On Tuesday June 9th, the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities hosted its annual Kids Court, where twelve Connecticut students stood at the podium to present essays they had written on Civil Rights issues. The event took place in the Old Judiciary Room at the State Capitol.
The event was preceded by the CHRO’s annual Kids Speak. Where students from several schools from across the state came together at the University of Connecticut School of Law to participate in a day-long workshop about Civil Rights.
Essay topics ranged from the social cost of social media to women’s rights in popular culture. The competition had two separate divisions, one for Middle School and one for High School students. As their family, friends, and teachers watched, the six Middle School students presented their essays and answered questions from the distinguished panel of judges. After the Middle School students completed their presentations, the High School division took the stand. Between student presentations, CHRO interns read fun facts about civil rights for the crowd. Students were judged on a number of criteria and ranked based on their scores.
This year’s judges were:
- The Honorable Dawne Westbrook, Connecticut Superior Court Judge
- The Honorable Juliett L. Crawford, Connecticut Superior Court Judge
- Michele C. Mount, Public Hearing Referee for the CHRO
- Ana Mitchell, Director of Development at Oakhill
- Kenneth Barone, Policy and Research Specialist at the Institute for Municipal & Regional Policy, Central Connecticut State University
- Dr. William Howe, Education Consultant for Civil Rights and Bullying, Gender Equity, and Multicultural Education at the State Department of Education
- Sarah L. Jones, Project Officer at SERC
The winners of the Middle School Division were as follows:
- First place: Esther Nguyen of Windsor Locks Middle School
- Second place: Miya Spinella of Northeast Middle School
- Third place: Emma Vrabel of Canton Intermediate School
- Runners up: Juan Calderon of Northeast Middle School, Simran Patel of Windsor Locks Middle School, and Zoe Kruger of Northeast Middle School
The winners of the High School Division were as follows:
- First place: Alexandra Prendergast of Danbury High School
- Second place: Kaya Walker of Windsor Locks High School
- Third place: Desmond Egyin of Windsor Locks High School
- Runners up: Thonkham Alvin Kahoxayo of Windsor Locks High School, Mackenzie Worley of Bristol Eastern High School, and Olivia Phelan of Wilton High School
All participants received CHRO paraphernalia as well as a certificate from the State of Connecticut.