Category: Feature

On Thin Ice: We Can Do Better

Words: Maddie Wirebach

To put it simply: last Tuesday, I, as well as my teachers and classmates, endured an unimaginably dangerous commute to school. What normally takes me at most, 15 minutes, to get to school, took me about 45.

Overnight, freezing rain and sleet covered the roads, trees and powerlines. I woke up to a two-hour delay, waiting for the tweet from Howard County that schools would be cancelled. I mean– closing schools was the logical thing considering the amount of ice and the condition of the roads. 7:30 came around and I was still refreshing the page. Once I had come to terms with the fact that I did have to get up, I started to get ready for the day.

Heeding my mother’s advice, I opted to take the bus rather than drive. All was going well on the bus ride– at first. On the radio, I heard bus drivers chatter about not being able to get up hills, trees sagging from the weight of last night’s ice, and roads that seemed virtually impassable.

I didn’t think much of it and put my headphones back in. It all started to go downhill- or, in this case, uphill- when the bus turned on to a street with a hill that’s hard to get up on a normal day.

I was convinced we were going to slide because no matter how hard he tried, the driver couldn’t make it up the hill. Eventually, we did, but not without a struggle. I let out a sigh of relief and hoped that was the end of the mayhem.

As I should’ve learned when I thought school would be cancelled, I was wrong. We had made it to Centennial Lane, right before the elementary school. Traffic was at a standstill. After about five minutes of stop-and-go traffic, blue and red lights came into vision. Police surrounded the scene of a downed tree that had fallen onto someone’s car. That’s when everything clicked for me: why on earth was I on my way to school?

According to an article from the Washington Post, at the peak of the icy conditions, there were around 15,000 power outages across the entire state of Maryland. Aside from the power outages, CBS Baltimore reported that the Maryland State Police acted on 226 accidents from Sunday, February 10, at midnight to Tuesday, February 12, at 5am.

I couldn’t believe the statistics. It’s baffling to me that so many people were put at risk, and at what cost? Just to save us from an extra day or two at the end of the year? What made all of this worse was the tweet from the Howard County Police Department advising people to be careful of the trees blocking the road and the ice covering the streets. Ironically, the tweet fell right around the same time that an announcement at school was made about ARL buses being sent out. So after all of these awful conditions were reported, they were going to send out more kids and buses? And afterwards go pick up middle school and elementary school kids?

Last week’s weather conditions combined with HCPSS’ poor judgement put thousands of children and staff at risk. The right call would’ve been to have the two-hour delay, take note of the terribly hazardous state of the roads, and then close schools.

These dangerous conditions may make a return. A winter storm warning has been issued by the National Weather Service from 1am to 7pm for tomorrow, Wednesday, February 20. Snow, ice, and sleet are all that can be expected from the storm, and predictions call for 4-6 inches of accumulation.

There’s no doubt that judging when schools should close is a tough call. There are lots of variables to take into account like snow on tree branches, ice on the roads, and power outages. My hope is that HCPSS learns from their previous decision last Tuesday to ensure the safety of the Howard County community tomorrow and always.

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

A Night of Jazz on Centennial’s Center Stage

Words & Photos: Thomas Hitt

On Wednesday, January 16, Centennial High School hosted a Jazz Feeder Concert featuring performances from Northfield and Centennial Lane Elementary schools, Burleigh Manor Middle School and Centennial High School.

The Jazz Feeder Concert has taken place every year for the past four years with the same schools being in attendance each year.

Centennial Lane’s jazz band took the stage first. They ended their performance with a familiar groovy tune that everyone enjoyed, Louie, Louie.

Northfield Elementary school’s jazz band, under the direction of Timothy Beall, played second. They played a program of songs, one of which was The Funky Monkey.

Burleigh Manor Middle School had two jazz bands that were showcased at this event.

Burleigh’s first jazz band performed three songs in total, Cute, a soft gentle piece, Topsy, a swing song, and lastly, She Loves You by The Beatles. Burleigh’s second jazz band played more advanced pieces, including Autumn Leaves.

Centennial High School’s jazz band concluded the night by playing three songs. They played Magic Flea, A Time of Love, featuring a delicate trombone solo, and Caravan, a loud and energetic selection. By the end of the performance, everyone was on their feet clapping.

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

Looking Cute On Ugly Sweater Day

Words: Sarah Paz

Photos: Ellie Zoller-Gritz

On Thursday, December 20, students participated in Centennial’s fourth day of Spirit Week: Ugly Sweater Day. Students donned their ugliest holiday sweaters to celebrate the impending break.

Friday is Character Day, where students dress as their favorite holiday characters, officially ending Spirit Week and sending the school on Winter Break.

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

A Day in the Life of Mr. Anderson

Words: Celina Wong

Captions & Photos: Jordyn Blanken, Liam Lovering, and Keith Hitzelberger

The Story Behind the Story: Photojournalists Reflect

Three photojournalists, Jordyn Blanken, Liam Lovering, and Keith Hitzelberger have recently conducted a photo essay that detailed the daily work of Centennial High School’s head custodian, Allen Anderson. Following the publication of this piece, these photojournalists detail the motivation and background behind this essay, as well as what they hope the school can learn from it.

“We [needed] someone to photograph and follow, and we chose Mr. Anderson,” Blanken explains. “We followed him for the full day and recorded everything he did and everyone he had contact with.”

Lovering also addresses the inspiration behind choosing Anderson as the topic of their piece.

“His job is fairly unique because he interacts with teachers, the faculty, and students, but at the same time, he helps maintain the school, and acts as a security officer,” Lovering explains. “He’s kind of like a Renaissance man at the school.”

Hitzelberger adds what challenges they faced as they were conducting this day in the life.

“We had to figure out who could miss what classes— and of course— who could show up at six in the morning,” Hitzelberger mentioned. “After that, we had to figure out how to capture his main job, which is keeping the school running.”

The team also documented the aftermath of vandallism within the school.

“We saw vandallism in the bathroom and someone might not have thought about it, but [Anderson] has to take time out of his day to clean the bathroom,” Lovering said. “He wanted to go home early to Christmas shop for his kids, but instead he had to clean up after [some student].”

After publishing this essay, Blanken explains what she hopes the school will learn from this.

“I want people to realize that the school is not a trash can,” Blanken said. “We have to take care of the school that we walk into every day. I want people to have respect for the building and for Mr. Anderson.”

Arriving at 6:12 in the morning, Mr. Anderson is one of the first people to enter the building.  During this time, before many people enter the building, he completes his morning routine of the school security check and ensures that the temperature of the school is acceptable.  He also spends time unlocking all of the classrooms of the teachers that are absent.

As students begin to arrive at 7:10 AM, and the day begins to unfold, Mr. Anderson uses this time to fix any minor issues that arise, such as checking the temperature and replacing a chair. He also checks his schedule for the day, signs off for packages in the front office, and returns a student’s pass for absence that was found in the hallway.

At 9:25 AM, Mr. Anderson prepares the cafeteria for lunch, ensuring that all tables are in place and that facilities are working properly.  During lunch, he stays in the cafeteria and monitors all students, while also performing any and all tasks that are needed.

After lunch until about 12:45 PM, Mr. Anderson is in the cafeteria cleaning the tables and floors. At 12:49 PM, he goes to student services and the culinary arts rooms to be sure that nobody needs any assistance.

While Mr. Anderson is monitoring the hallway, he receives a call informing him that he will be getting a dog. He quickly shares the good news with Principal Dillon and Resource Officer Carneal along with showing them a picture of the dog.

Mr. Anderson heads back to the cafeteria to finish cleaning. At 1:03 PM, he receives a call telling him that there was an act of vandalism in a bathroom. He goes to see the damage and finds that someone has draped paper towels around the bathroom and has partially torn out a metal plate from the wall that protects high voltage wires.

Mr. Anderson spends the end of his day sweeping the floor, wiping down the tables and taking out the trash. He then waits for his night staff to arrive for their daily briefing regarding after-school activities and what needs to be completed that night.

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

Centennial Hosts Annual Poetry Out Loud Competition

Words: Delanie Tucker and Madison Baltimore

Photos: Sayak Maity

Poetry Out Loud, an annual Centennial tradition, took place on December 13 during periods five and six.

“Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition that is a collaboration among different organizations,” said Corey O’Brien, the school-site coordinator and English teacher at Centennial. “Students do not perform the poems, but bring them to life with their voices, in a way becoming the poems.”

Students recited poems of their choice from the Poetry Out Loud official website.

Poushali Banerjee, Sarah Donyaee, Sam Melicosta, Kieran Newell, Carolyn Reynolds, Masha Samokhvalova, Malika Shah, Daniyar Sheets, Selaya Smithery, Philip Wang, and Ashley Xu were featured in this year’s competition, reciting poems such as “Abandoned Farmhouse” by Ted Kooser and “Catch A Little Rhyme” by Eve Merriam.

“It starts in the classroom with classroom competition. The winners from those go to the school competition. And we send one winner to the regional competition,” O’Brien stated. “I think we’ve had 3 [students] who have placed at regionals go to states.

“I can’t say how I heard about it, like 7 or 8 years ago,” O’Brien continued, speaking on how long it has been running at Centennial. “But I thought it would be a good activity for Advanced Composition to get involved with it.”

The winner of the competition was Banerjee, with Shah in second and Smithery in third.

“Mrs. McDonough-Schlehr and [National English Honor Society] actually organizes the school competition, though. I just make sure we have the space and the people ready to go. Beyond the school competition, the Maryland State Arts Council organizes [Poetry Out Loud] for the state of Maryland,” O’Brien said, giving credit to those who made the event possible.

Banerjee will advance to the Region Two competition on January 19, 2019.

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

Centennial High School Hosts Their Annual Winter Orchestra Concert

Words and Photos: Ellie Zoller-Gritz

On December 11th, Centennial hosted their annual Winter Orchestra Concert. The concert highlighted the Centennial String Ensemble and Centennial String Orchestra.

The concert began with the String Ensemble playing Menuetto from Symphony no. 5 and Suite of Carols.

Concertmaster, Zeyu Zhong, announced their third piece, Wharton’s Hoedown, which brought an upbeat mood to the concert.

Before the String Ensemble finished with their last piece, Swan Lake Dances, orchestra director, Allen Leung, expressed that he is “so proud” of the String Ensemble for all of their hard work.

After a quick transition, the Centennial String Orchestra started their performance with Sinfonia No. 2, followed by Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky.

After playing Suite for String Orchestra, Leung gave thanks to Centennial administration, staff, music team, and the booster organization, Friends of Music. He concluded his speech by saying, “Congratulations to the string orchestra, we thank them for their hard work.”

They ended the night with an arrangement of Carol of the Bells and wished everyone happy holidays.

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

Centennial Hosts a Successful Winter Band Concert

Words:Thomas Hitt

Photos: Ellie Zoller-Gritz

On December 10, Centennial hosted their annual Winter Band Concert, featuring Percussion Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Symphonic Winds and the Wind Ensemble.

The Percussion Ensemble opened the night with two song selections. The first was an Overture for Percussion and the second was Diablo, a gentle and delicate piece.

The Symphonic Band took the stage next, playing four song selections. The ensemble’s first song was Bravura, followed by Fall River Overture, then two movements of Three Ayres from Gloucester.

They finished with Carol of the Bells, a popular Christmas song.

The Symphonic Winds entertained the audience later with The Barber of Seville Overture, followed by Puszta and Sleigh Ride.

The Wind Ensemble closed the concert with two upbeat selections.

They performed fewer songs for the winter concert since they will be performing a larger selection at a concert called Tutti: Prelude to The Midwest Clinic.

The concert will be held at Peabody’s Friedberg Concert Hall this Thursday, December 13.

A continuation of the winter concerts was held on December 11, featuring Centennial’s orchestras and continues on December 12, featuring Centennial’s choirs.

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