A Durand student and a member of the Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court, will receive a scholarship for her role in juvenile restorative justice. Breleigh Bauer is the annual recipient of the Buffalo / Pepin County Teen Court $500 Scholarship. To apply, applicants were asked to describe their role in their local Teen Court as what impact they felt Teen Court has on their community.
Breleigh Bauer, daughter of Tad and Jodi Bauer, is a senior at Durand High School. Breleigh has served as a Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court panelist since April 2019. One of Bauer’s most significant contributions to the program includes serving as one of two youth members of the Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court Advisory Board. As a board member, Breleigh shared her perspective on teen court policy as an equal partner alongside law enforcement, social workers, school administration and Judge Clark. In her time in Teen Court Bauer has also coached incoming panelists and served as a lead spokesperson during virtual hearings. Bauer wrote of her experience, “My experience at Teen Court has truly changed me for the better. When I started at the end of my sophomore year I was timid and lacked both confidence and leadership skills. My peers and coordinators helped me to gain the skills I needed to lead a Teen Court hearing, and in most of the cases I was on I took the role of speaker. Before Teen Court I would not even think of speaking up in front of people, but now it was part of my job. Without the help of my fellow panelists, I do not think I would be the person that I am today. I went into Teen Court to help my community and came out learning that this system does not only help the offenders, but also its own members. I am proud to have been a part of a program that has inspired me to be more confident and assertive in everything I do, and it has prepared me for the long career of patient care that I hope to pursue ahead of me. Teen Court has impacted my community by giving dignity and respect back to those teenagers who lose it. Without Teen Court, teenagers who make first-time mistakes risk being “less-than” their peers due to criminal marks on their records. These things would need to be reported to any colleges or jobs that they apply to; risking being turned away for one offense. Teen Court gives them the opportunity to repair their reputation in the eyes of the community, their peers, and even their family. I think this opportunity is irreplaceable because in most cases a second chance is all that they need. As a panelist, it’s a privilege to be able to interview and communicate with these offenders so that I can work with my team of panelists to come up with the best sanctions for each individual situation. These individualized sanctions are what allows the offender to repair their image, which benefits the community. This is because when a teenager feels alienated from their peers, they often isolate themselves, but when they fix those relationships it allows them to stay united with the community.”
The scholarship will be awarded at the Durand High School awards ceremony by Marie Ritscher, Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court Co-Coordinator. The scholarship is accompanied by a $500 cash award from the Buffalo / Pepin County Teen Court Advisory Board to be utilized for secondary education in the fall of 2021. Bauer plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Rochester pursuing a degree in the health sciences.
To learn more about Buffalo/Pepin Teen Court or the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, visit our webpage at https://buffalo.extension.wisc.edu/teencourt.