Leon County adds pre-law magnet program for middle schoolers

R. Frank Nims Middle School principal Benny L. Bolden Jr. and community leaders cut ribbon at the opening ceremony. Photo by Ariyon Dailey

Attorneys, county leaders, school administrators and students gathered Tuesday at R. Frank Nims Middle School in their finest all-black attire to celebrate a momentous occasion on the south side of Tallahassee.

It marked the opening of R. Frank Nims Middle School’s pre-law magnet program, with a ribbon cutting ceremony inside of their newly renovated courtroom.

The new program is for middle school students who aspire to become lawyers, judges, legal writers, forensic scientists and more.

The school’s principal Benny L. Bolden Jr. was ecstatic about the ribbon cutting ceremony after years of planning and discussing a future law program at his school.

“Just seeing the reactions of the kids today, because just like [you], this is the first time they are in a courtroom,” Bolden said excitedly.

The magnet program is one of the first in North Florida and marks the beginning of new possibilities for young students. The goal of the program is to create a safe, engaging learning environment for middle school students to explore realistic experiences and foundations of law-related passions.

The courtroom was installed with TVs, desktop computers, bright yellow furniture and desks for students to use during their time in the program.

The courtroom was adorned in the school colors gold and black, with balloon arrangements lighting up different areas of the courtroom. Wood floors, decorated glass with greek art and bright lighting gave a cheerful tone to the room. There was also a gift bag table in the corner for all of the guests.

In the front of the courtroom, there was a brand new bench which is a raised desk the judge would sit behind.

The wall behind the bench read, “We Who Labor Here Seek Only Truth.”

The event started with the pledge of allegiance, the singing of the national anthem by FAMU DRS principal Star Swain and remarks by guest speakers.

Student Haidyn Taylor . Photo by Ariyon Dailey

Throughout the event, Bolden continuously praised and recognized community leaders that made this possible.

“And also having so many state representative community advocates and district representatives out here supporting the idea of what we’re trying to do for the community,” Bolden added.

Prominent attorneys and county leaders like Leon County superintendent Rocky Hanna, city commissioner Curtis Richardson, public defender Jessica Yeary and many more.

Yeary explained why it’s important to implement a program like this in Leon County.

“These are future lawmakers, lawyers and judges. We want to show them the full picture of the justice system from the prosecutors, police and defense lawyers. That’s the perspective we want to bring to our young people so that they can get out there and do that fight for justice,” Yeary explained.

Guest speakers received a decorated gavel as a gift of gratitude from Bolden.

Notable guests gathered in front of the bench to cut a gold ribbon to officially acknowledge the grand opening of their courtroom.

At the end of the ceremony, sixth grader Antoinette Christopher described her excitement and a special judge that she likes watching.

“I personally like law and I plan on being a lawyer. And sometimes I watch Judge Judy,” Christopher said.

The courtroom will be utilized for studying, mentoring and even a discipline system where students will have to appear in court if a student is penalized in school.