Month: November 2012

Poetry Out Loud

Words: Miranda Mason

Photos: Paul Didwall

Ellicott City, MD – On Friday, November 30, 2012, the school-wide Poetry Out Loud (POL) competition took place in the CHS auditorium, with senior Sarika Reddy winning first place, Gabe Lewman with second place and Brianna Richardson as the runner-up.

Seven students, who first competed in their English classes, participated in the event: Sarika Reddy, Gabe Lewman, Brianna Richardson, Julia Zhen, Tahiyat Sheikh, Ona Ichoku and Emma Cooley.

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation competition that students nationwide compete in each year. POL is designed to encourage kids to learn about poetry, along with mastering public speaking and building self-confidence, something English teacher Corey O’Brien believes is important.

“It gives students the opportunity to speak in front of their peers in a formal style. They get to choose their own poems, so it means more to them and they can do more with that,” said O’Brien.

For students, this was a chance to showcase their talents in a way that differs from performing in a play or musical. The school-wide POL competition also gives the top two students who participated the chance to move on to the next stage of Poetry Out Loud.

“I’m so excited. We’ve been preparing for this for weeks, and it’s a wonderful opportunity,” said junior Brianna Richardson before she went on stage for the event.

The first and second place winners, Reddy and Lewman, will move on to the county competition. From there, there is a regional and a state competition before the national event. If either Reddy or Lewman wins at the state level, they will receive $200 and a paid trip to Washington D.C., where the national competition is taking place April 28-30, 2013.

The Spectacular Winter Spectacular

Article: Paul Didwall

Photos: Caitlin Martin

Ellicott City, MD – If The Winter Spectacular were a movie, and you were to watch a trailer for it, quotes would sequentially appear on the screen with sayings such as, “10 out of 10,” “Five Stars,” “Centennial Amazes Again,” “There is a reason it is called The Winter SPECTACULAR.” The annual Centennial High School event was held on November 29 and 30 this year, at 7:00 PM in the CHS auditorium. Tickets were $10 a piece and could be purchased at the door or in advance.

Prior to the 7:00 start time, the Madrigals sang the audience in to the room with songs from their repertoire. The show then started off with Santa’s journey to CHS, featuring a comical video of him driving in to the Centennial parking lot blaring holiday music, and then running in to the school getting each performing group ready for the show. Santa, played by Benjamin Evans, and two of his reindeer, Jillian Loeffler and Sarika Reddy, got the performances stared by welcoming the entire cast on stage to perform There’s No Business Like SNOW Business! Santa and his reindeer continued to keep the audience entertained throughout the night with the story of their trip around the globe.

Madrigals then took to the stage to perform Deck the Halls!, and returned at various intervals to wow the audience with more holiday tunes. The Centennial Dance Academy – an after school program for younger dances that was introduced last year – was the second group to take the stage and had a considerable number of performances throughout the night. Each Musical Theater performance was very enthusiastic and well put-together, making it easy to enjoy.

Junior and Senior Dance companies wowed the audience on many occasions including a detailed group performance of The Nutcracker Suite, featuring a solo by senior Madison Croxson. After a few more dances, a phenomenal iteration of Sleigh Ride was performed by the Strings. The show continued on with more dances, musical theater performances, and singing from the Madrigals, as well as more details of the story being told by Santa and the Reindeer.

By this point of The Winter Spectacular, it was time for Jazz Band to take the stage. The Jazz band performed Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, with flawless vocal accompaniment by Anne Marie Demme. Strings played another great song between the execution of the two Jazz band songs. After the various performances by the various performing arts groups, the entire cast was again brought back in to the auditorium to collectively perform Feliz Navidad. The Band provided the instrumental music, Madrigals and Music Theater sang the lyrics, and dancers filled the auditorium aisles to dance and pass out festive candy canes. The Jazz Band then returned to play the crowd out of the auditorium, with a drum solo from Kevin Lehr.

The night should be considered a success by all involved. Congratulations to the cast and crew of The 2012 Winter Spectacular on a fantastic job.

If you missed the chance to visit this event on Thursday, I would urge you to attend tonight’s (11/30/12) performance at 7:00 PM in the CHS auditorium.

Cyberbullying Drop Box Available to CHS Students

By Miranda Mason

Ellicott City, MD – On Wednesday, November 28, 2012, a Cyberbullying Drop Box was added to Centennial’s website after action by the CHS Lines of Love club.

The Cyberbullying Drop Box allows anyone who witnesses an act of bullying to report it anonymously to the school by uploading a screen shot of the incident. Anna Bella Sicilia, a senior at CHS and member in Lines of Love, was the driving force behind getting this Drop Box put up, meeting with CHS Assistant Principal Joelle Miller to get the web page approved.

Along with helping to solve problems that arise from cyberbullying, Lines of Love hopes that this easy way to report it will discourage cyberbullying from happening, something Sicilia thinks CHS needs.

“I’ve been with Lines of Love for a few years now, and one of our missions is wellness. Cyberbullying is an area where we could improve, so something in that area is important,” said Sicilia.

Lines of Love has previously worked on the issue of cyberbullying, one of their projects being the precursor to the Drop Box: See. Support. Report. is a Lines of Love campaign that aims to get people to act when they see an act of bullying by providing CHS students with an email address and phone number where they could send screen shots of cyberbullying.

The Cyberbullying Drop Box can be accessed from Centennial high school’s homepage at centennialeagles.org under the site shortcuts that are found along the side of the page, along with under the student services tab.

You can navigate to The Cyberbullying Drop Box by clicking here.

Technology Spreading to Students

by Jonah Drenning

Ellicott City, MD – How would you like to be allowed to use your smart phone in school? Do you think it could be useful to help you learn? Or just a distraction?

Recently, the Carroll County School System has considered changing its policy on electronics in schools, according to carrollcountytimes.com. The Carroll County Board of Education is reconsidering which phones and other electronics can be used for educational purposes. Smart phones are banned in most school systems, but teachers use increasing amounts of technology in instruction.

Teachers are using technology such as interactive whiteboards to teach their classes. Also, each teacher in the Carroll County School System is assigned a laptop and a projector for use during the year. Teachers at Centennial also have access to a laptop, a project, and document cameras that are becoming commonplace in the classroom.

Many teachers and staff enjoy using the new technology and believe that it helps them teach, grade, and communicate with other teachers, students, and parents quickly and efficiently.

“My favorite part of the technology is that I can do research for projects using the reliable sources and databases from the school website,” said Sophomore Jeffrey Tse.

Teachers in Howard County use a website, Aspen, to inform students and parents of grades as soon as the teacher finishes grading, and students no longer wait until the teacher hands back the work. However, the transition from the old, similar service TeacherEase was difficult, and technology can be difficult to manage.

Issues with the new uses of technology in the school system include the quick replacement cycle for computers, the high cost of maintaining and buying technology, and the potential for misuse that technology comes with. The schools technology does not always work correctly.

“Some of the school’s technology is not up to date, and the website we look at for grades is very buggy,” said Sophomore Ankur Holz.

Keeping in mind the advantages and drawbacks of using technology in the classroom, school systems across the state must make a decision about the amount of technology that students will be able to use. Current Howard County policy requires phones off and out of view during the day. This policy does not account for smart phones having qualities of computers and potential for education.

“You can use your phone as a dictionary or calculator for most classes, and you could even use it as a metronome or tuner for music classes,” said Sophomore Connor Lin.

Smart phones can be used as a substitute for many common classroom tools. They can be dictionaries, planners, calculators, sketchbooks, and search engines. Although phones can be misused in class, allowing students to use phones during class might cut down on “illegal” use. Schools must still be careful if they are to adopt a new technology policy.

Cyber-bullying and theft are issues that would have to be addressed in a new technology policy. Cyber-bullying has been covered in several assemblies throughout the past few years, but it is still an issue.

“As more social networking is established, there are more opportunities for people to take advantage of innocent lives susceptible to attacks,” said Holz.

Theft is a problem that would only grow if students could use their smart phones in class. Currently the Howard County School System is not responsible for stolen electronics during the day, as they are banned in school, but that could change if students could use phones in school.

“Yes, if phones were allowed for use in school the school [should be] partially responsible because they authorized the use,” said Holz.

Another reason to include technology in the curriculum is how it puts all students on an equal playing field. Technology improves disabled or shy students’ learning experience. A study conducted in schools in North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota found that increased use in technology enhanced the learning experience of the majority of the students, according to carroltechcouncil.org.

With the increase of use of technology in many people’s daily lives, the Howard County Public School System may have to reaffirm or take a new stance on technology in the near future.

Connor Flach Signs National Letter of Intent to Loyola

by Salman Hashmi

Ellicott City, MD – After four years of hard work and determination on the golf green at Centennial, senior Connor Flach has committed to Loyola University Maryland by signing his national letter of intent on November 19, 2012. Flach signed his national letter of intent in front of his family and friends on hand as well as Centennial Athletic Director Jean Vanderpool.

Connor Flach has been a big part of the success for Centennial golf for the last four years. Flach’s career at Centennial is an impressive one. Connor was ranked one of the top boys’ golf players in Howard County, finished in second at states, and was “one shot 68 away from win district.”

Connor Flach ends one golf career and starts a new one at Loyola University. The opportunity for playing for coach Baloga is one of the factors that led to his decision. “I am really excited to go play college golf. It has been a dream of mine ever since I was seven,” said Flach. One area of Connor’s game that he wants to improve on is to become more consistent to his putting. “Before I go to Loyola, my putting is what I want to work on the most,” said Flach. Other than playing on the green, Connor hopes to major in business.