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Judge McIlvaine holds court in gymnasium



A courtroom in a high school gymnasium. Sentences with a judge. Jail time exposed to students.

The upperclassmen of Wadsworth High School were exposed to the workings of this country’s legal system on April, 20th. The courtroom, which was actually the high school’s gymnasium, was led by Judge Steve McIlvaine.

In this pseudo courtroom, the proceedings of the court were the same as if it had occurred in an actual courtroom. That means if students were to disrupt the proceedings of the court, they could be held in contempt of court.

Judge McIlvaine and his court visit Wadsworth High School every two years just before prom season in which the upperclassmen witness a two hour session of actual court sentencings.


Judge McIlvaine opens up a Q-and-A session with the students to inform them of all legal ramifications. Photo by Colin Wright

Mr. Kibler, head of Wadsworth’s Business Law program, helped initiate this program with Judge McIlvaine over 20 years ago.

“A teacher’s job is not only to teach their students but to protect them as well. This upcoming season with prom and graduation is one of the most dangerous times of our students’ lives. It is our job to expose them to the consequences of the choices that they might make,” said Kibler on his reasoning to start the program.

Judge McIlvaine informed the students that those who are sentenced receive community service hours for volunteering to receive their sentencing in front of the students. He also informed us that he attempts to only have people come if they themselves did not attend Wadsworth. That way possible conflicts could be avoided.

Judge McIlvaine told us that he brings the courtroom to the high school because “students need to see that their decisions do have consequences.” The offenders set an example for students and show the true legal ramifications for the decisions they could make.

Judge McIlvaine not only holds the sentencings, he also hosts a question and answer session afterwards in which students can ask Judge McIlvaine any questions ranging from drug use to questions about cops searching their vehicles.

“Kids are gonna do what kids do, I just want them to make informed decisions,” said Judge McIlvaine.


Judge McIlvaine begins the court sentencing by reading to the students what will occur and what to expect. Photo by Colin Wright

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Judge McIlvaine holds court in gymnasium