Tag: Miranda Mason

Hafets Receives Education Award

Words: Miranda Mason

Centennial Principal Claire Hafets received The Washington Post’s Distinguished Educational Leadership Award during a surprise ceremony on Thursday, April 9. Hafets was greeted with applause as she walked into the Media Center for what she expected to be a Student of the Month event; instead, students and staff gathered to cheer on their principal as she was awarded with gifts, accolades and opportunities.

In addition to the award itself, Hafets received a signed letter from the Superintendent of Schools and the portfolio the Centennial community put together for her nomination. Hafets will also have the opportunity to join a cohort group of distinguished leaders throughout Maryland and Virginia, and as a recognition of Centennial’s success under Hafets’ leadership, the school will receive new technology within the year.

“I feel very fortunate to be part of this community,” said Hafets to the audience of students and staff that came to cheer her on as she was given the award. “None of this would have been possible without you.”

According to the nomination form, recipients of the Distinguished Educational Leadership Award must be principals who are committed to their schools and their students, both in fostering creativity and working to help them succeed. The form also lists several traits the award committee looks for in a recipient, and members of the Howard County community mentioned many of those traits when they were asked about Hafets’ work as Centennial’s principal.

“She is the biggest advocate I’ve ever seen for Centennial High School,” said David Bruzga, the director of high schools for Howard County. “She’s brought outstanding energy to the school, and she’s helping continue its commitment to excellence.”

“I have known Mrs. Hafets of a number of years, and I have always been impressed with the passion she brings to the position,” said Howard County Public School System Chief of Staff Sue Mascaro, who was part of the team that presented Hafets with the award. “She does an excellent job inspiring students to achieve. It’s no surprise that under her leadership in 2014 Centennial High was recognized as the top high school in the state.”

Hafets will be featured as a recipient of the award in The Washington Post, and she will also be honored at a formal award ceremony in May.

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

Controversial County Budget to be Decided on in May

Words: Miranda Mason

On May 12 at 7:00 p.m., the County Council will hold a public hearing on the Education portion of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Budget. This will be the last opportunity for Howard County residents and employees to make any public testimonies about the Education Budget for next year. After the public hearing, written testimonies can still be emailed to the entire Council until they make their final decision in late May.

The FY 2016 Education Budget became the focus of protests from HCPSS staff and students after a line in the budget was added that would eliminate media support staff from schools. At a Board of Education hearing on the budget on Feb. 28, media specialists from high schools across the county gave speeches detailing the detrimental effects reducing media staff would have.

Despite these protests, the Board of Education passed the budget without changing the line in question and will send it on to the County Executive and then the County Council for final approval.

If the County Council passes the Education Budget as is, the media secretary position in HCPSS schools would be eliminated, leaving media centers staffed with two media specialists. Media secretaries currently serve to keep media centers open and functional throughout the day, which leaves media specialists free to teach classes and work with teachers.

If the media secretary position was eliminated, this would require either the media center to remain closed while media specialists fulfill their teaching duties or for media specialists to keep the media center open throughout the day in exchange for reducing or eliminating their time spent teaching students media literacy and research skills.

According to Centennial Media Specialist Linda Norris, both of these scenarios would hurt students.

“The bottom line is that not having a full media center staff– three of us– will ultimately affect students’ achievement,” said Norris. “There won’t be the coverage in the media space which allows for certified media specialists to work with students and collaborate with teachers.”

Norris added that students and staff who are protesting the decision to eliminate the media secretary position are now turning their attention to the County Council. According to Norris, anyone who is against the current FY 2016 Education Budget is being encouraged to email their testimony to the entire Council before they make their final decision.

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

Day of Code Comes to Centennial

Words: Miranda Mason

On Tuesday, Dec. 9, Centennial will be participating in the Hour of Code, something every Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) school will be doing next week, according to the HCPSS Facebook page.

The Hour of Code, running from Dec. 8-12, is a week-long initiative to get students interested in computer science and programming. HCPSS is working with Code.org, which is a non-profit that works towards increasing student participation in computer science.

Centennial is scheduled to run Hour of Code activities on Monday, and the activities vary from hands-on games involving using cups to illustrate binary to coding games featuring Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. According to CHS technology teacher Daleth Sendin, more advanced students could also be learning computer programming languages, such as Java.

Apple stores across the country are also participating in Hour of Code by offering computer programming workshops. The Apple store at the Mall in Columbia is offering two Introduction to Programming for Kids workshops on Thursday, Dec. 11. Interested students can sign up to attend one of the workshops on the Apple website for the Columbia location.

Centennial Hockey Faces Hebron

Words: Miranda Mason

Centennial’s ice hockey team played Mt. Hebron on Thursday, November 13 at 3:30 p.m.

The game opened with a goal for the Vikings, which was quickly matched by the Eagles. At the end of the first period, Hebron had pulled ahead by one point, making the score 1-2. Centennial goalie Scotty Yablon blocked 11 shots before the period was over.

In the second period, Hebron increased their lead, scoring three more goals after a total of 41 attempts, bringing Yablon’s saves up to 36.

The Eagles scored again in the third period, but were unable to catch up with Hebron before the last buzzer. Yablon prevented Hebron from increasing their lead in the third period, blocking all of their nine attempts on goal and bringing his total saves up to 45 for the game.

The final score was 2-5, but Captain Andrew Pelletier, 12, who made several great hits throughout the game to defend the Centennial goal and gain the puck for his team, believes the game will serve as an opportunity to hone their skills.

“We started to clean up our act in the third period,” said Pelletier. “We noticed our weak points and will start to improve on them.”

Centennial’s next game is on Tuesday, November 18 at 4:45 p.m. They will be playing River Hill at the Laurel Ice Rink.


The “Grim Reaper” Reminds Students of the Consequences of their Actions

Photos: Caroline Oppenheimer and Martha Hutzell

Words: Miranda Mason

On Monday, April 28, 30 students were pulled out of their classes by the “Grim Reaper” as Centennial’s School Resource Officer Mark Perry announced to the students that their classmate was “killed” in a car crash. The students who were “killed” were then given a black t-shirt announcing they had died in a crash caused by distracted or drunk driving, and their faces were painted white. The “dead” students then remained silent for the remainder of the school day.

This event was organized in order to remind Centennial students, especially juniors and seniors, that their decisions have real consequences. According to Perry, this event is going along with the Prom Promise assembly that took place last week that showed juniors and seniors the dangers of drunk or distracted driving. Both of these events are taking place to remind juniors and seniors that are going to prom to make good decisions

“It’s really an important matter that should be addressed in high schools,” said senior Kade Connor, who placed carnations on the desks of the “deceased” students.

“We’re trying to get the message across that if you made bad decisions you could kill yourself, injure yourself, or kill an innocent person and have to live with that for the rest of your life,” said Perry. “I just want the seniors and juniors to know that there are consequences.”

Lines of Love Walk for Wellness

Words: Miranda Mason

On May 17 at 10 a.m. the first annual Lines of Love Walk for Wellness will take place on trails and sidewalks near Centennial High School. The 2K walk will promote awareness, education and support for depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.

Lines of Love is donating a portion of the proceeds to SPEAK (Suicide Prevention Education Awareness for Kids), which is a Maryland-based organization that has made several big steps towards their goal of promoting the prevention of youth suicide and dispelling the stigma surrounding depression and suicide.

Kathryn Peterson, a senior and president of Lines of Love, is excited to be able to donate to a local group that works towards the same goals as Lines of Love.

“Raising awareness about depression and preventing suicide is the main goal,” said Peterson.

Registration for the walk is due by April 30, and walk-up registration and check-in begins at 9 a.m. the day of the Walk. Each participant will receive one Lines of Love t-shirt, as well as complementary food, water and materials that promote awareness, support and education for anxiety, depression and suicide prevention. Everyone who completes the Walk will also receive a Lines of Love bracelet, with additional bracelets available for three dollars each.

Visit the Lines of Love website here to learn more and download a registration form.

Day of Silence Rescheduled Due to Conflicting Events

Words: Miranda Mason

On Thursday, April 10, the Day of Silence (DOS) will take place at Centennial High School, a day earlier than the national DOS is scheduled to take place. The date was moved to Thursday due to a pep rally and Senior Takeover Day both being scheduled for Friday, April 11.

The DOS is a day set aside for students across the country to echo the silence lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face on a daily basis. The purpose of the movement is to bring attention to anti-LGBT bullying and the silence that follows. It is an annual protest, and for the past three years, Centennial has had a pep rally scheduled on the same day as the nation-wide protest, a problem the Centennial Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) has attempted to prevent.

According to junior Hannah Kempton, who is co-president of the GSA, the administration was notified in the beginning of the school year that the DOS would be taking place in the spring in order to avoid a pep rally being scheduled for the same day. However, it was not until last month that the administration was told the exact date of the DOS, at which point Kempton was notified it was too late in the year to reschedule the pep rally and Senior Takeover Day to a time that would not overlap with the silent protest.

“Because of snow days and testing, the days that we have to schedule events are limited,” said Principal Claire Hafets. “We were going to try to move the pep rally to May, but it would have interfered with AP testing. We tried to reschedule for May 2, but the teachers were very concerned about instruction time for APs.”

According to Kempton, the GSA acknowledges that events are not intentionally scheduled for the same day as the DOS, but some people have become frustrated over the continual interference of noisy events, such as pep rallies, with a day that is meant to draw attention through silence.

“We’ve talked to the administration to no avail,” said senior and other co- President of the GSA Emily Bellor. “It’s a little offensive to the LGBTQ and ally community that this is one day and they can’t even give us that.”

Hafets agrees that the students should be able to have the DOS without a pep rally on the same day, and she is more than willing to take steps to prevent next year from becoming the fourth year in the string of conflicts.

“The students have every right to have the Day of Silence, and we will certainly respect that,” said Hafets.

According to Hafets, every year in August the school calendar is planned out, including the date for the spring pep rally. If the GSA can provide the date for the DOS while the calendar is being made, Hafets says the pep rally will absolutely be able to be scheduled around it.

Check out the video that the Wingspan Media Team created for the Day of Silence here.

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.”

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.

Centennial’s Teacher of the Year: Holly Pasciullo

Words: Miranda Mason

Photos: Martha Hutzell

Congratulations to Holly Pasciullo, who was announced as this years Teacher of the Year after seniors at Centennial voted over the past couple days. During third period, administrators, staff, and students surprised her with cake, balloons, and flowers showing their appreciation. Pasciullo was overcome with emotion, “I am so overwhelmed at this moment. As an English teacher, I’m out of words at this moment.”

“When you first walk into her classroom you can see how passionate she is, and she infuses that passion in to her students,” said senior Jessica Qiu.