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Awards won by the Spain Park law academy were on display at a breakfast with the Hoover City Schools Foundation.
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Spain Park senior Bailey Whetter shares her experience with the SPHS Law Academy at a breakfast with Hoover City Schools Foundation on Feb. 24, 2016.
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Spain Park law academy co-directors Craig Thompson and Libby Day speak at a Hoover City Schools Foundation breakfast on Feb. 24, 2016.
Spain Park High School sophomore Tanya Gupta once struggled with public speaking, but after two years in the school's law academy, she's now confident speaking in front of large crowds, even if she stumbles, she said.
“Even if I don’t go into law, I know I’ve gotten so much out of this program,” Gupta told community members who gathered at the school this morning for a breakfast that showcased the academy and connected students with potential resources to help them.
Gupta was one of several law academy students who spoke at the breakfast organized by the Hoover City Schools Foundation.
She said the program benefits students because it fosters skills such as public speaking and encourages open conversation. Students are encouraged to discuss politics and opinions and learn from each other, she said.
“We just gain awareness with what’s going on in the world, like we’re discussing the presidential race right now,” she said. “I think that it’s good to have a safe environment to voice our political opinions.”
Craig Thompson, a co-director of the law academy, said the breakfast could benefit students because it brought current law academy students together with former students and attorneys in the community. Having the ability to talk and work with attorneys in Hoover helps strengthen their group in case studies and in events such as mock trial competitions, he said.
Lindsey Voelker was a student in the law academy from 2008 until she graduated Spain Park in 2011. She went on to study English at Auburn University and is now studying law at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.
“All of that would not have been possible without law academy,” Voelker said.
For Spain Park senior Bailey Whetter, the law academy has been an opportunity to learn how to work as a team. She said she has learned a lot about leadership and professionalism through her classes.
“I’ve learned that a good leader isn’t always someone who holds the most power,” she said.
Libby Day, co-director of the law academy, said school officials hope to continue to grow the academy as well as the opportunities available to students. While mock trial competitions are just picking up speed in Alabama, Day said she hopes to start a local mock trial tournament so that students can have experience in the competition without having to travel across the country, as they do at this time.
In the future, Day said they hope to continue working with the foundation to connect the academy with local businesses for internships and sponsorships.