P.S. 276 second graders awaited a turn to make their arguments before Judge Shelley Chapman in Bowling Green’s U.S. Bankruptcy Court during a school field trip. Photo by Aline Reynolds
The boys were decked out in suits, and the girls sported flowery shirts and dresses.
Knock knock. “All rise,” Honorable Judge Shelley Chapman called, prompting the P.S. 276 children to shuffle themselves out of seats twice their size to stand before the judge.
The second grade class’s field trip last week to the Southern District of New York’s U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Bowling Green was far from a standard mock trial; the session quickly morphed into an open-ended discussion about everything from modern-day segregation and capital punishment to the pilfering of potato chips. The trip was the outgrowth of several classes on the civil rights movement.
The class began with a reenactment of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, in which the second graders acted out plaintiff Oliver Brown’s attorneys by reciting compelling opening and closing arguments before Judge Chapman.
People of different races shouldn’t have to go to separate schools, and “just because people aren’t white, doesn’t mean we have to get treated unfairly,” said second-grader Miles Avery.
“It is good to have people from different backgrounds at the same school, because that school can turn into a big world with a lot of countries in it, because that school is filled up with a bunch of kids from 310 beautiful countries in the world,” said Avery.