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Details | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

Circuit judges across Illinois help students prepare for school year


Judges across the state of Illinois have lent a hand to students as part of a statewide initiative sponsored by the Illinois Conference of Chief Judges (CCJ) and the Illinois Judges Association (IJA) to help local schools, students and community organizations prepare for success in the 2022-23 school year.

Below are a few examples of the work done by Judges in coordination with local bar associations and the CCJ and IJA:

In the Third Judicial Circuit Judge Martin Mengarelli and Judge Maureen Schuette coordinated efforts in the circuit to participate. The project which Judge Mengarelli and Judge Schuette chose was to support Oasis, a local women’s shelter in Alton, IL, which provides assistance and services for families dealing with domestic violence. The Judges coordinated efforts to collect $1,100 in donations from the judiciary for Oasis to purchase needed school supplies for the children their organization assists.

In the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Stephenson County Judges who worked with the Stephenson County Bar Association to participate were Circuit Judge Michael Bald, Circuit Judge James Hauser, Associate Judge Glenn Schorsch, and Associate Judge David Olson. Select members of the bar association and Judges were on hand on July 27, 2022, to personally present a combined $2,500.00 to Stephenson County’s five local school district parent-teacher organizations, with each receiving a $500.00 donation.

In the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Judges and members of the Bar donated school supplies to support the Boys & Girls Club of Lake County’s Time to Thrive Back to School Resource Fair, which was held in Waukegan on August 20, 2022, and provided children with backpacks filled with school supplies. 

The Illinois 14th Judicial Circuit recently concluded a school supply drive to collect and distribute needed supplies for students within the four areas of the county. This circuit includes the counties of Rock Island, Whiteside, Henry, and Mercer. The school supply drive was a project of the Illinois Judges Association and the Conference of Chief Judges.

Rock Island and Mercer County, with the participation of the Judges, Court Administration, Circuit Clerk Tammy Weikert, States Attorney Dora Villarreal, Recorder of Deeds Kelly Fisher Auditor April Palmer, The Rock Island County Bar Association, and a monetary contribution from the Quad City Area Realtors. We were able to collect over $5,000 in donated items for the Rock Island County Regional Office of Education. The Mercer County crisis center, collected and will distribute like items to area schools.

''This project was truly a community effort." Judge Trish Sennett of the 14th Judicial Circuit stated in regards to this passion project. Judge Sennett and Public Defender Jennifer Kelly, the Chairperson of the Juvenile Justice Council met with several local organizations and groups to explain their efforts for this cause. Over two hundred local school children received a backpack filled with school supplies, courtesy of the Whiteside County Juvenile Justice Council. This organization is made up of court and community stakeholders with the mission of preventing

truancy and juvenile delinquency. The Illinois Judges Association and the Conference of Chief Judges partnered with the Juvenile Justice Council in order to make this project happen. The backpacks were provided during two giveaway events, one of which took place at the Morrison Courthouse and the other at Sterling Eastern branch Courthouse. The backpacks were filled various school supplies, as well as personal hygiene items for the children grades 5th through 12th.

"We cannot give enough thanks to local groups, and individuals who stepped up to make this such a successful project." said Jennifer Kelly. Donors included the Sterling Optimist Club, Prophetstown Lions Club, Sterling Sunrise Rotary, Rock Falls Rotary, Morrison Rotary, ILLOWA Thrift Store, Amazing Grace Church, Duragrind, Whiteside County Judges and Court Staff, Whiteside County Board, local Attorneys and individuals in the community. 

Chief Judge Frank Fuhr said he is proud of the efforts by the 14th Circuit and the community in contributing to a successful school year for students.