May 10, 2022
Latino Law Students Association Hosts Hoover Elementary Virtual Educational Program
For more than 30 years, Southwestern Law School has partnered with Hoover Street Elementary School for the "Hoover Mock Trial." In-person, the event welcomes one of Hoover’s fifth-grade classes on a campus tour. The students witness a "theft" and then participate in a trial as prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses, and jurors. Due to the pandemic, this event was hosted as a virtual educational program for the second year in a row by an amazing group of Southwestern students from the Latino Law Students Association (LLSA), including Co-Presidents Andy De La Cruz and Chelsea Zaragoza and Community Relations Chair Jaqueline Flores Reyes.
Below, Andy describes more about the experience inside the virtual classroom.
"One of our initial goals with the virtual presentation, held on Zoom, was to teach the Hoover students what it means to be a lawyer. We shared how lawyers can practice in various areas, including environmental, judicial, or entertainment. We also spoke to the students about Southwestern and our involvement with LLSA and the annual Hoover Toy Drive we help organize. Since Hoover Elementary School possesses such a high percentage of Latinx students, we thought it was important to share that Southwestern is a community that embraces and welcomes diversity. We were happy to hear that some students had seen the famous Southwestern Bullocks Wilshire building (and thought it was 100 stories tall!).
As part of our virtual lesson, we created learning exercises on basic legal principles using two Disney films: Encanto and Coco. We knew the students would immediately recognize the movies and characters. We played clips from the movies and posed questions using the Zoom polling feature. The class was fully engaged during the lessons, and we were impressed with their questions and critical thinking skills. It was astonishing to see how sharp the students were, and most of the discussions mirrored the types of discussions we have in our classes at Southwestern. Some students spotted legal issues that we did not intend to raise, and others were able to carry over legal doctrines between lessons.
We saved time in the end for a Q&A segment where students asked about our personal law experiences, and others asked about how jury selections work, how judges decide a case, and why some defendants receive probation and not incarceration. These students were very bright and truly a pleasure to work with.
We are so grateful for the opportunity to share this experience with the fifth-grade students at Hoover. We want to give a special thanks to Mr. Maldonado, the classroom teacher. We hope this wonderful tradition continues in the many years to come. This type of community outreach event is vital to strengthening Southwestern’s commitment to providing educational programs and opportunities to the children and families of Hoover Elementary School and its surrounding communities."