Each year, the President of the United States recognizes volunteers around the country who have done outstanding service. This year, Norwell resident Michael Bevilacqua was one of the recipients of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Bevilacqua is a Citizen Teacher, part of Citizen Schools, an organization that partners with low-income communities to provide students with enriching experiences outside of the classroom in hands-on artistic, scientific and legal apprenticeships. Some of these apprenticeships include rocket science, 3D printing, mock trial, documentary filmmaking, social justice and photography.
Bevilacqua has been a volunteer for at least 10 years and has been working with students in the Citizen School’s mock trial program. “I really enjoy doing it,” Bevilacqua said. “It’s a good thing to do.” The mock trial activity is held after school once a week, where students learn about core aspects of a trial from the points of view from judges, lawyers and witnesses while leading a mock trial of their very own. “Each of the students have their own role in the trial,” he said. “Some are on the side of the defense and others are for the prosecution.”
Near the end of their apprenticeship in the mock trial program, the students are given the opportunity to hold trial in front of a real judge at the federal court house. The next semester of the mock trial program has the students examine the results of the previous semester’s trial and try and appeal the decision made at the end of the trial. “Most of the students aren’t used to public speaking and you can really see the results after three months of hard work,” he said.
“We thank our PVSA winners for their unparalleled commitment to our students, communities and the mission of Citizen Schools,” Emily McCann said, Citizen Schools CEO. “Their gifts of time and talent help our students access and explore potential career pathways and support students’ academic and social emotional growth. Their work lies at the heart of our mission.”