Tag: Alexandra Valerio

Delta Scholars & Black Student Union Showcase African Culture with Food for the Soul, Words for the Heart

Words & Photos: Alexandra Valerio

The Delta Scholars and the Black Student Union organized their sixth annual Food for the Soul, Words for the Heart event on February 21. 

It was an evening of cultural cuisine, artifacts, art, and performances celebrating Black History Month and African American culture. 

Shalonda Holt, the sponsor of the Delta Scholars, was delighted to work with the Black Student Union (BSU). Holt said that the BSU was “contributing ideas such as the artifact gallery walk and game” and “supp[lied] appetizers for the event.”

Holt also explained that the money raised from the Food for the Soul event will help with Greater Baltimore Leadership Association major event ‘Selfless Saturday in Baltimore’. The Delta Scholars use the money to make sandwiches for the homeless and they attach positive Post-It-notes messages for the homeless each month. 

Sydney Michener, the sponsor of the BSU, was excited to join Delta Scholars for the Food for the Soul event for the first time. She became involved with the event last year as one of the speakers. The BSU received support from the Student Government Association to sponsor the event. 

BSU and Delta Scholars wanted to provide different kinds of food from different areas for people to learn about and try.

BSU Officers Njeri Mbugua, Muchiri Mbugua, and Kash Awosika brought two types of pilau rice from Kenya. They also brought a Nigerian dish called jollof rice. Holt’s family cooks the main cuisine every year. The main dish consists of chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and yams. English teacher Kelli McDonough contributed homemade desserts.

Not only did the event provide cuisine, but it also featured speakers and singers. The Howard County Executive’s wife, Shani Ball, as well as Montgomery County School Social Studies Teacher of the Year, Micheal Williams, attended the event and gave speeches.

The Delta Scholars and BSU also displayed an art gallery of historic magazines/books and original artwork. Holt’s relative Doretha Smith provided old slave shackles for display.

Deja Grissom, the head of communications for Delta Scholars and BSU, contributed an original poem named ‘We Rise,’ Grissom says it illustrated “African American’s triumph in the face of adversity.” 

Senior Natalie Green has been a Delta Scholar since sophomore year and provided original artwork for the event, including a piece from Queen Nzinga.

“It is a very entertaining event that can also provide an important learning experience for someone not familiar with black history, culture, and struggles as a people in America, and around the world,” Green said. 

Michener was thrilled to bring “people of all backgrounds together to learn, celebrate and uplift African American and African culture through food, art, song, and spoken word. Seeing the richness of black culture displayed through students and families is heartwarming and a joy to be part of.”


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

Visitors From Korea

Words: Mariam Abd El-Shafy

Photos: Ellie Zoller-Gritz

Video by: Alexandra Valerio

On Tuesday, January 14, 12 students from Korea visited Centennial High School to experience the American school system.

Centennial has a very strong relationship with foreign exchange agencies; it has accepted many different guests from all around the world seeking cultural enrichment.

These students are attendees of the Kyeongbuk Science High School in Pohang, South Korea. For most of them, it was their first time visiting the country. Kim Tae-Hyung, a senior at his school, says although they’ve only been here for a short time, he is “very excited to be here.”

Staying for the ten days of their winter break, these students visited Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Montgomery County before they came to Centennial. For the next few days they will be joining the Johns Hopkins Cognitive Psychology Research Program before leaving for New York and Boston.

Jihyang Cheon, a senior exchange student says, “I really like it here.” She is learning a lot about the American public school system through the many differences.
“We stay in our own classroom, and the teachers come… we also stay in a dormitory,” she says.

Cheon explains that through this experience of visiting Centennial and other American schools, she is hoping to learn more about the culture before applying to American colleges. “This [trip] is to learn about the science programs here, but my big goal in America is to attend MIT.”

The students say they have been given a great opportunity and are very excited to see what it leads to.

Click here to view a video of the students visiting Centennial!



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

Centennial Participates in 2019 Hour of Code

Words: Alexandra Valerio

To promote coding careers for students, Centennial will be hosting the Hour of Code event from December 9 to 15, and students from all grades will be able to practice coding with staff at Centennial. 

Daleth Sendin, a Centennial Technology teacher, has been in charge of the Hour of Code event since it was adopted by the county. He mentioned that during his first Hour of Code, they “didn’t have chromebook[s] [or] computer labs like we have now.”

Sendin sent Centennial staff the Hour of Code 2019 materials so that the staff can properly show students how to code. Each year the English and Art departments participate. Believing that there is overlap between math, science, and computer science, Sendin wishes he would have more participation from these departments because “there is a lot of applicable stuff with the Hour of Code.” 

Sendin has recruited staff as well as students from computer science backgrounds, such as Girls Who Code, and additional groups who are interested in participating in the event. 

Junior Adam Goldstein has participated in the Hour of Code for all of middle school and two years of high school, but he also has a lot of programming experience outside of Hour of Code. He is knowledgeable in 10 programming languages, has maintained the chseagletime.com website, and has created VR headsets with his friends.

“I respect [the Hour of Code] vision, but [I] disagree with their focus,” says Goldstein. “I have seen [a] lack [of] an actual introduction to the main skills programmers use. [But, I believe] there are some [skills from the Hour of Code] that are beneficial.”

“I would want to see more activities like creating a simple sorting algorithm where you can only compare two objects at a time and choose to swap them or not… those sorts of conceptual higher level problem solving activities are much more similar to actual problems programmers face,” Goldstein reiterates. 

Goldstein feels it would be better to spread “curiosity to [new learners and] encourage them to keep exploring computer science.” He feels that it is “more satisfying than turning code into a game.” 

Peter Ganunis, a junior, has also done the Hour of Code for three years in middle school and two years in high school. His passion for coding, however, developed outside of the Hour of Code. 

Ganunis does a variety of aesthetic-centered work with web design and video game development. He is the founder of the Technology Seminar and has experience teaching kids at CodeNinjas, where he teaches computer programming to kids ages 7-12. He also belongs to CodeRead, a non-profit that teaches Java programming to middle school students at Burleigh Manor. 

“[The Hour of Code] has [the] ability to raise interest in computer programming. It succeeds in making computer programming seem accessible and gratifying,” said Ganunis.

According to Ganunis, Hour of Code emphasizes the basic principles of coding and allows it to be accessible for beginners. He believes in order to make it even more successful, it should have more gamification. 

Deja Grissom, a senior, participated in the Hour of Code as a junior. She found Hour of Code beneficial. 

“I think everyone should know how to code because technology is such a pivotal element in our society, everyone needs to know how to work the basics of a computer and smartphone,” she said. “It doesn’t mean anything if you just know how to press a button and a screen comes on. But to know what triggered the button and all the mechanisms that go inside of your phone for it to function… that’s important.”

Ellena Lee, a junior, participated in Hour of Code as a sophomore and it peaked her interest in coding. “It’s really interesting because the coding gives information not only about how to code in computers but also about how to collaborate the code with my hobby.” 

For the Hour of Code event, Sendin encourages people to participate in coding and understand the basic functions of technology. “We are all in a technological age where we interact with digital information all the time.” Sendin believes that “getting involved in the Hour of Code and learning some of those basics or how basic function works” will help people to become knowledgeable and be able to “expand their horizons” as well as “how they are interacting.”


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

Ellicott City Turns Into Harry Potter World

Words and Photos: Alexandra Valerio

On October 5-6, the Old Ellicott City Partnership held a Harry Potter-themed day for helping the National Federation of the Blind. Many people came for a spectacular time and brought their wands, brooms, and costumes into the heart of Old Ellicott City.

Costumes were welcomed by both children and adults. Many owners participated in the event and stores provided some Harry Potter exclusive themed items and events.

Stores such as Main Street Yoga provided sorcerers’ stones, Manor Hill provided a Pizza Wizard Theme, and Macha Time Cafe had butterbeer, cookies and collective cards. Moorenko’s Ice Cream cooked up some special unique flavors, and Reclaimed by You! had a tournament for competing for the House Cup.

More than ten stores participated in the Harry Potter theme; some also offered discounts to people who were decked out in Harry Potter themed wardrobes.

Julio Algeria, the owner of Gamer Corps, provided Harry Potter wardrobes and ties. Algeria says he “loves to read Harry Potter- genres and loved the scavenger hunt idea that Old Ellicott City created.”

The Old Ellicott City Partnership also provided selfie stops to allow visitors to travel into the Harry Potter World.

The Flower Barn Owners, Teresa Graham and Stephanie Wells, decided to create the Harry Potter theme for Teresa Graham’s daughter, Naudia Graham. She is a big fan of Harry Potter.

Naudia Graham decided to give back to the National Federation of the Blind and their community. Their plans for next year are “much bigger and much better” due to the strong response with the first one.

They give their thanks for people who came to the event and who are from Centennial High School, since Naudia Graham’s sister, Tiana, recently graduated from Centennial.


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

Senior Sisters Create New Native American Club

Words: Alexandra Valerio

The Native American Student Union, founded by Seniors Kayla and Autumn Moore, is now a fully sanctioned club at Centennial High School. 

According to the club President Kayla Moore, the goal of the Native American Student Union is to “raise awareness on issues in the Native community [and] raise money for the Native American Human Rights Fund.” 

Kayla also hopes the club provides a safe environment for all indigenous and non-indigenous people. “The club is for anyone who wants to learn about the culture, Native or not.” She emphasizes that the club is happy to have new members and would like to hold elections for the Native American Student Union. 

Kayla and Autumn are members of the Lumbee Tribe, centered in North Carolina. Kayla feels that the Native American community is one that is “severely overlooked and appropriated.” Their objective as the Native American Student Union is to provide knowledge of Native American heritage.

Kayla’s biggest inspiration for creating the club was her late grandfather Hebert Locklear, who founded the Baltimore American Indian Center.

“I was thinking of ways to create my own Native community at Centennial and figured a Student Union would be the best way to do it,” Kayla said. 

To reach the Native American Student Union, the club’s Instagram is @chs_nasu and their email is chsnasu@gmail.com. The Native American Student Union meets every other Tuesday in Room 908.


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