Every fall, the ACLU of Maine hosts three regional student conferences that bring together students from across the state to learn about the civil rights and civil liberties that matter most to young people. Not every school is able to attend those conferences, however, whether because of scheduling conflicts or just sheer travel distance. So to make sure that no schools are left out, we hit the road every year during the spring semester to take our presentations into classrooms in every corner of Maine.
Last year we traveled to 27 schools where we reached a total of 1,364 students. (In case you’re wondering, that’s 3,901 miles of driving!) Because we’re not just the ACLU of Southern Maine, we make a particular effort to reach the rural parts of the state that are not always privy to the types of presentations we offer. For example, during my trip to Aroostook County last year, I taught students in Madawaska – the most northeastern town in the United States – as well as four other schools in The County. Nine days later we were in York, a stone’s throw from Maine’s southwestern border. From Greenville to Sullivan to Newport and beyond, we are committed to going everywhere in the state to educate tomorrow’s leaders.
With the spring semester well underway, we’re already scheduling presentations for the next several months. (In fact, tomorrow I’ll be shipping off in the wee hours of the morning to catch the ferry to Islesboro Central School in time for their first period class!) Our lessons focus heavily on the rights of students – both in school and with law enforcement – and we always try to integrate current events to show students how relevant the Constitution still is to their lives.
If you would like the ACLU to present to your class, contact me anytime and I’d be happy to set something up or answer any questions you have. We can also speak with after-school clubs or other specialty groups, so don’t be afraid to propose something untraditional. We’ll be on the road from now until the end of the school year so don’t hesitate to be in touch if you think we can help educate young people in your town about what their rights are and why civil liberties are so important.