The Aftermath of the 2018 Ellicott City Flood: Could More Have Been Done?

Words: Maddie Wirebach

It was the one-in-a-thousand event no one expected to happen twice in under two years: the devastating flooding of Old Ellicott City on May 27, 2018 almost exactly 22 months after the July 30, 2016 storm. Stores, memories, history, lives- these were just a few of the things swept away in hours during the powerful storm that Sunday afternoon.

The storm in May brought 7.5” of rain in about five hours, the majority of the rain falling in just 3 hours. It wiped out businesses, destroyed cars, and even washed away 25 feet of Ellicott Mills Drive.

What made this second flood so much more heartbreaking was the fact that dozens of business owners had picked themselves up after the 2016 flood, brushed their hands off, and rebuilt, stronger than ever. Although it was a struggle, they opened up their doors for business and came out not as victims, but survivors, only for the unthinkable to happen a second time.

But when you look a little bit closer, was this second flood really all that unimaginable?

Since the 1800s, Ellicott City has endured six tributary-based floods mainly because of its location at the meeting point of the Tiber-Hudson watershed, where four tributary streams contribute to the Patapsco River. This location, though once ideal for Ellicott City’s original purpose as a mill town, and the development over stream channels has spelled disaster for the 246-year-old town.

Ellicott City lacks a natural floodplain, an area for flood water to run, meaning that man-made channels were created. Over the years, the channels have grown narrower as buildings and facilities have been established on top. At some points the channels make 90-degree turns, which are impossible for rushing flood water to flow through, and ultimately result in the water jumping the turn and flowing down the main street.

On that fateful day in May, the ravaging water ripped through storefronts, destroying anything in sight.

Jeff Braswell, owner of Primitive Beginnings, recounted the terrifying phone call he received about the flooding. At the time of the flood, Braswell was at his children’s swim practice, and rushed downtown when his employee and two customers were stuck in the store.

Primitive Beginnings owner Jeff Braswell carries employee, Samantha Kelley, who was trapped in the flood-wrecked store through rushing water. Photo contributed by Jeff Braswell.

“I actually couldn’t believe it,” Braswell recalled. “No way there would be a 1000 year flood again.”

The 2016 flood caused major setbacks for Braswell’s other company, halting the process of moving into Main Street.

“We were 8 days from moving our other company into town in the Taylor’s building, so the [2016 flood] delayed us from moving in,” described Braswell.

“This time we actually had a retail store completely wrecked. It’s shocking to see everything you worked hard for taken from you.”

Beyond the emotional distress, financial issues surfaced immediately. The most recent flood left Braswell with no choice but to close down Primitive Beginnings’ other location in Fells Point.

Now, county officials have proposed a five-year plan which would see the demolishment of ten buildings on lower Main Street (the area most damaged), the addition of two culverts to redirect water flow, the expansion of the Ellicott Mills culvert, construction of open space on lower Main Street, and the creation of two water retention facilities.

With all of these new plans coming to fruition soon, it’s natural to wonder, was enough done after the 2016 flood?

That question is hard to answer. Efforts were made, undoubtedly, prior to the 2018 flood; however, no one really expected a second “1-in-a-1000” flood to happen in just 22 months after the 2016 storm.

Leading up to the most recent storm, recovery and prevention projects were in progress, including the construction of water retention ponds, according to a statement made by Allan Kittleman, county executive for Howard County, to the Associated Press.

It was clear to Braswell that progress, though slow, was being made.

“I’ve seen a lot of work done in town. [The county] literally just got funding to work on new projects two weeks before this past flood,” commented Braswell.

With weather patterns constantly changing, and the unpredictability of flash flooding in general, it is difficult to judge whether or not enough was done to prevent this most recent flood.

“Change takes time,” said Braswell. “It was changing. We just didn’t move fast enough.”

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

HCPSS, McDaniel Announce Inaugural T4T Scholarship Recipients

Words and Photos: Sabrina Han


On Wednesday, May 4, the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) and McDaniel College joined together to acknowledge the inaugural group of recipients of the Teachers for Tomorrow (T4T) scholarship.
The cohort of recipients, comprising six male and five female HCPSS students and representing six Howard County schools, was a very diverse and academically successful group.

Before introducing the recipients, Dr. Roger Casey, President of McDaniel College, shared a long list of achievements included in the resumes of these 11 students.

The students were born in six different countries and are fluent in a combined total of six languages – not including English. Additionally, the students represented multiple sports teams, honor societies, clubs, student governments, and more.

“One day, these students are going to help us change tomorrow,” Dr. Renee Foose, Superintendent of Howard County Schools said.

The recipients of the 2016 T4T Scholarship are Nicolette Brookman (Hammond); Austin Metzler (Howard); Dorothee Cadet (Long Reach); Lucero Espinal and Kevin Rockwell (Oakland Mills); Ricardo Loyola, Irma Murhutta, Kory Williams, and Moises Zelaya Caceres (Reservoir); and Philip Bonsu and Daniela Yacobucci Lapaitis (Wilde Lake).

T4T is a program that was developed with the goal of increasing diversity and opportunity within the teaching workforce. In spring of 2015, Foose approached Casey with the idea for this program.

The T4T scholarship program provides 11 Howard County students with a 4-year education at McDaniel College, fully paid for by HCPSS, McDaniel College, and various sponsors, specifically the Kahlert Foundation.

The selected students will receive a free education, with an agreement with HCPSS that, immediately following their graduation in 4 years, they will return to HCPSS to work for a minimum of 3 years.

Candidates for the program had certain requirements they had to meet. The intended group was full of academically successful students with limited resources. All applicants were required to qualify for the Free and Reduced Price Meals Program, as well as a certain academic criteria. Additionally, the recipients applied and were accepted into McDaniel College before being awarded the scholarship.

Forty HCPSS students applied to the T4T program and were accepted into McDaniel College. From that group, 20 were invited to partake in an interview process for selection. In April 2016, 11 students were notified of their success in obtaining the scholarship.

While studying at McDaniel, recipients will be required to maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.75. In addition, they must graduate in four years. Students will have the option to pursue a degree in any subject they choose, but are required to obtain at least a minor in education, and serve as a student teacher.

The goal of the program is to provide every available opportunity for students and open up new ones for students with limited resources.

Karalee Turner-Little, the Coordinator of HCPSS Systemic Initiatives, stated that this was one of the main reasons that the partnership with McDaniel College is so advantageous.

“McDaniel shares our philosophy about really supporting kids individually… [they] ensure that every student has what they need,” she said. “They were really a great match for this kind of partnership.”

Casey stated that he felt this program was a “great vision.” During the ceremony, he took time to congratulate the students and acknowledge the great achievement that winning this scholarship was.

“We had remarkable interest in this program…you should be very proud that you are the first group of people who have been chosen,” he said. “You are a great group of young people.”

During the ceremony, Cadet, a senior at Long Reach, addressed the group and shared who she was and what the scholarship meant to her.

While interviewing before she was chosen for the scholarship, Cadet shared that she feels she is called to serve through teaching.

“I am a proud Haitian and American who seeks to make a difference within her community and her countries,” Cadet said. She also shared her belief that it is “important to be passion driven when going after what you want.”

Cadet shared that she believes T4T will have a positive impact on her future.

“T4T has allowed me an opportunity to build a strong and stable future,” she said.

In addition to Cadet, Loyola, from Reservoir, had a chance to speak to the group about his personal experience, and what the program means to him. Loyola will be the first in his family to attend college, a goal of his since he was young.

“As a child, college was always a dream of mine. As I grew up, I saw [that] my opportunities to further my education declined as my knowledge of the college expense increased,” he said.

Loyola was informed about the T4T scholarship opportunity by his school counselor, and felt that it was the best way for him to obtain his long-time dream. Now, he looks to create a tradition that he hopes his younger brothers will follow.

“I’ll be showing them that hard work really does pay off,” he said.

To Bonsu, a senior at Wilde Lake, this scholarship means everything.

“We [my family] came from Ghana and we really didn’t have that much. And then to receive this opportunity is one of the best moments of my life right now,” he said.

The idea of becoming a teacher is new to Bonsu, but he is looking forward to being able to give back to the community using this opportunity.

“It’s kind of new to me right now, but when I really thought about it, I was like ‘You know, I can do this,’” he said. “I can actually help people out, like future students.”

Though teaching may not have been Bonsu’s original plan, he is extremely grateful for the opportunity he has been given, and looks to make the best of it.

“I’m glad I received it, and I really want to help out [in the future] with HCPSS,” he said.

The students themselves are not the only ones affected by this opportunity. One mother had the chance to share just how deeply this opportunity has affected her, her child, and their family.

Tanisha Rowe, mother of Kory Williams, who also attends Reservoir, shared with the group what the scholarship means to her and her family. In addition to sharing Williams’ story, and the hardships he has overcome, she spoke about how proud she was of her son, and how deeply the scholarship opportunity has affected their family.

“I [told] Corey from the time he was about three or four – he was destined for greatness,” she said. “You can see what a proud Mom I am…I set the tone, he followed. And he didn’t have to.”

Additionally, Rowe took time to acknowledge the success of her son, and the initiative he has taken in his endeavors.

“Everything you’ve seen from him – the words that he’s written for his opening speeches – are all Kory. We are extremely proud of him,” she said.

Both HCPSS and McDaniel College look forward to many more celebrations of this type to come.

“We definitely look to continue this every year,” Turner-Little said. “This is a huge endeavor for HCPSS and McDaniel College, and it will take a lot of people’s efforts and financial resources and commitment, but we do hope to have scholarship recipients every year.”

Aside from being a huge opportunity for a free education, this program provides a chance for Howard County students to give back to the school system they were brought up in, and have an effect on the futures of many students.

“Today we are beginning the first day to changing what tomorrow looks like,” Foose stated. “It’s normally a sad time when we see students leaving…but this isn’t such a sad day; this is a happy day because I’m going to see them back here in just a few years working for us in our classrooms, making a difference.”

For more information about the T4T scholarship program, contact your school principal or guidance counselor, and visit the HCPSS (www.hcpss.org) and/or McDaniel College (www.mcdaniel.edu) websites.

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

Food and Nutrition Survey

Words: Sandy Eichhorn

Howard County has sent out a survey to all of its high schools. The survey asks questions based on students’ experiences with their school meals. It asks their favorite and least favorite foods as well as foods they would like added to the menu. The Food and Nutrition Survey wants to improve students’ lunches while still making sure they eat healthy school meals.

Click here to take the survey and share your thoughts on your school meals, use your school login to access the survey: http://hcpssne.ws/hsfoodnutrition

The deadline for taking the survey is June 12.

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

Know Your Planet STEAM Expo

Words: Miranda Mason

Photos: Corey Grable

On Thursday, Feb. 27, the Know Your Planet STEAM Expo took place at Centennial from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. At this event, students presented projects that demonstrated how the environment relates to different areas of academics.

According to CHS Quicknotes, students from Foundations of Technology, AP Economics, American Government, English 12 Honors, Environmental Science AP, Earth Science G/T, Art, Photography and Math Analysis classes presented projects at the expo, as well as participated in a poetry reading.

Sophomore Teresa Whittemore spent several weeks creating a stop-motion video for her American Government class that explores renewable portfolio standards, which dictate that a certain amount of resources a state uses must be from a renewable source.

“We had to take an environmental issue and find a government policy that addresses that issue,” said Whittemore.

Junior Mayukha Pakala created a tri-fold board about composting with seven other students from her Environmental Science AP class. Her group also created a quiz in which visitors of the expo had to identify whether certain items, including an orange juice carton, a styrofoam lunch tray and string cheese were able to be composted.

Senior Christin Downie attended the expo for both her English class and as a member of the National Art Honor Society, and she believes the event was a good way to bring together the many different groups at Centennial.

“They definitely blended the Centennial community by combining STEM with art and English,” said Downie.

Patricia Reese, a Government and Economics teacher, had students from both of her classes presenting projects at Centennial.

“I love the idea that it’s all about the environment,” said Reese. “The students can see it through all the different subjects. They can see one topic through all these different lenses.”

Centennial Students Score above 90th percentile on National German Test

Words: Carolyn Eichhorn

For the past 54 years, thousands of level two, three, and four high school German students have been taking the National German Test. This test is administered across the country and could have been taken anytime from December 2, 2013 to February 7, 2014 (at the teacher’s discretion). It is made up of 100 multiple choice, matching, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank questions along with a listening and viewing portion.

“The exam tests students’ skills at understanding written and spoken German,” said German teacher Dan Desmond.

From day one, Desmond was adamant that his students speak German whenever they entered his classroom and gave them a small duck when they reverted back to English. During each class, students participate in a wide variety of activities that teach the material that will be found on the test.

“Taking the exam was optional,” commented Desmond, “[But] I definitely think that it is a good idea for students to take the exam.”

Several weeks after taking the test, ten Centennial students were recognized for their outstanding achievement of having scored above the 90th percentile for the exam.

Level 2: William Boodon (95), Ashley Rous (95), and Megan Hromek (95)
Level 3: James Wirebach (97), Cassandra Bernhardt (96), Taryn Betz (96), Esben Jepsen (95), Miranda Mason (95), and Roxanne Shadmehr (93)
Level 4: Zhehao Chen (91)

In addition to those students who placed above the 90th percentile, a large number of students received awards based on their performance.

Gold Award recipients: Cassandra Bernhardt, Taryn Betz, William Boodon, Zhehao Chen, Megan Hromek, Esben Jepsen, Hannah Kempton, Miranda Mason, Ashley Rous, Roxanna Shadmehr and Jamie Wirebach.
Silver Award recipients: Lyndsay Batson, Amber Dietrich, Harrison Gertler, Katerina Havlik, Brita Hawtof, and Jason Shi.
Bronze Award recipients: Alex Booth, Maximilian Dale, Lucas Dittman, Robert Hunter, William Kraft, Amy Myers, and Audrey Schlimm.
Achievement Award recipients: Kathleen Amstad, Tyler Boettcher, Laura Brezinski, Brian Donegan, Austin Kraisser, Brandi Kraisser, Heidi Liu, Patrick Mckinnis, Christopher Neely, Casey O’Neil, Chaluim Potter, Nicholas Smith, Austin Toth, Lauren Young, and Samantha Whittemore.

Fulfilling Vision 2018: A New Outlook on APs Causes Mixed Reactions at CHS

Words: Miranda Mason

Centennial students are being encouraged more than ever before to enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) classes as the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) works towards Vision 2018, a plan to fulfill their promise of preparing every student to take on the challenges they will face after high school.

Vision 2018 aims to challenge students, inspire them to learn and empower them to reach their goals. According to the Vision 2018 Plan, HCPSS’ goal for students is for them to achieve academic excellence. The Plan sets out 11 performance measures for this goal, one of which is through participation and performance in AP courses.

Centennial Principal Claire Hafets is a strong supporter of encouraging every student to take an AP class before graduating, and she believes that participation in AP courses will help students towards the goals set out in Vision 2018. According to Hafets, HCPSS research shows that students who take at least one AP course, even if they score a 2 on the exam, will perform better in college than a student who did not take an AP.

“93% of Centennial students go to college,” said Hafets. “We owe it to those students to make sure they know what it is like.”

What an AP course is like is decided by the College Board, which approves the curriculum for AP classes, as well as writes the exam given in May. AP courses are designed to put high school students in a college-level class, and so the curriculum is made to be rigorous and challenging. This provides a good opportunity for college-bound students who are ready for a taste of college-level rigor, but some have concerns whether an AP is right for every student.

“Not everybody is going to college, and in my opinion, it doesn’t make sense for every student to take an AP,” said physics teacher Stanley Eisenstein.

“I think for some students it is too stressful and not appropriate,” said art teacher Nan Collins. “I agree with the concept of challenging students; I worry about students struggling in a class that is over their heads. They won’t be earning the grades they need or want.”

Collins’ concern that everyone may not be ready for a college-level course in high school is reflected in the thoughts of some students. Junior Alicia Townsend has not taken any AP classes, and does not plan on taking any in her senior year, in part because she is worried about the rigor of an AP course.

“I think it would be too difficult because of the tests and how fast the class goes by,” said Townsend.

Hafets is aware that not every student is ready for an AP class right now, and she has a plan to ensure students making the jump to AP are in a class that will meet their needs. According to Hafets, Centennial will attempt to match students who may not be at an AP level at the beginning of next year with teachers who will be able to scaffold the information. In these classes, the pace may start out at a level the students are ready for, but as the year goes on, those students will still reach the level of rigor demanded by the curriculum.

“These are students who may have been in honors. They can work their way up in the year so they’re ready by May,” said Hafets. “The curriculum is still rigorous, even if the information is scaffolded.”

Hafets believes that a student who starts with a regular course in their first year of high school will be able to work their way towards an AP course in their senior year by advancing one level each year. There is also an HCPSS committee that is looking into barriers to reaching the goals set out in Vision 2018, and student readiness for AP courses will be among the items discussed, according to Hafets.

Student readiness is not the only concern raised by the move towards more APs. Collins believes the College Board benefits the most from participation in AP courses and questions whether AP courses are the best way to challenge students.

“The real profiteer is the College Board. They get money for every student who takes the AP exam. I think it’s all about trying to rank our school, and I think the ranking system is flawed,” said Collins. “I’m very interested in the International Baccalaureate program, and I think that could be a serious way to challenge students.”

A big attraction of AP courses for many students is that a good score on the exam could be accepted as college credit. However, another concern raised by some is whether or not students will actually be able to count the exams toward fulfilling credits in college. According to Collins, some schools do not accept AP scores as a replacement for taking the class, especially art schools.

Hafets believes that even if students’ exam scores won’t be accepted, taking an AP class is still worth it in the long run.

“It’s not about whether the college is going to accept the credit. It’s really about challenging yourself,” said Hafets. “Everybody has a strength and a passion. Why not challenge the student in that area?”

According to Hafets, as of Feb. 24, there has been an increase in enrollment of AP classes for the 2014-2015 school year, with many students signing up for AP social studies and math classes. There has also been a decrease in enrollment in fine arts classes.