Alverno High School Forensic Students Get Personal View of the Los Angeles Courts

Published : Monday, April 11, 2016 | 3:47 PM

On April 5, nine members of Alverno High School’s Forensic Science class had the opportunity to visit the Los Angeles County Criminal Courts Building for a tour to learn more about the justice system and the role that forensics plays in the courtroom.

Upon arriving at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, the students and Forensic Teacher and Science Department Chair, Ms. Suzy Ares ’93, were met by a court representative who provided the group with the rules, regulations, and procedures of the day-to-day running of the court house. Following this brief introduction, the students and Ms. Ares were escorted to the Honorable Judge Sergio Tapio III’s courtroom where they were able to see him preside over several different arraignments on various cases.

Judge Tapio later invited the students and Ms. Ares to his chambers where he spoke with them about how his own experiences and opportunities allowed him to get to the position of serving on the bench. He shared with the girls that women make up a very small percentage of professionals working in the criminal justice field in Los Angeles County and encouraged the girls to pursue opportunities in this field.

“It was a really wonderful experience to hear from Judge Tapio,” said junior Moondera Rabb. “He shared a lot with us about his own background including his time as a public defender and his work with AmeriCorps. He was extremely encouraging to of all of us and very considerate to welcome us into his chambers during such a busy day—he oversees over 150 trials and arraignments per day!”

After visiting the courtroom of Judge Tapio, the students had the unique opportunity to be the public observers on the current “Grim Sleeper” trial happening at the court house, which is currently being presided over by the Honorable Kathleen Kennedy, Alverno High School Class of 1970. The trial remains closed to the public but the students were invited in to see the presentation on ballistics. While in the courtroom, the students met the lead detectives on the case as well as the lead defense attorney who is currently representing Lonnie Franklin, Jr.

“Having the opportunity to see a closed trial was very exciting,” said senior Julia Goss. “Plus, the fact that it was an Alverno alumna who was presiding over it made it even more interesting. It was nice to see that subjects we have discussed in the classroom, including DNA and ballistics, really have a deep impact on the way a trial is handled in the courtroom.”

“This type of experience is so important for our young women,” said Ms. Suzy Ares’93, Science Department Chair. “It was a great day for them to see how things that we learn about in the classroom really do correlate to what is being discussed and used as evidence in the courtroom. They got a real insider’s view of the justice system and had the wonderful opportunity to see one of our own alumnae in action. We hope that they take this experience and recognize the potential impact that they can have working as empowered women in the criminal justice system.”

About Alverno High School

Alverno High School is a Catholic, private, college preparatory school for young women dedicated to preparing them to function in a society as informed, knowledgeable persons, who have the requisite skills to make and implement mature decisions about complex problems. Enlivened by the spirit of its Immaculate Heart Community sponsors, and mindful of the Franciscan roots of its founders, Alverno’s program—academic, spiritual, aesthetic, social, and physical—is shaped by the staff, trustees, and students in light of the world for which the students are being educated. Alverno’s mission is to empower each young woman to be exactly the person she wants to be and since 1960, Alverno has empowered more than 4,500 women to meet that goal. For more information about Alverno High School, please call (626) 355-3463 or visit


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