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Bethlehem Youth Court, a local non-profit criminal diversion program, has announced the winners of this year’s Judge Jordan Memorial Scholarship and Judge Peter C. Wenger Memorial Award.
The Judge Jordan Memorial Scholarship, which has been made possible through donations from the Bethlehem Police Supervisors Association and the Police Benevolent Association, has honored the memory of Town Justice Mark Jordan since his unexpected death from illness in 2015. Students competed by presenting oral arguments in front of a panel of judges during a combined Law Day and Induction Ceremony at Bethlehem Town Hall on Tuesday, May 8. This year’s first place recipient was Moeka Suzuki and the second place winner was Ryan Fisk.
“Both recipients put forth exceptional effort and are deserving of this award,” said Youth Court Director Katrina Charland.
The winner of this year’s Judge Peter C. Wenger Memorial Award, which was presented during the Bethlehem Central High School Awards Night on Wednesday, May 30, was Suzuki. Judge Wenger, who helped found BYC, died in 1997 after serving as Town Justice for 17 years.
“We congratulate our scholarship winners and wish them all the best in their future endeavors,” said Charland.
Seven BYC members are set to graduate from high school this month—Suzuki, Fisk, Liam Clarke, Elizabeth Kraupner, Megan Martucci, Olivia Poust and Maeve Sheehan.
Twenty-four volunteers were also inducted as new members during the May 8 ceremony. The new volunteers, who were sworn in by Town Justice Ryan Donovan, are: Nicholas Alexander, Katie Bailey, Christopher Baker, Elliot Barrett, Anders Baum, Cameron Doyle, Hannah Felske, Sarah Fischer, Carolyn Fisk, Alyssa Gould, Remington Houck, Zachary Huang, Beatrice Jones, Andrew Kirby, Katie Kirby, Lizzy Kloss, Stacey Lee, Samantha Lefton, Jeevan Nigam, Ethan Schoenblum, Sam Sleurs, Jourdan VanAmburgh, Jack Vincelette, and Jason Wu.
These volunteers participated in an eight-week training program that consisted of approximately 24 hours of class instruction time. They have been fully trained to participate in Youth Court hearings and perform all courtroom roles—judge, jury foreperson, clerk, victim advocate, community advocate or prosecutor, and defense advocate. The trained volunteers conduct peer-led sentencing hearings for young people in the community who have been arrested for first time, low-level offenses.
Youth Court is a voluntary program that takes cases out of criminal and family court and diverts them to Youth Court instead. Once the respondent has completed all Youth Court requirements, which includes community service, he or she is granted a clean criminal record. This restorative justice program aims to bring balance back to the community after a crime has been committed by repairing the harm that was caused and holding the offender appropriately accountable for his or her actions.