Benjamin

CHARLESTON -- State Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin will read to about 100 third-grade students at Keyser Primary/Middle School in Mineral County at 1 p.m. Monday, April 16, as part of the West Virginia Court's Robes to Schools program.

Benjamin also will join the other Supreme Court justices at the Hampshire County Courthouse in Romney on Tuesday. The Court will hear arguments in four cases in front of high school students as part of LAWS, an acronym for the Court's annual Legal Advancement for West Virginia Students initiative.

The goal of the Robes to Schools program is to have active and retired justices, circuit judges, family court judges, and magistrates make regular appearances in West Virginia schools. Judicial officers volunteer to read to elementary school children and participate in a speakers bureau to talk to elementary, middle and high school classes about the judicial system.

"You are what you read," Benjamin said. "Books influence us and shape us. They prepare us for the good aspects of life, but they also prepare us for the crises which arise in our lives. The earlier we read, the more we read. The more we read, the better.

"Twenty years ago, the young were the group most likely to read literature. Now, they are the group least likely to do so. Studies show that there is a strong correlation between declines in literacy reading and declines in civic and cultural participation. This impacts everything from charity work and volunteerism to involvement in civic affairs and activities."

Benjamin said he hopes the Robes to Schools program helps reverse that trend.

"But reading to children is much more," he said. "It's a lot of fun. You never know what they may ask you. You can generally always count on questions asking about 'Judge Judy' or other television shows showing our court system. Coming to schools allows judges to talk with our young people, answer their questions and teach them about our judicial system."

A list of volunteers readers can be found under the Speakers Bureau heading on the Robes to Schools part of the Supreme Court Web site at http://www.state.wv.us/wvsca/kidspage/RobesCover.htm

For more information about the Robes to Schools program, visit the Supreme Court Web site or call Supreme Court Information Services Director Jennifer Bundy at (304) 340-2305 or Information Services Specialist Kandi Greter at (304) 340-2306.

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