Tag: news

Junior and Senior Dance Companies to Travel to Disney in April

Words: Mikayla Martin

Every two years, the Centennial senior and junior dance companies fly to Disney World in Florida to perform.

In these upcoming months, both companies will be working very hard to prepare for this trip. In class dancers run through numerous dances that they will be performing at Disney.

Each company will perform dances choreographed by their captains, in addition to dancers choreographed by Mrs. Clark, the dance teacher.

During their time in Florida, dancers will have plenty of time to enjoy the park. competition. They’ll be allowed to go around the park, and also have the option to stay at the resort to relax.

Clark stated, “I am very excited for us to perform at Disney Springs because we have the prime time showcase time; Friday night so it’s going to be packed!”

Being one of the junior company captains, I am very excited to perform the dance I choreographed at Disney and walk around the park with my best friends. It will be a true experience. This will be the 7th year the dance companies have gone to Disney.

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

Centennial Students Attend Living the Dream Gala

Words: Mikayla Martin

This past weekend, February 24th, the Living the Dream gala was held at M&T bank Stadium by the Zaching Against Cancer foundation. The goal in holding this event was to increase cancer research funds, direct patient outreach, and scholarships.

Several Horizon club board members who attended the gala, Francis Kim, said he “went because it seemed like a great opportunity to support such a great cause and I had no issue donating my time for the possibility of giving hope to someone that needs it.”

Everyone who did not know the story of Zach Lederer, a Centennial alumni, and the foundation were informed by tribute speeches in memory of him given by his family.

The Zaching Against Cancer foundation has inspired families at the event to support the cause. One woman, who sadly lost her son to cancer, gave a speech on how the foundation aided her son with his battle against cancer.

When her son passed, the foundation inspired her to support the cause further. Donations were asked at the end of the night, and the audience did not fail to show their support.

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

Centennial Science Students Showcase Their Knowledge at Know Your Planet Night

Words and photos: Maggie Ju

On Thursday, March 2, Know Your Planet Night was held in the cafeteria from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The majority of the presenters were freshmen or sophomores who did projects for either Earth and Space science or Biology class.

Along with neat, decorated boards, students engaged audiences with games and experiments. A watershed Spin the Wheel game, a tectonic plate puzzle, and an earthquake impact simulator were some of the creative formats in which topics were showcased.

One eye-catching exhibit was freshman Alexia Moreira’s solar system board game, designed with planets and asteroids on a starry background. Players had to answer a question correctly about a planet of their choice to advance on a trail to the Sun. Cleverly, the prize was Starburst candy.

Sophomore Jasmine Ji and freshman Kelsey Genovese were partners, supervising a hands-on experiment to extract DNA from a strawberry.

“This was one of the coolest experiments you could do with ingredients that are just lying around the house,” Ji said. The materials list included everyday items like dish soap, salt, and rubbing alcohol, and the procedure itself was less than five minutes long.

Genovese agreed and added, “I also like the topic of GMOs and this is a really cool, simple project to help introduce the topic of genetic engineering.”

Freshman Erica Zuo, who worked on a game-based project, said, “I really think that this night was quite successful because we got to educate people on our topic, which was GMOs. We also got to give out food!” The prizes for winning at her board were a generous handful of candy and a bag of chips, drawing dozens of people to her board throughout the event.

As the event came to a close, freshman Sophie Chao folded up her display with a smile. She concluded, “It was really fun, and I learned a lot tonight.”

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.


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.

Centennial’s Model UN Takes on Johns Hopkins Model UN Conference

Words: Maggie Ju

36 delegates from Centennial’s Model United Nations club attended the Johns Hopkins Model UN Conference (JHUMUNC) in the Hilton Baltimore from February 8 to 11. Nearly 1,800 delegates, a record high, were present. Organized and staffed by Johns Hopkins’ students, the conference’s six sessions were an opportunity for high school students to simulate international relations while solving issues.

The Centennial delegates, chosen for club participation, had been preparing since winter break to understand their topics. Their hard work came to fruition as they worked in committees, some with as many as 100 people, to write resolutions. In addition to the countless students from Maryland, delegates hailed from as far away as Minnesota and Wisconsin. According to the organizers’ remarks, there were even international students attending the conference.

JHUMUNC, with its formally dressed delegates and professional air, appeared completely serious and rigid, but the laughter and stories shared outside the committee rooms proved otherwise. Highlights included a saxophone solo in the Legal Committee, a Darwinism-based plan in the Special Conference on the Environment and Natural Disasters, and the recurring theme of inappropriate acronyms for resolutions.

Sophomore Sydney Kelley, Centennial MUN’s spring coordinator, said, “I felt that the hardest task as spring coordinator was trying to organize everything. It required a lot of multitasking and communication, which seemed overwhelming at times.”

Each delegate submitted a form with roommate, country, and committee preferences, which meant tough decisions on Kelley’s part to ensure all students got something they wanted.

“It was really motivating to hear that people were enjoying their committee sessions, rooms, and the various JHUMUNC events,” Kelley said.

In the hours between committee sessions, delegates had the opportunity to eat at various Baltimore restaurants, watch musical performances by Johns Hopkins students at a social event, and attend the Delegate Dance.

JHUMUNC was Centennial freshman Lauren Stipe’s first collegiate conference. She exclaimed, “I met a lot of great new people, and my committee even had a moderated caucus for compliments at the end!”

During the closing ceremony, junior Robert Gao and senior Alex Na received the Honorable Mention Delegate award in their respective committees.

Na explained that his initiatives in the United Nations Security Council Committee, including the simulated assassination of Kim Jong Un and support of foreign aid programs, likely factored into his candidacy for the award. Despite his strong points, his confidence wavered when it came to awards.

“Since it was one of my first crisis committees, I never fully grasped the concept of sending directives,” he said. “Because of this, I started to doubt my chances of winning so it was a sweet moment hearing my name.”

Delegates left the conference with smiles, pausing to take last-minute pictures with friends and exchanging contact information.

“I wish I could do it again next weekend,” Stipe said.

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

Centennial Jazz Band’s Spectacular Eagle Time Performance

Words: Natalie Knight Griffin

Photos: Sarah Kruhm

On Wednesday, February 21, Centennial’s Jazz Band gave a superb and exciting performance in the auditorium during Eagle Time. Free tickets were distributed to students that were interested in attending.

The concert consisted of three pieces titled “Just Plain Meyer,” “Sophisticated Lady,” and “Granada Smoothie.” Solos were performed by several students, each one standing up before the crowd and playing an individual, challenging run of notes.

Soloists during the first and second pieces included: Colin Eng playing the tenor saxophone, Swadhin Nalubola on the alto saxophone, Rainer Hlibok on bass trombone, Henry Bar-O on trombone, and Sean Li on alto saxophone. Colin Homassel, playing the flugelhorn, and Jack Keane on the trombone paired up for an unaccompanied performance during the third piece.

The band played the music from their recent Berklee Jazz Festival national competition, in which the group won fourth place. The impressive placement against hundreds of schools from around the country was no surprise when listening to the passionate and immaculate performances from students. In preparation for the competition, jazz students have been attending daily before school rehearsals since the beginning of the school year.

Although this was the group’s only Eagle Time performance, they encourage students to attend their future events.


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.