Tag: Charles Regnante

CHS Students Soar to New Heights at Harvard Model Congress

Words: Charles Regnante

Through persistent work and determination, five Centennial students won awards at the Harvard Model Congress (HMC) in Boston this weekend. Ben Smith, Griffin Riddler, and Barry Plunkett won the “Outstanding Delegate” award, while Parth Contractor and Richard Vook won “Award of Excellence.” “I have never had so many students recognized, even when we had twenty or more delegates,” commented advisor Jim Zhe.

Winning these awards was no easy task. The delegates had to constantly participate in discussion, engage in drafting bills, and establish strong relationships in order to be handpicked from their committees, some of which contained 50 or 60 delegates, to win an award.

HMC is a four-day American government simulation at the Boston Sheraton Hotel, where over 12,000 delegates from all over the world tackle the most paramount of issues facing our nation as they undertake roles in the American government and beyond. Students get to participate in exciting and varied committees, ranging from the House and Senate, to special programs such as the Group of Twenty and The World Bank.

 

Chalktastic!

 

Words: Charles Regnante

Senior Beth Lyman was looking for things to do over the summer. While skimming through the Internet, she stumbled upon the Columbia Festival of Arts ninth annual Chalk it Up competition, a sidewalk street art contest, held on June 15th and 16th.

“I instantly thought it would be a great idea,” said Lyman. She then informed fellow art students, seniors Morris Mou and Erin Yamaguchi about the competition.  Both seniors jumped at the chance to join Lyman in the contest. “I love art, and I’ll take whatever opportunities I can get,” said Yamaguchi.

“Even though I had never drawn with chalk before, it sounded like a really fun opportunity,” Mou commented.

The three art students, who are also the National Art Honor Society leaders, had one goal in the competition: to create a cool piece of art, but one that had meaning too.  They decided to model their drawing after Baltimore’s Inner Harbor because it was something everybody could recognize.

Their chalk drawing of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor at night merged the unique artistic styles of each artist.  “Chalk artwork is never detail-orientated. It’s all about style,” Lyman explained.

“The nature of the medium that we were working with really helped to communicate the styles we had,” Mou added. When the piece was finally finished, they took a step back and stood in awe. “I didn’t realize we could make something like that,” said Mou.

Their hard work paid off. The Centennial student group took home the contest’s 3rd place (Tourism’s Talent Salute Award) in the adult category. Lyman summed up the groups experience saying, “It was really just a fun time had by all of us. Even though it’s fun to win, it’s the overall experience that truly matters.”

The Looming Sequester: HOW WILL IT AFFECT YOU?

Words: Charles Regnante

Washington, D.C. – Sequester. It’s not a word we often hear. Recently, it’s the most talked about word in print and electronic media. According to Dictionary.com, the word sequester means “a general cut in government spending”.

What’s the big deal about the government cutting spending, you ask? Doesn’t that happen everyday? Spending cuts are normal but a sequester means that government programs at almost every level will be cut at the same time.

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, $85.3 billion is expected to be cut from the federal budget in fiscal year 2013. The affects of which will be felt from our nation’s capitol to the smallest towns in our states.

On March 1, if Congress does not find a compromise to halt the federal sequester, cuts will be made to government programs including education, the environment, health, military, law enforcement., defense programs, Medicare, and unemployment benefits.

Since our town [Baltimore] is located near the greater Washington, DC area, the sequester could have devastating effects on the many people who work in or for the federal government. According to the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, approximately 50,000 county residents are federal employees or government contractors.

“The federal government is a major employer and a huge contributor to the local economy on every level,” said Maureen Thomas, executive director of GovConnects at the Howard County Chamber of Commerce to Columbiapatch.com.

“We have lots of folks that work at Fort Meade,” said Howard County Executive, Ken Ulman on the C4 Show Thursday morning. “We’re at war, this cyber war… to think that we’d reduce the workforce at Fort Meade or the people who are protecting our networks, that doesn’t make sense.”

If sequestration were to hit in Maryland, it would entail funding cuts to teachers and schools, work-study jobs on college campuses, Head Start Programs and environmental funding.

A White House report also said sequestration in Maryland could mean furloughs for 46,000 civilian Department of Defense employees, lowering gross pay by about $353.7 million.

Pam Klahr, the president and CEO of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce condemned the unpredictability of the cuts in a Columbia Patch Article.“Chamber members have been saying since last year that the uncertainty surrounding the federal budget – from the Fiscal Cliff to the latest threats of major cuts — is discouraging them from expanding their operations and hiring more employees,” said Klahr. “Businesses need predictability. The uncertainty causes great distress, and businesses are in a wait-and-see mode.”

While the sequester debate rages on in the media and halls of Congress, there is one thing that the majority agrees upon, it’s critical that we address our nation’s deficit program. Whether federal government cuts comes in the form of a sequester or over time, Congressional Republicans and Democrats must set aside their political viewpoints and differences and be willing to compromise for the well-being of the nation.

Obama Reigns in 2nd Term: Presidential Inauguration

Inauguration-1.24

Words: Charles Regnante, Political Correspondent

On January 21st, President Barack Obama took the ceremonial oath office to begin his second term as the United States President. January 21st also happened to be Martin Luther King Day. The inauguration went as planned with a number of singers such as Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé performing traditional American songs. Afterwards, the crowds went wild as the president stepped out of his vehicle lined up on Pennsylvania Avenue and waved to the public for a short period of the inaugural parade. The parade didn’t exactly attract the same amount of viewers as it did when Obama was first inaugurated but there was a decent amount. The highlight of the day was the President’s inaugural address, which focused mostly on themes of unity and progress.

President Obama began by reverting back to the nation’s founding, saying that what binds the nation together is not the “colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origin of our names,” but instead the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Coming back to the theme of unity, Obama said that “together” the country has modernized its economy and educational system. He then rearticulated that “together” we discovered that the free market only works when there are “rules to ensure competition and fair play.”

At the end of his speech, Obama stated what he believes is needed to further America’s journey towards its highest ideals. The President stressed equal pay for women, gay rights, voting rights, immigration reform, and higher employment as the keys to the country’s progress. Remarking on the Newtown shootings, Obama stated that, “Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.” The president pledged to further the American journey as part of his oath, and urged all Americans to strive to fulfill the same oath to the flag that is “not so different” from the oath he just took.

The Fiscal Cliff: Fixed or Delayed?

Words: Charles Regnante

Washington, D.C. – On January 2nd, three hours shy of the midnight deadline, the White house and congressional leaders reached a deal to fend off the so-called fiscal cliff. But did Congress reach a deal or delay the problem once more?

Under the agreement brokered by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Congress would permanently prolong the Bush income tax cuts at $400,000 and below, keep the estate tax threshold at $5 million and extend unemployment aid for one year. It would also briefly delay the sequester of billions of dollars in across-the board spending cuts for another two months. The cost of continuing current-spending levels will be compensated for through an even mix of tax revenue increases and subsequent spending cuts. Half of those cuts will be in defense spending; half will be in non-defense spending.

The deal involves other tax provisions as well: It extends the child tax credit and the college tuition credit for five years, individual and business tax extenders for two years, and Medicare for one year.

In my opinion, Congress has partially delayed the fiscal cliff and partially cleaned it up. The Fiscal Package does nothing to address the debt ceiling, which the government just hit on December 31st. Thus, prolonging another major political fiscal fistfight in the future. All in all, Congress has partially averted a crisis through bipartisan compromise.

Photo used with permission from Andy Withers

Is The President’s Speech on the Connecticut Shooting the Beginning of Real Change?

Words: Charles Regnante

President Barack Obama emotionally addressed the people of Newtown, Connecticut at an interfaith vigil on Sunday. After assuaging victims’ families in classrooms at Newtown High School, the president said he would do everything in his power to “engage” a dialogue with Americans, including increasing law enforcement and mental health professionals, because “we can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change.”

The president was not specific about what he thought would be necessary and did not even use the word “gun” in his remarks, but his speech was broadly perceived as a prelude to a call for more limits and restrictions on the availability of firearms. The president later asked whether the country as a whole could ask itself whether it was doing everything it could to meet its obligations in protecting all children. “This job of protecting kids and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, with the help of a community, and the help of a nation.”

The president took the first minutes of his speech to recite scripture and remember those lost when alleged shooter, Adam Lanza broke into the elementary school with a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns, opening fire before committing suicide. After the president cited the names of the faculty members who died in the attack, he gave a few words of sympathy. “They responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances; with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care,” he said.

The president said on Friday it was time for “meaningful action” to prevent such tragedies, “regardless of the politics.” This is a slight but noticeable shift for Obama, who has not actively pursued stricter gun control during his four years in office despite pledges to do so during his 2008 candidacy. But with so many young victims, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and activists emerged over the weekend suggesting now was the time to push gun control.

SGA General Assembly Update

Words: Charles Regnante

Another successful SGA assembly was held on December 10th, 2012. The main topics discussed were the possible addition of a third dance and when to hold spirit days.

According to the President of SGA, Farhan Bader, the administration came to them “with the pressing issue that dance behavior (drinking, inappropriate dancing, and dress code) were inadequate (based off of homecoming and obviously previous years accumulating up to this), and if it continued to remain this way the students are at risk of losing the third dance (Back to School Night)…permanently.” SGA wants the students to have this dance, making it fun and enjoyable, while being on good terms with the administration at the same time. The proposal the SGA had was to send out a survey input on dances in general. Furthermore, they wanted to prove these dances pleasing to the administration. Another proposed idea from SGA was to add an extra school dance this year to make up for the missed back to school dance. If the dance is a success (students dance in a behaved manner), the school will incorporate Back to School Dance into next year’s school year.

In regards to the spirit days, Bader said, “we are trying to adapt a system of spirit days. Every month on a student’s graduating year the student wears his or her colors in correlation to the date. For instance, in my case every 14th of every month I would wear white (my grade’s color.)” During the assembly, some attendees wanted to have another week similar to the homecoming spirit week that would lead up to the spring pep rally. On the other hand, “Others liked the idea of having a spirit day every month because of its new twist on overall spirit, which students say Centennial lacks from time to time,” said Bader. When asked about the overall productivity of the general assembly, Bader replied, “Ms. Miller was present and it was easy for students to get straightforward answers from a representative of the administration. It would have been slightly more productive if we had a greater attendance, which SGA will improve with better communication for our January general assembly.”