Category: News

Howard County School Board Narrows Redistricting Options

Words: Delanie Tucker

The Howard County School Board is in the process of resolving the overpopulation of several Howard County schools.

In a recent Board Meeting on October 11, 2018, the board met for the second time this academic year to discuss redistricting options for upcoming school years.

Caroline Walker, Executive Director of Program Innovation and Student Well-Being, presented and explained several options to relieve the overcrowding of Howard County schools, particularly focusing on Howard High School and Centennial High School.

The options consist primarily of voluntary changes, some for only a portion of the school day and others for the entire year.

The ideas presented were: a Howard County Community College Shuttle, JumpStart Program at Wilde Lake High School, Project Lead the Way at Marriotts Ridge High School, reassignment, additional ARL courses, and additional sections of work-based options.

The Howard County Community Shuttle would consist of participating students, juniors and seniors staying at their home school for first period to participate in classes such as band or orchestra and then taking a bus to HCC. The students will take and receive credit for college-level courses, as well as finish out their graduation required classes.

Students would be picked up by bus from their home school and be taken to HCC. These buses, though, would cost $9,000 a piece if they were to travel to Centennial or Howard to pick up students.

The problem presented with this option, pointed out by Sandra French, a member of the Board, was that music classes are not during first period, and not all classes can be moved to first period to fit the needs of certain students.

Walker predicted, based off a previous survey, that 40-60 students would participate in the HCC shuttle.

The JumpStart program at Wilde Lake High School would require students to transfer to Wilde Lake in order to participate.

It has an estimated price of $250,000, which would vary depending on the number of participating students.

This particular program is directed towards students interested in performing arts and film production. The arts program at Wilde Lake is looking to progress, and offers better opportunities for interested artists. The estimated participation for this is 15-20 students from each school.

Project Lead the Way, on the other hand, consists of a Biochemical Academy and a Computer Science Academy.

Again, this option would require a school transfer, this time to Marriotts Ridge High School.

Additionally, Walker presented an estimated price of $63,000, which is a combination of material and training for all academies.

The option of reassignment, previously known as open enrollment, would give students free reign to transfer to either Glenelg High School or Marriotts Ridge High School. A problem presented with this, though, is that students would have to provide their own transportation.

A positive with this option is that it would cost nothing to implement.

Additional sections of work-based options would help to decrease overcrowding during the day. Examples are GT intern/mentor, apprenticeship, and work release, all of which would help upperclassmen get real-world experience.

The problem with this, though, is the more students that enter the program, the more teachers they will need. A new teacher would cost the board $84,000.

Ideally, the Board would like to implement most, if not all, ideas at once. Their concern revolves around the question: where will the money come from?

The last option to fix overcrowding issues, presented by Anissa Brown Dennis, Chief Operating Officer, was redistricting in the form of boundary changes.

Her original intent was to present all plan options, which included: 2017 Feasibility Study Plan, 2017 Attendance Area Committee Plan I and II (August and September), Community plans as identified by Board members, and Howard High School small feeds.

The Board, however, voted to discontinue the presentation after the 2017 Feasibility Plan, and instead had conversation about small feeds.

Their votes were primarily based around the fact that, in a previous meeting, they had voted to not change school boundaries for the upcoming school year, so the presentation did not seem necessary at that moment.

The Board will begin making decisions in regard to the 2019-2020 school year in a meeting on October 18.

In a previous meeting on August 23, there was an idea of temporary and permanent freshmen redistricting, but this idea seems to have been taken out of the conversation, as it was not mentioned in the recent meeting.

This option would have consisted of incoming freshmen being relocated, either for just their freshman year or possibly their entire high school career.

Since no final changes have been made, Centennial students will have to work through the issues overcrowding brings.

Cynthia Dillon, Centennial’s principal who was present at the meeting, is confident in her students’ ability to make their school environment as comfortable as possible, despite the circumstances.

“The distances the students have to travel, while they are in some crowded hallways, they are very creative about how they get from point A to point B,” Dillon stated at the meeting. “They are also using their time. They are walking with a purpose, they are being efficient with how they get from point A to point B and we have not identified a problem with students arriving to class tardy.”

Ellie Zoller-Gritz contributed with background information, analysis and images for this article.

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

East Coast Prepares for the Wrath of Hurricane Florence

Words: Eliza Andrew

This story has been revised and updated September 14, 2018, 7:04 a.m. to correct the strength of the storm as it makes landfall on the Carolina coast.

After a long summer of record-breaking heat, the east coast prepares to take on Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm originating from the lower Atlantic Ocean, just south of Bermuda. Residents of southern states like Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina are strongly advised to evacuate and brace themselves and their homes.

The northern east coast can anticipate heavy rainfall around Tuesday as the storm takes a sharp turn. With the storm expected to make landfall first in North Carolina on Friday, September 14, meteorologists predict the storm will then transition into a Category 1 storm.

As Florence approaches quicker everyday, states in the storm’s direct path like North Carolina and South Carolina, prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

BREAKING- Cynthia Dillon Named CHS Principal for 2018-2019 School Year

Words: Maggie Ju

According to a public document released by the Howard County Public Schools Board, Cynthia Dillon has been announced as Centennial High School’s new principal for the 2018-2019 school year. Dillon is the current principal of Patapsco Middle School, where she has worked for eight years.

As stated in a Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) press release on March 5, 2018, Dillon has been an HCPSS educator for 25 years.

This spring, she was named the 2018 Maryland Middle School Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals. A dedicated administrator, she has been commended for inspiring her students to be thoughtful, responsible, and kind.

Dillon has a Masters of Education in Supervision and Administration from Loyola University in Maryland and a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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

Floods Ravage Old Ellicott City in Weekend Storm

Words: Delanie Tucker

On May 27, Old Ellicott City suffered severe damage due to a flood. The National Weather Service reports that nearly 8.4 inches of rain fell on Ellicott City, causing the small town to flood for the 15th time since 1768, the second in the last two years.

The town’s history of flooding is primarily due to its position at the bottom of a topographical funnel, which causes all of the run-off to fall on the city. The problem is, Old Ellicott City is extremely urbanized, leaving little space for drainage.

Despite the flash flood warning, most residents were not expecting the ferocity of the storm. Yesterday was when the reality of the devastation really hit: citizens finally seeing the overturned cars, shattered glass from buildings that were destroyed, and workers struggling to fix the water line and sewage pipe that were damaged in the flooding.

To date, there has been only one confirmed fatality. Maryland National Guardsmen, Sgt. Eddison Hermond, was reported missing after assisting an unidentified woman while dining at La Palapa Grill and Cantina when the flooding began. Earlier today, his body was recovered along the Patapsco River, just over the Baltimore County line, according to multiple sources.

The destruction of the town’s shops leaves several owners debating whether or not reconstruction is worth going through with, considering the short amount of time since the last “thousand year’ flood.

Donations are pouring in to help rebuild the town along with several volunteers willing to help clean up what was left. If you would like to help, donations can be dropped off at the food bank at 9385 Gerwig Lane, Suite J, in Columbia.

If you are a student or alum of Centennial High and have been directly affected by the storms, let us help you share your story by contacting us at chswingspan1718@gmail.com.

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

Centennial Paints Out the Competition

Words: Natalie Keane / Photos by: Nan Collins

The Centennial art department continues to make great strides in the art community. The achievements have all been won by student artists, and their entries into these contests showcase significantly what Centennial’s art program is capable of.

In April, junior Katie Harris, enrolled in Art III AP, won first prize in the 2018 Elijah Cummings Congressional Art Competition with her charcoal piece Self Portrait With Pashmina. She is one of eight student artists in the state who received first place in this Congressional Art Competition. Harris’s artwork will be displayed in the tunnels under the US Capitol Building in Washington DC for the following year.

Senior Abbigail Hong, enrolled in Photo III AP, recently took home the curator award from the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture through her photograph titled Uber Street.

In addition, junior Bingbing Chang won first place in the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Historical Society Art Contest. Her winning artwork will be featured on the back cover of the Historical Society’s quarterly magazine, and she will receive a 1-year student membership to the society.

“It’s not something I expect every year,” Nan Collins said, who is one of three art teachers at Centennial. “We have very dedicated students who are serious about their art, and who work very hard to improve their skills.  They are learning from each other, open to critique, [and] eager to improve as artists.”

The marks that these students have made upon these events have shown their own hard work and persistence out of hundreds of pieces that are considered for these places every year. The students who received these significant awards represented Centennial with pride and dedication to their art, and will continue to make the Centennial community proud.

“The precedent was set 40 years ago,” Collins said. “The Commitment to Excellence is no mere slogan. The students in all subjects excel and strive to achieve. I am confident that our art students will continue to make exceptional artworks, and will make the school proud.”

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

Centennial’s STEM Successes Recognized at Celebration of Excellence

Words: Maggie Ju / Photos: Piper Berry

The Celebration of Excellence for Intern-Mentor and Independent Research students was held on Wednesday, May 2, in the Centennial cafeteria. Complex, intriguing projects that showcased the accomplishments of Centennial students were displayed.

This is the last year of teaching for Ms. Michelle Bagley, the supervisor for the two G/T programs. Students presented her with flowers and personalized notes.

“I treat each one of them as unique individuals,” said Ms. Bagley. “It was wonderful to hear them speak about my impact on their lives.”

Throughout the programs, many students participated in various science competitions, and their successes throughout the year were acknowledged at the celebration.

In the Regeneron Science Talent Search, a prestigious national STEM competition, three Centennial seniors received awards: finalist Chy Murali and semifinalists Katie Gao and Swadhin Nalubola.

“In layman’s terms, I look for patterns in datasets and try to predict a gene’s significance on different types of cancer,” Gao said. She intends to explore biomedical research beyond her undergraduate years.

Despite “talent” being in the name of the competition, Gao does not view the key to success as such. She said, “It doesn’t take some unattainable magical quality to do good research. What you do need, however, is a nurturing mentor, lots of hard work, and a little luck.”

Nicole Meister, another high-achieving senior, is no stranger to recognition for her scientific achievements. Recently, she was a finalist in the Maryland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

My project was focused on improving the accuracy of a neural network that could classify features in X-ray scattering images,” she said. “I’m passionate about computer science and research because I feel I can make a difference with my work and improve the lives of others.”

Of all the opinions of the night, none were as important as Ms. Bagley’s. Thirty-eight years of fostering bright minds culminated in the last celebration of her students’ hard work.

“The evening was wonderful,” she declared.

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