The Buckfield Junior-Senior High School Civil Rights Team holds a banner in the library Tuesday that will greet students Friday on Day of Welcome. From left are teacher and team co-adviser Zack Reinstein, team members Debbie Poulin, Krystal McKinney, Hope Hinckley, JJ Cowett, Brayden Michaud and Robert Cooper, and team co-adviser and library media specialist Maria Reinstein. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

BUCKFIELD — The Civil Rights Team at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School is holding Day of Welcome on Friday to say everyone is welcome regardless of gender, religion, race, skin color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry.

Day of Welcome has been celebrated at Maine schools for the past three years and is part of the Civil Rights Team Project of the Maine Office of the Attorney General. There are 207 schools with student-led civil rights teams, according to the Maine Department of Education website.

The Buckfield schools are participating for the first time.

Team co-advisers Zack Reinstein, a teacher, and Maria Reinstein, library media specialist, and six of the team members met in the library Tuesday and displayed the purple banner that will welcome students as they enter the school Friday.

“All of our discussions have to be related to either national origin, ancestries, disabilities, sexual orientation, race, skin color, gender identity and religion,” Zack Reinstein said.

Students in grades 7 to 12 have been discussing two questions this week: What do you think it means to truly welcome everyone? What can we do to make sure our school community is welcoming to everyone?


Zack Reinstein said he was impressed with the 100 responses the team received from students.

Maria Reinstein said the banner and responses are “something we can all refer to to remind others when (we’re) not being kind.

“We’re not here to patrol the school, that’s not their job,” Reinstein said. But the banner gives students “something that’s visual and also gives us something to refer back to when” people make comments about gender or why some actions or words may be unkind.

Hope Hinckley, a student who identifies as nonbinary, said Day of Welcome is “especially important to people like me because I use any pronouns and a lot of the time people say that you can only be a girl or a boy, but there are way more than just two genders. Day of Welcome makes me feel like I’m actually valid and like I don’t have to choose between boy or girl.”

Brayden Michaud, a new student at the school this year and the newest member of the Civil Rights team, said he joined the team because he likes doing something helpful at school. He always holds the front door of the school open every morning as a welcoming gesture to students.

Team member Krystal McKinney said she likes being welcoming by smiling and “trying to be nice to people.”

Team member Debbie Poulin said she is careful about “not misgendering people or calling them by the wrong gender or calling them by the wrong name.”

Member JJ Cowett noted the team can make others feel welcome by “just respecting them and what they identify as and let them be; don’t judge them.”

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