Month: June 2020

Journalism 2020 Farewell

Words: Delanie Tucker 

When I started thinking of the possibility that I could become the Editor-In-Chief of the Centennial High School Wingspan, this is not quite how I imagined my take-over would go. When I had my take-over as Managing Editor at the end of my sophomore year, I learned everything I could about what that issue entails, because I wanted to make sure that it could be perfect the next year. While I wasn’t certain at the time that I would become Editor-In-Chief, I was hopeful and wanted to be prepared.

Now, a year after my take-over as Managing Editor, I earned the title of EIC of the Wingspan, but I didn’t get my perfect Takeover Issue. Furthermore, I didn’t get a final 2019-20 publication at all because of COVID-19. The situation I was put in was not something I could have prepared myself for, but it surely made my first months in my new position interesting.

We knew as soon as we wrapped up our Senior Issue and the seniors graduated that a Takeover Issue would not be possible, due to problems accessing the necessary technology and a simple lack of manpower. Because we didn’t get the traditional ending to our school year, all efforts were put towards making everything we published online top quality. The twelve of us, yes only twelve, really came together and knew that it would take a little more dedication to keep the flow of articles as consistent as it was with a full team. I’m happy to say that they did not disappoint.

Every single member of the team really stepped up in the absence of the seniors and took on responsibilities that they hadn’t been prepared for. Whether it be writing an article in half the time they would normally have to, editing someone else’s piece, or being on stand-by at all times to make sure that the articles can be published on our website, everyone was up for the challenge. 

In the past three years that I’ve been a member of this team, we’ve never been short on staff. That being said, I don’t think there could’ve been a better team, no matter the numbers, to make my take-over as smooth as it was. I’d like to say it was my amazing leadership skills that made what we did possible, but that’d be a lie. It was the unwavering dedication that every single member of this team had until the very last day that we could publish.

On the first day of my freshman year, and every year after that, our beloved teacher Rus Vanwestervelt (VW) talked about the names on the walls. Signatures of former members of the Wingspan. As a freshman, I didn’t think much of it. They weren’t people that I knew, so they weren’t incredibly interesting to me. As I heard his speech again and again, and as I moved up the ranks of the Wingspan, I started to understand. The legacy we leave behind is important, and it’s something that you want to be remembered for. Not everyone is going to understand why we still write, because some think that journalism is old fashioned, but these are stories that have to be told. It’s our goal to write that story that will get recognition in other counties, or even other states. We want to write the story that people remember, because that’s the legacy. More than that, we want to expand on what those before us did. They built this publication, and it’s only fair that we try our hardest to continue what they worked so hard on. It’s their legacy that pushes us to be our best, and I hope that the legacy of this team and the uncertain times that we overcame will push the next class, and every class after them, to do their best. And I hope their best is even better than ours.

The ending of this year is bittersweet. It’s always nice when another year of school comes to a close. This year, though, the Wingspan is saying goodbye to VW. He has been the biggest supporter of everything that the members of the Wingspan do, and he’s always let us have free reign. He’s in charge, but so are we. That’s the best part about his style of running the publication, because he trusts us whole-heartedly to get everything done right, but he’s still there when we need help. It’s sad to see him go, because he has believed in me since my very first day, but I’m confident that we’ll honor his legacy, and when his name goes on that wall, because I’m going to make him sign it, people will know what he did for this publication. 

Regardless of all the amazing things VW has done, I’m excited to see what next year’s teacher, Lauren Mancini, will add to the team. I’ve met with her once over a Google Meet call, and if VW has to go, I’m glad it’s her taking his place.

Next year is still a mystery. There’s no way to know right now if we’ll be in a real classroom or not, but there’s one thing I do know. This team won’t slow down. When school starts back up, the Wingspan will continue to write and to publish, even if there’s only twelve of us. If we have newcomers, then I’ll tell them the stories of the names on the walls and we’ll go from there.

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

Students Find Outlet in Music During Isolation

Words: Emily Hollwedel

Quarantine. The word that ties together our county, our state, and even our nation. In the wake of COVID-19 outbreaks nationwide, students and parents are working from home and have limited access to their friends and to most of the things that define late spring and the start of summertime. One question that always comes up is: how are students dealing with this? The answer for some: music. 

With closed concert venues, musicians have taken to online resources to distribute their music. And students, having little else to do, have been listening more than ever before. 

Freshman Gray Ren and junior Flynn Djan have been expanding their taste in music during isolation. From genres such as metal, punk, soft pop, and even indie, they have been streaming songs on Spotify daily. Indie rock musician Mitski, contemporary folk and blues artist Hozier, and experimental pop band Gorillaz are among the music they share.

“Music has been something really nice to pass the time… and it helps extremely well in dealing with emotions,” Djan said. “It’s cathartic.” 

Ren had similar sentiments in their use of music as a coping mechanism for such a turbulent time. “It’s becoming a lot harder to process everything… it’s really helped me stay afloat,” they noted. 

Not only that, but both students have been listening to new music recommended by friends.

Ren said that they enjoy comparing their previous tastes. “Now, in quarantine, I can take time to listen to new artists.” 

Djan, in fact, immediately glued themself to a friend’s recommendations. “I have so much more time to be like: ‘You want me to listen to Brat Mobile? Done. I am currently playing it as we speak.’” 

They’ve also discovered that some of their previous music interests are not as favorable anymore. “There are songs out there I don’t like… I have no excuse to not make playlists with music I do enjoy.” 

Regardless of what students listen to, it’s clear that music, and all it encompasses, has helped individuals deal with this abrupt change in everyday life.

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

Rising Freshmen: Fears for an Uncertain School Year

Words: Sasha Allen

Last June, prior to the 2019-20 school year, I wrote an article about the worries and expectations of rising freshmen and matched their fears with words of encouragement and advice from current freshmen. In my interviews with these students, I found they were eagerly awaiting the new school year, each indicating mixed emotions of excitement tinged by a slight edge of anxiety, not knowing what to expect from such a new experience. 

A lot has changed since then, and these otherwise major stressors from only a year ago are almost obsolete now. This school year has been unpredictable, and I can safely assume that nobody expected that we would be trying to live through a pandemic instead of dealing with some typical friend group drama or that stubborn teacher who refuses to round that 89.4% to an 89.5%. Distance learning brings an unfamiliar array of problems, ranging from connectivity issues to failed submissions. However, the unpredictability doesn’t stop at this school year, especially not for the class of 2024.  

The upcoming class has already been deprived of their last year of middle school, and the prospect of missing parts of their first year in high school is disappointing for students. Lexa Millen, a rising freshman, is concerned about missing out on high school events.

“I am worried that some of the things I was looking forward to, such as homecoming, may not happen or will be very different,” said Millen. 

Despite the uncertainty of the nature of this transition, whether school is online, in person, or a combination, the typical changes in a students life still stand true. There are new people, new teachers, and new opportunities. Millen is still optimistic, even though she is not completely sure what lies ahead.

“I am looking forward to having more freedom, more opportunities, and meeting new people,” expressed Millen. “I [just] hope that things won’t change too much so I can still have a semi-normal high school experience.”

However, not all students have been totally thrown off by online schooling. Anurag Sodhi, another rising freshman, says that, at least for this year, the change in speed has helped him prepare. “In a sense, COVID-19 has actually relieved some stress from my high school transition,” Sodhi stated. “Being at home with less school work has allowed me to focus more on moving to high school and such.”

Like many students, Sodhi has had to bring down his expectations for the school year. Original hopes of joining new clubs and participating in afterschool activities have been forgotten, at least for the foreseeable future. 

“Three months ago, I would have said I was looking forward to all the new clubs and activities at high school that weren’t at middle school,” explained Sodhi. “However, at this point, I am just looking forward to the school experience, so to speak.”

Millen was also hoping to meet new classmates through school activities, but she realizes that there is almost no possibility of having a completely conventional school year. 

“What will become normal for my class might be very different from other years,” recognized Millen.

However, some normalicies still stand. The students will still be taking high school classes with new classmates, subjects, and possibly a different workload. Sodhi is hoping to treat the transition as he would in a normal situation.

“In some senses, high school isn’t too different from middle school. Obviously, it’s one step closer to college, but transition from middle school to high school isn’t as big as the jump from elementary school to middle school,” said Sodhi. “So, like I did from 5th to 6th grade, I’m hoping to just keep an open mind and try to fit in as best as possible to the new environment.”

For now, both of the students are just looking forward to their return to the classroom. These past three months without classroom interaction have been difficult, and they, like most students, are hoping for a semblance of a normal freshman year. 

I reached out to the Howard County Public School System regarding learning structure for next year and was directed to their website with a list of possible systems. HCPSS will be basing the system for next year off of the surveys that were sent to both students and parents as well as the infection rate at the time of school reopening. The options include a fully online model, a hybrid model of both in school classes and online classes, and a fully in school model with the appropriate precautions taken. Similarly, the county is working to address possible curriculum changes, fall sports, transportation, before and after care, and food distribution. These tentative plans can be viewed at hcpss.me

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

 

BLM: A Look at Performative Protests on Social Media

Words: Emily Hollwedel

In the midst of a virus’ wrath, the nation reveals another deep, old wound that has been with it since the beginning: racism. 

Within the span of a month, three names— maybe more— have flashed across television and smartphone screens across the country: Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. And most recently, George Floyd. The common thread between these people is that they were all black people, unjustly killed because of their race. 

This is not a new phenomenon. There are countless names and faces, which initiated the Black Lives Matter organization: devoted to combating racism and white supremacy. Most recently, BLM has been calling for justice in the case of George Floyd, whose life was taken by a police officer in Minnesota. Now, the movement has been thrust directly into the public eye. And now more than ever, people are taking notice. 

In Howard County, a number of students have been posting informative, detailed information about how to help. From petitions, to donations, to resources that can help tackle bias in their own communities, posts have flooded the feeds of the nation— Centennial is no exception. 

Yet at this point it is important to reflect on if we are solely doing this for the public eye. Voices must be heard; however, simply posting a picture and not actually taking action against racism in the country via petitions, donations, and so on does not make that change. It is also essential to reflect on what we are posting and how it affects others. By reposting traumatic videos of Floyd’s death, someone is revisiting an experience that brings so many people pain. There are other things we can do to help make a difference. 

The goal should be to make a change, and not to spread anguish. We must work to stop these tragedies from happening rather than leaving a post and pretending that is all that can be done. For more information visit https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ 

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

 

 

Centennial Hosts a Counselor Corner

Words: Sarah Paz

On Friday, May 29, and June 5, Centennial High School counselors organized a Counselor Corner for juniors at 12:00pm. The objective of the meetings was to answer student’s questions about how the college admissions process has been affected by COVID-19.

On Friday, June 12, Centennial’s counselors hosted another Counselor Corner for all grades.

“Normally at this time of year, CHS juniors begin to ask questions about college prep. We thought one way to capture the questions was through a Google Meet… [to] reach more students,” explained Ellen Mauser, a Centennial school counselor.

Mauser encouraged all students to ask for help if there are any concerns.

“I hear many graduates say that the process of applying to college seemed overwhelming when they were in the middle of it,” stated Mauser. “Asking for help or guidance made the process much easier [for students].”

She reassured rising seniors: “be kind to others — it really matters,” and of course to “enjoy being a senior and [to] try not to worry about what’s to come.”

If you missed either session, more information can be found in the Centennial High School’s Student Resources under Modules in the tab labeled “11 Grade Spring Lesson.”

Frequently asked questions can be found in the Centennial High School Student Resources announcements section called “Topic: Friday, June 5th 12 – 1pm, Counselor’s Corner for Rising Seniors, Part II.”

There will be another Counselor Corner session for other grades on June 19 at 12:00pm.

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

How the Music Programs are Learning Online

Words: Hoang-Phi Quy

Since April 15, Howard County Public Schools have resumed lessons and continued the online learning program. HCPSS has continually stressed the importance of learning throughout these difficult times. 

Unlike regular academic classes, music classes have been particularly difficult to conduct electronically. Students in musical classes have to record themselves once a week playing the newly assigned piece.

“In orchestra, we submit playing tests,” explained freshman Melissa Le. “[We turn in] about 50 measures each week.”

Students in Orchestra are required to submit recordings as a video with their face and instrument visible. Other musical classes have different requirements and assignments than orchestra. 

“You can either listen and write about a [piece] or play a solo,” said junior clarinetist, Enric Jiao. Band students have two options to choose from, unlike the orchestral unit, which only submits playing tests. Jiao usually likes to do “the listening reflections.”

Both Jiao and Le believe that the way the current programs are running is the best way for the situation they are in. They both still believe they are able to learn from their respective classes during this time. 

“[The teachers are] handling this well,” said Jiao. “It is an efficient and effective way to still learn in these difficult times.”

Despite the success with online music classes, Le still believes that the best way to learn music is through direct instruction from the teacher. She is ready to get “back into the classroom.”

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

Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation

Words: Delanie Tucker

On Thursday, June 4, the Centennial High School class of 2020 officially said goodbye to the last four years of their lives. While the seniors couldn’t have a traditional graduation ceremony because of COVID-19, they were still able to experience some formal closure to their last year of high school in the form of a virtual graduation.

The virtual graduation was brought to them in their own homes through a video that included speeches from Centennial students and staff along with the names and video clips of each graduating student. To kick things off, a Processional was played, followed by the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Individual recordings of members of the Centennial Madrigals singing the National Anthem were edited together to create the sound of one singular choir.

Jack McGowan and Regina Wang each gave speeches at the beginning of the ceremony, McGowan to introduce program participants and Wang as Centennial’s student speaker. In her speech, Wang took the opportunity to encourage and support her fellow classmates and hale them for the difficulties they overcame in the final months of their senior year.

“During these uncertain times, we became more adaptable. We taught ourselves to navigate through classes online [and] celebrated each other’s post-secondary plans on instagram…” Wang said. “This pandemic neither defined nor defeated us. Rather, it united us and highlighted fundamental morals and values that we will carry with us throughout our lives.”

Others who spoke during the ceremony were Thomas Wheeler, Centennial English teacher and the CHS Senior Teacher of the Year; Cynthia Dillon, Centennial’s principal; Calvin Ball, Howard County Executive; Kevin Frazier, Hammond High School graduate; Sabina Taj, a member of the Howard County Board of Education; and Michael Martirano, HCPSS Superintendent. 

Now that their year is officially over, seniors have shared their opinions on the final months of their senior year, as well as on how it was wrapped up.

“[Distance Learning] was the best substitute for regular teaching,” said Pravas Dhakal. “It was nice to see my teachers and classmates, even if it was through a screen.”

Stephanie Lee, another 2020 graduate, believes that online schooling made it hard to stay focused, and amplified their already obvious “senioritis.”

“I think online school most definitely facilitated slacking,” Lee stated. “But it did make me miss actual school.”

As for the graduation, opinions differed.

Some students, while not totally disappointed, wish that they got more of an ending to such an important part of their lives.

“I wish we had a chance to say goodbye,” Garrick Agbortarh admitted. “It just feels like we were robbed, in a way.”

Agbortarh understands why a traditional graduation could not be held, but he wishes that  seniors were given something more than a video. 

“Maybe we could have had an in person graduation on the school field,” suggested Agbortarh. “Everyone could stay six feet apart with masks.”

Others, like Lee, thought the virtual ceremony was a nice way to end things, considering the circumstances.

“Although we didn’t get a proper ending to our high school years like we wished, I think our graduation was a cute and sweet farewell.”

Centennial teachers and administration recognize the struggles that the seniors went through, and applaud them for overcoming and making the best of a bad situation. 

Wheeler, in particular, had a very personal message for the seniors. His time at Centennial began when this graduation class was in their freshman year, and now, because of redistricting, he will leave with them, as well. 

Despite his departure, Wheeler is thankful for the time he got to spend at Centennial, and for all the students he was able to work with.

“Congratulations to the resilient class of 2020,” Wheeler expressed in his speech. “You’ve done us all proud and it was a sincere privilege to be a small part of your journey thus far.”

Dillon’s speech was also quite personal and heartfelt. Her message to her seniors held a lot of emotions, and even made her tear up towards the end.

“I put my faith in knowing, as you step out into the world, viewing the undercurrent of circumstances we are currently swimming against, that you will find a way to celebrate what is right and to make the world a better place than it is in this very moment.”

Her final wish for this class is that she will get to see them again when the world allows it.

“When the moment arrives when we can safely come together again, it is my sincerest wish that you will come back to us,” Dillon admitted. “I look forward to the day when we can celebrate together, in person, with great anticipation. Sharing a moment with you again is something that I would like ever so much.”

To watch the full ceremony, visit hcpss.org

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

Centennial Senior Pick-up Events

Words: Jeramy Stavlas

Photos Contributed By: Adithi Soogoor, Farah Helal, Jessie Gabel, and Constanza Montemayor

On Saturday, May 16, Centennial High School held their senior pick-up drive-through for caps and gowns in the Centennial parking lot. More recently, on Monday, June 1, they held their diploma pick-up. 

For the students, these were big and long awaited events that sparked a social media trend of seniors posting pictures in their new attire, awaiting their virtual graduation which will be held on Thursday, June 4.

“Given what the school had to deal with, they exceeded my expectations for what I thought they could do,” stated Charles Reisner, a member of the 2020 graduating class over a text interview.

Centennial’s faculty was just as content as the students. “I observed so many happy, smiling faces,” remarked Centennial’s principal, Cynthia Dillon, over an email interview. “I think the moment when you get to feel another person’s energy is both surprising and comforting.”

Seniors also dropped off textbooks and other school materials they were unable to return before school closures. 

There were very strict precautions for this event, and the students had to follow an alphabetical time schedule, stay in their cars at all times, and follow a traffic pattern to ensure that everyone stayed safe and healthy. Only one car per family was allowed. 

According to the students, the safety measures were executed very well. “I never felt as if anyone was in danger of spreading or contracting the virus,” added Reisner.

“We followed our approved plan and the guidelines issued by the CDC, so I’m comfortable with our result,” stated Dillon.

Centennial plans to do a similar pick-up event for non-seniors who left essential items such as medications and personal technology later in June. 

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

The Senior Issue Is Now Available!

The Wingspan team is proud to announce the release of its 2020 Senior Issue!

Despite the closure of our classrooms March 13, we would not let the Pandemic stop us from printing our final issue of the year. Yesterday, June 1, during diploma distribution, each graduating senior received a print copy of this issue. We are very grateful to Principal Dillon in making this happen. She worked with us in ensuring we could deliver print issues to the class of 2020.

To see this digital edition (and other editions printed in the last five years), click here!

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

Centennial’s Literary Magazine, Aquila, Launches Virtual Issue

The Wingspan is proud to announce that our school’s literary magazine, Aquila, has just launched its issue for the 2019-2020 school year.

You can read the magazine here: https://sites.google.com/view/centennialaquila/2019-20-online-magazine

Congratulations to Mrs. Mancini and her team, and we thank you for supporting the publications at Centennial High School.