Tag: Amy Myers

First Hand Look at Beauty and the Beast

Photos: Martha Hutzell

Words: Amy Myers

There was a crowd at the mirrors where the cast curled their hair, touched their stage makeup and secured their wigs. An echo of lyrics and lines rang through the room.

“Places,” technical crew called. In a hum of excitement and jitters, we entered the stage.

It was the first musical that I had been on stage instead of watching from the crowd. After my nerve-racking audition and call back, I did not even expect to be invited to join the show, but when I saw my name on the cast list, I was thankful to be a part of the chorus, and the musical in general.

We worked tirelessly after school each rehearsal, and even when the snow took away valuable school days to our production, we created our own rehearsal. Between breaks and times when I was not on stage, I was getting closer to my classmates that quickly became my friends.

Being on stage, I never could quite tell how the musical went as a whole. I could only speak to the moments I was under those stage lights, but when I was, the air was dominated by enthusiastic voices, dedicated to making every word, every emotion visible from the back doors of the auditorium. Even if there was a mistake, the cast quickly reacted to keep the show going before I even noticed what happened.

We were rewarded after every musical number and every show with a boisterous applause, and that’s how I knew we fulfilled our job to entertain and amaze. Sometimes I was so impressed myself, I felt like joining in and applauding for my fellow cast members. We sold out every show after the first, and each time we filled every seat, it only gave us more motivation. All of those people were there to see us.

The support did not stop with the crowd below the stage, though. Before every show, the theatre teacher, Kathryn Carlsen, choir teacher, Jessica Cummings, band teacher, David Matchim,  and dance teacher, Rebecca Clark, joined us and gave us encouraging words to start the show, making sure we walked out every time with a smile on our face and focus in our eyes.

“Be sure to tell those next to you that you have their backs,” Carlsen would say.

“Break legs and hearts.”

Before the final show, I became a part of a tradition for Centennial theatre. We gathered in the choir room where we usually began to warm our voices, but this time, we started with something special. Each of the seniors involved in the technical crew, pit band, and the cast were offered a chance to give final words about their experiences in theater. Few eyes were dry by the end, though we fought to keep our stage make up intact. It was a hard goodbye for a lot of us, myself included, even if this was my first production. It made me realize just how quickly I made friends within the cast and crew, and how close we had grown in just a matter of months. I was not quite ready to let go of our time spent together, but it only meant I would have to enjoy my days even more as a senior with my newest friends from Beauty and the Beast.

We dried our eyes and found the energy that buzzed through us every time we entered the stage. Behind that curtain before our very last show, we, as a family, made a promise to break legs and hearts.

Former Centennial Student, Tyler Johnson, One of Mall Shooting Victims

Words: Amy Myers and Emma Harring

Around 11:15 on Saturday, Jan. 25, a shooting took place inside of the Columbia Mall, leaving two victims and the shooter dead. Victims Tyler Johnson (age 25) and Brianna Benlolo (age 21) were both employed at the Zumiez store where the incident took place.

Centennial alumna Sarah Gregorini shares her thoughts via Facebook about Tyler Johnson.

Wingspan has confirmed with Howard County Public Schools that Tyler Johnson was a Centennial High School student.

Mitch Koehler, a Centennial alumnus from 2007, lived down the street from Johnson, who would drive Koehler to school. “After we graduated we would hang out in front of our houses just chatting and skating,” Koehler said.

Koehler, as well as several other Centennial graduates, posted their condolences on Johnson’s Facebook profile and expressed their shock and sorrow.

Mitch Kohler, former friends and classmate of Johnson, shares his reactions to the incident via Facebook.
Mitch Koehler, former friends and classmate of Johnson, shares his reactions to the incident via Facebook.

“In all honesty,” Koehler began, “as soon as I heard about the shooting I was pretty mad because this stuff keeps happening and as a gun owner and hunter these things [affect us] because the state has been changing laws about guns. But as soon as I heard it was Tyler my outlook completely changed. I wondered how? Why? What happened? How is his family doing? Things like that. I was pretty upset. Tyler was a good kid. He went through his troubles like we all do but last I talked to him he was doing much better and seemed really happy about it. He had a lot of friends and was always good to talk to or get a laugh out of. He’ll be missed by many.”

As part of the Centennial community, the Wingspan team sends its deepest condolences to Johnson, his family, and others involved.

Sugar Rush

Words: Amy Myers

Coke or Pepsi?

Soon this question will not be relevant on county-owned property due to the soda ban signed by Howard County executive, Ken Ulman. This means that at locations like Centennial Park or the Miller Branch Library, a water vender will replace the soda machine’s spot next to the sodium-and-fat-filled snack machine. While the motive may be to create a healthier Howard County, the efforts may seem slightly frivolous.

With the ban based solely on sugary drinks, the county seems to pick out soda as the culprit to poor nutritional habits. Instead, according to myfitnesspal.com, a 12 ounce Coke bottle with 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar can be traded for a Hostess Honey Bun with 410 calories and 28 grams of sugar. The total fat of a Honey Bun? 22 grams. These delectable treats are commonly found in vending machines, just like the sugary drinks being banned.

With these statistics, it is plain to the eye that sodas are being blamed for much more than a 12 ounce bottle can hold accountable for. Does that mean we should rid the county of the snack machines as well?

Sure, if the county is willing to replace Cheetos with carrots in vending machines.

The problem is that we are concerned more about the unhealthy snacks being provided, rather than the mental attitude that should be changed. Focusing on hiding the cookie jar from the public only helps until they find a different treat to satisfy their sweet-tooth. Instead, gym memberships could be endorsed by lowering prices, encouraging free seminars, and offering a vending machine with healthier choices available. Most importantly, the county needs to let the people choose their own dietary decisions.

It is not the job of the county to smack the back of our hands with a ruler each time we reach for a soda. It is fair to enlighten us with an alternate route that would lead us to a more wholesome lifestyle, but our rights are threatened when they limit even small choices like availability of soda machines. With a restriction like the soda ban, we limit the ability of people to choose healthy lifestyles for themselves. After all, what would you choose? Coke, Pepsi, or Dasani?

Too Soon to Talk – Responding to The Sandy Hook Tragedy

Words: Amy Myers

Online newspapers, print newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, every national media source shares the same headline of the most recent devastating shooting. Sandy Hook Elementary has broken the hearts of Americans shore to shore. And with sick stomachs and clenched fists, we cannot seem to escape the violence anywhere.

Already, national news stations question the possibility of harsher gun policies and how we should prevent these occurrences in the future. However, many viewers of the network may still be processing the tragedy, just as the families of lost lives are.

Without all the information available, and what is confirmed already broadcasted, we tend to jump to conclusions about the motive of the shooter, the laws that should be remade, and the changes in protection needed at schools nationally. While these topics are vital to the recovery of Sandy Hook and prevention of future tragedies, it may be too soon to conquer these tasks in regards to information and emotions.

“I don’t like that everything is being thrown out at once without a second thought. The media keeps changing the story this way and that because they don’t have the full story, and they are just saying what they first hear,” comments sophomore Alix Thielemann.

However, demonstrating the opposite behavior may not be the answer either. While revealing too much information may cause more damage than comfort, suppressing or ignoring the situation may be just as harmful. If we are completely blinded from the horrific incident, how can we help the ones involved?

Instead of either extreme, a middle ground needs to be provided. Skip all the gore and heart-wrenching details until we can recover from the most challenging information stated–the 20 children snatched from the world, and the six brave adults who stopped the number from climbing. As tempting as the latest details may be, theories and conclusions of evidence often change as time proceeds.

And maybe time is all we need. Time to process, to grieve, to recover, and to provide the shoulder needed for the families of Sandy Hook.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right (Amy Myers)

Today marks the anniversary of the terrorist attack that shook the nation. Year after year, Americans pay their respects to the heroes and victims lost to members of the al-Qaeda militant group. So naturally, the presidential candidates follow this precedent by halting all negative campaigning until tomorrow. But who put the idea in their heads that negative campaigning was acceptable any other day?
As Election Day draws nearer, Americans are forced to hear the banter of President Barack Obama and republican competitor Mitt Romney between commercial breaks on a daily basis. The attacks become more malicious and intimate, questioning where the line is drawn for this mudslinging. Suddenly, the election is no longer about why we should vote for one side, but has now developed into why we should not vote for the other side. The desperation for support of swing states has reached the point where both sides of the election struggle to find ways to win them over. However, dedicated party members suffer to hear the tireless squabble that has them anticipating the end of the election.
It seems immature that the way these candidates pay tribute by postponing the gossip they’ll publish until September 12. This kind of quarrel should not be present in the first place. Instead of attacking the opponents mistakes, they should be correcting their own. In their efforts to damage their opponents reputation, the candidates have lost sight of what this election represents. The future. Instead of proving to America that they have learned from their past faults, they remain stuck in the past. With this type of attitude, Obama and Romney are hurting themselves more than helping the country.
It is understood that as Election Day creeps closer, the campaigning methods become more intense. However, it is not necessary for the public to be constantly flooded with negative advertisements. This deep in the campaign, all americans can do now is hope for November 6 to arrive a little sooner.

News magazine ranks Centennial High School as a Gold Medal School (Amy Myers)

Centennial students have yet another reason to be proud of their school! Yesterday, the U.S. News & World Report released their fourth edition of its national “Best High Schools” rankings, with Centennial High School making #360 out of 22,000 high schools in the nation. Statewide, Centennial made 19th place out of Maryland’s 232 schools. According to the news magazine, placing this high in the survey qualifies Centennial as a Gold Medal School.

Congratulations to all staff and students! We’ve shown how far our Eagle Pride can take us.

To check out where other local schools ranked, go to: http://ow.ly/aNDwk

Shooting at St. Peter’s Church (Amy Myers)

Choppers and sirens were heard all around Ellicott City on May 3rd after a shooting at St. Peter’s Episcopal church. For hours bystanders and local residents stayed glued to their television screens to see what danger hit our quiet city.

According to the Baltimore Sun, police discovered that two members of the church were involved in a murder-suicide. Brenda Brewington and Rev. Marguerite Mary Kohn suffered gunshot wounds to the head. Brewington was pronounced dead at the scene, and Kohn was rushed to shock trauma and put on life support.

Meanwhile, dozens of police cars and helicopters searched the area for the suspected killer. Later that evening, police found a man’s body lying with a gun.  He was identified to be Douglas Franklin Jones, and suspected to be the shooter. Workers confirmed that Jones would often come to the church for food, and perhaps, that this time he arrived with anger instead of hunger.

Loved ones of Rev. Kohn gathered at her bedside, as she was pronounced dead yesterday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Friends and neighbors of both women remain in shock that such an event has occurred at St. Peter’s. Funerals for both women will be held later this week.

The Wingspan sends its sincere condolences for the loss of the victims. We keep the families and loved ones of the victims in our thoughts.