GALLIA COUNTY — Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judi French visited with students from River Valley High School and Gallia Academy High School to take questions, discuss Ohio law, government and encourage students with career advice, Thursday.
“It’s the kind of thing I would have wanted as a high school student for someone to come and say you can be a judge. You can be a justice,” said French. “I do come up from a small town and come from a public school and small school. Those are lessons I think I would have had more confidence in my path had I had people like that. That’s on top of incredible teachers. That’s what makes this visit a good one. I know they’re (students) prepared and studied a lot and ask good questions.”
French attended Sebring McKinley High School and graduated from the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.
“We’re very grateful to have Justice French come down and give up her time and speak in such a down-to-earth and conversational way to our students,” said River Valley High School English Teacher Aaron Walker. “I love the message she shared saying ‘Yes, it takes work’ (to succeed) but given her background, it wasn’t Ivy League or a private school or a family of lawyers for generations. She said she came from middle class, rural and hardworking people and opened by stating her background and looking at kids and saying ‘Hey, with work you can do the same thing so don’t limit yourself.’ That is empowering to our students.”
Walker said RVHS was encouraging students to reach out and “make connections” with people at all levels of a community. French met with the schools AP English and government students compromised of juniors and seniors.
“This experience is something completely new to me,” said RVHS Senior Tyler Hess. “Over summer when I did another mock trial, we did go observe an oral argument. It was very surreal to me to see a living example and model for what it means to be a judge, let alone practice law or understand law. It basically clarified for me what kind of law I would like to invest in after college. It definitely tied up that I want to do a pre-law program or political science program in college…”
“I felt it was a nice experience especially for us in a small part of Ohio to see what is an important part of our government, especially the Supreme Court,” said Senior RVHS Ryan Snyder. “It’s great for us to see how our government works and get a personal look into it.”
“We appreciate her coming especially having the type of background we do,” said RVHS Junior Kristen Clark. “She came from a small town and became an influential member of society. I think that’s awesome she came to talk to us today.”
French visited GAHS as part of its ongoing leadership seminar series which has also hosted guests like U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson.
“Her remarkable accomplishments are a testament to her determination, persistence and humble beginnings,” said Gallipolis City School Superintendent Craig Wright.
“Justice Judi French gave us good insight and advice with careers in law and careers in general,” said GAHS Senior Morgan Loveday. “Her presentation today was very helpful.”
“It was interesting to get her perspective on how she got where she is today,” said GAHS Senior Katie Queen.
Dean Wright is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342.