Learning Civics at the Justice Institute

Learning Civics at the Justice Institute

High school students recently participated in the Eastern District of New York’s Justice Institute program, a camp experience focused on learning about the judicial system, held in the Federal Courthouse building in Central Islip. The program, developed by U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco in collaboration with the Touro Law Center, provides attending students with the civics education and advocacy skills that will prepare them for college, career and civic engagement.

East Islip sophomores Jacob Arens, Kate McGaugh, Vince Papillo and Kimberly Turtell – all members of the school’s mock trial team coached by Patricia Lester – competed in a championship mock trial round against Massapequa High School, earning first place in the tournament. Turtell was recognized for Best Opening Statement for the Prosecution.

The program concluded with an inspirational talk by guest speaker Mitsue Salador, an American citizen of Japanese descent. Salador was attending college in 1942 when she was deported to an internment center in Portland, Oregon for U.S. residents who had Japanese ancestry.  A current resident of West Islip, where she served as a reading teacher in the public schools, Salador spoke about racism during World War II that led to Pres. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the physical removal of all Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast into internment camps. She discussed the discrimination that existed during the wartime years and emphasized the importance of acceptance and tolerance of all people. She also shared her pride in being an American citizen and pointed out that over 40 years later, the federal government passed the Civil Rights Act of 1988, which apologized for the mistake it had made and provided monetary compensation to the survivors of the internment camps.”

“It was heartening to me to observe this group of young people, who were intensely interested in the circumstances of this injustice that took place approximately 76 years ago,” Salador said. “I was happy to inform them that the U.S. government admitted they made a mistake and took responsibility for it.”