Pace Law Students to Mentor and Advise 50 Yonkers High School Students

Students in the Law and Public Service Academy part of Gorton High School, the largest public high school in Yonkers, NY, will soon find their studies getting more intense.

Contact: Jennifer Riekert
(914) 422-4128

Release: Immediate


Diverse law school “adopts” diverse students interested in careers in law or public service


WHITE PLAINS, NY, October 1, 2003 – Students in the Law and Public Service Academy part of Gorton High School, the largest public high school in Yonkers, NY, will soon find their studies getting more intense.

The Pace University Law School, a New York City law school with a suburban campus in White Plains, has “adopted” the students in Gorton’s Law and Public Service Magnet Program.

The new partnership, which will begin with the winter semester, has several components.

· Up to ten Pace Law students will teach classes and mentor fifty Gorton High students each year, helping them with homework and advising them on post-secondary educational opportunities.

· Pace Law School’s Trial Advocacy Program will also provide mentoring support between November and April of each year for approximately fifteen Gorton High School students who participate in the New York State Bar Association Mock Trial Competition.

· All Gorton High School students will receive access to the Pace Law Library for the academic year in which they are participating in the program. Pace students will work with Lexis-Nexis and WestLaw to provide access to legal databases, and will teach introductory classes on computerized legal research to Gorton High School students.

· Pace will let up to three Gorton High School students each year attend a first year class during the academic year on a non-credit basis as part of a law internship program.

· Pace will award three college scholarships in the amount of $1,000, $500, and $250 to three students selected by Gorton High School.

The partners will hold a kick-off reception at 4:00 p.m. on October 7 at the New York State Judicial Institute on the campus of Pace Law School.

Trading flowers for law books. Officially, the partnership is known as the Pace Law Enrichment and Development for Gorton Education (PLEDGE) program. The project reflects Pace Law School’s commitment to community-based service, and recognizes the ability and achievements of Gorton High School students enrolled in the Law and Public Service Magnet Program.

Pace began its relationship after it decided to dispense with flower arrangements as centerpieces at a fundraising dinner in 2002 and replace them with high school law textbooks that would be given to a local school. Gorton was chosen as the recipient. Soon Crystal Barrow, a third year student at Pace, and John Dolgetta, the Director of the Law and Public Service Program at Gorton, got together and helped develop PLEDGE.

“Last year, I began to recognize the need for Pace faculty and staff members and students to reach out to young people in the Westchester Community. Amazingly, John Dolgetta was having the same thoughts,” Barrow said. “Together, Mr. Dolgetta and I came up with a program, and the Gorton students named it PLEDGE.” The program soon enlisted support from Pace’s dean, David Cohen, and the school’s Trial Advocacy department and Law Library, along with Alumni and students.

Barrow added: “I hope the program will provide Gorton students with the strong educational foundation needed to pursue their academic, social and professional goals.”

Gorton High’s Law and Public Service Academy, one of Gorton’s four sub-academies, strives to develop knowledgeable and self-assured citizens. Students in this four-year program get a variety of unique opportunities to examine the diversity of the legal world. They make visits and field trips, and use unique courtroom to conduct trials and role-playing simulations. Out-of-class activities include involvement in the NY State Bar Associations, the Statewide Mock Trial Competition, real juvenile hearings at Yonkers Youth Court, cross-grade level “trials” with elementary schools held at Yonkers City Court, and work as pollsters on election night. In the senior year, many Academy students intern in private attorneys and government offices.

A human case in point. A forerunner of how the new partnership may work is Maritza Fugaro, a 2003 graduate of Pace Law School and 1996 graduate of Gorton. She explained: “I always wanted to be a lawyer, which is why I chose to go to Gorton High School and participate in the Law and Public Service Magnet Program. Being exposed to law in high school motivated me to pursue my Juris Doctoral degree at Pace Law School. Now I am working at Pace’s Women’s Justice Center as a staff attorney.

“Looking back, I am proud to have graduated from both institutions. The knowledge I gained was not only academic; I also learned how to help others in the community. At the Pace Women’s Justice Center, I guide victims of domestic violence through Family Court. The connection I have from being a Gorton and Pace Law graduate and a life long resident of Yonkers made me want to participate with the Gorton High School Project and give back to those who helped me achieve my goals.”

Founded in 1976, Pace Law School has its campus in White Plains, N.Y., 20 miles north of New York City. Part of Pace University, the school offers the J.D. program for full-time and part-time day and evening students. Its postgraduate program includes the LL.M. and S.J.D. degrees in Environmental Law and an LL.M. in Comparative Legal Studies. Pace has one of the nation’s top-rated Environmental Law programs and its Clinical Education program also is nationally ranked, offering clinics in domestic violence prosecution, environmental law, securities arbitration, criminal justice and disability rights.