Tyrone seniors finish their careers as Peer Jury volunteers


2013 Tyrone High School Peer Jury. L-R: Kathleen Beck, Alex Veit, Erik Wagner, Lucy Raftery, Jordyn Swogger, Shawn Phillips, and Izzy Stroud. Absent from photo: Brittani Dean

Eight Tyrone seniors recently completed their careers as Peer Jurors for the Blair County Juvenile Probation Office.

The seniors involved in Peer Jury are Lucy Raftery, Jordyn Swogger, Erik Wagner, Shawn Phillips, Israel Stroud, Kathleen Beck, Alex Veit, and Brittani Dean.

“Tyrone students rank 10 out of 10 on performance. They are always professional, prepared and take initiative,” said Tina Frank, the Blair County Peer Jury coordinator.

Tyrone students rank 10 out of 10 on performance. They are always professional, prepared and take initiative ”

— Tina Frank, Blair County Peer Jury Coordinator

Peer Jury is a program that uses volunteer high school students to decide appropriate consequences for youth who break the law.

The program is run by the Blair County Juvenile Probation Office. The Peer Jurors hear cases from first-time youth offenders who have committed delinquent acts.

Students are recruited as sophomores to serve on Peer Jury. They go through two days of training and serve as peer jurors until they graduate.

“[Tyrone students] are always professional in appearance and communication. They are very well prepared and non-judgmental. There is an ease and smoothness to their approach during the questioning and deliberation. They work well together to come up with a consensus,” said Frank.

Frank idenified Jordyn Swogger, Lucy Raftery and Shawn Phillips as stand outs because, according to Frank, they are leaders in their group.

“[Swogger, Raftery and Phillips] are the ones who ask the most questions and are very thorough in their follow-up questions. You can tell they listen attentively and their questions are appropriate,” said Frank.

“The peer jurors have a a positive influence on the youth [who are charged with crimes] and their parents,” said Frank, “hopefully this in turn helps them want to make changes in their own lives,” said Frank.

“This program saves everyone money in the end, for the taxpayer and juvenile and their parent. There is no public defender, attorney fees or judge, just the peer jurors and probation staff. These cases are also processed in a timely manner as well. Most of the cases that go through Peer Jury do not [reenter the judicial system], according to Frank.

It was an all-around great experience ”

— Senior Lucy Raftery

When asked what her favorite experience with Peer Jury, Lucy Raftery said “learning so much about the law system and meeting a few judges and important people in the Blair County court system. It was an all-around great experience.”

Peer Juror Shawn Phillips said peer jurors need to have a positive attitude and be empathetic.

Nine new Tyrone sophomores were trained in the fall and will take over as Peer Jurors after the seniors graduate.