on a school campus to continuous tardiness. The JUSD Student Youth
Court taught me not to judge people based on how they act or portray
themselves, it taught me to accept people even if they have done bad
in the past, and most importantly it taught me that sometimes people
deserve second chances so they can redeem the damage or harm they
have done to their education. But I did not learn all these wonderful
things by myself, I had many peers and inclusively defendants who
managed to teach me. The people who surrounded me helped me not only
make my community but my school a better place for everyone. With the
help of my peers and our advisor we were able to bring awareness of
this issue and now two years later our program is still operating
with over 20 jurors.

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