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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Science Olympiad Team Goes to Nationals

Words: Sarah Paz

Centennial’s Science Olympiad team, affectionately called SciOly by its team members, traveled to the Science Olympiad National Tournament in Ithaca, winning 29th place.

Sophomore B-team member Shreya Vallimanalan said that the team placed 1st in the Environmental Chemistry Event at Cornell University.

“We also came in 12th in Chemistry Lab, 14th in Fermi Questions, 14th in Hovercraft, 16th in Astronomy, and 18th in Helicopters, ” she said. “We definitely view these achievements [as] successes. Every year, we strive to improve, so we will continue to work hard to prepare for next year’s competitions.”

Their success story began nine months ago in September. Even though the club allows anybody to participate, tryouts were held to be part of higher teams like the A-team who represented Centennial at the National Science Olympiad.

Just like any serious sports team, SciOly showed their dedication by practicing every week. At 2:15pm every Thursday, the team would hold weekly meetings beginning with announcements about the next competition. To practice and collaborate on projects, the team would break into the pairs they compete in at tournaments.

SciOly’s consistent determination won them first at the Maryland Science Olympiad which allowed them to qualify for the national tournament.

To celebrate the SciOly’s success at Nationals and a successful year together, the team gathered for a picnic on June 6.

The Science Olympiad team attributes some of their great successes throughout the season to Centennial biology teacher and team sponsor, Jason Piluk.

“Mr. Piluk, our coach, has greatly helped and supported our team… the Science Olympiad Club would not run as smoothly as it does with his guidance. He provides us with a lot of support and encourages our passions for STEM,” Vallimanalan said.

Regarding his role as the team’s sponsor, Piluk stated, “I pretty much make sure the club exists, is registered with the state and national program, provide a workspace for the team, confirm team rosters, facilitate travel to and from various competitions… and cheer them on.”

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The List of Coaches for the 2019-20 Sports Season is Out Now

Words: Thomas Hitt

Congratulations to all the coaches below who were selected for the fall and winter sports season of 2019-20.

Fall Coaches

Boys Cross Country Head Coach – Robert Slopek

JV Field Hockey Coach – Ying Schaik

JV Football Coach – Dominic Peters

Varsity Girls Soccer Head Coach – Hank Hurren

Grade 9 Volleyball Coach – Michelle Riley

Head JV Volleyball Coach – Kenny Mills (previously 9th Grade V-Ball Coach)

Winter Coach

Varsity Boys Basketball Head Coach – Chris Sanders (previously JV Boys Basketball)

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Graduation Speech From Teacher of the Year, Sara Duran

Attached is Teacher of the Year Sara Duran’s 2019 graduation speech.
Full graduation audio is linked below. To listen to Duran’s speech, go to 14:00.

https://livestream.com/hcpsstv/events/8646257/videos/191811275

Good Morning! It’s nice to see you again; I’ve missed you over the last week.

I’m honored to stand up here today, not just as your Senior Class Teacher of the Year, but more so as one of your biggest fans. From the time I met you as sophomores in 2016, I have been wowed by your accomplishments, your tendency for kindness, and your universal hatred for learning vocabulary— I know those orange Sadlier Oxford books will likely stay in your memory longer than the words ever did. But for as much as you hated learning vocabulary, it wouldn’t feel on brand for me to send you off without one last lesson. This one starts with the word ACCEPTANCE.

ACCEPTANCE. Undoubtedly, many of you have become acquainted with this word over the last year. It has represented your anxiety for the future and served as validation of your hard-work. It’s a word I, myself, chased furiously throughout my own senior year. But it came into your lives, and mine, long before we understood it to mean the big white envelope or carefully worded email that granted us entrance into a program or institution. No, our first interpretation was instilled in us at a young age, and has no doubt been reinforced by the school system you, and I, have had the privilege of attending. We were taught to ACCEPT those who were different regardless of race, gender, or religion. We were encouraged to ACCEPT kids who didn’t look like us, who didn’t talk like us, and who didn’t dress like us. You were taught that. And YOU HAVE DONE that. YOU have ACCEPTED a student body that represents six of the seven continents, speaks over 20 languages, and practices just as many religions.

And though you, like I, have had the privilege of growing up in communities that allow for the possibility of this kind of ACCEPTANCE, ACCEPTANCE of difference is just NOT ENOUGH.

Several years ago, I came across a poem by William Stafford that challenged my own compliance with ACCEPTANCE. [The first stanza has ingrained itself into the fiber of my core; he writes:]

“If you don’t know the kind of person I am and I don’t know the kind of person you are a pattern that others made may prevail in the world and following the wrong god home we may miss OUR star.”

This poem reinforces a vital need to UNDERSTAND difference. An UNDERSTANDING that goes beyond what we have been taught: The blind ACCEPTANCE borne out of privilege– the privilege you and I share– which asks us to passively allow difference into our lives, even encourages us to look past it. This lesson is dangerously limiting.

On my first day at Centennial– before any students even showed up– one of my colleagues (whom I won’t name) insisted I was a student, so much so that I wasn’t allowed into my classroom.  I’ll admit, I was flattered. Here I was, several years out of high school, and apparently I still looked like a high schooler. But since then. My age is not the only thing for which I have been MISUNDERSTOOD. TO CLARIFY: Yes, I speak Spanish, but no, I am not a Spanish teacher. No, I was not born in the US, but YES, I’m a US citizen. In each of these instances, I was ACCEPTED for my differences, but my story was not UNDERSTOOD. I bring this up not to throw shade at any individual, but rather, to demonstrate the need for actively seeking UNDERSTANDING of others. Because, as William Stafford explains in his poem, “if you don’t know the kind of person I am” you will be inclined to ACCEPT the truths inherited through your privilege, but not driven to discover if they actually are true. And “if I don’t know the kind of person you are,” I will ACCEPT the position in the world my privilege has limited me to. So we must change the word. From ACCEPT to UNDERSTAND.

In UNDERSTANDING others, you have to recognize your privilege as graduates of the Howard County Public School System, for which you should be grateful, but which you cannot allow to limit you to passive ACCEPTANCE. You must seek to do more than allow difference into your lives. You must actively seek out the stories of those who are not like you. You must learn their names, their histories, their voices. You must do more than ACCEPT difference as those things that set you apart in just race, gender, and religion. You must pursue difference as everything that is not you. You must force difference to change you. Continually. ALWAYS.

So as you seek your star, immerse yourself in environments that are different from your own. Engross yourself in the people who fill those spaces. Absorb their stories into your own. And only then can you truly UNDERSTAND.

Ultimately, it all comes back to words, right? It has always been about words. It will always be about words. Acceptance. Understanding. Words that don’t even appear in that little orange book. And they never will, because the words that really matter are the words that are defined by the actions of our lives.

Moving into the next scene of your story, your encounters will span the world over, will include languages you’ve never even heard of, and will present belief systems that can’t be quantified. SO live this word. Expand your ability to ACCEPT into your capacity to UNDERSTAND. In turn, you will manifest greatness into the world.

You already know that I think you’re remarkable. So I will give back to you the words you offered me a couple weeks ago: “YOU GOT THIS. And it’s okay to cry if you need to.”

Congratulations, Class of 2019. Now, for the last time, I’m gonna have to ask you to please spit out your gum.

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Tennis State Championships at the WLTC

Words: Hoang-Phi Quy & Joey Sedlacko

After a terrific season of various scrimmages and games, the Centennial Tennis season wrapped up with the state tournament, held at the Wilde Lake Tennis Club on May 24 and 25.

Centennial started the tournament strongly. Centennial’s Olivia Tsai and Christopher Chen achieved third place in the mixed doubles bracket.

In the boys’ singles bracket, Richard Huang fell out early in the quarterfinals against Bel Air.

However, Danny Ho and Ryan Huang made it to the finals in the boys’ doubles bracket, losing only to Rockville.

Later in the tournament, Centennial’s high placements continued with Rose Huang, who finished in third place in the girls’ singles bracket.

The tennis team finished off strong in the final matches, with players Shreya Vallimanalan and Abby Jackson finishing in second place in the girls’ doubles bracket.

The tennis team earned first place overall in the point system. Centennial finished with 36 points in the state tournament and 26 points in the regional tournament, for a combined total of 62 points. Huntington High School came in second with 52 points.

Photos contributed by Principal Cynthia Dillon

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Centennial Cheers on Law Enforcement Torch Run

Words: Caleb McClatchey

Photos: Zach Grable

Centennial students and staff took a break from their usual routine Thursday morning to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a public awareness and fundraising group which supports the Special Olympics.

As students clapped and cheered, law enforcement, along with some Special Olympics athletes, ran down Centennial Lane carrying the Flame of Hope, the Special Olympics torch.

In preparation for the Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games, the torch has been passed between Maryland counties. The games are set to begin this Friday at Towson University.

Each year, 97,000 law enforcement officers participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, carrying the Flame of Hope into local, state, national, and world competitions.

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2023 Eagles Visit the Nest

Words & Photos: Ellie Zoller-Gritz

On Wednesday, June 5, the incoming freshmen visited Centennial in preparation for next year. They participated in a tour and viewed performances from dance, band, choir, and the color guard. They also had a question and answer session with a student panel hosted by current 9th, 10th, and 11th graders.

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