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Photos by Joe Wilhelm Jr. - U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard answers questions from elementary school students in the Cathedral Arts Project program that visited the Bryan Simpson Federal Courthouse Wednesday as part of the court's "Open Door...
Jax Daily Record Monday, May 7, 201212:00 PM EST

Federal Court 'Open(s) Doors' to students: Cathedral Arts Project adds art to courthouse

by: Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Students involved in the Cathedral Arts Project received education and appreciation Wednesday and Thursday during a visit to the Bryan Simpson United States Courthouse.

The United States Courts “Open Doors to Federal Courts” program provides an opportunity for federal judges and staff to educate students about the role of the federal courts in the U.S. judicial system. The programs have consisted of mock trials that help students become involved in the judicial process and featured tours of the courthouse.

The latest participants in the Open Doors program at the Jacksonville Division of the Middle District were elementary and middle school students involved in the Cathedral Arts Project, which provides after-school arts instruction in drama, dance, music, and visual arts for more than 1,200 students at 26 schools and community centers. Classes take place twice a week and are provided at no cost to students. The organization also provides arts instruction for hundreds of students during the summer months to serve more than 1,400 students throughout the year.

“They did some great work and I am glad to see them hanging in the hallways,” said U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard.

Students from Andrew Robinson, Arlington Heights, Cedar Hills, Garden City, Mayport, Pine Estates and San Jose elementary schools and Arlington Middle School visited and contributed to the artwork on display and took a tour of the courthouse.

“We are proud to feature the artwork of our talented elementary and middle school students in a permanent exhibit at the federal courthouse,” said Jeff Smith, associate director of the Cathedral Arts Project. “Forty pieces of art created by students from eight different schools and inspired by our ‘America the Beautiful’ theme are featured in the exhibit.”

Along with touring the courthouse and viewing the artwork, students were able to ask Howard questions about what happens in the courthouse and why she became a judge.

“I knew as a little girl that I wanted to be a lawyer. I always liked finding the right answer to a difficult problem and that drew me to the practice of law,” said Howard.

She was also asked to explain why it costs so much to build a courthouse. This discussion took place on the 10th floor of the federal courthouse that overlooks the new Unified Duval County Courthouse project, which Howard thought the students were asking about. The federal courthouse was completed in 2002.

“There’s a reason why that courthouse is bigger than this one. It has a bigger jurisdiction and serves a lot more people than this court does every year,” said Howard. “You could live your entire life and not step foot into (the federal) courthouse, but it would be very difficult to not step into the state courthouse. That is where you go to pay traffic tickets, file for a marriage license or file for adoption.”

Cathedral Arts was launched in 1993 by a small group of individuals from St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral. It began as one dance class for 10 students and now serves more than 1,2000 children through 54 twice-weekly afternoon classes. Children are learning the arts of classical and rhythmic ballet, jazz, West African dance, ballroom dance, violin, drumming, chorus, drama, painting, drawing, sculpture and ceramics each year.

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Federal Courthouse Exhibit 2012

Students participating in the Cathedral Arts Project provided their artwork to be hung on the walls of the federal courthouse.

Angel Bradley, Garden City Elementary

Jesus Bustamante, Cedar Hills Elementary

Miles Cooper, Arlington Heights Elementary

Carolina Duran, Arlington Heights Elementary

David Daniels, Andrew Robinson Elementary

Heaven Fenick, San Jose Elementary

Aaliyah Ferguson, Andrew Robinson Elementary

Jamaya T. Gillum, Arlington Heights Elementary

Taylor Green, Garden City Elementary

Te’Jayah Jones, Garden City Elementary

Elian Jovel, Garden City Elementary

Keiyarah Nelson, San Jose Elementary

Sydney Ogburn, Cedar Hills Elementary

Isabela Pizarro, Andrew Robinson Elementary

Nevaeh Purvis, Cedar Hills Elementary

Cristian Rosado, Garden City Elementary

Jovanna Thomas, Garden City Elementary

Emmanuel Williams, Andrew Robinson Elementary

Janay Williams, Garden City Elementary

Nicholas Williams, Garden City Elementary

Arriyanna Bennett, Pine Estates Elementary

Michaela Chapple, Pine Estates Elementary

Gabrielle Day, Mayport Elementary

John Durden, Pine Estates Elementary

Chaslyn Ewald, Pine Estates Elementary

Adia LaRosa, Pine Estates Elementary

Megan Lyle, Mayport Elementary

Isabella Martinez, Mayport Elementary

Veronika Navarro, Mayport Elementary

Kiara Rogers, Mayport Elementary

Matthew Roselle, Mayport Elementary

Arcadia Saenger, Mayport Elementary

Coron Stevens, Pine Estates Elementary

Aniya Telfair, Pine Estates Elementary

Emani Thomas, Pine Estates Elementary

Chana Watson, Mayport Elementary

Jazmyne Wiggins, Pine Estates Elementary

India Young, Mayport Elementary

Nikita Henderson, Arlington Middle School

Charity Smith, Arlington Middle School

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