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Middle schoolers lauded for essays on right to vote

5/9/2014, 7:42 a.m.
Ian Hale (from left), Salem Middle School; Rachael Jackson, Chamblee Middle School; and Aliyah McDaniel and Raphael Coleman, both of Chapel Hill Middle School, pose with their certificates and Jessica Rock of the DeKalb Bar Association.

Members of the DeKalb Bar Association got to listen to four middle school students expound on the right to vote during their May 8 Law Day Luncheon at the historic DeKalb Courthouse in Decatur.

The middle schoolers wrote essays on the 2014 Law Day theme “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Counts.”

The sixth-grade winners are Chamblee Middle School’s Trinity Vo, first place, and Rachael Jackson, second place. Ian Hale from Salem Middle took third place.

The seventh-grade winners are Chapel Hill Middle School’s Raphael Coleman, first place, and Aliyah McDaniel, in second place. Ablavi Wheledju of Bethune Middle School took third place.

Law Day, which was designated by Congress in 1961, is observed nationally on May 1.

It offers Americans a day to examine and celebrate their commitment to the rule of law.

Jessica Rock, the DeKalb Bar Association’s secretary and Law Day chair, said Law Day is an opportunity for legal professionals to take an active role in advancing public understanding of the law.

“Law Day underscored how law and the legal process contribute to the freedoms that all Americans share,” she said.

Rock said the 2014 theme “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Counts” was fitting as the country approaches the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“The 2014 Law Day theme calls on every American to reflect on the importance of a citizen’s right to vote and the challenges we still face in ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to participate in our democracy,” she said.

During the Law Day celebrations, the Bar Association also recognized DeKalb Detective Lesa T. Robinson as Officer of the Year for outstanding achievement that brings credit to the department and involves performance well above normal assignment.

Robinson was recognized for her work with DeKalb County PAL Plus, which uses preventive programs to combat juvenile crime. She edits the program’s quarterly newsletter, does bookkeeping for the PAL summer academy, and raises funds for the G.E.M.S. mentoring program for girls.