Juniors at East Hampton High School spent half the day on May 23 shadowing various professionals in East Hampton, as part of a program run by teacher Catherine Tyrie. It was an opportunity for the students to observe adults practicing the careers they were thinking of pursuing.
According to Tyrie, “The most popular careers were teacher, lawyer, and business owner. Journalist, veterinarian, dentist, and police officer were also very popular.”
Five of those students shadowed East Hampton town attorney Michael Sendlenski. They started off that morning in a conference room in the town attorney’s office with a lot of questions. After that, Sendlenski and his crew headed to East Hampton Town Justice Court, where Justice Lisa Rana was conducting a combined traffic and criminal calendar.
Over the course of the next hour, the group, seated in the front row normally reserved for attorneys, observed one defendant being arraigned on drunken driving charges. A second man was brought into the courtroom wearing a Suffolk County jail olive green jump suit, handcuffed, and in leg shackles to enter a guilty plea to two misdemeanor charges: driving with ability impaired by drugs and drug possession. Justice Rana sentenced that man, Driton Mushkolaj, to 10 months in jail.
A third defendant, Roberto Caro, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, aggravated unlicensed driving. Caro has prior convictions for the same crime, as well as at least one alcohol-related driving conviction, and was sentenced by Justice Rana to 30 days.
Sendlenski answered the students’ questions on the legal process throughout. “They asked very insightful questions,” he said.
Another attorney, Carl Irace, who handles both criminal and civil cases in East Hampton, had two students in tow. The three of them observed the court session from the juror’s box.
“They had the opportunity to see how our courthouse is a community court,” Irace said. They recognized some of the defendants in front of the court that morning on traffic matters. They also were moved by Justice Rana’s talk, from the bench with Mushkolaj, before she sentenced him. “I have no place else to go with you,” she said, encouraging him to get help.
The students who shadowed police officers got to ride in squad cars. “They had fun,” Tyrie said. “Students also watched operations that veterinarians performed. Some students went on photo shoots. Some went to the theater.” Several, Tyrie said, were offered internships.
Those may well include Emma Wiltshire and Kate Ward, two future journalists who shadowed this reporter as he made his rounds, visiting various East Hampton Town government offices, as well as the court.