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    Student being sworn in during mock trialPhoto by Randall Gee

    An NP3 student is sworn in during mock trial practice. Students recently placed fourth out of 20 mock trial teams in 2011.

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    University Charter High School Inspires Students with Law Curriculum

    Jennifer LanghamMar 9, 2012

    Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep (NP3), an educational pipeline school and partner with University of the Pacific, was recently honored as a 2011 California Distinguished School. NP3 was one of only two high schools in Sacramento County eligible for the award, and the only one to receive it.

    NP3 was created in partnership with University of the Pacific Benerd School of Education and Pacific McGeorge School of Law in 2006 as a law-themed public charter school. Students take law courses that are developed with the help of McGeorge faculty, such as Foundations of Law and Criminal Law, along with state-required social science classes. Criminal Law, in particular, excites the students.

    Christine Minero, director of the Educational Pipeline Initiative for Pacific McGeorge, says the curriculum embeds a sense of civic responsibility and critical thinking that the students themselves see as life-changing.

    "Students say, 'I will never read the newspaper the same way anymore; I will never vote in an election without looking closely at the issues. It has really changed the way I think,'" says Minero. "Even in English classes, students see the importance of looking at all sides, of having open dialogue and discussion."

    Mock Trial Students Outside
    Mock trial students pose outside their competition site
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    Building on the success of NP3, Pacific Law Academy, a new law-themed charter school, opened in Stockton this fall. Students at both schools also make campus visits to Pacific's Stockton and Sacramento campuses and have the opportunity to sit in on classes. Pacific students from McGeorge and the Pacific Legal Scholars Program also serve as mentors, including helping launch the new Pacific Law Academy mock trial team. The NP3 mock trial team, coached by Pacific McGeorge alumni, placed 4th in 2011 out of 20 area teams, and several team members were recognized for individual performances.

    Both NP3 and the new Pacific Law Academy in Stockton have highly diverse student bodies in socio-economically disadvantaged communities, yet NP3 has a 100% senior graduation rate and 100% rate of college enrollment. You can't argue with success.