Tag: Emily Hollwedel

Greetings from Sarfraz Manzoor: An Exclusive Wingspan Interview

Words: Emily Hollwedel

Photos Contributed by: Sarfraz Manzoor

A young Pakistani boy around the age of sixteen is sitting in his room on a wooden chair in the dark. A party, bass thumping, can be heard from a few houses down, a party he can’t attend. He’s holding a cassette tape in his hand with the words “Bruce Springsteen” and “Born in the USA” written across the front. A friend from his class, whom everyone calls Roops, lent it to him. He’s skeptical: what could this rock star know about his life, his struggles? He’s in Luton, England, an ocean away from anything American. He’s brown and Muslim. In his other hand he clutches a Walkman, ready for use. He slowly slides in the cassette, and presses play, fast-forwarding all the way to ‘Dancing in the Dark.’ The song begins— the Earth shifts.

Blinded by the Light, directed by Gurinder Chadha, tells the story of this boy, Javed Khan, who is rather detached from his predominantly white community in 1987 Britain. It details his writing, his life, and how Springsteen changed all of that.

Above all, what makes it appealing is that it’s based on a true story. When writing his memoir, Greetings from Bury Park, journalist Sarfraz Manzoor reached out to Chadha and together they fleshed out a movie concept, and the project took off from there.

In an exclusive Wingspan interview I had the pleasure of interviewing Manzoor about his experiences with the creation of the film, Springsteen’s music, and more.

WS: How did music, specifically Bruce Springsteen, help you cope with your struggles and your life?

The cast and author of Blinded by the Light pose for a picture.

SM: Well, I guess it was just the fact that when I was growing up, there wasn’t really anybody I could look to, who could give me hope that there was a different way of life or a different route out of where my life was… I had no role models of anybody who could do anything different, and so I didn’t really feel like anybody who came from my background did anything interesting. And I guess when I listened to Springsteen I was like… his songs are about [working-class] people exactly like me, but he still has hope… I needed that at that time, you know?

WS: How did you feel when you saw the movie for the first time?

SM: To be honest, the first time I saw anything… it was the trailer… I just went absolutely ecstatic because this was even before the film. But having been on set, you see actors doing their scenes and stuff… I went ‘Oh my God. This actually looks like a real film’… when you suddenly realize this is no small deal here, we’re not mucking about. The other part that was weird is that you’ve got all these people who didn’t grow up in [Luton] who didn’t live my life, who all suddenly feel like they’ve got a connection to it. They’re like, ‘Oh my God, this dad reminds me of my dad’ and I’m like, ‘Well, that’s kind of not really possible, because it’s my dad I’m talking about’… the fact that this film is showing all across America; it’s actually just opening in France. I’m getting messages from Argentina and Israel [of] people saying they’re watching the film… it’s that moment where you realize the film is way bigger than just me.

WS: Growing up, I saw very few examples of positive South Asian representation in cinema… what kind of impact do you think that Blinded by the Light will have in terms of Asian representation?

SM: I think it’s already had that. I’ve had loads of people from the Asian community, saying, ‘Thank you for telling a story, I see myself in this film’… It was really important that the parents [in the film] were sympathetic, that they weren’t just simplistic monsters. Obviously, they see the world differently than Javed does, but you also see them struggle, you see them work, and you see them as decent people who in some ways are trying their best. [This film] shows that… you don’t have to necessarily make films that are niche just because you’ve got nonwhite faces in the film.

WS: What has the experience of this movie being out been like for you?

SM: It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, it’s been a dream, it’s been really, really emotionally powerful to share a story that’s very small and specific with the world. And it’s also been a dream come true— a month ago today, I was in Asbury Park for the premiere, and Springsteen turned up. Who would’ve thought when I was sixteen that Springsteen would turn up for the premiere of my film? There are certain things which are so crazy and really hard for the brain to take in, and that is one of them.

WS: What do you hope that people will take from this film?

SM: I hope that if they’re not already Bruce Springsteen fans, [that] they’ll give him a chance. I hope [that] they realize all of us have got more in common than what divides us— that race and religion and nationality are just labels, but actually underneath it, we all want to make our parents proud, we all want to make our dreams come true. And I also hope that it might help the next time somebody— a politician— tries to exploit hatred of Muslims and tries to make that a political thing to try and get votes from, I hope somebody will say ‘You know what? I remember watching this film with some Muslim characters and they seemed really nice; I’m not gonna go along with this sort of witch hunt and hatred because the truth is not what these politicians are telling me.’

WS: The whole movie focuses on the impact that music can have on an individual. What do you think makes people connect with music in such a way?

SM: What Bruce does, and I think that it’s something that the best people do, [he writes] really specifically about [his] life [and his] experiences, but [he does] it in such a way that people feel they can see themselves in the story. If you think— he’s talking about Asbury Park, he’s talking about the specific factories, he talks about the New Jersey Turnpike— they’re not just generic roads or generic towns, they’re actually specific places. But he does it in such a way that you think, ‘Oh wow, that could be a bit like my town!’ So the trick is that he is very, very specific, and by being specific it becomes universal… he creates this world, and it’s really detailed, and in that world we see ourselves.

 

To listen to a behind the scenes interview with the author, Emily Hollwedel, click here!

To view the entire November issue, click here!

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

Fall Concert Recap

Words: Thomas Hitt

Band

On Monday, October 14, Centennial kicked off the fall concert cycle with their four band ensembles. 

The jazz band opened the night, performing two upbeat songs that were filled with solos. The first song was Barnburner by Les Hooper and the second song was LaFiesta by Chick Corea. 

After the jazz band finished, Symphonic Band filed onto the stage and played Coast Guards March by Karl King, under the direction of James Kranz, the new addition to the band program. When the first song came to a close, Kranz introduced himself to the audience. He then continued directing Mark Lortz’s The Heart of Madness and Richard Saucedo’s Fanfare for Justice.

The Symphonic Winds took the stage next, playing El Capitan, a John Phillip Sousa march directed by David Matchim, followed by Journey Through Orion by Julie Giroux directed by Kranz. For the last song, Rakes of Mallow by Leroy Anderson, Matchim returned to the podium to conduct.

When the Symphonic Winds exited the stage, the Wind Ensemble entered. They performed three movements of Julie Giroux’s Symphony No. IV: Bookmarks of Japan. The first movement was Fuji-San meaning “Mt. Fuji,” the second was Nihonbashi meaning “Bridge Market,” and the third was Kinryu-zan Sensoji meaning “Thunder Gate.” In addition to normal percussion instruments, the ensemble played taiko drums, a Japanese percussion instrument. 

Words: Emily Hollwedel

Photos: Noorie Kazmi

Orchestra

On the night of Tuesday, October 15, parents and students alike arrived at Centennial to view the fall orchestra concert. It was conducted by orchestra teacher Allen Leung. 

Centennial’s orchestra played a selection comprised of two works: Symphony No. 14 by Robert Schuzman and Symphony No. 21 by Mozart. The concert was well-recieved by both the audience and the students participating. 

“I think the concert went really well,” said violist Praagna Kashyap.

Words: Sasha Allen

Photos: Noorie Kazmi

Choir

On Wednesday, October 16, Centennial’s choir department performed at their annual fall concert. The Chamber Choir sang If Ye Love Me and In His Care-O, Belle Voce sang Down in the River to Pray and Si Me Vers Avaient des Ailes, and Concert Choir sang Festival Cantate and Tunggare.

Rebecca Vanover, the director of the choir department, decided to resume this fall concert tradition this year. Kai Daley, a junior and member of both Belle Voce and Chamber Choir, says that this new concert date took some adjustment.

“I personally felt kind of thrown,” Daley said. “I’m not used to performing fresh out of the gate.” 

Along with a new concert schedule, Daley also had to get used to the new voices around her. 

“It was especially strange for me in Chamber Choir to stand in the same place as last year but to hear some completely different voices around me. The concert did give me a really good feeling about the freshmen and anyone else new to the choir.” 

Despite these new changes, the choir still kept old traditions alive.

“After every concert, we also write post-its of encouragement and what we thought went well, so you always feel like you’re doing a good job,” she said.

Daley is looking forward to the upcoming concert season, and she is already seeing improvement.

“We had a really good sound, and that’s only a month into the school year, so I am really excited to see how the new groups, but particularly Concert Choir, which has the bulk of the new voices, improves.”

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

Student Exchange Day Highlights Differences in Schools Across County

Words: Sasha Allen and Emily Hollwedel

Photos: Zach Grable

On Wednesday, March 27, six students from Long Reach in the Howard County Student Exchange program visited Centennial to see what it was like to go to a different school.

Overall, the response to the exchange day was positive. “It’s not too different from Long Reach, but it’s very unique,” said Elijah Saunders, a junior at Long Reach. However, Sanders did notice a social difference.

“Everyone [at Centennial] seems to get along with each other pretty well, but at Long Reach people are pretty distant,” said Saunders.

Other Long Reach students saw a different side of the social interaction at Centennial. Jada Sanders, a visiting student, decided to ask James MacLellan, Centennial freshman and her guide for the day, about the rumors she had heard.

“I heard some stuff about how it’s ‘clique-y,’ and I asked [James] if that was true and he said in some ways, yes because people like to stick with their own groups and sometimes don’t talk to other people.”

“Despite what group people associate with, [Long Reach students] talk to other people,” says Sanders. She was excited to participate in the exchange day, and was glad she went. “I wanted to have an open mind and see what you guys did on a daily basis… I heard things [about Centennial] but I went to see for myself what it was.”

The visiting students did come to an agreement on the biggest difference at Centennial, and Long Reach student Sui Cin highlighted this variation between the schools. “The diversity of the school, that is very different. I think that here, it is very distinguished, but if you go to Long Reach it’s so mixed… here you can see [what types of] people go [to Centennial].”

Sanders also seemed to notice this difference. “Looking in most of the classes and in the halls, demographics [are very different than at Long Reach].”

Cin also seemed particularly impressed by the fine arts at Centennial. “This school has many fine arts. I was watching theatre and you guys were so passionate about it.”

Rachel Henry, a senior at Wilde Lake and the creator of the program had the chance to visit Glenelg on Wednesday as well. “The halls are very quiet at Glenelg. You won’t hear chatter…it’s just silent.”

However, she, like the Long Reach students, noticed the difference in diversity.

“[The swap day] was the first time in all of my years of schooling I had a class without any African American people. Though I tried not to notice race as much, it was inevitable.”

On April 3, Centennial students will travel to Long Reach and Glenelg students will go to Wilde Lake. Although all of the students noticed differences between their schools and the exchange school, they were able to come together and share their experiences at the two schools, and students look forward to the next exchange day.

 

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

High School Students to Participate in First Ever Howard County Student Exchange Day

Words: Sasha Allen and Emily Hollwedel

*Editor’s Note: April 1, 2019–This article has been modified to reflect the correct date of the second exchange, April 3. A previous version stated that it was April 4.*

About a year ago, Wilde Lake senior Rachel Henry was going about her usual day when she was struck with an idea.

I originally thought of the differences between specifically Wilde Lake and Glenelg,” Henry shared. “I would sit and look at race, [Free and Reduced Meals], and test score comparisons. They’re so drastically different that I don’t even know how it’s possible with a school only 20 minutes away. I sent an email to a few Board Members, and the principals of both Wilde Lake and Glenelg to see if I could go to Glenelg for a day.”

It wasn’t easy. Henry encountered some difficulties in trying to implement her idea. “It was immediately shot down by my principal, who was supportive but certain it was against policy,” recalled Henry. “A month or so later, I got a call in the front office from Cindy Drummond, advisor of Howard County Association of Student Councils, saying that the board latched on to my idea.”

The idea of the program is simple: students are given the chance to connect with new people and experience different schools in Howard County.

On Wednesday, March 27, participating Wilde Lake students will travel to Glenelg, and Long Reach students will go to Centennial. On April 3, participating Glenelg students will go to Wilde Lake, and Centennial students will go to Long Reach. On the days of the exchanges, the students will attend classes until fifth period, where they will meet with school liaisons and debrief.

Henry highlighted the differences between these schools, specifically between Wilde Lake and Glenelg. “When I see 46% African American, 25% white, and 13% Hispanic, in Wilde Lake’s stats, I think diverse. But when I look at Glenelg’s 76.2% white, and a number over 5% can’t even be conclusive for any other race but Asian, at 11%, I think of segregation.”

Henry is no stranger to being perceived as different from others.

My dad is black and my mom is white, and I honestly don’t know if places other than where I’ve gone are as accepting of that,” she said. “I am also a practicing Jew, so in that aspect I am also different.”

James LeMon, Director of Community, Parent, and School Outreach in Howard County, expressed his excitement for the program to be in place. He was vital in the implementation of Henry’s idea.

“I’m just excited that we are taking a student’s idea and we are going to make it happen,” LeMon stated. “I think it is a great opportunity for the kids to experience a day in the life of a different school, culture, get to meet some other students.”

As for the goals of the program, both Henry and LeMon hope the experience will unify the schools and students.

What I want for students, including myself, is to stop thinking of pre-conceived notions about schools in our own county,” shared Henry. “I go to Glenelg on Wednesday, and to be completely honest, I’m terrified. Four boys got arrested there last year for racist and anti-semitic graffiti. Being mixed, and Jewish, those hate crimes directly pertained to me.”

LeMon had a similar notion about the ideas that students in Howard County have about other schools.

Every school has a different culture, and I think the goal was just to experience the day in the life of another student in Howard County,” said LeMon.

Henry’s ideas are now in effect in not just her own school, but in multiple. She hopes that this can end up being a county-wide opportunity.

This group of 20 students who get to experience another school for the day are going to bring back this information to their schools and spread it,” said Henry. “I just hope lasting impressions are made, and people are truly in this experience to see what it’s like to be at different schools.”

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

Boys Basketball Loses to Reservoir, 56-54

Words: Emily Hollwedel

Photos: Delanie Tucker

On February 12, the Centennial Boys’ Varsity Basketball team took on Reservoir High School. It was also the team’s Senior Night. After the seniors from the drill team and basketball team walked onto the court and took photos, the game began.

At the tip-off, Centennial struggled to make shots and stand their ground to keep the ball in play. Four fouls were given to both teams, and the first quarter concluded with Reservoir in the lead, with a score of 13-8.

Second quarter was more of the same, but Centennial managed to score more points after a time out that allowed them to pick up speed. A boost of motivation came along with an impressive steal from Centennial to make a basket. The quarter finished 25-17, and Reservoir was still ahead.

The rise and fall of energy kept the third quarter score rather steady. Eventually, the points climbed up to 41-31, and Reservoir remained in the lead.

The Eagles kept up the fight in the fourth quarter. Several fouls shots allowed the Eagles to catch up with two minutes left, and a timeout helped the team greatly. Several impressive three-pointers set up an opportunity for the win, but in the end, the game finished with a final score of 56-54.

Centennial will take on the Lions at Howard High School on Thursday at 5:30pm.

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

Centennial Students Dress for Snow Day During Winter Spirit Week

Words: Emily Hollwedel

Photos: Jenna Torres

On Wednesday, December 19, students dressed up for Snow Day, where students and staff wore blue and white to celebrate the upcoming winter break.

Some students wore coordinating shirts and pants, were draped in blankets, or sported ski goggles.

Thursday’s spirit day is Ugly Sweater Day, where participating students are encouraged to wear the ugliest sweaters they own.

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

CHS Girls’ Varsity Basketball Defeats Long Reach

Words: Emily Hollwedel

Photos: Eliza Andrew

Last Friday, the Varsity Girls’ Basketball team faced Long Reach for the third game of the season. The final score was 57-49, with the Eagles taking the win.

“We played great as a team,” said junior Rasa Welsh. “We moved the ball really well and made the right adjustments as the game went on.”

Welsh also added that one of the best contributors to the game was a collective effort of staying calm under pressure. “We had nothing to lose playing this game,” Welsh said. “We knew that Long Reach was a good team, but [also that] we could handle it.”

In terms of preparing for the next game, Welsh noted that it was going to be difficult. “We really have to work on our passing, getting back on transition, and taking control of the game.”

Varsity Girls’ Basketball will take on the Reservoir Gators at home on Monday, December 17, at 5:30 pm.

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