Ponderosa Alum at Courts in the Community

Alum Returns to the Halls of Ponderosa
Posted on 11/04/2019
All Rise! Alum Returns to the Halls of Ponderosa
High School Students Witness Real Court Cases

PARKER -- Many people return to their old high school, reminiscing over fond memories of teachers and friends. However, not many return as a full-fledged judge as one Ponderosa High School alum did for a program called Courts in the Community.

The alum, Judge Jaclyn Casey Brown of the 11th Judicial District of the Colorado Court of Appeals, returned to preside over two court cases on the auditorium stage she once performed on as a student.

“I always had high goals for myself,” Brown says, “I was involved in a lot of AP classes and I think the academic rigor at Ponderosa High School prepared me to succeed in college and law school.”

Brown emphasizes that her involvement on the Poms dance team demanded excellence of her as a student and as a sport -- setting a framework for self-discipline that came in handy as a litigator.

She didn’t always have her sights set on the stand– when Brown graduated from Ponderosa High School in 1999, she wanted to pursue medicine with an emphasis in molecular cellular biology. When that didn’t pan out, she gravitated towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting. Ultimately, it was an English degree that gave her the foundations she needed for law school.

“I think it’s awesome,” says Ponderosa Junior Murphy Schaff of Brown returning for Courts in the Community. “It really shows that this school can do for you.”

Schaff, along with an auditorium full of students, witnessed Judge Brown at work as lawyers presented arguments before her and two other judges: John Daniel Dailey and David J. Richman.

The Courts in the Community program was developed in 1986 to give high school students insight into the Colorado judicial system and illustrate how disputes are resolved in a democratic society. The two cases the students witnessed were not mock proceedings.

For some students, witnessing real cases made a huge difference.

“It’s one thing learning about it in class,” says Junior Max Panning, “But this is like a real-world application of what we’re learning.”

Teacher James Olsen thinks Courts in the Community was a great opportunity for his AP United States History class: “They can see the way the system works and employ the knowledge they’ve already learned.”

After arguments, students had the opportunity for question-and-answer sessions with the attorneys and judges.
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