Program Spotlight: Criminal Justice

By Sam Jonsson
March 15, 2024

Criminal Justice students at Chantilly Academy have the opportunity to learn about law enforcement in an engaging, hands-on environment.  In addition to classroom lecture, students learn through practicals, tactical training drills, guest speakers, and field trips.  The level one course offers students an introduction to the law enforcement field.  Students obtain basic knowledge of how law enforcement operates and the various roles within law enforcement.  In level two, students take a deep dive into the field, gaining a better understanding of law enforcement processes, methods of policing, and specialties within the career pathway. 

Level two student Kory Beene shared, “For me, taking level one got me interested in the field, and level two helped me find where in the field I want to work and what my real interest is, which is working in the K-9 unit.”  Kory’s class had the opportunity to hear from K-9 unit officers and meet police dogs during one of the many guest speaker visits this school year.   

Criminal Justice students participate in lots of practical, hands-on training exercises in the class where they are given scenarios and asked to react based on the situation at hand. This experience is designed to mirror what officers might see in the field when they arrive on a scene.  Students have to improvise and use their problem-solving skills based on what they have learned in the classroom.  One example of a practical exercise students do is crime scene investigation.  Owen Schopp, who currently takes Criminal Justice 2, said “My favorite thing we’ve done in the class is crime scenes.  I like it because there are so many different parts to a crime scene – photography, sketching, evidence collection – and I have always enjoyed learning how to process a crime scene.”

Level two students recently took a field trip to the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy, where they experienced firsthand the training that police officers in Northern Virginia go through.  Students noted that the training exercises they observed were familiar to them and commented that Mr. Leger structures his class very similar to the police academy.  Owen shared, “I absolutely love Mr. Leger’s teaching style.  It’s very interactive with the students, which builds better relationships and makes us enjoy the class more.  The way he teaches the class is very interactive and makes you eager to learn.”  Kory added, “For this class, there’s not a better way you can teach it to make things stick.  You can sit and listen to a presentation all you want, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be good at what you learned.  You have to practice the skills, and you have to do them a lot to understand the situation.”   

While taking Criminal Justice is a great way for students who are planning to have a career in law enforcement to get a head start, students in the class say they are learning valuable skills even if they don’t pursue work in law enforcement.  Students learn how to be strong communicators, confident public speakers, and learn how to deescalate tense situations. According to them, they are learning skills for life.  Of course, the introduction to the field they are receiving is invaluable to those students who do plan to go into law enforcement.  According to Kory, “Having this foundation going into studying law enforcement is a game changer.”

Check out the gallery below to see some of the amazing experiences, including guest speakers and fields trips, our Criminal Justice students have had this school year.  To learn more about the Criminal Justice course at Chantilly Academy, visit