Uighur Awareness Day

Words & Photos: Mariam Abd El-Shafy

The Centennial Muslim Student Association (MSA) held an event called Uighur Awarness Day on Wednesday, October 30. The MSA asked students of Centennial to wear blue, the color of the Uighur flag, and paint the flag on their faces to encourage questions and raise awareness.

The Uighur people are a Muslim minority group in Xinjiang, northwest China. At least one million Uighurs that inhabit China have been detained by the Chinese government in what the PBS NewsHour have termed “re-education centers.” Their article shared on October 4, 2019, described how the Chinese government had been denying the existence of the centers until satellite imagery of buildings surrounded by barbed wire were found by Google map satellites. Members of the minority group who escaped claimed to be detained, interrogated, and beaten in these “re-education centers.” 

In June 2019, BBC’s John Sudworth shared the extreme measures China takes in keeping the conditions of the Uighur people silent in his documentary, “Searching for Truth in China’s Uighur ‘Re-Education’ Camps.” Like the documentary, the MSA’s purpose was to educate students on the crisis in China. Farah Helal, MSA President, explains the approach the MSA took in educating the Centennial Community. “During our morning information and activity session, we made sure to separate what the government is doing from actual Chinese citizens and draw light to the Uighurs’ amazing history, cultural traditions, religious uniqueness, and current struggle underneath the government’s rule.” 

A Uighur Centennial student, who, for her safety, will be referred to as Emily, also believes it is important to educate people on the subject because of the great ignorance surrounding it. “A lot of students [don’t] know what’s going on in China, ” she said. “The only thing I can do is to let more people know.”

The MSA believes the Uighur Awareness Day was a great way to educate students on the subject. “A great number of students learned about a population of the world currently struggling, allowing Muslim and Uighur students the opportunity to make a topic close to their hearts heard,” said Helal. 

Emily immigrated to the United States from China three years ago. Most of her family still resides in China and is greatly impacted by the government’s actions against their people. “One day, my mom got a call from the government… and they [told] my mother, ‘your brother is in the camp.’ He’s [been] in jail for more than four years now,” Emily shares. 

Sajjan M. Gohel shares in his article, “The Seven Stages of Terriorism in China,” published on The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, that China took action against the Uighur people because of a terrorist attack on Tiananmen Square by The Turkistan Islamic Party in 2013, which left five people dead and 38 harmed. The organization’s leader, Abdullah Mansour, then threatened the government with more attacks. In 2017, this lead the Xinjiang government to pass a law prohibiting men from growing long beards and women from wearing veils. According to Gohel, Uighur citizens were then detained for their belief in Islam.

 “I was so mad [at myself]; why am I a Uighur? Why have these things happened to me, and my family, and my nation,” Emily said. 

Helal explains the reason behind the club’s decision in representing the Uighurs. “The Uighurs specifically caught our attention due to the increased inhumanity towards them this summer from forced labor and quartering to organ harvesting.” 

22 countries of the United Nations condemned China for its treatment of the Uighurs; however, 33 applauded China’s attempt in suppressing terrorism. China’s crackdown on terrorists has stopped terror attacks for almost five years, says Gohel. But in doing so, Emily says that they have also wiped out the culture of the Uighur people. 

“[The Chinese government] never taught me who I am, my history, my nation’s history… when I came to the United States I did a lot of research; my parents told me who I am and who the Uighur people are, and I was so surprised,” Emily shares. 

 Though there are limits to what a club can do, the MSA pushed the boundaries to speak up for an important part of the Centennial community. “Talking about sensitive issues and gaining others’ perspectives is important to understanding one another, and we believe that these awareness days are a great way to share our side of the events in the media directly with our peers and teachers,” said Helal. “We will continue our awareness days at school so the communities our diverse club-members care about get the right attention and discussion time in the Centennial community.”

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Centennial Cross Country Races at the State Championship

Words: Jeramy Stavlas

Photos contributed by: Matthew Bryman and Madelyn Mielke

After outstanding performances at the county and regional championships, the Centennial cross country teams raced at the 3A Maryland State Championship on Saturday, November 9. The boys’ team placed second, while the girls’ team placed fifth. 

Outstanding performances by freshman Antonio Camacho and junior Jake Cole, who placed sixth and seventh respectively, helped put the Eagles at the top of the 3A division, finishing second to River Hill High School. Joining Camacho and Cole, juniors Matthew Thomas and Andrew Bank both placed inside the top 20.

In the girls’ race, juniors Michelle Weaver and Katerina Talanova placed 24th and 25th respectively, to help the girls finish within the top five of the 20 schools who competed. 

“We did very good,” Camacho said. “We really stepped up. Last year, nobody expected us to be all the way up here.”

In accordance to the girls’ fifth-place finish, sophomore Madelyn Mielke thinks the team will continue to get better year by year. “I expect us to continue to move up the ranks,” she said.

Coaches Robert Slopek and Kevin McCoy believe the program’s legacy will live on in the coming years. “We’ve set the precedence that we want to be one of the top two teams in the state,” Slopek said.

Despite losing two seniors on the boys’ Varsity team and three on the girls’, McCoy does not think that filling the gaps will be an issue. “The program, it just reloads year in and year out.”

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Centennial Students Commit to Colleges

Words: Sasha Allen

Photos: Eliza Andrew

On November 13, six high-achieving Centennial athletes signed their commitment to their future colleges. Rasa Welsh signed for Campbell University, Lauren Marcotte for Penn State University, Gabrielle Castle-Smith for St. Mary’s College, Ashley Bilger for Frostburg University, Sarah Thorman for Allegheny College, and Zack Steen for Bloomsburg University.

Bilger, a soccer player who will be attending Frostburg for the next four years, found the event extremely sentimental. 

“It was a really special event because it marked the culmination of all of the hard work I’ve done,” Bilger said.

Although Bilger is leaving Centennial, she is excited for the opportunities that lie ahead.

“I’m looking forward to playing a high level of soccer and meeting new teammates.”

The signing was an incredible event for showcasing the athletes’ achievements, and family and friends came to celebrate their students.

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Sense and Sensibility Interviews

Podcast by: Casper Ambrose, Julia Stitely, Noelle Deal, Keith Hitzelberger, Camryn Desai

Get a closer look at Centennial’s production of Sense and Sensibility with interviews from the director and a lead in the show.

Jacob Traver | Theatre Teacher/ Director

 

Myeves Lucien | Portrays Marianne Dashwood

 

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Centennial Varsity Volleyball Suffers Disappointing Loss in Second Playoff Match

Words: Shawn Kruhm

Photos: Sara Ferrara

On Monday, November 4, the girls’ Varsity volleyball team was knocked out of the playoffs. Their loss came to undefeated Westminster Senior High School by a final score of 3-1. 

Despite the outcome, the girls have much to be proud of, as they overcame great challenges throughout the season. 

Centennial was ranked fourth in their region after finishing the season with a 5-9 record. 

The week prior to their loss at Westminster, Centennial shut out Manchester Valley High School in their first playoff game of the 2019 season. The girls defeated Manchester Valley in three straight sets. 

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Centennial Soccer Season Recap

Words: Joey Sedlacko

As the 2019-20 fall sports season comes to an end, we look back on the accomplishments of Centennial’s soccer program.

Under first-year head coach Hank Hurren, the girls’ Varsity soccer team finished the regular season with a 5-3-1 in-county record and an overall record of 8-5-1.

“Our team was most proud of the easy transition we had from our old coach to our new coach. We had a new coach with a new coaching style and we came out with a winning season that was much better than the years past. It was something that many of us were worried about going in but it really ended up being better and we accomplished more than any of us could have imagined,” senior Gabrielle Castle-Smith said.

The team’s chemistry stood out to senior captain Ashely Bilger and was a reason their team was successful.

“Our team chemistry really improved throughout the season. The girls on JV last year and the returning Varsity players had to get accustomed to playing with each other. With each practice there was improvement, and we began to connect really well in games,” stated Bilger. “Coach also emphasized the importance of communication this season. I think that was an area we really struggled with, but with practice and repetition we were better [at] communicating on the field.”

The girls’ season came to an end when rival Mount Hebron High School knocked the team out in the first round of the playoffs.

As for the boys, their Varsity team ended the season with an overall record of 8-6-1. After a slow start to the year, they changed their mindset which helped them find success later on in the season.

“We turned our season around in the second half. We played with more intensity and came into each game with a winning attitude,” said senior captain Zach Grable.

Although the team lost in the opening round of the playoffs against Marriotts Ridge High School, they reflect positively on the season.

The highlight of the season, according to senior Darian Avery, came when they defeated River Hill High School, one of the top teams in the state.

“We made the best out of a young team that began with little chemistry and turned it into a team that played with plenty of pride,” Avery said. “We started off slow, but ended up taking down River Hill, which was definitely our proudest moment this season.”

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