Tag: Javiera Diaz-Ortiz

G/T Research Program Holds Celebration of Excellence

Words: Javiera Diaz-Ortiz

Photos: Zach Grable

As the school year comes to an end, the G/T Research program held its Celebration of Excellence on April 29. Teachers Toni Ireland and Julia Bakhru gathered students, parents, mentors, and some special guests in the cafeteria to celebrate the students’ achievements in the Intern/Mentor and Independent Research classes.

Projects were displayed all over the cafeteria where parents and mentors could look at students’ final products and ask questions about their research. Some students presented their projects on display boards and science posters, while others created products such as brochures and slideshow presentations.

During the event, students were given the opportunity to hand their mentors certificates of appreciation. Not all mentors could attend, but those who did were honored with a brief speech by their student interns. Students conveyed their appreciation for the time, effort, and kindness that they were offered by their mentors.

The night ended on a cheerful note as guests enjoyed Chick-fil-A, as well as sides and desserts. Students, teachers, and mentors had the chance to reflect on their hard work and success throughout the past year at the Celebration of Excellence.

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

Sara Duran is Named Centennial’s 2019 Teacher of the Year

Words: Javiera Diaz-Ortiz

Photos: Zach Grable

This morning, Teacher-of-the-Year nominees, along with seniors selected by them, gathered in the staff lounge for the first ever Teacher-of-the-Year Breakfast. At the breakfast, English teacher Sara Duran was named Centennial’s Teacher of the Year for 2019.

Following the announcement, Duran gladly accepted her award and flowers with a smile.

“I feel honored,” said Duran. “I was in shock, and I’m really thankful for the seniors who voted for me.”

Duran is in her seventh year of teaching at Centennial. She has also been the sponsor for Centennial’s National Honor Society, and she is currently an SAT coordinator. Being a multi-level English teacher has allowed Duran to watch some of the seniors grow.

“I do think that this is a phenomenal group of students, and they’re unlike any other class that I’ve taught before them,” Duran claimed. “So, it’s an extra special honor not to just be there as they graduate, but also to be part of their moving-on to the next step of their lives. And I know that they will all be really successful in whatever they do.”

Nominees present at the breakfast expressed their praise for Duran.

“[Duran] is a great person and a great teacher, and I’m happy for her. She’s so deserving,” said teacher of the year nominee Lauren Mancini.

Leading up to her win, Duran overcame some challenges, as all teachers do. She says that she has had to find a balance between rigor and fun, both for her students, and for herself as a teacher.

“That’s something that for me, took a little while to figure out, and weirdly, last year was the year that I was able to get that together,” said Duran.

With her title as Teacher of the Year, Duran will give a speech at graduation this May.

“It’s definitely a privilege, an honor, with this class especially.”

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

Urban Plates Restaurant Opens at Columbia Mall

Words: Javiera Diaz-Ortiz

The Columbia Mall has gained a new, modern restaurant. Urban Plates had its grand opening this summer, in late August. It is located next to one of the mall’s other modern eateries, Shake Shack.

Urban Plates offers organic, reliable options to please any craving. To add even more appeal, every single plate, sandwich, side, dessert, and even drink, is made from scratch in the Urban Plates kitchen.

Guests can see for themselves how much effort each cook puts into creating all of the products; the kitchen is visible to all guests, separated from the dining area by only a glass panel on top of the food bar.

When guests enter the restaurant, they are immediately taken aback by the interior decor. The restaurant has eye-catching colors and unique pieces, such as indoor gardens on its walls.

Guests can then choose to go into one of two lines. One line is exclusively for plates, while the other is for those craving a sandwich. Plates include selections such as free-range grilled chicken, or oven-baked, wild salmon, accompanied by sides like roasted brussels sprouts, beet and carrot salad, potatoes, among a variety of other options.

There is a separate kids’ menu with simpler, more classic meals such as mac n’ cheese. But, that does not imply the quality of food  plates such as the classic macaroni and cheese. This does not, however, suggest a lower quality of food. Even the simplest meal on the menu, the Macaroni and Cheese, looks and tastes like a gourmet dish.

All of the sodas are made at the restaurant, resulting in authentic drinks such as the pineapple cream soda.

After the main meal, guests also have the option of ordering dessert. Once again, the desserts are made from scratch at the restaurant. Selections include items such as the mango tart and the banana-cream pie, as well as a giant chocolate chip cookie.

Guests customize their order by going through the line at the food bar and requesting the main dish, sides, drink, and dessert from employees. To make the process run more smoothly, guests pay for their orders at the end of the bar, meaning there is no need for waiters.

While enjoying their meals, guests are often greeted by kind bussers who take it upon themselves to make sure that everyone’s experience at the restaurant is memorable.

Along with having a wide variety of options for food, guests are also provided with several options for seating. The restaurant has booths, tall tables, short tables, and an attractive, outdoor seating area for days with nicer weather.

Urban Plates will undoubtedly become one of the more popular sites at the mall as it offers alternative, healthy options in a welcoming, attractive environment.

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

Centennial Immigrants Share Their Stories

Words: Javiera Diaz-Ortiz

Photos: Zach Grable

Imagine being raised in a certain culture, speaking a familiar language, feeling tied to a community and knowing no other way of life. For many students, immigration turns their entire lives upside down. Positive and negative experiences alike, immigrants experience major changes throughout the transition process.

Senior Anne Vicari was born in Brazil and immigrated to the United States in 2010, at the age of nine. Her native language is Portuguese, so the first task she had once moving to Maryland was becoming fluent in English.

However, Vicari claimed that learning to speak the language was not the most difficult part because English “is not as complex as Latin rooted languages.” Rather, the most challenging part for Vicari was leaving her family behind.

Vicari immigrated with only her mother, which meant saying goodbye to the rest of her family.

“The most difficult part of adapting was learning to be away from family,” she stated.

On a more positive note, Vicari feels grateful for having been given the opportunity to gain a new perspective.

“The [best] part of immigrating, other than being able to experience a different culture, was going back to Brazil and telling all my friends and family about my new life,” added Vicari.

Another senior at Centennial, Helen Huang, immigrated from China a few days before her sixteenth birthday.

Like Vicari, Huang’s first language was not English, but her English class in China facilitated this part of the process for her. However, conversational parts of the English language were a factor she had to spend more time learning.

“I [didn’t] know how to respond to ‘what’s up’ or ‘how are you doing’,” she remarked.

One major difference that Huang noticed between China and Maryland is the structure of classes in high school. She noted that in China, she had only one assigned classroom, not several destinations to go to each day.

“I think it’s harder to make friends [since] we usually have only one period together,” Huang added. Even though it was difficult at first, Huang has met many new people at Centennial and maintained several friendships.

“The best part is I [am able to] experience a totally different culture,” claimed Huang, “Immigrating actually [broadened] how I view the world.”

Similar to Huang’s view of immigration, senior Sera Lim, who immigrated from South Korea at the age of seven, stated that she is more “aware of the different foods, activities, traditions, and even historical values not represented in Korean culture.”

Lim’s first language was Korean, and it became difficult for her to communicate with others once first arriving.

Lim has since made an interesting observation between her “old” life and her “new” life. She noted that the sense of community is different.

“In Korea, transportation was very easy and children could walk to a supermarket by him/herself; unlike the United States, where the car is the main source of transportation,” noted Lim.

Vicari, Huang, and Lim all showcase the rush of positive and negative aspects which immigrants are met with. The immigration process shapes an individual and transforms their view of the world.

“Getting to learn and experience a new culture was one of the most interesting parts about immigrating,” Lim expressed, “From immigrating, I am more open and aware of the different foods, activities, traditions, and even historical values not represented in Korean culture.”

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