When more than 40 students from Booker High School Law Academy took a trip to the Sarasota Police Department, they received something beyond what they anticipated.
Not only did they have the opportunity to talk with staff members about their roles, but also the tour ended in a surprise closing announcement by Chief Rex Troche, as gasps and cries of excitement filled the room.
“I didn't believe it at first when he said it, until he actually brought out the iPads,” said 12th grade student Angelina Albrecht.
Thanks to the contribution of philanthropist Deb Kabinoff of the Deb Kabinoff Fund each student was able to leave with their own brand new iPad. Kabinoff previously worked with Troche to provide iPads to families in the Orange Avenue Mobile Home Park.
“I am forever grateful for what just happened,” said 12th grade student Tatiana Alvarado, who, like many students in the group, said she had had no electronic device to use to complete her homework.
“There's nothing better to me than to see the joy coming from kids, when you're able to do something for them that's meaningful, so for me, it was one of the best days ever,” said Kabinoff, who received hugs from many students as they exited the room.
Throughout the day, the students also had the opportunity to visit various areas of the police department, including the Criminal Investigations Division, specialty units, Homeless Outreach Department. They also enjoyed a lunch of Chick-fil-A.
An intensive academic program, Booker High School Law Academy is a program of Booker High School and serves students in conjunction with coursework in Law Studies and Criminal Justice.
The program builds relationships throughout the community to provide students with real-life experience learning from and interacting with members of the law and law enforcement fields, as well as professional networking and other opportunities.
“It kept my passion going with everything, involving law and law enforcement in general, just because they seem so passionate and happy about their jobs,” Albrecht said of her visit to the Criminal Investigations Division. Albrecht plans to enter the field of criminal justice.
Kabinoff said she was glad to partner with Troche once again.
“Chief Troche is committed to serving the community — not just traditional policing or stopping crime, but building relationships throughout the community," she said.
Troche said in an email statement that the department recognizes the importance of integrating technology into education.
“We look forward to witnessing the impact these devices will have on the students' educational journey,” he said. “We believe in the potential of each student, and this is a small token of our belief in their ability to achieve great things.”
Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.