In September, six Saint Mary’s Hall (SMH) students participated in a virtual book talk with U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The students were selected based on their involvement in this summer’s study on the criminal justice system and the book, Just Mercy, in Upper School Social Studies Teacher Adrian Viccellio’s class. The opportunity was made possible by Fourth Court of Appeals Justice Luz Elena Chapa (parent of Form 10 student Luz Elena and Form 8 student Natalia Chapa), her partnership with the Reading & Robes program, and the National Judicial College (NJC). NJC is the country’s oldest and largest school for judges.
A total of 200 students and 27 judges watched the program live from 30 schools and youth organizations in 13 states. The event was a special online version of NJC’s Reading & Robes program, which features judges in their robes teaching children about the courts, civic responsibilities, and the power of reading. Saint Mary’s Hall was the only school in Texas represented in this one-of-a-kind event.
SMH student Luz Elena had the extraordinary privilege of personally introducing Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Sotomayor encouraged the students to pursue careers in the justice system. During the call, Justice Sotomayor read aloud excerpts from her book, The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor, and answered questions related to civics, the role of the judiciary system, and the importance of reading. She reminisced about her working relationship with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and at the end of their time together, Justice Sotomayor inspired the students by sharing the two questions she asks herself before going to sleep each night – “Who did I help today?” and “What new thing have I learned today?” What an inspiring challenge for SMH students in these challenging times.
After the book talk, each of the students received an autographed copy of Justice Sotomayor’s book. Justice Chapa addressed the students and answered questions about the legal system.
“I was incredibly honored to have shared this memorable experience with Justice Sotomayor, my daughter, and each of the students. These students are filled with so much hope and promise. I know they will continue to build upon their desire to do some good in this world by being social justice warriors regardless of what profession they eventually choose,” said Justice Chapa.
SMH offers unparalleled experiences. To learn more about signature experiences for our students, visit the Signature Experiences page.