Promoting Diversity: The African American Read-In

AARIIn February,  the National English Honor Society (NEHS) Cardinal Chapter at Chippewa Falls Senior High School participated in the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) sponsored African American Read-In. Members prepared for the event beginning in early February, which was also African American History Month.

After researching several African American writers’ websites, members created a shared slideshow that highlighted  those authors. The slideshow was shared within some of our school’s English classes along with being included as part of our school’s digital daily announcements. The members then met for an official “Read-In Day” on February 14  to share their slides and to listen to Ms. Ambelang, our school librarian, read aloud from Jacqueline Woodson’s  book Show Me. Over twenty members participated in the Read-In, and we sent our number count to the official Read-In count.

AARI Show Me

To further the event, other members created a library window display highlighting the books of these same authors. This was a great way to learn more about these authors while sharing our learning with others.

AARI Library WindowOur Read-In slideshow already has made a difference with at least one of my students. Last week, after I had used the slideshow to teach students about some of these amazing authors, a student emailed me to report overhearing racial slurs that another student in our school had said to one of her close friends. The reporting student told me she was inspired by learning about these authors and felt comfortable reporting this event to me. The power of literature!

How did your chapter participate in the African American Read-In?

PBowePam Bowe
Cardinal Chapter, Co-Advisor
Chippewa Falls Senior High School, Chippewa Falls, WI

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: Hold Fast, Dear Friends

Dear Members and Supporters of NEHS,

Marjory Stoneman DouglasOnce again, we turn to each other in tears, trying to comprehend the tragedy that unfolded in Florida yesterday. Questions abound, but few satisfying answers are found. Almost nineteen years ago, my home school district plunged into mourning when the Columbine horror occurred; just ten years ago yesterday, the campus of Northern Illinois University, home of NEHS and Sigma Tau Delta, was forced onto the list of educational institutions rocked by violence. And now Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a school with an NEHS chapter since 2005, becomes the latest to endure evil. Sadly, we are all too aware of the students, educators, and communities who have suffered their own school tragedies. At times like these, we must rely on each other for support and strength.

At the beginning of the February NEHSXpress, I happened to quote journalist Linda Ellerbee: “In the coldest February, as in every other month in every other year, the best thing to hold on to in this world is each other” (Move On: Adventures in the Real World, 1991); as we witness troubling events, the “frost, storms and cloudiness” of our days, it is certainly good advice to hold fast to each other. Our thoughts and prayers go to the colleagues, students, and parents at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; hold fast, dear friends.

With deepest sympathy,

Dave Wendelin
NEHS Director

How to Serve Books With Cookies

How to Serve Books with CookiesFor our annual Holiday Literacy Celebration this year, Saint Mary’s Hall‘s National English Honor Society chapter, the Charles Dickens Chapter, hosted the Boys and Girls Club for a night of cookie decorating and reading. From the moment they spilled out of their school bus, the children had smiles stretched across their faces, enthusiastic about their new adventure. Stacking their plates with pizza slices, our guests eagerly inquired about our plans for the night. I spent most of my time with two brothers, Marquel and Marquo, chatting about baseball, sugar, and mushrooms.

Holiday Literacy CelebrationAfter munching down their dinner, the children were split up by gender, the gals decorating sugar cookies with Christmas trees and flowers, while the boys visited our guest reader, Miss Anastasia. Enthralled by her animated character voices and facial expressions, the children giggled and gasped at just the right times during the plots of Bad Kitty and Poor Puppy. When one member appeared in a Bad Kitty costume, the kids absolutely exploded with excitement, hugging and running around with their new favorite character. The girls spent some time in the world of Bad Kitty next, while the boys turned their cookies into sprinkle cakes and famous basketball jerseys.

Holiday Literacy CelebrationAfter bagging up extra cookies for the ride home, each of the children chose their own book, which we purchased with our chapter’s bake sale profits. As the children loaded onto the bus, they held their new books to their chests, arguing about who loves Bad Kitty more—and believe it or not, their smiles had even grown a little bit wider.

How does your chapter promote literacy and engage with your community?

Emery Wright
Charles Dickens Chapter, President
Saint Mary’s Hall, San Antonio, TX