English Elective Examines Careers In Criminal Justice

By Brianna Lackwood ‘17 

Mr. Matt Fleming’s 8th period True Crime students trickled in as the late bell began to sound. Curiosity jaded their eyes as they strode to their seats with gazes that never swayed far too long from the front of the room where the unknown guest stood. The second attendee who arrived a few minutes later only multiplied their wonder. Their confused faces asked the questions “who are they and why are they here?”

Ms. Joan Rowe personally invited these guests to her True Crime classes and to one of Mr. Fleming’s class. She wanted them to come and speak to students about different options in law enforcement and about true crime in general.

The hope was that students got a sense of different career paths, stated Ms. Joan Rowe who also teaches AP English Literature and a senior writing class. From the guests’ visit, the True Crime electives got the chance to see that what they are doing now in terms of reaching toward a small goal or a later career is tangible and not theoretical.

In fact, though not all students who take the elective are interested in true crime, they have all done activities that developed their knowledge in that career field. Mr. Fleming’s class has watched a true crime documentary, completed papers on jobs involved in true crime, presented power points on prominent true crime criminals, and read true crime novels (i.e. Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs). They have ended the term listening to Serial, a podcast produced by Sarah Koenig, which follows the process of Koenig’s reinvestigation of a messy 1999 murder case. They are currently handing in argumentative essays about a question concerning true crime (e.g. stop and frisk).

What they thought would be another period of listening to the last bits of Serial was going to be a period led by police officers Karim and Avril of district 3 and 33 respectively. Both officers, dressed in sharp suits, exuded professionalism and an air that essentially demanded attention. The class listened intently as they explained the events of their lives that led up to their current careers. Before this, however, Karim did not refrain from sharing his positivity

For some part, the question was met by the flushed faces of the students he had cold called. The idea was not to frighten anyone, but instead to prompt some thought about their futures.

“As a graduating senior I don’t know what to look forward to in the future,” said Lily Kyi ‘16. “However, once you think about a career path you are interested in, you can do anything you want to get there.”

The end goal may not come so easily, as both officers’ stories revealed. They started out in the halls of Midwood; Avril is a graduate of 2005 and Karim is a graduate of 2010. In school, Karim found himself wrapped up as a prominent figure on the robotics team and a computer tech aid to teachers while Avril acquired an internship at a courthouse. Each ultimately chose to major in criminology.

“I took general courses and was automatically placed in Criminal Justice,” said Avril. “I eventually decided that criminology would be better for me because it is more of the breakdown and study of crime.”

Avril started off as a security guard and worked his way up. He started out with minor jobs like creating time schedules for other officers before he assumed his position.

Both officers attended police academy and later became officers because they “wanted to do more,” stated Karim.

From this alone, Alice Lin ‘17 realized that there’s no definite path in life. What is chosen now in won’t have complete say of your future. The officers encountered some moments where they questioned themselves and the decision to keep going led them to where they are today.

“I wanted students to gain real world insights,” said Mr. Fleming. “If they are motivated to take the class, they are motivated to take up a career in true crime.

Alfredo Lozano ‘17 stated Karim and Avril made him realize just how important motivation is. He was particularly intrigued by the fact that Karim and Avril were once students in their positions. Their talk furthered his incentive to join the New York Police Department after serving in the military because “if you put your mind to something, you really can achieve it.”

Currently, both officers are still in school, continuing to chase after that “more” because there is always something greater to do. They set goals for themselves as they had done before becoming police officers. The fact that no two days are the same at their jobs serves as a primary motivator to their strive to further themselves.

“Your experiences with education help shape your ideas for the future,” said Shakiba Ghaffar ‘17. “This is true even if you don’t know what you want to do later in life.”

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