The Northern Virginia Chapter of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association hosted “The Color of Justice” on March 26, 2022 for interested middle and high school students.
Approximately 100 students from Fairfax County participated, with 17 middle and high school students coming from the King Abdullah Academy.
There were 15 separate courtrooms used for the program. Each one was led by a judge and two attorneys. Once situated in the jury rooms, each jury elected a foreman as their leader. King Abdullah Academy had three students elected to role of foreman– Zakia Syed, Norah Alessa, and Nyla Nokta.
Senior Zakia Syed proved to be a master of networking. She commented, “I even got Judge Devine’s number! I plan to do an internship with him.”
After the trial, they provided lunch to all participants, giving them a chance to talk with judges and attorneys in an informal setting. After lunch, the juries returned to the main courtroom to deliver their verdicts.
The program ended with several judges telling their personal stories about how they became judges and the obstacles they faced. Judge Donate Bugg moved the audience with his life story, detailing some of his struggles with racism, success, and failure.
Ms. Amar Elzuheiri decided to make this a family affair, bringing all four of her daughters. Students left the program with insightful comments. Freshman Hala Mushref philosophized that “the whole concept of law doesn’t take just one opinion, but takes others as well. It was very interesting. I will probably come again next year.” 8th Grader Sima Mushref said “I learned that you have to hear everyone’s point of view to see who’s guilty. If you only hear one side, you won’t know everything. I might go into law, but maybe not.” 7th Grader Jana Mushref said that “the law is a lot more complicated than it looks. You have to get every single fact.” Even 5th Grader Masa said she enjoyed it, but was too shy to give any details.
Former KAA student, Senior Rania Ali (who also took 2nd Place in the Essay Contest – winning a $150 gift certificate) said that it was “very insightful.”
Junior Tala Shihadeh was enthusiastic, saying “I loved this program! I’ve only seen this in movies. Everything was interesting, and I plan to come again next year!”
7th Grader Safiya Nokta told me that “I’m glad I came. Now I know if I want to be a lawyer.” When I asked her decision, she said “maybe.”
Sophomore Yasmeen Jazzar said that “I really enjoyed it, seeing other people’s points of view, and how people can come together as one and impact a person’s life.”
8th Grader Rose Alnefisah said “I really liked it. I got to understand what I might do in the future. I want to be an international lawyer.”
Junior Haia Ayass said that it was an “interesting experience. It was nice to gain more insights in the legal process, and to experience it first-hand.”
Sophomore Nyla Nokta said that “I liked talking to people in law and getting advice from them. I really enjoyed it. It was a perfect amount of time.”
7th Grader Jada Elfar also enjoyed the program. She said that it was “a lot of fun. I learned that how a person talks, I can pick up if they are lying.”
Freshman Norah Alessa (one of the jury foremen) told me that “It was unexpected. I thought it was going to be worse, but was actually good, and I learned a lot. I learned about taking the Bar Exam to become a lawyer.”
Not to be outdone, Junior Ihsan Atallah said that “I liked it – fun experience. It introduced us to know different aspects of the law. You can’t just assume guilt or innocence. I may pursue a law career.”
7th Grader Basma Alhadlaq stated that “it was a really good hands-on experience!”
Mr. David Gentile called it “very valuable because we talk about how the Judicial System works, but it’s a simulation. It’s good to actually talk to professionals who do this every day.”
The King Abdullah Academy students gained a very memorable experience, one they won’t soon forget.
We wish to thank Mr. Tony Sarver, Social Studies Department Chair, for arranging for our students’ participation in the Color of Justice Program.