Youth Court Graduates Look Forward To Court

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A graduation ceremony was held for the 13 members of the White Plains Youth Court Thursday.
A graduation ceremony was held for the 13 members of the White Plains Youth Court Thursday. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Alyssa Ghilardi receives a certificate for completing the six-week training program for the White Plains Youth Court.
Alyssa Ghilardi receives a certificate for completing the six-week training program for the White Plains Youth Court. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Alyssa Ghilardi, 16, will add member of the newly launched White Plains Youth Court to her resume, which she hopes will lead to a career in criminal justice.

Ghilardi, a senior at White Plains High School, is one of 13 students who will make up the Youth Court, a court diversion program where teens between the ages of 13 and 18 will act as the prosecution, defense and jury panel. All participants received diplomas Thursday at White Plains police headquarters after completing six weeks of training over the summer.

Liana Perez, who attends the Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel, said she was shaking when she received her diploma. Although she said she is nervous to begin serving on the court, which holds its first session Sept. 27, she is ready.

When a juvenile gets arrested and charged with a low level, non-violent offense, the Westchester County Department of Probation may suggest he or she attend Youth Court instead of family court. The idea, Chanelle Hyde of the White Plains Youth Bureau said, is to promote positive peer leadership and youth development among teens under the age of 18. 

“I’m extremely excited to start,” Ghilardi said. “The responsibility we hold to put youth on the right path is incredible.”

Ghilardi is a member of the Youth Bureau’s Youth Board, Youth Council and a small forward for the high school basketball team, which starts in November.

Like Ghilardi, Max Parauda of Tarrytown plans to pursue law as a major in college. He will be a defense attorney for the Youth Board’s mock trial Friday. Members will rotate positions during the court’s first run, which goes through May.

The full list of graduates includes:

  • Alexander Woods
  • Alexandra Charles
  • Amanda Grant
  • Berenice Garcia
  • Brandon Lloyd
  • Charles McCullagh
  • Katherine Suqui
  • Liana Perez
  • Maxwell Parauda
  • Rowen Lynch-Samant
  • Sharon Variath
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