Many schools in Maine are getting ready to open their doors this week for the start of a new year, and here at the ACLU of Maine we’re getting ready to open our resources up to students, teachers, and educators interested in learning more about civil liberties and civil rights.

Every fall, we host three Bill of Rights Student Conferences in Farmington, Belfast, and Portland. These all-day events are unique opportunities for high school students across the state to delve into the great civil liberties issues of the day and to interact both with our expert presenters as well as with their peers from neighboring schools.

Students who attend will go to multiple workshops, varying in subject matter and presentation style. We try to make all of our sessions as interactive as possible, so we use activities like mock hearings and attorney debates that engage students in the process and force them to think critically about the Bill of Rights and what it means to them. To help with this, we focus the conference on issues that directly affect young people, such as what rights they have at school, what rights they have when interacting with police, and how the technology they use every day – like cell phones, the Internet, and social media – are being dealt with by our court systems and legislatures.

Our conferences are 100% free to schools and we even throw in lunch for everyone in attendance. We’ll have staff members, board members, and volunteer attorneys on hand to lead the lessons, each bringing their own expertise to the table while also encouraging the students to share their own experiences and insights. The dates for this year’s conferences are:

Farmington: October 21st
Portland: October 27th
Belfast: November 6th

Any teachers interested in bringing their students to a conference should contact me directly at 774-5444. I’d be happy to answer any of your questions and reserve a spot for your class. But don’t wait! Last year we filled up all the available spots, so if you are interested in attending let us know as soon as possible. We hope to see you there!