Category: Opinion

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

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.

 

 

COVID-19 Quarantine Records

Words: Mariam Abd-El-Shafy

 On Friday, March 13, Governor Hogan announced that all Maryland Schools would shut down until further notice to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. It has been over two months since the start of the COVID-19 Quarantine. Students in isolation have decided to share their stories of life during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

April 15, 2020

 

People say the Class of 2020 had visions 

for their senior year. We were excited for pep rally, 

senior week, prom, and graduation only to now be quarantined 

and everything be CANCELLED.

 

Quarantine is SO “fun.” 

I was totally NOT waiting for graduation. 

For all my years of high school to pay off 

for this glorious moment 

to walk across the stage 

and be handed my diploma 

only for it to be CANCELLED 

and the diplomas be handed out virtually.  

 

Prom. 

Supposedly the most memorable part 

of senior year. Out dancing with friends, 

dressing fancy with my hair and nails done, and

maybe I could have even gotten a date

only for it to be 

CANCELLED.

 

Now, senior week…

I could not wait to prank my school 

only to be sitting at home pranking my family 

which is SO “fun.”
Personally I have never been on a cruise

and was totally NOT looking forward to going on some 

fancy cruise with my fellow classmates 

only for it to be once again…

CANCELLED.

 

And for the finale…

Pep rally.

The most spirited and competitive time of the year 

Events that actually mattered. 

Where everyone in every grade

comes together to celebrate the school spirit only for it to be…

You guessed it… 

CANCELLED!

 

And that is a wrap folks. 

That is my senior year in a nutshell. 

CANCELLED. 

  -Alaura Wills 

 

April 16, 2020

 

If you had told me in September of 2019 that I would not see the last three months of my senior year, that leaving the house without a mask would be illegal, and millions across the globe would be hospitalized at a rapidly increasing rate, I would have told you that sounds like the plot of a poorly written apocalyptic movie.

My senior year has been taken from me. “The glory year of high school,” as many adults have deemed it, has come to a sudden end, with no closure or final days. The year that has been described in lengthy stories from family members, romanticized by every coming of age film, celebrated for centuries, had suddenly vanished forever, on a random Friday in March.

It is currently 12:44am on the sixth (maybe eighteenth?) Monday of quarantine. I am not sure of the exact date. All of the days blur together. It is this weird phenomenon where they simultaneously move in slow motion yet seem to be over in just seconds. I thought I was going insane, that is, until the internet unanimously agreed with this feeling too.

Anyway, I cannot sleep. Typically my internal clock has me asleep by 10 pm and awake by 7 am, like an old lady. But, my head seems to be full of questions, questions of how or why the class of 2020 deserved to be born during 9/11 and graduate during the global pandemic of 2020.

But maybe, it is not a matter of deserving. It was a matter of chance, and because of that chance, we are powerful. The class of 2020 has arguably fundamentally changed the political and social aspects of modern society. We have protested for reform, climate change activism, given TEDx talks (wink), written books, composed, and created. We have thrived, even when it seemed as though the world was against us.

The stars aligned to create a whirlwind of catastrophe and tragedy for the class of 2020. We will forever be written into history books, lectures, and stories documenting this lifetime in which the world changed before our eyes. A time where things went silent. Parks empty, grocery stores desolate, and stillness across cities.

So in these moments, where I cannot fall asleep because my mind is plagued by terrorizing thoughts, I should remember. We are here for a reason. We are together, and that is more powerful than any global pandemic.

  -Natalie Knight-Griffin

 

April 17, 2020

 

“Isolation”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Children of the Day”

 

 

 

 

  -Deja Grissom

 

April 18, 2020

 

Two weeks ago I would have been really happy about school assignments because that way I would be able to keep myself occupied. Now I am starting to regret it. The teachers are all great, but it is such a weird transition of going from doing nothing to actually seeing and having classes with them. They actually gave time consuming assignments! If online teaching had been put in place a week after school closed, I would have loved this little amount of work. But after a month of being out of practice, reading a single chapter feels like torture!

  -Meenakshi Adiyodi

 

April 19, 2020

 

I felt extremely stressed all day because I keep seeing incidents of hate against Asians online because of the Coronavirus. Quite honestly, it has made me feel afraid for myself the next time I go out. Not necessarily of being verbally harassed, but being physically beat up and bloody and bruised. I am extremely weak, I cannot even throw a good punch. 

  -Regina Wang 

 

April 20, 2020

 

“The Watcher”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Joe Daly

 

April 21, 2020

 

Life on repeat

I sit in my room

with my journal on my lap.

It’s filled with words, pages 

upon pages 

upon pages

of words.

My pen raced across the paper…

for the first few days.

Every so often I have a lot to say.

Other times, I have nothing.

“Today was like every other day” is becoming a phrase that I use all too often.

I do not want every day to be alike

but they seem to morph into one.

An eternal groundhog day.

Yet,

every day seems more important than groundhog day. 

  -Francesca Cumello 

 

April 22, 2020

 

“Hiding House” 

Waking up to the sun’s rays.

I do not know the time.

I do not know what day it is,

but I do know it is mine. 

No need to get dressed.

I have nowhere to go.

No bus for school,

Not because of snow. 

We are not supposed to go outside,

six feet apart we stay.

I cannot see my friends,

except for the digital way.

I am stuck inside all day every day

with only my family with me.

I do not mind them every now and then

but I really need to be free.

The only way to the outside world

is through Google Meet.

When I see the other’s faces,

the feeling is bittersweet.

I only have a little time

to be here with them.

I fear that when the year is over,

we will no longer be friends.

So what do I do?

It is hard to say.

I am not allowed my phone,

and my computer’s time slips away.

I sketch and read

sometimes I watch TV.

Or maybe I will sleep a while longer,

or perhaps dance without worry.

I now fear the idea

of quarantine.

At first I thought

it sounded like a dream.

No need for school

no need for work.

But now I see

that it is a jerk.

I have nearly gone crazy

I need to go outside.

I need my school bus 

so I can catch a ride.

I want my school back

to the way things were.

But maybe that will not happen

and time will go by like a blur.

  -J’Pia Isbell

 

April 23, 2020

 

“Rotten Isolation”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  -Mariam Abd El-Shafy 

 

April 24, 2020

 

Dear Diary,

It has been a long time since I have seen my friends. I miss them so much. Senior prom is supposed to be in three days. I was looking forward to it so much, it is a real downer to lose it now. All our senior events are being cancelled, which sucks. We all worked 13 years for these last weeks of school, and now we do not get our reward. It sucks.  

 I have found new ways to keep in contact with my friends! I stay up until early in the morning talking with them about everything except the virus. We try to keep it light and stay positive!  

Online learning has been tough. I really prefer talking with my teachers in person. And seeing my friends in between classes. I miss walking through the crowded halls. I miss tuning out teachers when they go off on unrelated tangents and laughing with my friends. With online classes, you really can not do that.

I really miss going to school.  I never thought I would, but I am really bummed out about all my senior events getting cancelled and having to go so long without seeing my friends. I am going stir crazy locked up in this house for months on end.  I do not like it one bit.

Hopefully this is all over soon.

  -Hannah Murphy 

 

April 25, 2020

 

“Quarantine”

It’s raining outside

Has been raining for weeks

I used to like the rain

But when will it stop? 

 

It started as a soft drizzle 

We could still go outside

and jump in the tiny puddles 

Wearing just a light rain coat 

 

But then the rain fell harder 

The driveways are slippery, 

The sidewalks are muddy, 

All the flowers in the garden have drowned 

 

It kept on raining harder than before 

Everyone stayed shielded inside 

We only left when we had to, 

Wearing layers upon layers of coats, hats, and umbrellas 

 

But it was still raining

Why was it still raining? 

We did what we were supposed to do 

Where’s the rainbow after the storm? 

 

It is not fair

The rain was nice at first 

But I do not like getting wet 

It is still raining.

  -Anushka Parab 

 

April 26, 2020

 

“Sluggish” 

 

 

 

 

 

  -Maria Daly 

 

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

The Impact of March for Our Lives and the Students of Parkland

Words: Maddie Wirebach

I don’t think I can adequately express the sheer power and passion that radiated through every single inch of Pennsylvania Avenue. There are just no words to describe the feelings I felt as I stood in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of people, proudly and peacefully demonstrating our desire for change. I felt empowered, yet enraged standing in the shadow of the Capitol building, the very building in which so little action is being taken to end this senseless violence. I was so happy to be a part of the march, but my heart sank every time the cause of the movement crossed my mind.

I watched as performers I love took the stage and sang beautiful songs. It was hard to fight back tears as I listened to the heartbreaking stories of kids who have been directly affected by gun violence.

The most powerful moment for me was when Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez stepped onto the stage. Her statements echoed down the avenue, the crowd totally enamored and hanging on her every last word. And she left us hanging: in utter silence for minutes. The stillness lingered as the crowd watched and waited for Gonzalez’s next word. But she just stood, eyes burning into the lens of the camera, her face stone cold, yet filled with passion, rage, and unrest.

Gonzalez’s silence, in retrospect, is quite symbolic of my lack of words. In some cases, there are moments that simply cannot be recreated with words.

For me, her silence said more than anything words could say. Those minutes of silence allowed my mind to be flooded with a million thoughts, but at the same time, none. In that time, I genuinely understood why I was at the march. I knew I was there because I am tired of seeing kids like me being senselessly killed. I was there because not a day goes by where I don’t think “Am I next? Is Centennial next?”

If you think about it, our school is no different than Marjory Stoneman Douglas. In fact, we are extremely similar, right down to the exact same mascot. We are as much the home of the eagles as MSD is, making this even closer to home. The impact and courage of our fellow eagles has spread and inspired students at Centennial, including juniors Jen Solan and Matt Sorak.

Solan applauds the students for displaying the strength our generation holds.

“The actions of the students are a demonstration of the power and potential of our generation,” Solan noted.

“[They] are actively sharing their voices in a mature and effective way that emphasizes the validity and importance of their opinion,” continued Solan.

Sorak admired the opportunity the MSD students have created for our voices to be heard.

“I think high schoolers across the country finally feel like there’s a chance to change; that maybe we won’t have to be scared anymore.”

The march is something I will never forget, especially Gonzalez’s parting words: “Fight for your life before it’s someone else’s job.”

That’s why it is so important to do all that you can right now. Register to vote, write to your representatives, because something needs to change.

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

You Can’t Read This: It’s Time to Stop Banning Books

The opinions stated in this article do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the Wingspan staff as a whole.

Words: Delanie Tucker

In every county across the globe there are different varieties of books that aren’t allowed in schools, whether it’s for religious reasons or  because that specific county just doesn’t think they’re good for kids. If someone in the school district is persistent enough, they can get basically anything banned, even a book that other people read to their kids, like Harry Potter.

According to Javier Espinosa, The Daily Telegraph’s Educational Editor, one of the more common reasons that Harry Potter was banned is because it promotes witchcraft and the use of black-magic. Additionally, a school in England banned the book because the Bible teaches that wizards exist and that they are very powerful and dangerous.The book was banned so students didn’t get confused when the book talked about witches and wizards as good people, and not as evil beings.

Harry Potter is a common book that kids like to read, at any age. Fantasy worlds build up imagination; that’s the whole point. Counties wanting to ban it just because it portrays witches as possibly being good is pointless. Shouldn’t schools be encouraging their students to learn that there is good in everything, and not that they should automatically assume that something is bad? Board members that don’t like specific books don’t have to go as far as banning their teachers from teaching these books in their classrooms; completely banning the novel from schools is blowing it out of proportion.

Before 2010, the first Harry Potter book was actually taught in Howard County Public Schools as part of its curriculum, but was later taken off. Kristin Shipp, an English teacher at Centennial High School who served on the Textbook Committee, said, “[Harry Potter] did not make it to our official list of ‘anchor texts’ that teachers choose from which was implemented and revised a few years ago.”

So, in short, the book is not banned in our schools, but it is no longer taught in our curriculum.

To Kill A Mockingbird is also a very commonly banned book across the country. The novel is about a young girl’s childhood and how she dealt with growing up in a town full of judgment and stereotypes. When her dad, a high-powered lawyer, is assigned a case defending a black man against an accusation of attempting to rape a white woman, controversy in the town stirs up.

Some schools throughout the country ban it only because of the language the author, Harper Lee, uses, which is reasonable, but some schools have different explanations. Other schools that ban decide to do it simply because it makes their students uncomfortable. If a book teaches a good lesson, which To Kill A Mockingbird does, they should keep it in their curriculum, even if some students don’t enjoy reading it.

Another reason the book is commonly banned, according to history.com, is because of the mention of rape. By high school, teenagers should know and be able to talk about mature subjects. If the book is getting banned just because teenagers aren’t mature enough to read it, there might be some other issues that should be addressed before the actual content of the book. In many schools, students read To Kill a Mockingbird in the 9th grade. This means that most of the readers are between the ages of 14 and 15. By the time they reach high school, most 14-year-olds have covered mature subjects throughout middle school, so talking about rape shouldn’t be too big of a jump.

Considering the things students have access to in their schools, the exposure shouldn’t be a big thing. Kids have had full access to novels and articles containing details about rape, some of which even have their main focus on the topic. In middle schools across Howard County, in which students can be as young as 11 years old, they have a variety of books that in any other county would contradict the decision to ban To Kill A Mockingbird. The titles of these books alone would be enough to send some counties into a frenzy, including Voices of Rape, Drugs and Date Rape, and Everything You Need to Know About Date Rape. If these books are allowed in middle schools, To Kill A Mockingbird should be allowed in high schools.

A couple other books that are commonly banned are Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, most of which are banned due to racial issues. Right along with the others, these books have good messages behind them that high school, or even middle school, students need to read.

In Howard County, these books, apart from Harry Potter, are so largely encouraged to be read that there is a very high chance you’ll have read them for a class by the time you graduate high school.

The banning of these books-and others-should be reconsidered because students can improve greatly in education and maturity after reading them. The students can also pick up a lot of life lessons that they will carry with them for years.

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

From Division to Dialogue: Using Truth to Unity

The Wingspan receives guest articles by Centennial students and staff about various subjects important to them and the community. Earlier this week we received a contribution from a former Wingspan writer, Diane Ijoma. We feel that it is important to share Diane’s piece with the community in light of today’s events recognizing diversity of all cultures. 

– Sandy Eichhorn

Guest Writer: Diane Ijoma

It’s been over two weeks since the video that dominated Howard County headlines and conversations reverberated throughout the airwaves. In that time, what originated as banter among friends went on to affect hundreds, even thousands of hearts and minds beyond that dimly-lit room.

In many respects, the response has been very productive. I have been inspired by the energy to strive towards unity in the face of vitriol. In other areas, I have been slightly troubled by a sort of knee-jerk, instinctive dismissal of the notion that such ugliness could ever reside within these halls. Racism is not a Howard County problem, this belief states. It’s a Mount Hebron problem, perhaps a Glenelg problem, but certainly not a Centennial one. Somehow, this video has been used to, by contrast, paint Centennial as the beacon of  the completely unified, flawless multicultural community.

In part, I understand this sentiment. It is hard to recognize and address the flaws within ourselves; projection can be comforting.  In the face of such hate, the last thing we want to do is see any of that in our own community. However, these sentiments are harmful because, in addition to being, unfortunately, false, they work to silence and overshadow those who have significant negative experiences pertaining to these issues. It communicates a refusal to acknowledge what is real to members of the community, and perpetuates the feelings of disenfranchisement already present in certain groups. These actions have genuine consequences,  and to illustrate them, I have decided to share a story of my own.

Months ago, before any racist video made national news, I was the only African-American sitting at a lunch table with several people, some of whom were my close friends. At lunch time, several of my male peers began making demeaning and offensive comments about different females at our school. When I voiced disapproval at these comments, I was met with disdain. Some time after that, these same people began making racially insensitive comments about specific African-Americans at our school,  even going as far as referring to some of my friends as the “N-word”. It became fairly clear that in addition to insulting these people, these comments were intended to target me, intimidate me, and prevent me from being in their company. It worked. Soon, it got to a point where I developed anxiety on days where I would encounter these individuals, and as a result, I avoided lunch entirely.  I felt alone and pushed out of a group in which I had previously felt comfortable.  It was bad enough to hear these hurtful words, but the silence, and even laughter on the part of others seemed to amplify my hurt and discomfort.

I had been prepared to forget this experience and pretend it never happened. However, in light of what has become such an intense dialogue about the power of our words, I’ve realized that in keeping silent, I am giving my own implicit nod of approval to destructive behavior. Instead, reaching out and having open conversations about these types of experiences with other students, teachers, and members of the administration has been incredibly enlightening. I have learned that I am far from the only one with this perspective, and that I am surrounded by so many people that share a want to listen to these narratives so they can use their influence to truly progress as a community. In addition, the dialogues that have ensued from my honesty have developed a mutual understanding that I believe is emblematic of positive change.

No, it’s not particularly easy to talk about being racially intimidated out of the cafeteria on a stage as public as this one, especially when many people view you as a no-nonsense, self- assured individual who works towards unity on a regular basis. The truth is, even the best of us can be affected by what may seem like casual, relatively harmless rhetoric. What is essential, however, is the knowledge that with optimism and courage, there is “light at the end of the tunnel”, a saying that is as trite as it is true.  I hope that in speaking my truth, I can do my part to not only empower others to share their stories, but also facilitate a more open, honest conversation about these extremely difficult topics. To reach that goal, this is a small price to pay.

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

That Was So 2015

Words: Ashley Berry

The year 2015 was a long, crazy year filled with social media madness, terrible clothing trends, and much, much more. Despite this, there were also many great achievements that defined 2015: the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team won the World Cup, and the first woman of color won an Emmy Award for Best Leading Actress (Viola Davis). Hopefully, 2016 will be full of similar achievements, and we can leave the following behind:

  • The Dress

Was it black and blue or gold and white? This silly dress caused as much controversy as that Christmas-less red Starbucks’ cup. The dress actually tore friendships apart because people were so determined they knew which color it really was. Now that it’s 2016, does anyone really care? Probably not, so let’s leave it behind.

  • Netflix and Chill

Thank God for Netflix! Not only does it give us an excuse to procrastinate, but it also gives us a sense of accomplishment when we finish four seasons of a show in one sitting. But now, thanks to 2015 pop culture, there is a stigma associated with the statement, “Let’s watch Netflix,” so can we please leave this concept behind and just get our Netflix binge on?

  • Complicated Bathing Suits

If you try on a bathing suit and can’t figure out where to put your arms, there’s a serious problem. Is it a one-piece or a two-piece? What are all those extra straps for? They may look great on a model in a photo shoot, but who actually wants to spend ten minutes getting into that contraption, and who wants those tan lines?

  • Zayn Leaving One Direction

OMG NO WAY! It happened. One Direction went two different directions and your favorite foreign boy band is forever broken. The four remaining members are on a break, presumably looking for a “new” direction. So, sit back, relax, and take bets on which direction the boys will go. If they return, let’s appreciate that the boys are back and get over it.

  • Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge

Have you seen the pictures? That’s all that needs to be said.

  • Man Buns

Pick up a pair of scissors, cut that mess off of your head, and walk proudly into 2016. You can thank me later!

  • Crocs

I was convinced these were left behind years ago, but somehow Crocs made a surprising comeback in 2015. It’s time we all agree to make 2015’s Crocs comeback a onetime thing, and leave them behind forever. Plastic shoes are bad for our environment and just plain ugly.

  • The Whip and Nae Nae

With every New Year comes a new dance craze that is more ridiculous than the one before and 2015 was no different. The Whip and the Nae Nae took 2015 by storm and its corresponding song “Watch Me” was as annoying as, “What does the Fox Say.” Who would have thought that one song could make pretending to drive a car with one hand and waving like the uptight Queen of England so popular. Inevitably, 2016 will bring with it a new dance craze, so it’s time to stop “hitting the whip”.

  • Hoverboards

Where is the Consumer Product Safety Commission when you need them? Americans want to “hover” like Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future” so bad that they are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for what is essentially a segway without the handlebars. It doesn’t even hover; it rolls on two wheels. Some models unexpectedly burst into flames. I don’t know about you, but last time I checked, you couldn’t pay me to stand on top of a burning log, so why on earth would anyone pay to do that? Next time you think about riding a hoverboard, ride it straight back to 2015.

  • “Goals”

You have your own life, so please live it and stop focusing on all the unrealistic photos of couples on the Internet. Like most media, the Internet paints an unrealistic picture of life, so the next time you see a photo of the life you think you want, remember it’s probably not realistic and cut yourself some slack.

  • Selfie Stick

How bad is your double chin that you need to mount your $300 phone on a $20 stick just so you can take a post-worthy selfie? Have we become so vain that we insist on using these devices, which are banned in many amusement parks and other populated areas because of the accidents they cause? To be fair, it’s not the selfie stick’s fault, but instead poor choices made by users, like riding a motorcycle or roller coaster and losing your grip. While the concept was unique, user error abounds and we clearly are not intelligent enough to use selfie stick technology.

  • Dying Armpit Hair and Glitter Beards

Were these seriously things? I still can’t wrap my head around it. No, just NO!

  • Eyebrow Game

Stop drawing on your eyebrows and obsessing over whose eyebrows are most “on fleek.” If you are following the trend, the more “on fleek” you think your eyebrows are, the more likely they are not! Eyebrows exist for the sole purpose of keeping sweat from dripping in your eyes. Don’t shave them off, color them in, or use them to make yourself look like a clown. From those of us who have tried not to stare at your crazy, uneven eyebrows, thank you for leaving them behind.

  • Birkenstock Sandals

I get it, you have wide feet and very little fashion sense, but why wear the same shoes as Fred Flintstone? Even Velma and Betty wore something more stylish. So, send those shoes back to Bedrock and find the nearest DSW. They’re all over the place in 2016.

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

Black Friday: How It’s Changed

Words: Jacob Mauer

Traditionally, Thanksgiving was a time for appreciating family, food, and all that we hold dear to us. This contrasts greatly with the Black Friday controlled Thanksgiving we celebrate today. Black Friday began as a time when stores would turn financial loss, in the “red,” into profit, “in the black”. Black Friday began in 1960, and is still with us due to it’s ability to generate massive amounts of profit in very little time. All stores have to do is set lower prices and watch as hordes of families mindlessly flow into their stores.

In the past, the two events have been held on the fourth Thursday and Friday of every November. However, stores have started to begin sales the night before the traditional date. Some states prohibit sales on Thanksgiving because of “blue laws”. These laws, which were put into effect in the 1600’s, prohibit sales on certain days. In the past, the laws prohibited sales on Sundays, but Thanksgiving is also protected in some states. Every year, more and more people are beginning to abandon Thanksgiving traditions in favor of waiting for Black Friday sales. Thanksgiving dinners are being cut short and family members are being sent home earlier and earlier as the years progress.

Over the course of just nine years, there have been seven deaths and ninety-eight injuries linked to Black Friday shopping. Although most of the incidents were due to negligent motorists, uncaring of pedestrians, a fair amount of the fatalities were linked to brawls between customers in stores and in parking lots.

On the night of Thanksgiving, 2012 the Tandel family lost two of their daughters in a car accident on their way home from Black Friday shopping. Arvind Tandel, the father, was driving his wife and four daughters back from shopping on Black Friday at 6:49am. Mr. Tandel,  having only had a few hours of sleep, drifted into traffic, causing a collision which resulted in his two daughters being killed.

There is no reason why Black Friday needs to be the day following Thanksgiving.  I am in favor of moving Black Friday to a different date, separate from Thanksgiving. It feels wrong to go from talking amongst family and friends about gratitude, to searching desperately for the best deal of the night. It isn’t just people breaking tradition, it is people jeopardizing their safety for sale items. If stores continue to compete for earlier opening times and bigger sales, then I predict that the same stores will set a precedent for other holidays to be infringed upon.

This year Recreational Equipment Incorporated (R.E.I), an outdoor equipment store, has released a statement saying they will be closing all of their 143 stores on BlackFriday. In lieu of promoting sales, R.E.I created their own campaign encouraging people to spend time outside instead of participating in Black Friday. R.E.I is using #OptOutside to encourage people to show how they are spending their Black Friday. Jerry Stritzke, C.E.O. and president of R.E.I. says, “We’re a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently.”

Hopefully other Companies will follow R.E.I’s footsteps and refrain from having such sales so close to a national holiday.

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