March 22, 2018
School & Youth
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  • Dr. Lesia Banks has authored two books about creating career connections.
    Photo by Zach Sparks
    Dr. Lesia Banks has authored two books about creating career connections.
  • Tim Livengood
    Photo courtesy of Jim Lochner
    Tim Livengood
  • Daniel Nie
    Photo Provided
    Daniel Nie
  • “Time to Think Outside the Box” is Daniel Nie’s book about training our minds to change the way we think.
    Photo Provided
    “Time to Think Outside the Box” is Daniel Nie’s book about training our minds to change the way we think.
  • Alan Smale
    Photo Provided
    Alan Smale

Chesapeake High School To Celebrate Read Across America

Zach Sparks
View Bio
February 20, 2018

Public Invited To Event On March 6

During the 11th annual Read Across America event on March 6, Chesapeake High students are celebrating the theme “Reading is a Crystal Ball — Welcome the Future — Prepare for Change — Stay True,” and who better to share advice on fascinating careers than a storytelling clown, an astronomer, an author specializing in job advice, a former professional football player, an artist and an astrophysicist?

Each of these speakers will have at least 30 minutes to talk about their careers and how young people can strive for success.

Dr. Lesia Banks

Lesia Banks is a career development facilitator and the author of two books: “C3 Creating Career Connections: A Pre-College to Career Enrichment Guide” and “All Connections Matter: Change Your Circumstances by Changing Your Connections.”

A 30-year veteran of the federal government who is currently with the Department of Homeland Security, Banks said she overcame abuse and bullying to rise to her current status.

Her first book provides readers with checklists and action plans, gives instructions on resumes and cover letters, and offers interview advice. The second book is about forming connections.

“This book teaches you how to build your circle of influence,” Banks said. She noted that people should be cautious of who they choose to surround them. “Is [he or she] choking your dreams? Is it a beneficial relationship?”

As someone who has changed her focus many times — from police science to sociology to business administration — she believes she can relate to students.

Ming Diaz

Ming Diaz is known as a communications expert, storyteller, clown and face painter. Diaz will speak about the importance of communication skills. During a prior visit, he said, “All of you will be doing the same thing for the rest of your lives … it’s not a failure unless you fail to take into account that success is knowing and failure is not knowing.”

Dr. Alan Smale

By day, Alan Smale studies black holes, neutron stars and other bizarre celestial objects as an astrophysicist and data archive manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Outside work, he applies that analytical view to alternate history, writing about how certain world events might have played out differently.

Among his published short fiction are a historical fantasy about Ben Franklin, and an alternate history story about the Wright brothers (and sister) and the dawn of aviation. His “Clash of Eagles” alternate history trilogy from Del Rey features a Roman invasion of North America in the 13th century, as a legion of Rome’s finest meets its match in the Native Americans of the Mississippian Culture at Cahokia.

“Seeing North America before the Columbian invasion in our world, and recasting that in a different way … that culture clash puts into sharp focus what happened in our real history,” Smale said. “Given slightly different circumstances — key battles, agreements and treaties — we see how certain choices might have changed the shape of history.”

Smale plans to emphasize to students that they can pursue many interests, just as he has delved deeply into both astronomy and historical fiction.

Aziz Abdur-Ra’oof

A former wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, Aziz Abdur-Ra’oof has covered a gamut of professions from sales to gym ownership. Now he spends most of his time at Northeast High School, providing mentorship to students. Abdur-Ra’oof will speak about college readiness and each person finding his or her natural gifts.

Daniel Nie

Creator of the artform he calls Coolligraphy, Daniel Nie intertwines the letters of a word or words to create an intricate hieroglyphic image. In November, Nie released “Time to Think Outside the Box,” which is available on Amazon.

Nie estimates that he has participated in Read Across America at Chesapeake for five years. He hopes the event catches on nationwide.

“This program is wonderful,” Nie said. “High school students get a taste of thinking outside the box, and it gives students exposure to what the real world is all about.”

What is his message for students? “Your life is a picture. Your life is a journey,” he said. “If you take a journey, you use a map and GPS. For your overall life, you need a vision so you can do it smoothly and clearly.”

Dr. Tim Livengood

An astrophysicist and a science educator, Dr. Tim Livengood dislikes lecturing about a certain path people should take.

“When you talk about how long the education process can be, it can be intimidating to someone in the middle,” he said, pointing to college and doctorate degrees and each level of schooling. “When you enter into a career of science, your whole job is educating yourself and sharing [that knowledge] with the world.”

Much of his presentation will be improvised. “Everyone has questions about what’s going on in our universe; audiences are always filled with questions,” Livengood said. “It might be having to get across the idea of how roomy space is or why we haven’t gone to fill-in-the-blank. Why haven’t we gone there? Another common question is: are there any aliens?”


Read Across America is scheduled from 7:30am to 2:18pm on March 6. Parents and other community members can register by calling Geri Cvetic at 410-255-9600 ext. 244 no later than March 2.

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