Annual African American Read-In: Book of Addis: Cradled Embers

African American Read-InOn February 22, in honor of African American History Month, Broad Run High School‘s English Department and chapter of National English Honor Society hosted the school’s fourth annual African American Read-In.

As the guests settled into their seats in the auditorium and the lights dimmed, the program began. The event opened with a recitation of the Black National Anthem. Following the anthem and an opening by an English teacher, Tilly Blanding, a local community leader, sang Wade in the Water, and encouraged the audience to sing along as well. Her voice rang through the auditorium and settled in our ears. Shortly after her beautiful performance, the Broad Run’s Step Team, Triumphant, danced grandly. Each step filled the air with empowerment. Each call impressed the audience. They were truly stellar.Mrs. Michele Evans, the coordinator for the event and an English teacher at Broad Run, introduced the main guest speaker, Brooke C. Obie. Obie began by talking about her journey. As a child, she craved for the praise of those around her. She wanted to do something amazing, so that she could leave a positive influence on society. She decided to become the first female, African-American Supreme Court Justice. She would eventually go to law school at Mercer University where she was the Eleventh Circuit Survey Editor for the Mercer Law Review. Obie mentioned that while she was at Mercer University, she worked on the defense team for several cases, including the US vs. Harris case. Obie said that while working on those cases, she realized that this wasn’t the way she wanted to change the world. She would eventually come upon writing fiction again after a long time. Obie read a few pages of her book, Book of Addis: Cradled Embers, to the audience. Her words resounded within the auditorium as we were brought into the world of Addis. Those few pages left us wanting more of the empowering book about a girl escaping her enslaver.

The program then transitioned so students and teachers could share their original pieces, and the work of some African-Americans whom they enjoy. There were poems, musical performances, and excerpts from books—all of which were amazing. The students and teachers truly displayed their emotions during the entire program. Finally, the event ended the way it began with the Broad Run chorus singing Wade in the Water.

It was an outstanding night. Voices echoed throughout the auditorium as the students and staff painted beautiful, and vivid images into our minds. The food, which was served after the program, melted into our mouths leaving us craving more. That night, tears and laughter roamed the halls of Broad Run.

Aazeen Bashir
Psi Epsilon Nu (PEN) Chapter
Broad Run High School, Ashburn, VA

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