NFA legal seminar for students Guest presenters and legal experts, Michael and Jan McDermott, flank their son James (center) and are joined by other participants (from left) Laney Volpe, Caroline Timoney, Lucia Macoretta, Roman Smigiel and Myles Wilson.

NFA legal seminar for students Guest presenters and legal experts, Michael and Jan McDermott, flank their son James (center) and are joined by other participants (from left) Laney Volpe, Caroline Timoney, Lucia Macoretta, Roman Smigiel and Myles Wilson.

Eighth graders at Norwood-Fontbonne Academy recently participated in a “legal workshop” to further their scholarly study of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. The on-campus presentation featured guest presenters, Michael and Jan McDermott, who are also NFA parents.

The husband and wife duo are professionals in the legal community Jan is an assistant district attorney heading up Philadelphia’s Southwest Bureau, and Mike is a criminal defense attorney.

They led the workshop, helping students enrich their analysis of the trial of Tom Robinson. From the point of view of the highly moral defense lawyer, Atticus Finch, to the prosecution of a man falsely accused, they compared it to modern-day legal proceedings and standards.

The hour and a half interactive seminar allowed continuous questions from students to be answered and discussed as they gained insights about the legal proceedings in the novel and how it would be different today.

“Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping and assaulting a white woman, would have a very different trial in today’s courtroom, explained Mrs. McDermott. “Judges in today’s courtrooms have a stronger role in the trials they preside over than the portrayal of Judge Taylor in the novel.”

“Inviting guest speakers for various topics is an integral component of our school’s signature curriculum,” said Judy Riviezzo, NFA’s English language arts teacher. “This particular seminar deepens our students’ learning and gives another outlet to critically analyze from a legal professional standpoint. Furthermore, NFA’s parent engagement brings a level of expertise to these conversations.”

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