HCPSS Closing Until March 29, Wingspan on Hiatus

Words: Caleb McClatchey

All HCPSS schools and offices will be closed from 6:00pm on Friday, March 13 until at least Sunday, March 29 in response to the rapidly developing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. The decision comes directly from State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan who announced yesterday that all Maryland public schools will be closed for this period.

HCPSS activities and all community activities held in HCPSS facilities will also be cancelled for the two-week period.

The Wingspan will not make updates to their website or post on social media until schools are opened again.


For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan

TedX: Students Share Their Stories

Words: Mariam Abd El-Shafy

On Thursday, February 27, Centennial High School’s Young Democrats held a TedX Talk from 6:00pm until 9:00pm. There were eight speakers, Emily Kim, Farah Helal, Natalie Knight-Griffin, Calvin Lee, Brendan Hlibok, Hibah Khan, Adam Goldstein, Caio Goolsby, and two workshop hosts Peter Wilschke and David Aylaian. Each speaker had around 10 minutes to present their topic and share their story. During the 30-minute intermission, the audience enjoyed the provided food and engaged in the workshops.     

The club has been applying to Tedx for three years with hopes of being accepted. This year, the current presidents, seniors Lexi Fang and Sonia Saini, were in charge of planning the event.

The theme “The Essence of a Changing World” allowed students to talk about the problems they have faced and have overcome in today’s world. The goal of the event was to give selected students the opportunity to share their stories with peers who may be dealing with similar struggles.

Saini says, “a lot of the things they’re talking about are things that people need to hear but are kind of unspoken.”

  In senior Calvin Lee’s TedX Talk, he explained the hardship of wanting to pursue art in a society that does not accept it as an actual career. “I’m speaking on studying the visual arts, and how someone who grew up in this area- a strict academic environment- [goes] from there to…full-on [pursuing their dreams].”

Junior Brendan Hlibok was grateful for the opportunity to speak about growing up with two deaf parents, and gave thanks for the opportunity TedX has given him. “I’m glad that I’m able to share [my story] with everyone, because if it were just me trying to get my story out person by person it would not be as effective and impactful.”

Senior Emily Kim talked about what she called the “10-second skip.” She shared her personal experience as a young female in the workplace, and how she wished she could have applied the 10-second skip. “[The 10-second skip] enables us to skip what we feel uncomfortable viewing, but in real life we don’t have a 10-second skip. It’s about how, in the digital age, we have to face what we’re uncomfortable with,” Kim shared.

A member of the audience, Senior Reshma Jasmin, shared the impact of the talks after the show. “Being told the choices I would like to make aren’t dumb, which is not what I normally hear, is reasurring and it makes me feel comforted going into what I like.” 

Sophomore Vanisha Maram explained the variety of the TedX talks. “Some tugged on my heart strings, some made me worry…all of them were so well thought out.” 

After the show, the sponsor of the club and event, teacher Corry O’Brien, reflected on the impact of the event. “I don’t see the actual [speeches], I see the people afterwards and the smiles were huge, you could see the heart in their faces…and that’s beautiful, that connection, there’s nothing more meaningful than that.” 

After the event, the team gathered to share heartwarming words. “Watching them on stage literally brought tears to my eyes,” said Fang, “It takes strength to be that vulnerable in front of people you don’t really know and they rose to the challenge…they were amazing.”


To view the TedX Talks on youtube, click here!

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan

HCPSS Closely Monitoring Evolving Coronavirus Outbreak

Words: Caleb McClatchey

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) is diligently monitoring the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak as the number of reported cases in Maryland and the United States continues to rise.

Superintendent Michael Martirano announced Tuesday that all out-of-state field trips will be cancelled for the remainder of the academic year. This is the first major change to standard operations that HCPSS has implemented in response to COVID-19.

HCPSS is following the guidance of the Howard County Health Department, Maryland Department of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their response to COVID-19. A group of HCPSS leaders and staff are regularly meeting with the superintendent to stay updated on new information and prepare for all potential impacts of COVID-19 on Howard County.

With only 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland and zero in Howard County, HCPSS is currently operating as scheduled within Maryland. HCPSS has stated that this will remain the case “until a change is deemed necessary by local and state health professionals.” Martirano noted in his update on March 3 that closing schools “is a possibility” if necessary to protect the safety of students and staff.

According to an update sent by Martirano on Monday, “HCPSS does not currently have the ability to implement distance learning if students were required to be out of school for an extended period of time.” However, the county is preparing resources that would give students the opportunity to pursue non-course specific educational opportunities at home.

HCPSS continues to regularly share updates with the community on the state of its response to COVID-19. The school system is also encouraging the community to take general precautions like washing one’s hands and covering one’s cough or sneeze with a tissue to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Principal Cynthia Dillon advises students and parents to regularly check the Coronavirus 2019 page on the HCPSS website for the most current updates and information. She emphasizes that any decision made in response to the COVID-19 situation would be made system-wide rather than at the discretion of individual schools.


For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan

Delta Scholars & Black Student Union Showcase African Culture with Food for the Soul, Words for the Heart

Words & Photos: Alexandra Valerio

The Delta Scholars and the Black Student Union organized their sixth annual Food for the Soul, Words for the Heart event on February 21. 

It was an evening of cultural cuisine, artifacts, art, and performances celebrating Black History Month and African American culture. 

Shalonda Holt, the sponsor of the Delta Scholars, was delighted to work with the Black Student Union (BSU). Holt said that the BSU was “contributing ideas such as the artifact gallery walk and game” and “supp[lied] appetizers for the event.”

Holt also explained that the money raised from the Food for the Soul event will help with Greater Baltimore Leadership Association major event ‘Selfless Saturday in Baltimore’. The Delta Scholars use the money to make sandwiches for the homeless and they attach positive Post-It-notes messages for the homeless each month. 

Sydney Michener, the sponsor of the BSU, was excited to join Delta Scholars for the Food for the Soul event for the first time. She became involved with the event last year as one of the speakers. The BSU received support from the Student Government Association to sponsor the event. 

BSU and Delta Scholars wanted to provide different kinds of food from different areas for people to learn about and try.

BSU Officers Njeri Mbugua, Muchiri Mbugua, and Kash Awosika brought two types of pilau rice from Kenya. They also brought a Nigerian dish called jollof rice. Holt’s family cooks the main cuisine every year. The main dish consists of chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and yams. English teacher Kelli McDonough contributed homemade desserts.

Not only did the event provide cuisine, but it also featured speakers and singers. The Howard County Executive’s wife, Shani Ball, as well as Montgomery County School Social Studies Teacher of the Year, Micheal Williams, attended the event and gave speeches.

The Delta Scholars and BSU also displayed an art gallery of historic magazines/books and original artwork. Holt’s relative Doretha Smith provided old slave shackles for display.

Deja Grissom, the head of communications for Delta Scholars and BSU, contributed an original poem named ‘We Rise,’ Grissom says it illustrated “African American’s triumph in the face of adversity.” 

Senior Natalie Green has been a Delta Scholar since sophomore year and provided original artwork for the event, including a piece from Queen Nzinga.

“It is a very entertaining event that can also provide an important learning experience for someone not familiar with black history, culture, and struggles as a people in America, and around the world,” Green said. 

Michener was thrilled to bring “people of all backgrounds together to learn, celebrate and uplift African American and African culture through food, art, song, and spoken word. Seeing the richness of black culture displayed through students and families is heartwarming and a joy to be part of.”


For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.