The Civil Rights Teams (CRT) are made up of dedicated students that want everyone to feel safe and secure in their school and in society. At the adolescent age, children need to feel safe, specifically at school. The safe environment cannot always be accomplished at school if students are unwilling to treat others with respect.

Schools have Civil Right teams to provide an opportunity for students who want to make a difference to come together to share their goals and ideas about issues that arise in school.

Philip W. Sugg Middle School Civil Rights team and their advisors Deborah Ullman and Monica Millhime attended the annual Maine State Civil Rights Conference on Monday, October 29, 2007 at the Civic Center in Augusta. Attending members of the PWS team were Devon Brewer, eighth grade; Kayla Fowler, sixth grade; Jada-Rochelle Glover, eighth grade: Ashley Stone, sixth grade; and myself, Holly Hogan, eighth grade.

The all day program was separated into age groups for students in the elementary, middle and high school teams. Each age group learned another aspect of Civil Rights. The courses during the workshop were individualized for each grade level. All students and their advisors were treated to a breakfast of muffins, fruit and juice before the day’s events began.

The classes I attended for the middle school students had three topics. The first was a class on Name Calling. The second on Privileges, and the third was on the subject of Body, Shape and Image. In the Name Calling class students and advisors heard the names that have been used against people throughout history and the names used more commonly today. Students defined what the names really mean and how kids actually use them. During the Privileges class students discussed the advantages that people have and how it affects their school life. In the Body, Shape and Image class discussion was about how people are judged by their looks. Something this reporter noticed was interesting was how much the “perfect” body has changed over the years. In the early 1900’s curves and shape were popular. Now-a-days the “perfect” body is stick thin with no shape.

After the morning classes, everyone attending the conference had a great buffet lunch followed by a full group discussion on Civil Rights issues and a planning period to discuss issues at school. Before it was time to board the bus back to Lisbon the PWS Civil Rights team came up with one major plan with a twist. “Mix It Up Day” was a suggestion that the team agreed was necessary. The best definition this reporter can think of for “mix it up day” is it’s a day that during lunch students sit with people they would not normally sit with. The lunch seats are randomly assigned. There are several ways to assign seats but our school is going to number each of the lunch tables. As students arrive in the lunchroom they will be given a number that matches with a table. The twist, if this is successfully done, is that we would like it to take place once a month, every month, starting in December.

The PWS Civil Rights Team meetings are scheduled for every other week during November at Lisbon Community School from 3:15 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. Other meetings will be held at PWS from 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. A schedule of meetings after November will be determined at the Nov. 13th meeting. Any student who is interested in working on the Civil Rights Team for PWS may contact faculty advisors Deborah Ullman by emailing [email protected] or D.J. Thorne at [email protected] or by calling 353-4132; or community advisor Monica Millhime at 754-0021 or email [email protected] Students interested in joining the CRT must be committed to making the meetings and participating in them. I wish the Civil Rights Team great luck this year and hope they achieve their many goals.