By Tevin Stinson
Earlier this week, North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley spent time with students from Mineral Springs Elementary and Middle Schools. The visit was part of Beasley’s statewide tour to ensure that the state’s justice system reflects the values of the citizens, including students.
Beasley, the first African American woman to serve as Chief Justice, participated in a panel discussion at Mineral Springs, where a select group of students from both schools had the opportunity to ask questions. Other participants in the panel included Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, Police Chief Catrina Thompson, District Court Judge Carrie Vickery, Tembila Covington, president of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, Julie Childress, assistant district attorney, Susan Frye, retired Forsyth County Clerk of Court, and Bishop Todd Fulton, social justice chair of the Minsters’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity.
The students from grades fifth through eighth didn’t hold back when it came time to ask the guests the tough questions. The students asked questions about gang violence, gun laws, the spread of violence throughout the community, and several others. They also asked questions about their inspirations growing up and what made them pursue their careers.
Following the panel, Chief Justice Beasley stuck around to mingle with the students. Beasley said the visit to Mineral Springs was a wonderful opportunity to have meaningful conversations with young people who are aware of the issues that are plaguing our communities.
“They had great questions and really sparked some wonderful conversations,” Beasley said. “I think it’s important for young people to know that the people who lead their communities care about some of the challenges they’re facing. And I think it’s important that leaders serve as role models.”
Beasley said she was impressed by the knowledge the students had on some very important topics and issues that plague their communities, but was also concerned. She said, “For them to be fifth through eight graders, to have a handle on these is very inspiring on one hand, but they’re also issues that you don’t want young people to be thinking about.”
Lisette Choate, a parent, thanked Chief Justice Beasley and the other panelists for taking the time to sit down with the students. Choate said students hear about police and judges but it’s not often that they get to actually sit down and talk to the people in these positions.
“They may hear things like this in the classroom, but hearing it like this, I think, is eye opening. It makes it more real for the kids, I think. As a parent, I appreciate each and every one of you for coming and sharing your perspective,” Choate said.
While in Forsyth County, Beasley also met with local lawyers and judges in the area. She will return to the area next month when the North Carolina Supreme Court is scheduled to hold court here in Forsyth County.