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MVHS Civil Rights Team urges students to take action
The MVHS Civil Rights Team is ready for the banquet.From the bottom of the staircase: Joey Robichaud, Ariel Mayo, Erin Thibodeau, Katerina Kuralt, Erika Thibodeau, Travis Ford and Shawn Bennett.
RUMFORD -- The Civil Rights Team (CRT) at Mountain Valley High School presented a series of skits at the state convention for National Honor Society (NHS).
The skits presented real life situations of students dealing with civil rights issues and how those issues impact the victim, the bystanders and even the perpetrator.
CRT member Erin Thibodeau explained, “We presented a skit and taught people the basics about civil rights.”
The team members had several ideas about what they wanted NHS students across the state to learn and be able to do as a result of the presentation. All of their ideas involved students taking action.
Erika Thibodeau said, “I hope they learned you don’t need to necessarily beat someone up or be very assertive to make a difference. Little things help too.”
Through the interactive presentations, NHS members identified several small things that could both deter the perpetrator and support the victim. Offering to swap seats with the victim or trying to get the perpetrator onto a different topic to redirect them may be a low risk ways to deescalate the situation.
CRT member Katerina Kuralt wants students to “know how to handle stuff that involves bullies if there isn’t a teacher or adult around.”
Most students, particularly in high school, say they see harassment occur when adults are not around.
Part of the presentation helped students identify the seriousness of a situation. “The difference between harassment and biased behavior and ways to treat biased behavior when you see it,” was an important idea to convey according to Erin.
Though schools have policies that address general harassment, there are further implications for bias based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical and mental disabilities. If the bias accompanies threats of violence, violence, property damage or the threat of property damage, it constitutes a legal prosecution.
Joey Robichaud stressed the need for action. “I hope that NHS members will stick up for the kids in their school.”
In addition to their presentation, the Civil Rights Team members participated in all other aspects of the convention. They enjoyed swimming in the hotel pool, attending a banquet and busting their moves on the dance floor. The team was also very impressed to hear keynote speaker and NHS honorary inductee Steve Coleman, a legally blind man who surprised everyone by becoming a Physical Education teacher in Maine, despite his disability. Coleman was previously the keynote speaker at an MVHS Diversity Day two years ago.
Erin’s favorite aspect of the convention was, “All the people who were there – a lot of young, bright people who will make an impact on the world in one place. That was incredible!”
“I quite enjoyed watching the dance, but I actually liked presenting the best,” added Erika.
Member of the Civil Rights Team who attended the convention included Shawn Bennett, Travis Ford, Katerina Kuralt, Ariel Mayo, Joey Robichaud, Erika Thibodeau, and Erin Thibodeau. Technology teacher Jeff Bailey is the team’s advisor.