Tag: Meghan Moore

Q & A With Mrs. Hafets; Centennial’s principal reflects on her tenure before she retires

Words: Meghan Moore

This article is an extension from an article in the Senior Issue.  To download your own copy of the Senior Issue, click the link: https://chswingspan.com/print-addition-archives/

 

Hafet’s opening remarks:

I became a principal in 2008, I was promoted to Burleigh Manor Middle School. So my entire 10 years as a principal has been in this community, which is so special, right? I can’t imagine being more fortunate because this community is… I feel very attached to it. The students-when you walk down the hall they don’t just say “Hello” they say “Hello Mrs. Hafets.” Their mannerisms, they are such polite, respectful [students]. I do feel very fortunate… I’ve had so much being the principal. I remember when I first came to Burleigh Manor, I remember thinking “No wonder nobody ever transfer,” it was just that much fun, that exciting- and of course coming with everyone to Centennial-

You already have so many relationships and bonds formed and you can only add on to those, how was it to see some of these people grow from little sixth graders- who don’t know anything- to these adults who are going to take over the world. How is that for you as a principal and as an educator?

It’s been absolutely amazing, and I actually spoke to that last year at graduation, it’s been absolutely amazing to see-well even you- from sixth grade to know 18 years old and how everyone has matured and developed and just grown into wonderful young adults. Again, very responsible. I mean, what I have learned from everybody, it’s not just me, it’s what you all have given is tremendous. Every weekend, you know, I’ll hear from some of the teachers-or the students-, and it’s all the athletic awards, the academic awards, the clubs… they just don’t compete, they’re first place. I can’t even keep our outside sign up to date on everything… That has been so exciting, I love sharing that with everybody.

 

Talking about how Centennial has changed and what she has accomplished:

 

There’s a lot, when I first came here, my charge was to make sure to develop instructional leadership, develop communication, and school spirit. And hopefully in the past five years that I’ve been at Centennial, all of that has happened, I mean I think the murals in the hallways and the bulletin boards… I think student voice has become very strong here, and hopefully that will continue because I think what the students in this building have to say should be listened to… I look [out] there and I see these are the future doctors and lawyers and teachers and physicists and all of that… You have to take those risks. If you  fail, that’s all right because that’s a learning experience too, and I guess that’s my philosophy on life… If you don’t try, how do you know? I’m always about, “Let’s try it and we’ll see what happens.” I feel like the school spirit- not just the “Ra-Ra” but the facility itself, we’ve done a lot with security and door swipes and more cameras… I think with communication [within the community and school] having TV’s in the hallways, having the Student Community Canvas page, weekly newsletters, daily notices- I’m hoping that the community and the students always know what’s going on… that’s really important that they’re all part of it. [For] staff…. Weekly instructional team meetings to let everyone know what’s happening, so communication was really important and that needs to stay open and strong [in the future].

 

Going on to talk about academic achievements at CHS

 

Centennial should be the flagship school in the region, and it is, and we have made tremendous strides in the past five years… 98-99% of students go onto college, whether it’s two or four years…98-99% of students should be taking college-level courses in high school so they can get to see what it’s like. We have increased the number every year-more and more Centennial students are taking those AP or GT courses…. Ninth graders that come in, who are scheduled for all standard classes… for the past four we have made it a goal to push those students. Three years later, they’re going into twelfth grader, 63% of them are now in honors, AP, or GT courses which is really important… it’s been just a great experience…no questions it’s going to be very emotional [leaving]… I can’t really think about it.

Personal reasons for her retirement:

The reason I am retiring is because my husband retired. We’ve been married 46 years, we’re not just husband and wife, we’re best friends. We have a home in Park City, Utah- where we’re going to be moving- my family’s there. So it’s difficult for everybody to be out there and for me to be here. That’s really why I’m retiring… otherwise-

So if you could do another 20 years you would?

I would… but there’s no guarantee that I would stay here… and I can tell you, if I was transferred, I’d be done. I would not start over at another high school. I’m a Centennial Eagle, I will retire as a Centennial Eagle, I could never be anything else. I’m very blessed to have been placed in [the Centennial] community. Hopefully, what I have done, people have appreciated, my goal is really just to provide all of the opportunities that I can for all of you and hopefully that’s been done and that will continue.

What made you decide to go into education and then become a principal, what drew you to the profession?

I was a middle school teacher, I taught English for a long time, and I loved middle school. I guess I just enjoyed being with the students. That’s an interesting question. What do I like about it? I don’t know, its just.. You guys are fun… you definitely energize me. I’ve always enjoyed working with students- but not young children! I did teach high school for six years in Montgomery County at [Thomas Sprigg] Wootton High School way back in the 70s. Back then, they didn’t have family medical leave, so if you had a child, you either came back to work or you resigned. So I resigned. If I think about it… I worked my way all the way [to the top]… I was president of my children’s nursery school, and when they went to elementary school I substituted, and then I was president of PTSA, and eventually got a long term subbing position at Wilde Lake Middle School and then that long term subbing position became a teaching position… it sort of just happened. I tutored awhile through Hopkins. From being a teacher I became a team leader, and from being a team leader… I went back and took a couple of courses and became an assistant principal-I loved being an assistant principal.

That’s more testing, right?

Well, in the middle school, yeah it was. But you were really very involved with the students and not personnel…and then I applied [for principal] and they promoted me. From the nursery school all the way here. I wouldn’t mind consulting…but I won’t really do much yet, I want to enjoy my grand-baby.

As you leave Centennial, what do you hope to see for the school- and how, whoever comes in next, how they add on to what you’ve worked so hard to build over these past five years?

Certainly, I think about it… I’m hoping that the students in the building continue to have a voice.. That sounds very cliche but there’s an extremely intelligent and articulate group of students in this building and they should be… if a third [of the voice] is the community, and a third is the staff, then a third should be the students…If they have an idea and the person’s not sure about it, then they should still go with it…I believe in that, you don’t know unless you try. That’s probably my philosophy on life, that’s probably how I ended up here (laughs). Another thing of course would be the facility itself… that this facility… there’s no renovations that are supposed to be taking place in the next 10 years or further… so hopefully the person who comes in will to continue to…advocate for the school; which would be the students, the staff, and the community…What tends to happen, Meghan, is because students do so well here, they always think that Centennial doesn’t need anything, but Centennial needs a lot. We need new computers, we need to keep up with our facility…there’s so many little things…I’m hoping that the person who comes in, needs to advocate very, very strongly has to have a loud voice to be heard, and to not be afraid. Collaborative leadership… the decision making needs to be shared. The third one would be that expectations are kept high, that there are high expectations for the staff and the students instructionally…making sure the students and staff have what they need to be successful. That’s what I’ve tried to do and that’s what I hope continues…I really hope all that continues. And that’s how I feel [about leaving Centennial] without crying about it. I’ve always felt that we were a family, I felt that way from day one, from 2008. I’m more a part of this community than I- and I’ve been living in my house for 34 years- and I know more people in this community than my own community (laughs)

It’s almost like this is your home

This is my home

 

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

INTERVIEW: One-on-One with Editor in Chief Meghan Moore

Words: Julia Stitely

As the school year comes to a close, the Journalism team says goodbye to many faces including the Editor-In-Chief, Meghan Moore. The torch is being passed to junior Maddie Wirebach. In this video, Wirebach asks Moore about her experiences in Journalism and her hopes when she leaves.

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

EXCLUSIVE: Up to Code? How ADA compliance throughout the county affects students and their high school experience

Words: Meghan Moore

Photos: Laila Abu-Ghaida

How ADA compliance throughout the county affects students and their high school experience=

For decades, Centennial High School has been a home for students with disabilities. Whether it be blindness, or other physical handicaps, Centennial has provided a place for these students to receive the best education possible.

However, because Centennial was built prior to 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, accommodations have been provided for these students on an as-needed basis, often leading to challenges that have potentially compromised their experience at Centennial.

The Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990. This civil rights law prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities in all areas of life: employment, housing, transportation, and most importantly, schools. ADA compliance ensures that people with physical disabilities are granted public accommodations. School systems nationwide are expected to comply with the regulations set forth by the ADA. However, what about the schools that were built prior to 1990?

The Howard County Public Schools System has 12 high schools with another to be built in 2022. The oldest high school is Howard High School, which opened in 1952. Centennial began construction in 1976, and was completed and opened in 1977. This was nearly 20 years before ADA became law. Not only are these older schools not built to modern ADA compliance, but they are only required to maintain standards for facilities built before 1990. This means that the standards of these schools don’t correspond with the most current regulations.

Centennial principal Claire Hafets stated that schools do not have to meet current regulations once they meet the standards from the year they were built. In addition, the Office of Civil Rights decides when schools meet those regulations, and that varies throughout different high schools.

“Obviously [compliance] looks a lot different here than it does at other schools that are newer,” Hafets stated.

Hafets explained that little things like doors to classrooms begin to stick and become more difficult to open; however, Pierre van Greunen, HCPSS Safety and Risk Management Officer, explained that oftentimes the county is not aware of these seemingly minor issues until an inspection is completed. Van Greunen went on to explain that once they find complications, they are then repaired.

“Many times we are not aware that they [the doors] are not working properly until an inspection has been done. They are repaired or replaced upon learning of their ineffectiveness…inspections by the State of Maryland Office of Equity Assurance and Compliance for ADA and Title IX occurs every 10-12 years,” he stated.

Hafets said that when the school receives a request for accommodations, it sends the request to the county level where it is processed.

“We complete a form and request the accommodation from the appropriate office– Grounds, Facility, Carpentry, etc.,” she said.

Mark Hanssen, an art teacher at Centennial and parent of a student in a wheelchair, did not share the same opinion as van Greunen in regard to the doors. According to Hanssen, his son has had continuous problems with the doors at Centennial. He mentioned that his son has gone through “numerous” wheelchair wheel replacements due to the doors at Centennial.

“He can’t push hard enough for the door not to hit his chair… but it’s his ‘normal,’” Hanssen said.

There are some advantages to being an older school when it comes to ADA regulations. Centennial has larger classrooms, and wider halls for students to navigate, as well as more space between bookcases in the media center. But since Centennial is overpopulated by about 200 students, that extra space in the halls doesn’t really make a difference. Besides, the negatives of the situation outweigh the positives.

Auditoriums in schools like Marriotts Ridge and River Hill have wheelchair-accessible ramps leading up to the stage. Centennial only has steps. Although it seems that older schools like Centennial are always at a disadvantage when it comes to compliance, van Greunen noted that HCPSS does not determine what one school needs based on what another one has.

“Comparing a school like Centennial to [newer] Marriotts Ridge is not an apples to apples comparison. They are different designs built in different years,” van Greunen continued. “Instead, [HCPSS] determine[s] if Centennial is meeting the needs of the students and staff in that building just as we determine if Marriotts Ridge and every other school is meeting the needs of students and staff.”

Van Greunen believes that the county takes a proactive approach when making accommodations for students by working with staff as well as the families of students who require specific accommodations; he also mentioned that general compliance is not always what works best for students.

“General compliance isn’t always the solution that is required to meet the needs of individual students,” he said. “This is why school staff work alongside maintenance staff and the family to ensure that any additional accommodations above and beyond ADA compliance are met.”

Hanssen’s experience has been different.

“That quote [van Greunen’s response] is not characteristic of my experiences,” Hanssen stated.

Hanssen shared that he has only spoken to someone outside of Centennial about his son’s situation two times. In addition, he felt that his perception of Centennial’s compliance was “skewed” due to issues at Noah’s middle school.

“There were a lot of promises made for the building and for accessibility, and they were just put off until he left; accommodations were never enacted.”

However, Hanssen felt that Hafets is supportive and does what she can for his son.

“Ms. Hafets has been very cooperative… when the problem’s brought up, she sends the stuff out and we’ve had people come in [to fix them],” Hanssen said.

In addition to Hafets, Karol Moore, a physical therapist for HCPSS, who has been with Noah for nearly 10 years, is a big support for the Hanssens.

“She’s been the person that’s the most involved with Noah…[Moore] always comes around to find out what she can do. She’s always been a voice, and advocate for Noah,” Hanssen shared.

Van Greunen mentioned that ADA standards do not necessarily always require the accommodations in each building.

Hanssen.

HCPSS has taken a very adamant stance in favor of equity for all students. According to  the HCPSS Strategic Call to Action, as published on the county website, there are four overarching commitments, one of which being “an individualized focus supports every person in reaching milestones for success, [where]…each and every student receives a high-quality education through individualized instruction, challenges, supports and opportunities.”

Van Greunen noted that this is a driving force of their focus.

“We are ensuring that our school buildings meet the needs of every student,” he said.

According to HCPSS Policy 6020: School Planning/School Construction Programs, “The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) employs sustainable design construction that supports educational program needs and creates a safe and nurturing environment for students and staff within allotted budgetary resources.” Essentially, this policy ensures that all schools prove to be a safe and nurturing environment regardless of when they were built.

“It’s true that newer buildings are constructed with many accommodations that were not required in 1977,” van Greunen shared, “we overcome that by working closely with Centennial staff and families to make modifications to the building that allow for a safe and nurturing environment to be created.”

Hanssen once again shared that this was not his experience when dealing with staff at the county level.

“It’s not ideal, it’s not perfect. There have been some improvements made, but for my son, he’s the only manual wheelchair user in the school. His experience… intrinsically is not the same as other students.”

This exclusive piece is featured in the February issue of  The Wingspan click here to see the full issue!

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

Chemistry Students Have a Blast

Words: Meghan Moore

Photos: Laila Abu-Ghaida and Zach Grable

Mrs. Rice’s chemistry student’s were able to learn about combustion today, February 23, by watching a demonstration involving an unlucky gummy bear. In addition to the teacher demonstration, students were able to conduct their own experiments in groups.

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

Sharbaugh Wins Teacher of the Year for First Time

Words: Meghan Moore

Photos: Laila Abu-Ghaida

On February 14, Centennial seniors showed their love for their 2018 teacher of the year: John Sharbaugh. Sharbaugh teaches ninth grade English, and he came to Centennial when this year’s seniors were freshmen.

Voting began in senior English classes during the last week of January. The award is very meaningful to teachers, as it’s proof that they’ve made an impact on the lives of their students. It symbolizes the relationship that a teacher has built with their students over the years.

Walking through the English hallway at Centennial, one can see how Sharbaugh interacts with the students. He can be seen joking with students, making people laugh no matter what.

When Sharbaugh was revealed to be the winner, a student government member read some of the things students said when voting for him. They mentioned how he changed the way students viewed English and that he made writing fun.

“His class was never boring, I never dreaded going to his class,” senior Saraiah Khaled shared.

As Teacher of the Year, Sharbaugh will be the keynote speaker at graduation in May. Congratulations to Sharbaugh from the Wingspan team.

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

Centennial Sleepwalks Through First Day of Winter Spirit Week

Words: Meghan Moore  Photos: Zach Grable

Many of Centennial’s student body broke out their most festive onesies-or just rolled out of bed-and headed out the door for the first day of winter spirit week: pajama day.

Students and staff could look around the halls and see their fellow peers in unicorn onesies, flannel pajama bottoms, and oversized t-shirts.

Tomorrow’s spirit day, December 19, will be season switch day.

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

Interim County Superintendent Holds Press Conference With Student Journalists

Words: Zach Grossman and Meghan Moore

On Thursday, October 26, 2017, Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano met with high school journalists for a press conference at the Board of Education to discuss topics that students were concerned about.

Martirano began the conference with opening remarks, asserting himself as an “extremely student-centered leader.”

Students brought up topics such as the promotion of mental health in the school system, dropout rates, language barriers, overpopulation and redistricting, and technology in the classroom.

When asked about the modification of the vision statement to include the emotional well being of students, Martirano confidently stated that he believes that there needs to be a balance between academic work and achievements as well as students’ emotional well being.

“I want every young person to feel comfortable in school,” said Martirano. “Children need to feel comfortable in school before that educational process can occur. If the students don’t feel a sense of belonging, and being safe and taken care of, then that really starts causing great hindrance to the achievement of academic goals and being a productive citizen of society.”

He added that the county has even added positions within the upper administration to promote the wellness of students. In addition to promoting wellness, Martirano stated that he hopes for the school system to become a “pluralistic society… where everyone is valued within that community.”

When asked about overpopulation and redistricting, Martirano relayed that the three most overpopulated high schools are Centennial, Long Reach, and Howard. He stated that they intend to offer opportunities to relocate students from those three schools to schools like River Hill and Oakland Mills, which have empty or low-attendance classrooms.

There are four viable plans to manage overpopulation and redistricting currently being reviewed by the Board; however, Martirano shared that the school system does not intend to redistrict the entire county until construction of High School 13 is underway.

Throughout the meeting, Martirano commented on numerous other topics. He shared passionate aspects and visions to improve early childhood opportunities to combat potential student dropouts. He also shared a vision of community outreach for parents who have a hard time comprehending the English language. Martirano reasoned his passion by stating that “parents are the primary teachers.”

Because so many schools in the county are overpopulated, technology resources are outdated. Martirano said, “we have not kept up with the technology needs of the 21st century school system.”

According to staff members in several schools around the county, the Howard County Public Schools System does not have sufficient technology resources to match the student population. Martirano stated, “When we have such high performing schools and we have technology needs, I find that unconscionable.”

According to Martirano, the school board recognizes these issues fully and is looking to make change, but technology also equals money.

HCPSS has an annual budget of $820 million dollars, and Martirano expressed that incorporating technology resources into the budget is a “…very heavy lift from a financial point of view. So if you’re not keeping up with the replacement cycle, and you don’t have a strategic plan, once again, another issue is coming right square on my desk.” Although Martirano admitted that “we need to do a better job,” he also explained that the school system must “balance priorities.”

Changes and improvements will come progressively, but the issue is something that concerns Martirano. “It keeps me up late at night because our students don’t have the tools at the level at which I would expect the optimal learning environment to occur.” Martirano said he is “firmly driven by taking care of young people’s needs.”

Martirano has empowered his technology leaders to solve the myriad of issues surrounding technology. “I have individuals right now who are overseeing my technology department to begin the development of a strategic plan.”

Martirano ended the conference with closing statements about his vision for HCPSS.

“I see our [school system’s] best days ahead of us.”

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