An excited group of students from C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute and Westview Centennial Secondary School gathered at Osgoode Hall Law School on June 5 for the first Law in Action Within Schools (LAWS) year-end celebration and graduation ceremony held at the law school.
Thirteen Grade 12 students from C.W. Jefferys and seven from Westview Centennial received LAWS graduation diplomas, and several students from each of Grades 10, 11 and 12 also received awards and post-secondary bursaries.
Emil Yildiz, a Grade 12 graduating student at C.W. Jefferys, received the Ron Daniels LAWS Founders Award for overall achievement and contribution to the program. Josh Beattie, a second-year Osgoode JD student, was recognized as an outstanding Osgoode LAWS volunteer.
“It was a fantastic graduation ceremony, and a very proud moment for all of us who are involved with LAWS,” said LAWS Director Sarah Pole.
Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin expressed similar sentiments, commending the LAWS graduates, the partner schools and LAWS volunteers for “what we’re doing together.”
LAWS is an innovative partnership between the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School and the Toronto District School Board, designed to deliver an education program aimed at supporting, guiding and motivating high school students facing challenges to success. LAWS has offices and staff at both the University of Toronto and at Osgoode, and partners with seven diverse Toronto District School Board high schools.
“Being in the LAWS program was amazing,” said Paula Ramsay, a Grade 12 student at C.W. Jefferys who spent three years involved with the program. During that time, she met regularly with a mentor and had month-long full-time jobs for three consecutive summers with different organizations, including a legal aid clinic, a family law firm and an investment fund company.
“I met people who are doing important stuff in our society,” said Ramsay. “It becomes so real when you have that first-hand, personal experience.”
According to Pole, “LAWS not only provides transformative opportunities to individual students, leading to higher grades, increased credits earned, less school absences, increased hope for the future and significantly higher post-secondary education access rates, but it also works on a wider scale to promote increased access to legal education and diversity of our justice sector in order to truly reflect and serve our entire community.”
In addition to the LAWS graduation ceremony at Osgoode, there is also an exhibit currently on display at the law school of photographs taken by Grade 12 students from C.W. Jefferys examining incarceration and punishment. The photos were taken in collaboration with Osgoode Artist-in-Residence Cindy Blažević as part of a field trip to the old Don Jail, following sessions with Blažević and former Osgoode professor Justice James Stribopoulos of the Ontario Court of Justice.
A second graduation ceremony for graduates from three other LAWS schools – Central Technical School, Harbord Collegiate Institute and Danforth Collegiate & Technical Institute – was held at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law on June 6.
More images are available on the Osgoode Hall Law School Facebook page.