Month: June 2015

The Curious Case of High School Friendships

Words: Maryam Elhabashy

As another year comes to an end, another class of seniors are off to college and another class of freshmen wait in the wings to make their Eagle debut. What an eventful year it’s been! The Home of the Eagles is now the proud nest of the reigning State Basketball Champions, for the first time ever! And the tennis team won back the County Cup, after a fourteen-year dry spell! There’s not enough room to try to list all of the Eagles’ academic accolades! These achievements will not soon be forgotten. There is one thing, however, that counter intuitively tends to fall victim to abandonment when high school ends- friendships.

What is a BFF? In 1997, millions of people learned what it meant, when on an episode of the TV show “Friends,” Phoebe explained that BFF means “best friends forever.” High school provides the most opportune environment for the establishment of these BFFs. Really. It’s a scientific fact.

In a 2003 research article entitled “Best friends forever? High school best friendships and the transition to college,” Deborah L. Oswald and Eddie M. Clark give the reasons for such strong high school bonds, and the benefits that these bonds provide.

High school is what they call the “focus activity,” that gives the context for these relationships. Though the high school workload can be heavy, there are a multitude of sports programs, clubs, and extracurricular events through which solid, meaningful connections are made. It is during the high school years that kids really start to forge their own paths, spending more time with their peers than their parents. They start experimenting with who they are, and develop social skills. Friendships provide “social support, give a sense of belonging, and shape beliefs.”

A high school friend understands the pressure you feel about your grades, can empathize when your parents take your phone away, and are more willing to share their clothes with you than most siblings are. In some cases, their shoulders are better to cry on than a member of the family. A BFF can become family.

In fact, Oswald cites another study that concludes that adolescents “need the special support offered by a best friend.” It states that the best friendships provide “acceptance, respect, trust, intimacy, enjoyment, spontaneity, stability, and self-disclosure and opportunities.”

That’s A LOT of important “stuff” one gains from a best friend. So how and why does the “Best” and “Forever” fall off so easily when kids go off to college?

Well, in many cases the social context changes. The school as “focus activity” is in a new state, or consists of thousands of people instead of hundreds. College is also like the second step of experimentation in becoming an adult. Some kids just add new layers to who they are, while others want to change entirely- shed who they were in high school and be someone new. That means new social settings, new activities, and new friends.

I think we students all kind of understand this part. It’s what makes college so exciting. It’s not just the academic opportunities, but the social opportunities. The research article states that 97% of college students say they find a new “closest” friend within the first month of college. However, the majority of these friendships do not last for the full first year.

In fact, the article reports that students who are “preoccupied with the potential loss of pre-college friends report emotional distress, decreased satisfaction with college friends, loneliness, and college maladjustment.” So that first year of new friends can be extremely hard, but it’s almost inevitable (I’ll explain in a minute).

Though the science may lead us to the conclusion that most high school friendships are non-existent by the time college is over, I would hope that some of us can be the anomaly. I mean, the science is also telling us that the first year of college would be a lot easier on you if you can hold on to some of those meaningful high school relationships, that provide stability and security.

Oswald and Clark identified four types of behaviors that maintained friendships: interaction, positivity, supportiveness, and self-disclosure. In detail, these are: doing things together, being positive and making the friendship enjoyable, supporting the friend and the friendship with emotional support, and having meaningful communication, such as sharing private thoughts.

I know that it’s perfectly acceptable to think that teenagers can’t have meaningful relationships or don’t really know how to do so. That perhaps they are too immature to commit to such serious ideas. It’s the “that’s SO high school” comment. But I disagree. If we can roll through AP classes, or lead teams to victories, or create fantastic art projects, or devote time to community service- we can have long-lasting, mature friendships. Keep the BFFs to our own benefit. Of course, the friendships will change over time. Instead of borrowing a pair of sweatpants, maybe it’ll be a blender you’ll be borrowing (and hopefully, returning). Or the selfie of you and your friends at some concert will become you and your friends sharing a job promotion celebration.

I guess the bottom line is that wanting to experiment and have new social experiences are a great thing, and something to be excited about. But I hate to think that we can’t have or benefit from these new experiences without ditching the friendships we’ve built over time. In fact, I’d argue that these new experiences would be more valuable with our BFFs by our sides. I’ve still got a couple of years before I test the science out for myself, but I’d like to think that I’m creating lifelong friends.

Best friendships are a personal investment. Best friends know things about you that maybe your parents don’t even know. And they are still your best friends through it all. The personal connections we make are arguably as valuable as the high school diploma that we receive. The diploma signifies our ability to work hard and excel in academics. The friendships are intangible, irreplaceable pools of memories and experiences that not only mold who you are, but can continue to mold the shape of who you will become.

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

Unfinished Paintings

Words: Chy Murali

Many have seen the painted murals across the walls of Centennial High School. The masks near the auditorium and the piano surrounded by instruments in the hallway next to the orchestra room are some of the many projects the National Art Honors Society (NAHS) has undertaken since the past school year.

Claire Hafets, the principal, asked NAHS to beautify the school. After the designs had been approved by the administration, each mural was assigned a group to work on it. Around 30 artists began the project first by sanding the walls to insure that the pant would stick.
Nan Collins, one of the sponsors of NAHS, said the project was doing well.
“I think they’re excellent,” Collins said, “I think we have great artists.”
Collins is more concerned about the effort than the amount of time spent on working on the paintings. “I would rather take the time to do it well than do it fast and poorly.”
Christina Paul, a 2015 graduate of Centennial, has been working on the murals since last year, but only began painting this year. She finds the experience as something to be proud of.
“I personally have been working on them because it’s fun to work on something with my friends and to add something to my community that I’m proud of,” Paul said, “especially since I still feel very connected to National Art Honors Society.”
Students work on the murals once or twice a week, typically on Thursdays. The murals are expected to be completed next year.
For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial’s New Teachers Reflect on Their First Year

Words: Meghan Moore

Freshmen students are not the only ones who have to become accustomed to the ways of high school during their first year. Teachers new to high schools spend their first year learning how to adjust to the education standards that Howard County has set in place.

 

This year, Centennial had eight new teachers join the Centennial family.

 

John Sharbaugh, a first year ninth grade English teacher at the school shared his first impression as being, “a school where the majority of students are well-behaved, focused and ready to learn,” to which he added, “its a teacher’s dream.”

 

Some teachers never expect to leave their jobs teaching in middle school, while others have always known where they wanted to teach.

 

Justin Thomas, a first year math teacher here at Centennial stated, “I’ve always known I wanted to teach high school, but I thought it would be later in life.”

 

No matter where a teacher goes, there will always be that one validating moment during their first year at a school.

 

For Jessica Pan, a U.S. History and U.S. Government teacher, that moment was “the day after the AP US History test, a lot of students emailed me to tell me how well they think they had done.”

 

An educator’s first year at a new school gives a lot of insight on how a teacher wants to run their classroom.

 

“Some things have gone right,” shared Thomas, “plenty of things have gone wrong, but you learn from your mistakes and next year I will minimize the mistakes.”

 

For some it is about improving upon things that they thought they understood well enough.

 

“I have a much better idea about classroom management, and what students are like at different times of the year,” established Pan.

 

Sharbaugh concluded: “I couldn’t be happier at Centennial, and I hope to remain here until I retire.”

 

“It creates a wonderful educational environment, and I hope that the students who attend this school realize how fortunate they are to go here” said Sharbaugh.

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

How Centennial Students Plan to Spend Their Summer

Words: Ashley Berry

Centennial High School is known to have a very diverse student population. The students that make up the population plan to spend their summers many different ways.

According to The Wingspan’s “What Are Your Plans for the Summer” poll, 25% of Centennial students are planning to spend their summer attending concerts. With a few major concerts venues nearby – Merriweather Post Pavilion, Jiffy Lube Live, Verizon Center, and more – students are exposed to an experience they can’t forget.

Many students also plan to spend their days making a splash at the pool. Whether you choose to lay around on a lawn chair, swim laps, play pool games, or take part in pool-side sports/activities, the pool is a great place to have a great time. You can swim at any of the neighborhood pools – Forest Hill Swim and Tennis Club, Dorsey Hall Pool, and more – or at a friend’s private pool.

Everyone knows that many high school students play sports during the year, but they also choose to spend their summer traveling to games, tournaments, and practices. Competition heats up when the weather does.

A majority of the rest of the student body plans to spend their summers at the beach, on vacation, attending or being a counselor at camp, working, and/or spending time with their friends.

Centennial Summer Sport Camps

Words: Michael Moore

Over the summer of 2015, the Centennial Boosters and the Athletic Department will be holding various instructional sports camps. These camps are run by Centennial coaches and players, and are for students in elementary and middle school.

The boys’ basketball team will be holding two sessions of their camp. The first one is June 22 – June 26. The second session will be July 6-July 10, which will be held from. The camp is run by the coaching staff and is one of the most popular Centennial camps.

The girls’ basketball camp is from July 13-July 17. The camp will be held at Centennial High School and is run by the coaches and returning players.

They boys’ and girls’ lacrosse camps will be held June 29-July 3. They are run by the varsity coaching staff of both teams, current players, and alumni. Both camps are from.

The cross country camp will have two different sessions. The first session will take place from June 22-June26, and the second from July 27-July 31.

The soccer camp will be held from August 3-6 and will be held at Centennial High School. The camp is run by the girls’ head coach and returning varsity players.

The softball camp will be on June 22-June 26. The camp works to develop softball skills and provides a way for incoming freshmen and younger players to meet the coaches.

The volleyball camp will be held from July 20-July 23. This is the first year that Coach Bossom has had a camp, and the camp will be great for players working on their fundamentals.

These camps are a great way for athletes to gain valuable knowledge from experienced coaches. It also gives the coaches a way to scout players that will be coming in the future.

More information can be found on the boosters website:

http://www.centennialboostersonline.com/#!boosters-camps/c19bw

A Student’s Perspective on Finals Week

Words: Maryam Elhabashy

For as long as many of us can remember, the last week of school has been either the most or least demanding weeks of the year. In elementary school we strip our cute name tags off of our desks, a far cry from studying for a final exam that holds the promise of success or failure of the entire year’s grade. In years past, students have been lucky enough to have a full week of half days, allowing for a little calm after every final exam’s storm, also offering optimum time for studying. This year we’re not so lucky.

Mother Nature went particularly heavy on the winter weather this year, leaving us with only two half days during exam week.

USA Today reported that according to the “National Survey of Student Engagement’s” findings, students spend an average of 17 hours a week preparing for classes, about 3.4 hours a day. Finals are notorious for requiring more work, more attention, and more time. With the elimination of three half days, students are going to need to re-assess how they apportion their study time. It’s like adding insult to injury, really. Not only are we ending a week later than originally scheduled, we also have to tighten our grips on final exam studying (and sleeping, when possible!).

But do we have the right to complain?

There’s no time like the present. It’s a fitting proverb to describe the highs and lows of the snow day. Ah! The joy of snow days. Every student knows the rush of relief and glee when their parent creeps quietly into their room, still dark as the night at 6 am on a winter morning, and says that school has been cancelled. The glee quickly melts into more z’s on the pillow. That’s the high.

What goes up must come down. It’s the middle of June (after June 10, the originally scheduled last day of school), and I think we’re there. But after eight snow days (glee!) and eight delayed start days this year (a little bit of glee), we knew we were in for some kind of last day adjustment.

That adjustment is actually a lot more complicated than one might think. The Maryland State Department of Education mandates that high schools complete a total of 180 instructional days, that involve 1,170 instructional hours per year. The hours requirement is what changed the originally scheduled half day on Wednesday, June 17, to a full day, and added an hour of instruction on Thursday, June 18.  With five snow days built into the original calendar, and eight days taken, we had three days to make up. Howard County applied for and received a waiver for one of those days, meaning we needed to add two days to the school year somehow.

Though there is little that can be done beyond the waiver to alter the number of hours or school days that students attend in a year (though I’m slightly baffled by Fairfax County’s THIRTEEN snow days!), there are different ways to determine when those hours and days are made up.

Some Maryland counties actually cut days out of Spring Break (personally not a fan of this one!), acknowledging that they might have a lot of absent kids on those days. Most counties also applied for and received waivers just as Howard County did. In other states that are used to harsh and prolonged winter weather, there are numerous options to make up snow days. In Iowa, the Board of Education allows for holding classes on previously designated holidays, professional days, or half day schedules; or increasing instructional time by adding minutes to each school day, holding classes on Saturdays, or adding days to the end of the year (the option Howard County took).

I want to take a closer look at option number one: holding classes on previously scheduled holidays, professional days, or half days. When I took a look back at the calendar, I realized that there were a few opportunities to knock out some snow day make-ups: two days in February for parent-teacher conferences, a half day before Spring Break began, and a professional day in May. This option might have preserved our half-day exam week, as well as cut fewer days from summer break. It’s not uncommon for parents to receive letters from school administrations, explaining calendar alterations due to snow days. I doubt that parents would have been up in arms about having their students stay for full days on parent-teacher conference days. In fact, I’d argue that if there are issues with a student, parents and/or teachers need not wait for the conference days to discuss them. And if there aren’t any complaints or issues, do parents (or teachers) really need to speak for 15 minutes about how awesome a student is? I’d much rather have spent the rest of the day in class in February (typical school year), than add a day of school in the middle of June (summer break!). The same goes for that “bonus” three hours we got on the Friday before Spring Break. I would have much rather kept a full day of summer break!

The bottom line is this: I guess we don’t have any real right to complain. In actuality, with the approved waiver, we only had 179 days of school instead of the originally mandated 180 days. So we can’t crash in bed at 11:30 in the morning on Wednesday the 17; we’ll deal with it.

Admittedly, I’m looking at the situation purely as a high school student. Summer break is hallowed ground, and the bliss of sleeping in on that winter morning is long forgotten. This high school student, with limited knowledge of how complicated snow day make-ups can be, would like to see more thought given to making up snow days on springtime professional days, half-days, and holidays, instead of cracking into summer break and jostling around final exam week.

But then again, if I had it my way, I’d still be pulling my laminated name tag off of a desk, instead of studying all night for a final exam.

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