Black History Assembly at Choptank Elementary

MD-Black History assembly Front

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Judge Melvin Jews talk to kids at Choptank Elementary as one of the “Gems of Dorchester County.”

CAMBRIDGE — Choptank Elementary came alive this week with stories of encouragement and hope, and the promise that a job well done will always reward the person making the effort.

In celebration of Black History Month, Mrs. Webb of Choptank Elementary decided to do something different. Instead of reviewing the stories of prominent African-Americans in past history — a subject well-covered in normal school work — this year attention would be paid to the “Gems of Dorchester County.”

Webster’s dictionary defines a gem as highly prized or well-beloved, and each person invited to speak to grades 3rd through 5th is a “gem” for Dorchester County. The invited guests were assigned to a room, and the children in the classes — 172 in total — would get to rotate between the rooms, listening to a 10 minute talk at each stop.

The invited speakers included:

Judge Melvin Jews, Dorchester County’s first African-American District Court Judge, who was born and raised in Dorchester County and maintains a law practice in Cambridge.

Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley, first African-American Mayor, and first female Mayor of Cambridge; and Deputy Director of the Dorchester County Department of Social Services. Mayor Jackson-Stanley is a lifelong resident of Cambridge.

Janelle Henry Buck, owner of the Henry Funeral Home in Cambridge, and born and raised in Dorchester County.

Tyrus Farrow, Wireless Communications expert for Verizon Wireless.

Mr. “Snap” Johnson, Airport Operations at Cambridge-Dorchester Airport.
Jodi Cavanaugh Jews, who practices law in Dorchester County, with an office in Cambridge. Wife of Judge Melvin Jews.

Brenda Wooden, Talbot Bank Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager.

Danielle VanRiel, Owner of the Mirror Mirror hair salon in Cambridge.

Curtis Henry, Assistant Director of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science at Horn Point.

Each community speaker was to answer five questions:

• What elementary, middle and high school did you attend?
• What accomplishments have you made in life?
• Who inspires you to do great things in your life?
• What aspirations did you have when you were younger?
• What words of wisdom do you live by now?

Each of the speakers are people who have broken barriers, have established businesses and have achieved monumental goals; goals hard to imagine by children this young. But the point being put across was all the same, whether hairdresser or District Judge: If you work hard you can achieve success.

“Anything you set your mind to, you can do,” said Judge Jews, to a roomful of youngsters. “Don’t buy into negativity. Every one of you can be successful in life. If you hang around with people who aren’t doing anything, that’s what you’re going to wind up doing. If you work hard, and do well in school, you can be a success.”

The judge also said he would like to come back and check with the children, to make sure they’re doing their homework and make sure they’re working hard. He joked that that was the way you wanted to see a judge — you don’t want to be facing him in his courtroom!

Ms. Henry talked about being a businesswoman, and pointed out the various subjects — spelling, arithmetic, history — and how each one related to her experience in business.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley talked about how hard she worked to succeed in school and in college, and how she wasn’t discouraged when facing resistance as a African-American female who wanted to be Mayor of Cambridge.

Each speaker talked about their job, and how, with attention to school work and a vision of the future, all of the kids could succeed. The quick rotation of speakers helped get the point across that everyone’s aspirations were important, and everyone’s vocation was valuable and necessary. Success comes from finding what you want to do, and learning how to do it well.

The message was delivered with humility and pride. They are without a doubt the “gems” of Dorchester County, and they were well aware that they were speaking to the county’s future gems.

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment