Category: Feature

National Hispanic Heritage Month at Centennial High School

Words: Jenna Marie Torres

Photos: CHS Wingspan

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which started on Saturday, September 15 and ends on Monday, October 15, gives the Hispanic community at Centennial High School a chance to reflect on their heritage.

The Centennial library staff has displayed books in their hallways to share information about female Latino leaders in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The display contains books about Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court appointed by Barack Obama; Laurie Hernandez, 2016 Olympic gold and silver medalist; Shakira, singer of “Hips Don’t Lie”; and Eva Longoria, award-winning actress. This gesture, though small, makes an impact on the community.

“By showing that the school recognizes the small community means a lot, especially during times when being Hispanic is viewed as violent and dangerous,” said senior Selaya Smithery, who is Puerto Rican. “These books somewhat destroy the myths put onto the Hispanic communities across all of America.”

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

The Aftermath of the 2018 Ellicott City Flood: Could More Have Been Done?

Words: Maddie Wirebach

It was the one-in-a-thousand event no one expected to happen twice in under two years: the devastating flooding of Old Ellicott City on May 27, 2018 almost exactly 22 months after the July 30, 2016 storm. Stores, memories, history, lives- these were just a few of the things swept away in hours during the powerful storm that Sunday afternoon.

The storm in May brought 7.5” of rain in about five hours, the majority of the rain falling in just 3 hours. It wiped out businesses, destroyed cars, and even washed away 25 feet of Ellicott Mills Drive.

What made this second flood so much more heartbreaking was the fact that dozens of business owners had picked themselves up after the 2016 flood, brushed their hands off, and rebuilt, stronger than ever. Although it was a struggle, they opened up their doors for business and came out not as victims, but survivors, only for the unthinkable to happen a second time.

But when you look a little bit closer, was this second flood really all that unimaginable?

Since the 1800s, Ellicott City has endured six tributary-based floods mainly because of its location at the meeting point of the Tiber-Hudson watershed, where four tributary streams contribute to the Patapsco River. This location, though once ideal for Ellicott City’s original purpose as a mill town, and the development over stream channels has spelled disaster for the 246-year-old town.

Ellicott City lacks a natural floodplain, an area for flood water to run, meaning that man-made channels were created. Over the years, the channels have grown narrower as buildings and facilities have been established on top. At some points the channels make 90-degree turns, which are impossible for rushing flood water to flow through, and ultimately result in the water jumping the turn and flowing down the main street.

On that fateful day in May, the ravaging water ripped through storefronts, destroying anything in sight.

Jeff Braswell, owner of Primitive Beginnings, recounted the terrifying phone call he received about the flooding. At the time of the flood, Braswell was at his children’s swim practice, and rushed downtown when his employee and two customers were stuck in the store.

Primitive Beginnings owner Jeff Braswell carries employee, Samantha Kelley, who was trapped in the flood-wrecked store through rushing water. Photo contributed by Jeff Braswell.

“I actually couldn’t believe it,” Braswell recalled. “No way there would be a 1000 year flood again.”

The 2016 flood caused major setbacks for Braswell’s other company, halting the process of moving into Main Street.

“We were 8 days from moving our other company into town in the Taylor’s building, so the [2016 flood] delayed us from moving in,” described Braswell.

“This time we actually had a retail store completely wrecked. It’s shocking to see everything you worked hard for taken from you.”

Beyond the emotional distress, financial issues surfaced immediately. The most recent flood left Braswell with no choice but to close down Primitive Beginnings’ other location in Fells Point.

Now, county officials have proposed a five-year plan which would see the demolishment of ten buildings on lower Main Street (the area most damaged), the addition of two culverts to redirect water flow, the expansion of the Ellicott Mills culvert, construction of open space on lower Main Street, and the creation of two water retention facilities.

With all of these new plans coming to fruition soon, it’s natural to wonder, was enough done after the 2016 flood?

That question is hard to answer. Efforts were made, undoubtedly, prior to the 2018 flood; however, no one really expected a second “1-in-a-1000” flood to happen in just 22 months after the 2016 storm.

Leading up to the most recent storm, recovery and prevention projects were in progress, including the construction of water retention ponds, according to a statement made by Allan Kittleman, county executive for Howard County, to the Associated Press.

It was clear to Braswell that progress, though slow, was being made.

“I’ve seen a lot of work done in town. [The county] literally just got funding to work on new projects two weeks before this past flood,” commented Braswell.

With weather patterns constantly changing, and the unpredictability of flash flooding in general, it is difficult to judge whether or not enough was done to prevent this most recent flood.

“Change takes time,” said Braswell. “It was changing. We just didn’t move fast enough.”

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

A Stellar Scientist in the Making: Nicole Meister

Words: Caroline Chu

On March 24 and 25, The 2018 Baltimore Science Fair was held at Towson University. The fair is run by the Towson-Timonium Kiwanis Club, a local scientific organization that is “cognizant of the need to promote the study of science,” according to its event’s website.

Impressively, Centennial senior Nicole Meister, who competed against a total of 32 other projects, was selected as the recipient of a First Place Division One award for physical sciences.

Her project was centered on machine learning. Meister aimed to study the improvement in accuracy of a neural network that could classify features in x-ray scattering images.

This is not her first go-around in science competitions. She has proven her strength as a young scientist by participating in the Technovation Challenge, in which she and her team coded, marketed, and pitched an original app; by utilizing Arduinos, a computing platform, to record solar panel energy output; and by studying collision avoidance for robots.

Winning first place in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium adds to her list of accomplishments.

Symposium Nationals will be held the first week of May, and The International Science and Engineering Fair is scheduled for the second week of May. Meister will be participating in both events.

From Baltimore Science Fair website

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Meister accepts her award at the Baltimore Science Fair.

Michelle Bagley, Meister’s Gifted and Talented Intern/Mentor teacher, has been teaching her for four years. This period of time has given her sufficient information to characterize Meister as both intelligent and modest.

This modesty translates to her being a wonderful team player.

“She is always one to be encouraging to others in their work, ask probing questions, and offer advice,” Bagley stated.

Meister will take these traits with her to college, where she plans to study either computer science or electrical engineering.

Throughout the years, Bagley has been appreciative of her ability to help students reach opportunities outside of the classroom. The Intern/Mentor class at Centennial has allowed her to apply this concept, but she has gone even further in encouraging students to apply to competitions like those Meister entered.

Bagley raved, “I have seen students take their research from high school and turn it into a patented product, continue their research in college and beyond, and become successful contributing adults. The fact that I can be a small step in their journey is what I love best.”

Appreciative of Bagley, Meister articulated, “She is so much more than just a teacher to me because she has been so supportive in these past years. I couldn’t thank her more for everything she has done [for me] and all that she has done for the Centennial community.”

When posed the question as to what she has learned in high school that will translate to a successful career and life, Meister stressed the importance of pushing oneself to try new things. This has allowed her to grow as a person.

Through her experiences in competition and in Centennial High School itself, this drive has allowed her to become more confident as a public speaker and to improve her writing skills.

Sometimes all that’s needed is the decision to take the first step to try something new.

“By pushing myself to try new things, I found interests in activities and subjects I never would have imagined,” Meister concluded.

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

Juniors Suit Up for Practice Interviews

Words: Maddie Wirebach

Photos: Harshitha Sayini

For weeks, juniors have been preparing for a rite of passage: junior interviews. Every year the junior class drafts resumes and dresses up for the mock interviews, a requirement to graduate, in order to prepare for real life interview situations. Originally, the interviews were supposed to be during the last week of March, however due to snow days, they took place this week on April 9 and 10.

The interviewers, typically various community members, sit down with each student and ask them interview-style questions. These questions range from goals and aspirations to favorite books or movies.

During the interview, the interviewer records notes on a feedback paper which is later handed back to the student. The paper covers criteria such as eye contact, sociability, and the quality of the resume.

Many students go into the interviews nervous, so the sense of relief once finished is like no other. To all future juniors: a firm handshake and a smile goes a long way!

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

Lauren Marcotte: A Force on Centennial Softball

Words: Joey Sedlacko

Photos: Zach Grable

Recently, sophomore Lauren Marcotte gained national recognition for her outstanding performance in high school softball. She was named a 2018 high school softball player-to-watch by USA Today.

“It was an honor to be recognized,” Marcotte stated.

Last year, as a freshman, Marcotte had a stellar season on the varsity softball team. Marcotte finished with a league-leading nine home runs and a .697 batting average, and set a state record for triples in a season with 10. In addition, 28 out of her 53 hits were for extra bases and she batted in 39 runs. Last season, Marcotte broke six school records including the batting average record, which was held since 1982. Marcotte’s remarkable freshman season landed her a spot on the 2017 Howard County softball all-county team.

Marcotte worked hard to improve her skills during the offseason. She plays for her travel team, the Beverly Bandits, which is a softball organization based out of Columbus, Ohio. The team competed in tournaments and showcases during the fall.

“It was hard to get together with my team since the girls are spread out over the country,” said Marcotte.

As a result, Marcotte has a batting coach in Virginia, does conditioning at a local training center in Elkridge, and practices with a few local teams. Marcotte’s work ethic and commitment to getting better in softball is incredible.

The upcoming softball season is just about underway and Marcotte has put high expectations on herself following such a great freshman year.

“On a personal level, I am striving to break the records I set as a freshman and improve upon my overall play,” she said. “We have a great group of girls with a lot of talent and I believe Coach Grimm and Coach Maria will take us far this season.”

Marcotte has a special level of talent, and it has not gone unnoticed by college scouts. As a sophomore, Marcotte is already verbally committed to play Division 1 softball at Penn State University. She visited many different campuses, but decided that Penn State was the right school for her.

“All the help and support from God, my coaches, my family, my teammates, and my friends have gotten me to the place I am today.”

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

New Schools Being Built in Howard County

Words: Delanie Tucker

Photo: Howard County School Board

The Howard County School Board is making major preparations for the upcoming expansion, building a 13th high school.

On March 8, 2018, the Howard County Board of Education voted to continue with its Mission Road Site for the school, according to Howard County Public School Systems website. The intended opening is to occur in 2023.

The location for the site is 8601 Route 1 Chase Land Subdivision, a spot that will hopefully hold both the previously mentioned high school and an elementary school at some point in the future. The land covers 77 acres, definitely big enough to hold two schools.

The construction of the building is anticipated to begin in December of 2019 and to be completed in September of 2023. The project is estimated to total $124 million once it is finished.

Prior to the board deciding on the Mission Road site, there was discussion between building the school there or at Troy Park. Originally, there was concern that there would be problems due to Mission Road being near an active quarry, but the board seems to have put that problem aside.

There are no details yet about which Howard County middle schools will be distributed to this high school.

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

Centennial Brightens Up Hallways with Inspire Murals [VIDEO]

Words: Maggie Ju/ Photos: Zach Grable/ Video: Julia Stitely

In the few days preceding spring break, clusters of New Forms art students could be seen painting colorful murals on the walls. Bearing inspiring messages, their work brightens the high-stress environment Centennial students are accustomed to.

The project had been scheduled to begin on March 22, but due to school cancellations, it was postponed until March 27.

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