Public outreach is an important initiative in the District of Connecticut. One of the primary goals of our District’s Public Outreach Committee is to educate young people and the public about the vital role that the federal courts, our judges, and our lawyers play in preserving the rule of law.
We aim to establish partnerships between federal judges, attorneys, educators, students, community groups, and court personnel to open the federal courthouses in Connecticut for learning opportunities for students.
We invite you to consider any of the following outreach activities and programs that may fit with your curriculum.
We can provide print materials to support and enhance your curriculum or event.
- POSTERS: The court can send posters to schools and community programs for Law Day, Constitution/Citizenship Day, or other legal topics of interest.
- HANDOUTS: The court can distribute information explaining Law Day and Constitution/Citizenship Day that can be read during morning announcements at schools, etc.
- RECORDED VIDEOS: The court can provide brief recorded videos to play during school assemblies, community programs, etc. addressing topics of interest featuring judges from our court.
- LEARNING MATERIALS: The court can provide learning materials on a range of legal topics that middle and high school teachers can use to teach lessons independently, or in conjunction with judges and/or attorneys. The materials can be used along with portions of the grade-level curriculum. The court can also provide to elementary schools digitally accessible lessons through iCivics.
We can coordinate with your classroom or group to provide an in-person or online interactive learning experience.
- READ TO AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLASS: Either as part of Read Across America Week (the first week of March), or at any time, judges can visit elementary schools in-person or virtually online to read We the Kids by David Catrow, or other age-appropriate books to elementary-level classes. We the Kids contains the actual words of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, using a humorous picture book that helps children understand the U.S. Constitution. Readings are available both in-person and online. Recommended age-appropriate books are: Vote for Our Future! by Margaret McNamara and Micah Player; Democracy for Dinosaurs: A Guide for Young Citizens by Laurie Krasny Brown; What Can a Citizen Do? By Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris; Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote by Tanya Lee Stone; Around American to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles by Mara Rockliff; Marching with Aunt Susan by Claire Rudolph Murphy; Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein.
- WRITE A WELCOME LETTER TO NEW CITIZENS: Students can write letters to newly naturalized citizens welcoming them as new citizens. The court will then use these letters at naturalization ceremonies by giving them to new citizens, reading them during the ceremony, or displaying them in the courthouse. It may also be possible for students to personally deliver their letters to new citizens as part of a naturalization ceremony, or for a student to read their letter during a ceremony.
- ATTEND A NATURALIZATION CEREMONY: The court can invite students or a community group to attend a naturalization ceremony at the courthouse to celebrate Constitution/Citizenship Day and meet with the presiding judge following the ceremony. It may also be possible for participants to attend a naturalization ceremony virtually online.
- CONSTITUTION QUIZ BOWL: Students are invited to answer Constitution Bowl questions posted on the court’s website. This challenging and fun game is offered in September to coincide with Constitution/Citizenship Day. Prizes can be awarded.
- LEGAL TRIVIA GAME: The school, with the involvement of a judge or attorney, can prepare a class on a legal topic, and then conduct a fun trivia game with the judge or attorney. The background preparation/learning component and the trivia game may be held in-person or virtually online.
- ART CONTESTS: The court can engage elementary and middle school students in art contests addressing a legal issue, Law Day or Constitution/Citizenship Day. The artwork or photographs will be displayed around the courthouse, or may be submitted and displayed digitally. The student artists may be invited to the courthouse to view their artwork on display. Alternatively, the student artists and their families may attend an evening online session during which the winning artwork and photographs will be displayed virtually. Prizes can be awarded to the winning artists.
- ESSAY CONTESTS: The court can engage middle school or high school students in essay contests addressing a legal issue either as part of Law Day or Constitution/Citizenship Day. The essays will be judged by court staff, attorneys, and/or judges, and the judges can invite students to the courthouse to read their winning essays. Alternatively, the students and their families may attend an evening online virtual session during which the winning students can read their essays. Prizes can be awarded to the winning writers.
- MEET A JUDGE: The court can host an in-person or online virtual visit to the courthouse for a class or community group to meet a federal judge, engage in a Q&A session, and/or address a specific legal topic.
- CAREER PATH PANEL: The court can host an in-person or online virtual visit to the courthouse for a class or community group to meet a diverse panel of judges, probation officers, court staff, and/or attorneys. This provides students with an authentic learning opportunity by allowing them to see people like themselves doing the various jobs available at all levels of the federal court system.
- CAREER DAY: Judges, attorneys, and court staff can participate in Career Day programming at a school, in-person at a courthouse, or online virtually. Court participants can speak to students about their work and the paths they took to get to their current careers.
- LIBRARY LAB: The Second Circuit’s Justice For All: Courts and the Community offers Library Labs to interested secondary school classes. In these labs, court librarians teach students how to conduct online research and identify authoritative, timely information. Library Lab sessions are currently being held online. The program consists of a research session plus a separate conversation with a federal judge. Each class is about 40-45 minutes long. Interested teachers are invited to fill-out the online registration survey.
- CIVICS CLASS COLLABORATION: Judges and/or attorneys can collaborate with a teacher to help teach a specific topic that is part of the class’s existing syllabus. They can participate in-person or online virtually to co-teach a single session, teach multiple sessions, or teach a single day.
- COURT-TAUGHT CIVICS CLASS: Judges and/or attorneys can teach an interactive 50-minute class in-person or online virtually with course materials provided by the court, on a range of topics, including, but not limited to:
- Expressing Unpopular Opinions: The students read, discuss and answer questions related to Snyder v. Phelps (picketing at military funerals);
- Access to Education: The students read, discuss and answer questions related to Plyler v. Doe (immigrant children);
- Participating in the Judicial Process: The students read, discuss and answer questions related to Batson v. Kentucky (race and jury selection) and J.E.B. v. Alabama (gender and jury selection);
- Separation of Powers and the 14th Amendment – Title IX: The students read, discuss and answer questions related to Grove City College v. Bell. Focus on the impact that the interplay of the three branches of government had on gender equity in sports.
- And other lesson plans accessible from the Center for Civic Education if there is interest in other topics.
- MOCK HEARING: This half-day interactive learning activity stimulates critical thinking and fosters civil discourse skills. The students participate as attorneys and/or jurors, with the assistance of volunteer attorney mentors and judges. The program involves self-reflection and discussion prompts that help students identify what they would do in tense situations and controversial conversations.
- MOCK TRIAL: In this immersive program, students enact a mock trial in a real federal courtroom. Before the trial, the students will study and discuss as a class the cases on which the mock trial fact pattern is based. The class will then travel to one of the three federal courthouses in Bridgeport, New Haven, or Hartford. One student will be chosen to serve as the mock trial judge, assisted in their roll by a federal court judge. Attorneys will coach the student attorneys and the mock jurors in their different rolls. After the trial concludes, the students will have an opportunity to speak with the judge. Lunch provided.
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LAW DAY PROGRAMS:
- Law Day 2023
- 2023 Law Day Essay Contest
- 2023 Law Day Artwork Contest
- Law Day 2022
- 2022 Law Day Essay Contest
- 2022 Law Day Artwork Letter
- Law Day 2021
- 2021 Law Day Essay Contest
- 2021 Law Day Artwork Letter
CONSTITUTION AND CITIZENSHIP DAY PROGRAMS: