Community members participate in Read-In at Choptank Elementary

CAMBRIDGE — Members of the Cambridge Police Department were called to Choptank Elementary School early on Wednesday morning, Feb. 15, but they weren’t there to handle troubles — they were there to do some reading. Pvt. Kason Washington, Pfc. Eric Miller and Sgt. Antoine Patton took the time to participate in the National African-American Read-In, and of course had to bear up under the ribbing of their peers. They are defenders of the law, of course, and not accustomed to reading to a kindergarten class.

The Cambridge P.D. officers joined a list of over 33 community volunteers who came in to add some diversity to the morning at Choptank Elementary. There were many new faces, and lots of new stories told. In addition, the classroom teachers also read to the children, and some of the kids in each class got up and did some reading as well. Basically, it was a day dedicated to the joy of reading!
The National African-American Read-In was started by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in 1990, and has over the years become a traditional part of Black History Month Celebrations for many. The purpose of the Read-In is “… to promote diversity in children’s literature, encourage young people to read, and shine a spotlight on African-American authors.”

This is Choptank Elementary’s first year as participants in the Read-In. A long list of guest readers visited the school’s classrooms to read from books by African-American authors or featuring African-American characters, some bringing their own favorite books and others reading from books provided by the school. The entire school participated, from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.

The Read-In event was coordinated by Principal Emma Pinkett, and Connie Dunnock, literacy coordinator. Participants in the program — and there were many — were received and shepherded to their reading posts by Valerie Goff, ommunity involvement liaison for Dorchester County Public Schools.

“Thanks to the efforts of our Literacy Coach Connie Dunnock and Community Involvement Liaison Valerie Goff, this day was a huge success,” said Mrs. Emma Pinkett, principal of Choptank Elementary School. “The community has been extremely supportive of Choptank School today. Today’s event focused on African-American history and all books spotlighted either an African American author or African-American characters. This was an excellent opportunity for students to learn about famous African-Americans in history, and ties in well with our Black History Month celebrations.”

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at

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