Law Day 2013
On Law Day, May 1, 2013 the annual Law Week Reception and Student Art Contest, sponsored jointly by the Friends of the Rupert J. Smith Law Library and the Trustees of the Rupert J. Smith Law Library, convened for another successful year. 2013 was another banner year for student participation and there were close to 500 student art entries for the art contest. The opportunity for dialogue and creative expression of basic civic values and constitution principals between students and adults expanded this year with the addition of a new essay contest for middle and high school student. Since Law Day was first proclaimed as a celebration by President Eisenhower in 1958 and later formally proclaimed by Joint Resolution of Congress [U.S. Code, Title 36, Section 164] the annual celebration, with its changing central themes has served as a focus for community discussion the rule of law. In keeping with the 2013 theme: “Realizing the Dream” St. Lucie County students submitted artistic renderings related to either the Bill of Rights, symbols of justice, or the role of courts, judges and jurors as it related to the theme. The keynote speaker, St. Lucie County Clerk of Court Joe Smith, was introduced by the Honorable Burton C. Connor, of the Fourth District Court of Appeals. Mr. Smith has honored the Friends on several occasions as keynote speaker for the annual reception.

This year’s Reception honorees were Scott Van Duzer, local businessman, philanthropist and president of the Van Duzer Foundation, introduced by Teri Palumbo, Director of the AIDS Research & Treatment Center of the Treasure Coast, and Art Ciasca, Director of Development for SafeSpace, Inc., introduced by County Commissioner Paula Lewis, also a Law Library Trustee. Both 2013 Law Week honorees embody virtues that make the community a stronger place, mentoring and leading the next generation by example.

Announcement of the Student Art Contest winners and Student Essay Contest winners for 2013, with the distribution of checks and certificates were made by Michael Lannon, Superintendent of St. Lucie County Schools and Kim Cunzo, Esq., Art Contest Chair.

The winner of the $750 high school prize was 11th grader Abbey Bilicic, of Lincoln Park Academy, 8th grader Diana Balderas of Lincoln Park Academy won the $200 first place middle school prize, F.K. Sweet fourth grader Animesh Saha won the Elementary grades 3rd-5th $150 prize, and first grader Bil Nyia Ervin of the James E. Sampson Memorial School won the Elementary K-2nd $100 prize. An honorable mention prize of $25 went to Trent Savoia, a 7th grader at Westgate K-8.

The $750 1st place high school prize for the 2013 essay contest, named in honor of the late Norm Paxton, former Treasurer of the Friends of the Rupert J. Smith Law Library, Inc., went to Joseph Sabbagh of Port St. Lucie High, the $500 Gordon & Donner award went to Conner Lookabill of Barnabas Christian Academy, and the $200 middle school 1st place went to Robert Hennis of St. Anastasia. All of the student artwork was left on display to the public on the walls of the St Lucie County Courthouse in the main hallway outside the original jury room on the first floor for viewing after the reception.

The student contest and reception has continued to be a special event every year and is a tradition that the Friends are proud of. We look forward to continuing participation of St. Lucie County students in exploring the rule of law in creative ways. The essay contest will be continued in 2014.