Law Day gives students front-row seat to US justice system

READING, Pa. - High school students in Berks County have been given a firsthand look at the legal process.

Wednesday was Law Day, and the students marked the occasion by taking over U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Schmehl's federal courtroom inside the Madison Building in downtown Reading.

They held a mock trial, focusing on a real case involving student dress codes and school walkouts.

Law Day was established by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958 to celebrate the liberty, justice and equality granted by the country's founding fathers.

This year, the Berks County Bar Association recognized the day with the theme "Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society."

The association also recognized three students for their winning entries in its Law Day essay contest, which asked them to "describe how your life would change if our country did not have any independent newspapers, television and radio stations, podcasts, social media and other electronic media. Be sure to explain whether our country would still be a free society without free speech and free press."

Sam Gallagher of LaSalle Academy in Shillington received the gold medal for his essay, "Hardships with Censorship." Antonia Antolini of Sacred Heart School in West Reading received the silver medal for her entry, "Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society." Serena Burkey of LaSalle Academy was awarded the bronze medal for her essay, "Why Freedom of Speech is Necessary for Self-Expression."

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