JAMES SCHULTE '09
“I appreciate the teachers I was lucky enough to have at Episcopal for instilling a deep love of learning in me and teaching all of us to keep an open mind to new ideas and experiences.”
Little Rock Attorney Gives Back to the Next Generation of Student Congress
With a lifelong love for history, reading, and politics, it only seemed natural for James Schulte ‘09 to join the Student Congress while in high school at Episcopal.
“I did basically every nerdy thing you could think of at school — Geography Bee and Model UN in middle school and Student Congress and Quiz Bowl in high school,” James said.
History teacher and Debate Coach Martene Campbell convinced James and a few of his classmates to join the Student Congress team, and years later with a law degree under his belt, James is still attending Student Congress competitions — this time participating from the judge’s chair.
Across the country, each competition requires participating schools to provide judges. When Coach Campbell needs assistance at the debate competitions, James volunteers to judge, typically clocking about six hours on a Saturday a couple times a year.
James explained he typically judges “committee,” which consists of seven high school students from different schools debating, amending, and attempting to pass bills. He evaluates students on the content and structure of their argument as they debate. He also judges the larger discussions — those with 30 or more students — which work like a session of Congress.
James assesses the students based on the questions they ask of one another, the quality of research within each speech, and how they interact within the group.
“It’s basically [students] pretending to be Congress, [but] with less screaming,” James added.
Mrs. Campbell praised James' consistent willingness to help out at the competitions over the years. With his law degree, James has a greater understanding of the process that students are mimicking than many other volunteers might.
As both a judge and an attorney, James makes sure to take the time to think about multiple sides of a position — a lesson that he attributes to his high school experience in Father John’s World Religion class at Episcopal Collegiate.
“Father John taught [us] to keep an open mind to different experiences and really drilled in that you shouldn’t judge anything by it’s cover,” James said. “I appreciate the teachers I was lucky enough to have at Episcopal for instilling a deep love of learning in me and teaching all of us to keep an open mind to new ideas and experiences.”
While James doesn’t consider himself a religious person, he said his World Religion class had a profound effect on him. It taught him to look at life with a commitment to embracing and examining new ideas.
“It took me a while to really get that, but nothing benefits you more in life than a willingness to always learn something new.”
After graduating from Episcopal Collegiate in 2009, James attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, majoring in management and graduating in 2013 before enrolling in Bowen School of Law. He graduated with a J.D. in 2016.
“Also shout out [to] Mrs. Conyer and Dr. Hall for preparing me to write for law school better than any college class ever did. Yes, Dr. Hall, brevity is a virtue,” James said.
James now works in his family’s business FirstStaff, a temporary staffing agency for light industrial labor. He still keeps up with many of his former classmates on a regular basis, staying in touch with group messages and at weddings. He said the Class of 2009 is a pretty tight knit group and still considers many of them his best friends.