WARREN - Rachael Herriman said one of the most important things she learned as she watched Trumbull County Family Court Judge Richard James at work Monday morning is how difficult it can be to settle other people's disputes.
"He really has to ask a lot of questions, like if they think there's anything they can do to save their marriage, if they've done everything they can or if they think there's nothing they can do but be separate and get divorced," the 17-year-old said.
"It can be very sad, and I can see why it would be really hard sometimes. I asked him if he ever gets depressed. He just explained it's his job. I think that would be hard," she said.
Area high school students got the chance to shadow local government workers as part of the annual Ci
Herriman was among the 100 high school seniors from 21 Trumbull County schools who participated in the Trumbull County Education Service Center's 27th annual Civic Day on Monday. The students spent the morning shadowing 88 civic leaders to gain a better understanding of what they do at work.
Herriman, who wants to go into medicine, and classmate Rachel Ruba-diri, 18, agreed their day in court was anything but what they thought it would be - and it wasn't anything like what they've seen on TV.
Rubadiri, who intends to pursue full-time ministry, spent her morning with Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Peter Kontos.
Rachael Herriman, 17, left, and Rachel Rubadiri, 18, seniors at Lakeview High School, spent Civic Day in court shadowing Trumbull County Family Court Judge Richard James and Common Pleas Judge Peter Kontos, respectively.
"I realized there's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that takes place before you even get into the courtroom," Rubadiri said. "But I had never been in a courtroom before, so I really learned a lot and got to see a lot. A lot of it is clerical, like what the bailiff does. It's definitely not what I expected."
However, Dan Earl, 18, and Tyler Bistrica, 17, who are each looking to be engineers, said their experience shadowing workers from the Trumbull County Engineer's Office was what they expected.
"I think it's challenging but very rewarding," said Bistrica, a senior at Liberty High School. "I think there's a lot to it, like a lot that people don't see."
Earl, a senior at Bloomfield, said he got the sense that an engineer's day is seldom boring.
"You're always working on a new project, moving from one thing to another," he said. "I think it's definitely something I'm interested in."
Ken Kubala of the engineer's office, who worked with Earl and Bistrica on Monday, said he tried to emphasize how much planning and preparation is involved in the job.
"It really takes a lot of time to plan everything and work it all out in your plans before you get on-site," he said. "The planning and preparation is actually where the project starts. One day you could be working on potholes, another you could be be replacing a culvert.
''I think an opportunity like they had today lets them see the process a little closer, the planning process, preparations, the day-to-day operations, and that's important," Kubala said.
The students and civic officials gathered for a luncheon program at DiVieste's Banquet Hall in Warren, where keynote speaker and civic activist John B. Taylor spoke about volunteerism in the community.
The program opened with the presentation of colors by students of the AFJROTC from Trumbull Career and Technical Center.
Michael Hanshaw, TCESC superintendent, said Civic Day allows students to see what local professionals and civic leaders go through daily at their jobs and introduces them to the realities of the workplace.
"It's a great program that's a real benefit for these students," he added.
Some participants said the experience also allows them to realize the careers they don't want to pursue.
"I think you definitely realize some jobs are a lot harder than you might think they would be and something you wouldn't really be interested in or even what you want to do," Herriman said. "You really have to take your time and explore your options and make sure it's what you really want.
''Judge James made me feel a little better because he said he did other things first. Sometimes that's what you have to do,'' he said. ''This really made me think a lot, though, and really give choosing a career a lot of thought.
''I still have a lot of things to think about, but I learned a lot and that's always good."