Gene Demby to Speak at Washington College on April 17


American journalist and blogger Gene Demby will speak on Wednesday, April 17, at the Rose O’Neill Literary House. The event, which is part of the annual Sophie Kerr Lecture Series, will start at 4:30 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

Demby is the lead blogger for NPR’s Code Switch team where he covers issues on race, ethnicity, and culture. He is also cohost of the weekly Code Switch podcast. Before coming to NPR, he served as the managing editor for Huffington Post’s BlackVoices following its launch. He later covered politics.

Prior to that role he spent six years in various positions at The New York Times. While working for the Times in 2007, he started a blog about race, culture, politics, and media called “PostBourgie,” which won the 2009 Black Weblog Award for Best News/Politics Site.

For more information on this and other English Department and Sophie Kerr events, visit the website at, or view our annual Literary Events Calendar brochure here:


About Washington College
Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 39 states and territories and 25 nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at

Exploration of the History of the African America Church


On Monday, April 15th the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College will host the latest installment in its Program on the African America Church and American Ideals. Join us at 6pm in the Hynson Lounge of Hodson Hall on the campus of Washington College for a presentation on the history of the African American church by Reverend Dr. Leroy Fitts. Rev. Fitts was for many years the senior pastor at First Baptist Church in East Baltimore, one of the area’s largest and most dynamic historically African American congregations. Rev. Fitts is the author of the new book titled The History of the African American Church as well as numerous other works on African American church history. His latest book will be available for sale at the event at the reduced price of $25 (payable by check). Rev. Fitts has been a Visiting Fellow at Princeton and has taught for many years at St. Mary’s Seminary in its Ecumenical Institute. Please consider joining the Institute for this important and engaging event. The event is free and open to all.

The Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College explores the historic and continuing contributions of religion to political and cultural life. For more information, contact Director Joseph Prud’homme at

Visiting Scholar Professor James Stoner to Speak at WC April 17


On Wednesday, April 17th the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College will host a conversation on freedom of speech. Examining the current debates surrounding free speech, and exploring their relationship to the work of the famous 19th century thinker John Stuart Mill, Institute Visiting Scholar James Stoner, Director of the Voegelin Institute at LSU, will conduct a community conversation open to all.  This important event will take place at 7pm in the Hynson Lounge of Hodson Hall at the heart of the Washington College campus.

James R. Stoner Jr. (Ph.D., Harvard University) is the Herman Moyse Jr Professor of Political Science at LSU and a prolific scholar and speaker. He is the author of such works as Common Law and Liberal Theory: Coke, Hobbes, and the Origins of American Constitutionalism, and The Social Costs of Pornography.

The Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College explores the historic and continuing contributions of religion to political and cultural life as well as a range of pressing contemporary issues and the enduring value of America’s founding principles. For more information,please contact Director Joseph Prud’homme at

Sultana Will Host Camper’s Preview this First Friday


Spring has just begun, but Sultana Education Foundation’s summer programs are currently 84% full, with a few spots left on board the schooner Sultana and within the kayak and canoe adventures.  These programs provide kids ages 5-18 with extraordinary opportunities to experience the Chesapeake Bay in creative and unique ways that most can only imagine, encouraging participants to engage socially, learn new skills and develop confidence in a rage of activities.

On April 5th at 5pm, during Chestertown’s First Friday monthly event, Sultana Education Foundation will open its doors at the the Holt Education Center to host a camper’s summer preview.  Current enrollees and interested applicants can play within a campsite village, watch a video and photo montage of prior trips, roast smores on the fire, and engage in other example activities.

Sign up your child, a family member, a friend or yourself for one of these epic adventures today while you still can.

Touchstones Awarded NEH Grant to Expand Innovative Programs for Veterans


The Touchstones® Discussion Project, an education non-profit based in Stevensville, Maryland, is a 2019 recipient of a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Dialogues on the Experience of War funding opportunity. This is the second grant awarded to Touchstones for development and implementation of innovative discussion-based programs for veterans.

With this funding, Touchstones will run a third round of the NEH-funded program launched in 2017-2018, “Completing the Odyssey: A Journey Home,” that invites veterans from five decades of conflict into collaborative discussions on the experience of war and their return to civilian life. For program replication purposes, Touchstones will train veterans to co-lead this free and inclusive program. Following the first round of this program, a Marine veteran and Touchstones-trained NEH Discussion Leader said, “This is perhaps THE key for returning veterans to reintegrate into society. All veterans would benefit, as well as the country, community and families.” This grant also funds printed versions of the program for easy access by veterans, veteran-civilian, and community groups around the world.

In addition, this grant provides for Touchstones to bring veterans and civilians together through the exploration of themes of citizenship, leadership, and community. Touchstones will develop a new program in which participants are trained to co-lead the discussions so they can bring the program to new audiences afterward.

Touchstones was founded in 1984 in the belief that all people increasingly need the skills of critical thinking and collaborative leadership for success in life and work. To achieve our mission, we use a train-the-leader method and the examination of diverse perspectives to build more effective communication, reflective thinking, and enhanced understanding in individuals and groups. Over 35 years, our discussion programs have engaged five million people in 47 countries and six languages.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

Md. House overrides Hogan Veto: Schools Can Now Start Before Labor Day


Maryland school districts will now have the ability to again start their school year before Labor Day, overturning a previous executive order by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

One day after the Maryland Senate voted to override Hogan’s veto of a bill that would give power to local school boards to determine their respective calendars, the House of Delegates voted Friday to override the measure as well.

The House voted 93-43 to join the Senate in overriding Hogan’s veto.

Delegate Anne Healey, D-Prince George’s, who served on a year-long task force to study a post-Labor Day start for Maryland public schools, said Hogan’s veto “short circuited” the work of the task force.

Healey said more flexibility was required for schools that needed to account for additional religious holidays and athletics.

Delegate Haven Shoemaker, R-Carroll, argued against overriding the veto, pointing to numerous businesses that would benefit from the additional week of summer vacation.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 32-15 along party lines to override Hogan’s veto.

Hogan on Wednesday vetoed Senate bill 128, saying that the legislation “unravels years of bipartisan work and study” and citing polls revealing that the bill runs counter to the wishes of most Marylanders.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, overturns Hogan’s 2016 executive order mandating schools start after Labor Day.

“The executive order does not respect the diversity of our state,” said Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery.

This was the last of three veto overrides to occur this week. Both chambers also voted Thursday to override Hogan’s veto of a bill to strip alcohol and tobacco regulation from the state comptroller, and a bill to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15.

By Daniel Oyefusi

CNS reporter Natalie Jones contributed to this story

WC-ALL April Learn at Lunch with Dr. Bill Schindler


Washington College Professor Bill Schindler will present WC-ALL’s final spring term Learn at Lunch on Thursday, April 18. The catered buffet luncheon begins at 12 noon in Hynson Lounge of Hodson Hall on the Washington College campus. Following lunch, Dr. Schindler will present “Food Evolution Revolution: The Cutting Edge Fusion of Archaeology, Anthropology, and the Modern Kitchen.”

According to Schindler, understanding the role that technology played in our 3.4 million-year-old dietary past is essential in learning to rethink food and diet. Biologically speaking, humans and human nutritional needs remain relatively unchanged over the centuries; yet our cultural needs have seismically shifted and our expectations of taste, smell, texture, and presentation have significantly changed the way we think about food. By fusing lessons from our dietary past with modern culinary techniques, Schindler believes we can create a food system that is meaningful, accessible, relevant, and delectable.

Schindler is not a traditional anthropologist. Specializing in primitive technology and experimental archaeology at Washington College, he uses a teaching approach that he calls “soul authorship” to immerse students in experiences that teach them first-hand about primitive technologies and ways of life practiced by our prehistoric ancestors. Today he applies prehistoric-focused approaches in experimental archaeology to address a major issue facing humans right now: diet. By reconnecting with the food of our ancient ancestors,Schindler believes that we can find solutions to building a more sustainable, healthful food system. In this quest, Schindler, who holds a Ph.D. from Temple University, completed a year-long research endeavor called the Food Evolutions Project. He traveled the world working with indigenous groups, traditional societies, and Michelin star chefs. Most recently he launched the Eastern Shore Food Lab at Washington College, a center dedicated to empowering the public to reconnect with their food, take control of what they eat, and learn to eat like humans again!

Reservations for April’s Learn at Lunch are due by Friday, April 12. The cost is $20 for WC-ALL members and $25 for others. Please send a check to WC-ALL at 300 Washington Ave., Chestertown, MD 21620 with name, phone, and email for those attending. Payment must accompany the reservation and no phone or email reservations are accepted. For more information, call 410-778-7221.

Mid-Shore Education: Ben Dize Reflects on 50 Years of Teaching


While undoubtedly many teachers on the Mid-Shore have celebrated 50 years or more in educating our young people in the region, it is hard to imagine for more a diverse background than Ben Dize.

Ben has had the unique experience of teaching in the Kent County Public Schools system for 30 years,  and then immediately followed that up with now 20 years at the Gunston School outside of Centreville. All in the field of art education.

During those five decades, Ben has been a careful observer of the benefits and sometimes challenges that come with both public and private education, but even more so with the impact that art education has on young people.

The Spy drove over to Gunston a few weeks ago to spend a few moments with Ben to record his reflections on education and his love of teaching.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Gunston School please go here

Award-Winning Author Diana Butler Bass at Washington College April 10


Theologian and author Diana Butler Bass, whose book Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks was recognized this year as the top non-fiction book in national secular media by the esteemed 70-year-old Wilbur Awards, will speak at Washington College on “Politics of Gratitude: The Subversive Vision of the New Testament in the Age of Trump.”

Sponsored by the College’s Institute of Religion Politics and Culture and Political Science Department, the talk on April 10 in Hynson Lounge begins at 5 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Bass is an author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture. She holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University and is the award-winning author of ten books, including Grounded: Finding God in the World —A Spiritual Revolution (HarperOne, 2015), Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (HarperOne, 2012) and Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (HarperOne, 2006).

Her latest book, Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks (HarperOne, 2018), won the 2019 Religion Communicators Council’s Wilbur Award for the best book in non-fiction secular media (the fiction award was won by Mitch Albom for The Next Person You Meet in Heaven). Conferred since 1949, the Wilbur Awards honor excellence in secular media—print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures—for communicating religious issues, values, and themes. Previous winners include Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, and films like “Chocolat” and “Hidden Figures.”

Along with her books, Bass’s bylines include The Washington PostThe New York Times Syndicate, and The Huffington Post. She has commented widely on religion, politics, and culture in the media including USA TODAYTimeNewsweek, CBS, CNN, FOX, PBS, NPR, Sirius XM, and CBC. In addition to the Wilbur, she has won other numerous grants and awards including the Nautilus Gold Medal, the Book of the Year from Religion News Service, and the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History.

About Washington College Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 39 states and territories and 25 nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at

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