Justice Sotomayor visits Rosa Parks Elementary

Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks with students at Rosa Parks Elementary/Photo: Mark Coplan, BUSD

Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor paid a surprise visit to Rosa Parks Elementary School in West Berkeley this morning. Sotomayor is in Berkeley to judge a moot court competition at the University of California Berkeley Law School, Boalt Hall, this evening. The competition has been moved to Zellerbach Hall because of the demand for tickets.

Sotomayor chose Rosa Parks because two children of law school dean Chris Edley and his wife, Maria Echaveste, attend the school, and she heard about its commitment to diversity and its Spanish language immersion program. Sotomayor is the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and the third female justice.

The children only found out this morning that Sotomayor would be visiting, but they had been studying her career since the two classroom teachers had been informed of the visit. In the first class the justice visited, the children performed a play about Rosa Parks. Sotomayor then shook every student’s hand before answering questions.

In the second class, the entire discussion and Q&A was conducted in Spanish. According to Berkeley Unified School District spokesman Mark Coplan, the one question that was asked in both classrooms was how Sotomayor had reacted when President Barack Obama told her he was nominating her for the Supreme Court. She told how she held the phone in one hand, but had to use her other hand to hold her heart, “it was beating so fast”.

Sotomayor shows Rosa Parks students a drawing of a cat she made/Photo: Mark Coplan, BUSD

Even though Sotomayor was only scheduled to visit two classrooms, she couldn’t resist poking her head into several other classrooms when she saw all the eager young faces watching her through the windows.

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  • jjohannson

    Brava! Thanks, Madame Justice… Woo-hoo Rosa Parks!

  • Andy Dale

    I live right by the school and was wandering what all the fuss was. I am so excited for the kids, that must have been fabulous!

  • Nancy

    Here’s a sweet note I heard from our beloved secretary today: Toward the end of her visit, Justice Sotomayor noted that the photographer never gets to be in the photographs, so she insisted on taking a posed photo with Mark Coplan, the hard-working photographer that is at every event (BUSD Public Information Officer). It was the only posed shot she took!

    When she passed by some of us parents (who were standing there like junior high school girls waiting for the rock star to come by), she shook each of our hands, and said, “I love this school!” (We do too!)

    This was so exciting for the children and adults alike! Thank you!!!

  • Very proud. Both our boys have passed through or are currently in Rosa Parks. It is indeed a great school.

  • It would be the day that I put the kids on the big yellow bus …..

    What a great memory for Rosa Parks School!

  • EBGuy

    In the second class, the entire discussion and Q&A was conducted in Spanish.
    Even odds that this goes viral.

  • Tim C

    she must be having lunch and Chez P……lots of cops there a minute ago.