Eighth graders at Arvada North Middle School got a visit from a special guest on March 11 when Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright came for a Q&A with students from history teacher Matt Chisholm’s class. Chisholm said the visit arose from a letter that one of his students sent Boatright.
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Students prepared questions ranging from the Boatright’s biggest inspiration — his dad — to what made him want to become a judge.
Boatright said that the aspiration grew out of an experience he had when he was a lawyer and was mistreated by a judge.
“When I started as a lawyer, it was never my goal to be a judge. I had a hearing one time in front of the judge and this judge was very rude to me. And I remember thinking, ‘even if this judge is right, there’s a better way to treat people.’ That was the first day that I thought about being a judge,” Boatright said.
Chisholm said that Boatright — who is from nearby Golden and is a graduate of Jefferson High School in Edgewater — paid North Arvada Middle School a visit because one of his students reached out for a class assignment.
“We finished our unit on government, and it was kind of a moment in time where a bunch of kids were out with COVID. It was right before Christmas so there were a lot of kids out. The assignment was to pick someone that represents you in some way and write them a letter, just as a practice in civics,” Chisholm said.
One of Chisholm's students wants to be a lawyer, so she wrote to Boatright about her goals. His staff responded and asked to meet the student, Chisholm said — a proposal that evolved into Boatright coming before the class.
Chisholm said that other students wrote to Congressman Ed Perlmutter about getting more educators of color in schools, while others wrote to officials advocating for middle school sports.
He said the assignment was an important way to teach responsibility in civic engagement for students.
“I think it's an awesome interaction between our students and our civic leaders and how important that is. Getting our students to realize that these are our people, and they do work for us, and often, especially with kids, they don’t hear from kids about how they feel about the world. And these are young adults that are four years away from being full-on people,” Chisholm said.
“I tell them, ‘You guys are growing up and you need to understand that when you're casting votes or not casting votes, you’re saying something and you can also say something by writing letters or going to their offices,’” Chisholm continued.
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