Category: Feature

Jocelyn Mathew Places Third in International Competition

Words: Thomas Hitt

The International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) took place from May 12 to 17 in Phoenix, Arizona. The event hosted about 1,800 kids from 75 countries. Jocelyn Mathew, a Centennial senior and 2019 graduate, competed in the category of Cellular Biology in the subgroup of Cellular Immunology.

Projects ranged from sunglasses that reduce glare to microscopes that detect cancer. Mathew said she was “blown away by the caliber of the projects” as they were “innovative and incredible.”

“When walking into the big competition hall where they display projects, I felt super grateful to be a part of it!” Mathew said.

Intelligent, creative and hardworking student researchers competed in the ISEF competition. India, Ukraine, South Africa, and Brazil are just a few of the native countries of the students that Mathew got to meet at the event.

The concept of one of Mathew’s opponents focused on better understanding neurodegeneration, when the function of neurons is lost. Mathew considered the event more of a learning experience as opposed to a competition.

When it came around to the awards ceremony, Mathew won third place and a trip to the International Science Summer Institute (ISSI).

“Overall, it was an invaluable experience,” said Matthew. “I learned a lot, got to network with the next generation of scientific leaders, and had a ton of fun!”

Photo Contributed by ISEF

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Brandon Du and Krystal Wu play with the Columbia Orchestra

Words: Sarah Paz

On Saturday, May 18, Centennial freshmen Brandon Du and Krystal Wu, winners of the Columbia Orchestra Young Artist Competition, played with the Columbia Orchestra and vocalist Kelli Young at the Jim Rouse Theatre. Wu played the clarinet while Du played the violin.

Du, who has previously played in the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra and the National Chambers, said, “the performance went well… Overall, I think the concert was very well organized and all the soloists were amazing, of course.”

The concert, called The Rite of Spring, featured “Symphony No. 2” by Carlos Chávez, “Sensemayá” by Silvestre Revueltas, “The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky, and “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5” by Heitor Villa-Lobos.

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

Cosining Off: Math Teacher Mr. Coe Retires

Words: Delanie Tucker

Photo: Eliza Andrew

For the past 37 years at Centennial High School, students have walked the halls, whispering about a certain class and how its teacher never fails to match his shoes to his outfit.

Math teacher Alan Coe is commonly known for his coordinating clothes, sarcasm, and, more often than not, strictness in the classroom.

It’s no secret that his class is harder than most, but at the end of the day, his students have nothing but positive things to say about their experiences in his class and, more specifically, their bittersweet feelings towards his retirement.

“While the material was rigorous and often confusing, Coe was always very dedicated to helping students understand the material,” junior Piper Berry commented. “He would always answer my millions of questions until I understood the concept.”

Berry had Coe for two years, and during that time he left quite the impression.

“Coe taught me that I am capable of way more than I think I am. He always encouraged me to try my best and keep going when I was stuck,” Berry stated. “Even when I would doubt myself he would push me to keep trying and believe I could do it instead of giving up.”

Sophomore Kiran Vepa said, “It was a hard class, sure, but nothing I couldn’t handle. It sucks that he’s leaving, though, because he made an impact on so many people and now no one else will get to experience that.”

Prior to working at Centennial, Coe studied at Buffalo State College in New York, majoring in teaching and minoring in mathematics.

Out of college, he did three years of teaching in Virginia and Southern Maryland, before settling in Howard County.

Centennial was a new environment for everyone involved, as it was a fairly new school, but Coe adjusted easily and enjoyed the spirited atmosphere the school upheld.

“In the first 15 or 20 years of being here there was a whole lot of school spirit, and it wasn’t just around the academics,” Coe stated. “It was a sports-oriented school. This school was huge in athletics.”

Another thing Coe has grown to admire about Centennial is what it teaches.

“[Centennial is] driven to make sure students are ready for everything that they are going to do,” Coe said. “Whether they go into college or go into a career, it really does try and get them ready for the next step.”

As for his own impact on Centennial, he believes he has done well to teach his students independence, and that they will carry that skill with them as they finish high school and move into college.

According to Coe, he taught them “to be able to think on their own. To not have to rely on someone else to tell them exactly what to do.”

While Alan Coe has been making a difference at Centennial for a long time, he is not the only one who will leave a lasting impact on the school. His daughter, Kayleigh Coe, is another Eagle who will be leaving at the end of this school year.

As a freshman at Centennial, Kayleigh was more out of the loop than most. She went to a middle school with kids that would go to Mount Hebron High School, which is where she would have gone had her father not been a teacher at CHS.

“At first, I was hesitant because I was leaving all my friends,” Coe stated. “However, I realized that I was going to have an opportunity to make new ones.”

Despite her unfamiliarity with her fellow classmates, the school itself was nothing new, as she “grew up here and scootered around the hallways.”

“I will definitely miss that once I graduate and my dad retires.”

Another thing Kayleigh will miss as she moves on to college is her English teacher, Sara Duran.

“[Duran] has taught me so much in the two years that I have had her,” Coe expressed. “She inspires me almost every day to try and never give up.”

Similarly, Duran expressed her feelings on having Kayleigh as a student, and how her presence in the classroom made a difference.

“Kayleigh was a very dedicated student and constantly came to class prepared,” Duran commented. “She was a pleasure to have in class both years and I know that my class would have been a completely different place had she not been there.”

Regardless of her father being a teacher, Coe’s academic success was due to her own motivation and determination to work hard in the classroom.

She explained that her parents never had to push her in school, and her father’s presence in the school hardly affected her work rate.

“I don’t think going to my dad’s school made me try harder,” Kayleigh Coe said. “I already try hard in all of my classes.”

Coe continued by saying, “My parents don’t really put any pressure on me with grades because I already put enough pressure on myself.”

This consistent work effort in school was awarded with an academic scholarship to West Virginia University.

Even though Alan Coe never really had to push his daughter, he was still there for her when she needed it.

“My dad has supported me through everything and I’m so lucky to have him,” Kayleigh Coe commented.

Alan Coe also said a few words about his daughter, explaining that in her years at Centennial he did, in fact, teach her.

“I taught her for only one year.”

And that she did teach him a thing or two.

“[Kayleigh taught me] patience,” Alan Coe laughed.

In their time at Centennial, both Coes will leave an impact on the people and place around them, one that will stick, even after they’re gone.

Likewise, Centennial, whether it be the people or the place itself, is leaving a lasting impression on the pair, teaching lessons that may not have been learned otherwise.

Kayleigh Coe, in particular, said that she’ll do well to remember what she learned as she moves out of high school and into the real world.

“One thing I’ve learned [at Centennial] is that no matter how hard things are at the time, you will always come out on the other side.”

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This article is featured in the 2019 Senior Issue.  To see the full issue, Click Here!

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

The History of Centennial’s Senior Traditions

Words: Caleb McClatchey

Photo: Zach Grable

On a late May night nearly 40 years ago, Centennial’s class of 1979 gathered in the auditorium. One by one they walked across the stage, received their diploma, and walked off into the next chapter of their lives. They left behind a school just like them– young and ambitious. They were both blank slates waiting to be filled with countless experiences and memories.

Now, 39 graduating classes and thousands of alumni later, Centennial is no longer the blank slate it used to be. Centennial has its own identity, its own culture, and its own traditions. For generations of seniors, these traditions have helped shape their time at Centennial. And while traditions like homecomings and Hebron games were enjoyed all four years, some of the most memorable and meaningful ones only came once. These senior-only traditions, some of which date all the way back to the Class of ‘79, have provided students with the chance to celebrate, reminisce, and enjoy their final year at Centennial.

The Senior Crab Feast, typically the first senior activity of every school year, took place for the first time on October 6, 1978– making it the first official senior activity in Centennial’s history. Although the menu has varied slightly, the event always kicks off senior year with a casual night of crabs and music with friends. Ever since it began, the overarching goal of the crab feast has remained the same: to help the senior class begin the year with a sense of unity.

According to Lisa Schoenbrodt, a member of the Class of 1979 Senior Board, the board originally decided to organize the crab feast because nearby schools, including those which Centennial’s newly-created student body came from, already hosted similar activities.

Following the crab feast, there is a lull in senior activities as winter sets in. By February, however, with every college application turned in and midterm completed, seniors begin to focus on their much anticipated graduation and the warm summer to follow. The Senior Luau, ironically held in chilly February, allows seniors to start getting in that summer mindset early with a Hawaiian themed night. Dressed in Hawaiian shirts and leis, seniors enjoy a laid-back, tropical atmosphere brought to life with music, dancing, and food.

Unlike the crab feast, the Luau didn’t begin with Centennial’s first senior class and hasn’t been held continuously since its beginning. In fact, it began with the Class of 1982, who, following a successful crab feast, wanted to host another “casual” event before graduation.

“Jimmy Buffett was popular, the Beach Boys would play at the Washington Monument each Fourth of July, so, we figured, why not squeeze one more ‘summer’ event into the year,” recalled Karen Donegan, president of the 1982 Senior Board.

Six years later, in 1988, the senior board decided to replace the Luau with a fancier class night. The Luau returned the next year before again disappearing in 1993.

While the Luau and Crab Feast serve as more relaxed events for seniors, prom is a different story. Although Centennial’s prom is open to both juniors and seniors, senior year prom, typically seen as a sort of “last ride” for students with graduation fast approaching, takes on added significance.

When Centennial opened as a new school for the 1977-78 school year, there was no senior class, so a junior-only prom was held. Centennial’s first junior-senior prom came a year later, on May 12, 1979, at the Kittamaquandi Room by Lake Kittamaquandi in Columbia. Since then, many more locations, including the Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore Grand, M&T Bank Stadium, and Martin’s West, have played host to Centennial’s prom.

Outside of the venue, the differences between the prom of today and the prom of the past are limited. Look through the the prom pages of Centennial’s forty-one yearbooks and you’ll start to find that the forty-one different stories, each with their own characters, their own settings, are really just the same story told by forty-one different classes of Centennial students. It’s a story of corsages, of boutonnieres, of dresses, of tuxedos, of limos, of hours of hectic preparation and weeks of nervous anticipation, all coming together, along with countless Centennial couples and friends, for one night full of grandeur and splendor.

And when prom ends, whether it be at 1:00am as it did in 1979, or 11:00pm  as it did in 2019, seniors still have one more night to look forward to spending together before their graduation. Class night, as the name suggests, gives the whole senior class one last chance to celebrate how far they’ve come and reminisce over the years they’ve spent together.

Centennial’s first class night, held just two days before the graduation of Centennial’s first class, took place at La Fontaine Bleue, an event venue in Glen Burnie. The event, slightly more formal than current class nights, featured dancing to live music, a dinner buffet, and reading of seniors’ wills.

Seniors in the class of 1979 gather for the first
ever crab feast. Photo contributed by: Eyrie

Up until the mid 2000s, class nights were mainly held at local hotels or other event venues, such as Martin’s West. In recent years, however, more classes have chosen to take the party from the dancefloor to the deck, with cruises becoming popular alternatives to traditional dances.

The theme that seems to emerge from every senior event, and in particular class night, is unity. As graduation draws near, students begin to realize how ingrained their classmates have been in their lives over the past four, seven, sometimes twelve years. And while yearbooks and pictures can ensure the memories they made and the friendships they forged are never forgotten, the time they spent together, the time which once seemed limitless, is now ever so finite.

Most of Centennial’s first class, composed entirely of students uprooted from their original high schools after their sophomore year, came from Mount Hebron, with a smaller portion coming from other feeder schools. Unsurprisingly, becoming a unified class wasn’t so easy.

“We had to really rally our class to come to some events, like dances,” remembered Schoenbrodt. “It took some time for our class to become a cohesive unit.”

Yet even for the Class of 1979, as the 1978-79 edition of Eyrie wrote, “What particularly characterized Class Night was the harmony which surfaced among such a diverse senior class.”

Outside of the longstanding senior traditions at Centennial, many other senior events and activities have come and gone since 1978. In the 1970s and 80s, some of Centennial’s senior classes took trips to Great Adventure amusement park in New Jersey. The Class of 1993 held a Senior Fiesta featuring a variety of festively dressed seniors. The Class of 1994 hosted a Toga Dance complete with prizes for the most creative, most colorful, and ugliest togas. These short-lived traditions, and the many others like them, are testaments to the remarkable staying power of the Crab Feast, Senior Luau, Prom, and Class Night.

What stands out about Centennial’s senior traditions is the extraordinary timelessness of them all. In the 42 years since Centennial opened, much has changed at the school and in the world in general. Yet now, in a new century, a new millennium, Centennial’s seniors flock to the crab feast, prom, and class night just as Centennial’s very first class did so many years ago. Maybe it’s because of our unchanging love of crabs. Maybe it’s because of our timeless desire for a night of luxury and limos. Or maybe, just maybe, there is something deeper at play. Maybe it’s because as the rest of our lives creep up on us, slowly at first, then faster and faster, we want, or rather, we need, chances to enjoy the present. We need those chances before they, like the present, slip away into the past.

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This article is featured in the 2019 Senior Issue.  To see the full issue, Click Here!

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

The Matchim Advantage

Words: Celina Wong

Photos: Zach Grable

What was your life like eight years ago? Many of us were in elementary or middle school, when our biggest concern was who we were going to sit with at lunch. For teachers and parents, many of you were in the process of building your careers and families.

Eight years ago, David Matchim walked through the doors of Centennial High School and vowed to create a prestigious band program. Now, Matchim has been named Music & Arts 2018 Music Educator of the Year and has created one of the best wind ensembles in the entire country. He attributes the foundation of his success to the book, The Happiness Advantage, written by Shawn Achor. The book describes seven basic principles that readers can use to create a more positive outlook on their lives. Its purpose is to correct the idea that happiness leads to success, not that success leads to happiness.

Matchim stumbled upon this book during a rough time in his life when he needed guidance.

“I had a tough year where I was feeling particularly negative, and I was questioning whether or not I still wanted to be a music director,” Matchim stated. “I was searching for ways to change my outlook, or perception, on what I was experiencing. I ended up doing an internet search, and that’s when I came across The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.”

The Happiness Advantage is based on the philosophy of positive psychology. It proves that people function and perform better when they are in a good place emotionally.

“It’s kind of like a car. When it’s well-tuned, it operates better,” Matchim illustrated. “For me, I needed to see that there was actual research done that shows that physiologically we do better, if we think positively. That’s what really sold me [on the book].”

The book has changed Matchim’s perspective on his life.

“What I like is that the book isn’t about being positive all the time. It recognizes that we’re [all] human,” Matchim explained. “The book really talks about living life with rose-tinted glasses, rather than with rose-colored glasses. It’s not about being naive and thinking that everything is going to be perfect all the time, but seeing the good things that are happening that we may have been blind to otherwise.”

Javeria Diaz-Ortiz, a four-year band student, struggled in her sophomore year and voiced to Matchim that she was considering quitting band.

“[Matchim] said, ‘Everything is fine. You can do whatever you need to make yourself comfortable, but I just want you to know that I want you in this band,’” Diaz-Ortiz recalled. “I will always remember that interaction because I feel like I can depend on Mr. Matchim. It really changed my opinion and perspective on him and I know I can go to him if I have any problems.”

Diaz-Ortiz is not the only one who has experienced the pressure that comes with a competitive band program. As a result, Matchim has found an approach that helps his students relieve some of their stress.

“I have recently had a number of teachers come up to me and say, ‘What is the magic trick?’ Some people who don’t know me think I run the program kind of like a dictator and that I’m really hard on people all the time,” Matchim said. “But, I don’t think that’s the case.”

For Matchim, the key to helping students achieve their goals is to be involved in the process.

“I can have high expectations, but I think the difference is that some people put the expectations on others, and don’t try help them achieve it,” he shared. “That’s the biggest thing. People have to feel that you’re on their side. If I set an expectation, I try to make sure I’m an active participant in getting people there.”

Similar to Diaz-Ortiz, Matchim faced a few obstacles where he too felt like he was not doing the best he could to succeed. He related this back to one of Achor’s principles, Falling Up.” It discusses the idea that failure and suffering teaches us how to be happier and people are ultimately more successful because of it.

“I would say, probably four years into my career here at Centennial, I wasn’t meeting my own expectations about where I wanted the program to be. I got very discouraged because I thought I wasn’t doing a good enough job, as I was constantly looking ahead and I wasn’t looking at where we came from,” Matchim noted. “I think that for me, reading the book, and the whole “Falling Up” principle, made me realize that failure is okay, and it is a part of learning. That is something that a lot of people are really afraid of. After reading the book, I understood a little bit more that even though we are not meeting the expectation yet, we’re making progress there.”

One idea that Achor emphasizes in The Happiness Advantage is the idea of a support system. He thinks that “the most successful people invest in their friends, peers, and family members to propel themselves forward.”

Matchim applied a similar approach with his ensembles.

“The joy is that [the students] have relationships with each other, and not just me. Sometimes, they are honest with each other. I’ve heard students tell someone they need to work harder. I have also seen people say, ‘You’re doing a great job; keep doing what you’re doing. You sound amazing,’” Matchim added. “I think the community we have in the band program is why we are largely successful because they want to play well for each other. It’s not about me. It is more important to me that they feel like they have each other.”

Matchim takes the main idea of the book that happiness creates success and applies it to how he teaches his students and creates a safe environment within the band room.

“It’s really about community. I would like to see it happen in other places in the school too because we’re better with each other,” Matchim said. “I think there are a lot of insecurities to try to keep up, and at the end of the day, going back to the book, I think it is because everyone is feeling like they are going to be happier if they are more successful. But, every time they are successful, they move the goal post further away. [They] keep doing that and [they] aren’t ever happy. [They] have to be happy in [their] own shoes.”

Before Matchim established a sense of community within the band program, he used competition to fuel his students, as that was the broad stereotype of Centennial that was painted before he began to work there.

“I figured that I was going to use [competition] and they’re all going to try to be better than each other all the time, and that’s why the band is going to be good. We were good, but we weren’t great. My numbers in the band program were staying about the same,” Matchim explained. “Then, I realized that something that was missing, that what they needed in band was the sense of community. That’s when I shifted gears and a lot of that had to do with the book. I tried to get them to be supportive of each other, and not just better than the person next to them.”

Matchim has also seen the effects of this book in himself and others around him.

“If you want to do something that you are passionate about, you’re going to be successful in it. I think with the Shawn Achor book, the reason I am experiencing success is because I love what I do. Now that I am 35, I have a lot of people who are in pivotal places in their careers and I’m noticing that my friends that are nailing it —regardless of what field they are in— love [their jobs],” Matchim stated. “There are outliers. There are a lot of people who are successful and unhappy. But, the bulk of people who pick something that they love are doing that.”

Along with the book, the people of the community have helped Matchim win the award of Music Educator of the Year.

“What feels good about it is that these are community-nominated awards. There are a thousand plus people nominated for this, who are supported by people from their community, parents, graduates, administrators, other teachers in the county. Other people are recognizing what we’re doing,” Matchim explained. “What is cool is that the source of the award is that people are recognizing and appreciating the work that is happening. And I think that’s huge. If you love teaching, the way that I do, and if you love music, then you want to know that your community values you and values what you’re bringing to the table. That’s what feels really great about it.”

In an exclusive interview with The Wingspan, Achor expressed how he is moved by the work of Matchim, as he paved the path for thousands of students who have sat in his band classroom.

“I wanted to help the helpers by validating that their behavior and mindset really matter,” Achor said. “In a time when anxiety and depression are at historic highs in our schools, when you see champions like David Matchim, you realize that hope exists for positive education.”

As Matchim traces the foundation of his happiness and achievements back to the novel, Achor feels like the book has reached its purpose.

“If David was the only person who read The Happiness Advantage, I’d feel like the book was a success,” Achor said. “He took the words and made them come to life for the students and teachers in his life.”

With the title of 2018 Music & Arts Music Educator of the Year, Matchim has received recognition from those in other states who admire him and his band program.

“I think that’s cool for our students to know that there are other people, music teachers, and music kids who know about our program,” Matchim explained. “That’s more of an opportunity to feel thankful, and then people end up putting in more support. It’s just a nice cycle to be in. I hope it’s always this way. It may not always be this way, we’ll probably have highs and lows, but I think right now, this is a pretty cool place to be.”

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This article is featured in the 2019 Senior Issue.  To see the full issue, Click Here!

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

One-on-One With Editor-in-Chief: Maddie Wirebach 2018-19

Words: Julia Stitely

In this video, Maddie Wirebach, Wingspan’s Editor-in-Chief for 2018-19, is interviewed by her successor, Piper Berry, about her passion for journalism and what it took to become Editor-in-Chief.

To find all of our videos, click the link below!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDAPq5X7zp8GN4ThdL_9FQw

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

SGA Elections Results are Announced

Words: Sarah Paz

The students of Centennial voted for their local student government association (SGA) and Student Member of the Board on Wednesday, April 24. The voting window ended Friday, April 26 in which 75 percent of students from grades 9 to 11 voted.

On Thursday, April 25, the Howard County Association of Student Councils announced that Reservoir junior Allison Alston won the position of Student Member of the Board for the 2019-20 school year.

On Friday, April 26, the Centennial Student Community page released an announcement stating for each position where there are two candidates, the candidates would share the positions.

Students raised concerns about the results of the election to media specialist Michelle Van Gieson, saying that they couldn’t vote or complete their ballot due to technology issues.

“Some students alerted the folks in charge of the SGA of this issue, so we knew these missing votes were not all intentional,” said principal Cynthia Dillon.

During the voting window, the internet network faced issues, resulting in 85 students not fully completing their ballot. Some students were unable to vote for certain positions which led administrators such as Van Gieson and Dillon to believe the technology issues affected the credibility of the election.

“At that time, out of the 926 ballots cast (including 85 incomplete ballots), one race had a single vote difference, one race had a 5-vote difference and one race had a less than 30-vote difference,” Van Gieson remarked in an email interview. “When Mrs. Dillon and I looked at the incomplete ballots Friday after school, just completing those ballots could change the outcome of the election of all 3 races in either direction.”

Knowing that those few ballots could change the course of the election, the administration considered a new plan of action.

“Some of the options [Dillon] suggested were to re-open the voting window and to ask the 85 students with incomplete ballots if they wanted to complete their ballot,” Van Gieson explained.

In response, she reopened the ballots temporarily, extending the voting window from Monday, April 29, to Wednesday, May 1 at 12:16pm. Twelve additional students voted.

“By Wednesday, 5/1, when the ballot closed again, the margins for the two very close races had widened by a few votes and the third race’s margin had gotten smaller,” said Van Gieson.

The 85 students who left an option blank were contacted by Mrs. Van Gieson to determine whether they left the option blank due to technology problems or they intentionally didn’t cast a vote. The administration allowed the students to cast a vote on a paper ballot.

To determine the winners of this election, the school decided to follow the guidelines issued in the Maryland Association of Student Councils, which states that the candidate has to win by 50 percent and an additional vote.

On the afternoon of May 1, after a week of waiting, the final results of the Centennial SGA Election were revealed. Christopher Lidard was elected to the position of president, Anika Huang was elected as vice president, Ally Paik was elected as corresponding secretary and Cissy Wang was elected as recording secretary.

These results remain uncontested. Some results of the election such as vote counts aren’t typically released as public knowledge.

“Unlike what happens in the ‘real world,’ we don’t typically announce the tally of school elections such as this one. The reasons for this have to do with the social [or] emotional impact these results could have on our young people… You are putting yourself out there and essentially asking your peers to tell you how they feel about your abilities or you as a person,” Dillon said.

“The SGA is vital for fostering student participation and student voice within the school experience,” she concluded. “As we look forward to next year and years to come, it’s important we work to ensure all student groups are represented and that our SGA is a vibrant and integral part of the fabric of our school culture.”

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