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A Student’s Perspective on Finals Week

Words: Maryam Elhabashy

For as long as many of us can remember, the last week of school has been either the most or least demanding weeks of the year. In elementary school we strip our cute name tags off of our desks, a far cry from studying for a final exam that holds the promise of success or failure of the entire year’s grade. In years past, students have been lucky enough to have a full week of half days, allowing for a little calm after every final exam’s storm, also offering optimum time for studying. This year we’re not so lucky.

Mother Nature went particularly heavy on the winter weather this year, leaving us with only two half days during exam week.

USA Today reported that according to the “National Survey of Student Engagement’s” findings, students spend an average of 17 hours a week preparing for classes, about 3.4 hours a day. Finals are notorious for requiring more work, more attention, and more time. With the elimination of three half days, students are going to need to re-assess how they apportion their study time. It’s like adding insult to injury, really. Not only are we ending a week later than originally scheduled, we also have to tighten our grips on final exam studying (and sleeping, when possible!).

But do we have the right to complain?

There’s no time like the present. It’s a fitting proverb to describe the highs and lows of the snow day. Ah! The joy of snow days. Every student knows the rush of relief and glee when their parent creeps quietly into their room, still dark as the night at 6 am on a winter morning, and says that school has been cancelled. The glee quickly melts into more z’s on the pillow. That’s the high.

What goes up must come down. It’s the middle of June (after June 10, the originally scheduled last day of school), and I think we’re there. But after eight snow days (glee!) and eight delayed start days this year (a little bit of glee), we knew we were in for some kind of last day adjustment.

That adjustment is actually a lot more complicated than one might think. The Maryland State Department of Education mandates that high schools complete a total of 180 instructional days, that involve 1,170 instructional hours per year. The hours requirement is what changed the originally scheduled half day on Wednesday, June 17, to a full day, and added an hour of instruction on Thursday, June 18.  With five snow days built into the original calendar, and eight days taken, we had three days to make up. Howard County applied for and received a waiver for one of those days, meaning we needed to add two days to the school year somehow.

Though there is little that can be done beyond the waiver to alter the number of hours or school days that students attend in a year (though I’m slightly baffled by Fairfax County’s THIRTEEN snow days!), there are different ways to determine when those hours and days are made up.

Some Maryland counties actually cut days out of Spring Break (personally not a fan of this one!), acknowledging that they might have a lot of absent kids on those days. Most counties also applied for and received waivers just as Howard County did. In other states that are used to harsh and prolonged winter weather, there are numerous options to make up snow days. In Iowa, the Board of Education allows for holding classes on previously designated holidays, professional days, or half day schedules; or increasing instructional time by adding minutes to each school day, holding classes on Saturdays, or adding days to the end of the year (the option Howard County took).

I want to take a closer look at option number one: holding classes on previously scheduled holidays, professional days, or half days. When I took a look back at the calendar, I realized that there were a few opportunities to knock out some snow day make-ups: two days in February for parent-teacher conferences, a half day before Spring Break began, and a professional day in May. This option might have preserved our half-day exam week, as well as cut fewer days from summer break. It’s not uncommon for parents to receive letters from school administrations, explaining calendar alterations due to snow days. I doubt that parents would have been up in arms about having their students stay for full days on parent-teacher conference days. In fact, I’d argue that if there are issues with a student, parents and/or teachers need not wait for the conference days to discuss them. And if there aren’t any complaints or issues, do parents (or teachers) really need to speak for 15 minutes about how awesome a student is? I’d much rather have spent the rest of the day in class in February (typical school year), than add a day of school in the middle of June (summer break!). The same goes for that “bonus” three hours we got on the Friday before Spring Break. I would have much rather kept a full day of summer break!

The bottom line is this: I guess we don’t have any real right to complain. In actuality, with the approved waiver, we only had 179 days of school instead of the originally mandated 180 days. So we can’t crash in bed at 11:30 in the morning on Wednesday the 17; we’ll deal with it.

Admittedly, I’m looking at the situation purely as a high school student. Summer break is hallowed ground, and the bliss of sleeping in on that winter morning is long forgotten. This high school student, with limited knowledge of how complicated snow day make-ups can be, would like to see more thought given to making up snow days on springtime professional days, half-days, and holidays, instead of cracking into summer break and jostling around final exam week.

But then again, if I had it my way, I’d still be pulling my laminated name tag off of a desk, instead of studying all night for a final exam.

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

2015 Final Exam Schedule

Tuesday, June 16

Period 1 Exam: 7:25 am – 9:05 am

Period 2: 9:10 am – 9:40 am

Period 3: 9:45 am – 10:15 am

Period 4A: 10:20 am – 12:20 pm

Period 5: 12:25 pm – 1:10 pm

Period 3 Locker Cleanout: 1:15 pm – 1:25 pm

Period 6: 1:30 pm – 2:10 pm


Wednesday, June 17

Period 2 Exam: 7:25 am – 9:05 am

Break: 9:10 am – 9:20 am

Period 3 Exam: 9:25 am – 11:05 am

Period 4B: 11:10 am – 1:10 pm

Period 5: 1:15 pm – 1:40 pm

Period 6: 1:45 pm – 2:10 pm


Thursday, June 18

Period 5 Exam: 7:25 am – 9:05 am

Break: 9:10 am – 9:20 am

Period 6 Exam: 9:25 am – 11:10 am

Period 4A: 11:10 am – 12:10 pm

A Lunch: 11:10 am- 11:30 am

B Lunch: 11:30 am – 11:50 am

C Lunch: 11:50 am – 12:10 pm

Dismissal: 12:10 pm


Friday, June 19

Period 4A Exam: 7:25 am – 9:05 am

Break: 9:10 am – 9:25 am

Period 4B: 9:30 am – 11:10 am

Dismissal: 11:10 am

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

Foundations of Technology Classes Set Off Rockets- Photos

Words: Sandy Eichhorn

Photos: Sandy Eichhorn and Shalini Malhotra

The Foundations of Technology class spent both Thursday, June 11, and Friday, June 12, outside shooting off their rockets. Ms. Smith and Mr. Sendin’s classes have been designing their rockets for almost two weeks. The rockets are the students’ final projects, and the most popular. F.O.T. students built their personal rockets from the ground up and they each put their own personal spin on their designs.

Sophomore Michael Hegarty said, “It’s a fun project that was hands on and exciting. It’s interesting to see something you didn’t think could be done be accomplished.”

The classes gathered outside on Centennial’s field and counted down enthusiastically each time a rocket was set off.

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

Turf Field Construction- Photos

Words and Photos: Izzie Chausse

Centennial’s track has been closed since May 24 for the construction of the new turf field. The track is expected to re-open on September 1, just in time for fall sport’s games to begin.  Centennial is one of the last high schools in Howard County to receive a turf field.

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

Tame Impala Review

Words: Madhu Lal

On Saturday June 6, Tame Impala, an Australian epiphany pop band, performed at Echostage. This performance served as the band’s last stop in their 2015 tour, which showcased their new album, “Currents”. During their last performance, the band played a variety of songs from a multitude of their past albums along with new singles.

Songs like, Elephant, Half Full Glass of Wine, and Mind Mischief were played during the course of the concert, as well as songs from the new album like, She’s a Man. Although a majority of the songs performed were distinct and easily recognizable, the band still was able to add different layers of sound by changing chords and using effect pedals to alter the sound of their instruments, adding an interesting aspect to the show.

From end to finish, Tame Impala shook the concert hall, each chord permeated through every member of the crowd and rumbled through the walls. Throughout the night, the deep bass, entrancing guitar, and profusion of amplifiers and effect pedals associated with Tame Impala’s sound, united the crowd. “Currents” takes Tame Impala’s usual psychedelic epiphany pop sound to a deeper and more hypnotizing level, keeping listeners interested from beginning to end.

Apart from the music, the engaging stage performance also sent waves of excitement throughout the venue. With each song came a different light and screen show. The screen behind the performers changed in flashes of color pulsing to the beat, while the sounds of the lead singer’s voice lingered over the heads of the singing audience. The flawlessly executed performance sent fans into a fit of singing and swaying to nostalgic classics and new and enticing singles. The awe-inspiring performance at Echostage and the enthusiastic aura of the crowd seemed like the ideal way to end the band’s tour.

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

2014-2015 Complete Archives

Words: Sandy Eichhorn

Use the following links to see the 2014-2015 print publications.

2015 Takeover Issue


  • “A Year In Review”
  • “Offseason Training: Athletes Try Strive to Maintain Perfection”

2015 Senior Issue


  • “A Farewell Assignment”
  • “The Retirement of the Teacher Who has Taught Since Opening Day”

2015 April Issue


  • “Senior Superlatives”
  • “Setting Students Back”

2015 March Issue


  • “Zaching For Life: How One CHS Alum Continues to Inspire”
  • “Breaking News: The Impact of Sports Injuries”

2015 February Issue


  • “Unsung Heroes: The Hidden Champions of the Civil Rights Movement”
  • “Beneath the Centennial Mt. Hebron Rivalry”
  • “PARCC: New Year, New Test”

2014 December Issue


  • “Different Religions, Different Rules: Is removing holidays from the calendar a good idea?”
  • “Music Listeners are Turning to Vinyl”

2014 November Issue


  • “Generation Y”
  • “Taking Steps for Heart Research: Helping out is personal for one CHS student”
  • “The Uprising of Netflix”

2014 September Issue


  • “Wellness Woes”
  • “It’s a Whole New Game”

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

Rising Seniors Prepare for Their Final Year

Words: Sandy Eichhorn

With every graduated senior class comes a grade of new seniors. These incoming seniors have a year full of new experiences and adjustments ahead of them. The seniors will celebrate their last Homecoming and Prom, as well as endure the long hours spent working on college applications. These incoming seniors are beginning to prepare themselves for the transition from junior year to senior year.

Rising senior Caitlin Crumley’s senior year will be a hectic one. Crumley will be balancing an internship at Mercy Hospital with being one of the trumpet section leaders for the Centennial Marching Band. Crumley says the hardest transition from junior to senior year will be “time management”.

Through the stress of senior year, rising senior Ian McQuaid plans to do well in school and have fun. McQuaid is looking forward his senior year and everything that comes with it, though he’ll have to “continue to work hard after Senioritis hits.”

Rising senior Jesse Dunagan is looking to end her high school career on a good note.

“I am looking forward to…being one of the leaders of the school,” said Dunagan.

The rising seniors are hoping to have a great last year at Centennial before they have to say goodbye to their friends and leave for college.

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