Congratulations Class of 2020: A Look Into the Online Ceremony

unnamedBy Jenna Kreh

Co-Features Editor

Senior year for the class of 2020 was not what anyone expected. These students left their school in March for a temporary “break” to keep students and teachers safe from COVID-19, which then turned into online schooling for the rest of the year. It is heartbreaking that our seniors did not get to finish out their high school experience the way they intended, and many are very disappointed. However, the Howard County Public School System has hundreds of amazing teachers that were not going to give up on the class of 2020. Teachers, students, and parents worked together to pull off a spectacular online graduation ceremony for the seniors this past Monday, June 8, at 3:00 PM.

The ceremony aired live on YouTube and could be viewed by each senior and their family in their own home. The commencement began with Hammond’s own Wind Ensemble playing various tunes, including the famous “Pomp and Circumstance. Hammond’s choir then took the screen to sing the National Anthem. Senior Kayla Hendershot remarked how incredible it was to see the band and choir come together online. Each talented student recorded their own piece of the music in their own home, keeping time with a sample in their headphones. Each video was then pieced together to show everyone on one screen at the same time. 

After the choir, senior Jaden Freshwater welcomed everyone to the ceremony with a charming and humorous speech. Next, viewers watched Seniors Juanita Mackey and Abdulmalik Shuaib introduce a few special guests. After that, it was back to another impressive performance of “Deep River” by Hammond’s Senior Choir and Chamber Singers. This performance was followed by two more Senior student speakers, Esmerelda Puga and Ananda Annan, and then two more performances: “When You Are Smiling,” by a Hammond Jazz Combo with Carlos O’Ryan singing, and “The Greatest Love of All,” sung by Torera Aloyinlapa and accompanied on the piano by Sarah England.

Calvin Ball, the County Executive of Howard County, then made a few commencement remarks, followed by Hammond Principal John DiPaula, with a presentation of the class of 2020. Howard County’s Superintendent, Micheal J. Martirano, gave a speech including a recognition of the graduates, and finally it was time for the presentation of the diplomas by Vicky Cutroneo, the Vice Chair of the Board of Education. Each student’s name was read while either a picture or video sent in by each of them was displayed on screen. Some students took quite an interesting take on their videos: one student even edited himself to look as though he was flying with a bunch of balloons! After each senior had their moment to shine, Senior David Aodu led the class of 2020 in the turning of the tassels. Each senior was asked to stand in their own home, and lift their tassel from the right side of their hat to the left. 

Finally, the Hammond Wind Ensemble played “Pomp and Circumstance” one last time, finishing off the ceremony. It was a bit sad to see Hammond’s seniors have to leave this way, but they are extremely grateful to have had such a fantastic staff to support them during this time. Senior Jordan Kreh even remarked that, while she would have liked a real graduation, it was nice to be able to watch from her own home. Students can also send the ceremony to friends and family, as the link will remain active. If you would like to join in on congratulating our Hammond seniors, here is the link to their commencement ceremony: A huge thank you goes out to Hammond’s amazing teachers, parents, and especially seniors. Congratulations, class of 2020! You did it!

Changes in Class Rank Coming for Class of 2021

By: Julia Moyer

News Co-Editor

Starting in the 2020-2021 school year, class rank will no longer be calculated and published according to Howard County Public School System’s policy 8020. This makes the Class of 2021 the first graduating class without rank on their transcripts. On behalf of HCPSS, Kami Wagner, Instructional Facilitator for School Counseling, said, “In talking with students across the county, there were clear connections between class rank and student stress levels.” she added that “while students also articulated that class rank can be a motivator, students were more in support of removal rather than support for continuing to rank.”

Changes in Class Rank

Class rank can become a label for some students. Image Source: The Hawkeye

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Last Week of School Info Update

By: Marissa Yelenik

Co-News Editor


Image Source: Houston County Board of Education

School cancellations due to the spread of Coronavirus, and Howard County’s shift to online schooling have heavily affected many school plans including the last day of school, everyday learning, and the grading system itself. As the end of the school year approaches, more and more questions have been answered, allowing students to prepare themselves as best they can.

On May 27, Maryland’s Board of Education approved Howard County’s request for a waiver of five school days. This will make the last day of school for the 2019-2020 school year June 23. The last three days of school, which will take place on June 19, 22, and 23, will be half days. Adjusted online schedules will be sent out to students for these dates. Despite any changes in this school year, there have not yet been any adaptations in dates for the 2020-2021 school year, making the first day of school August 25. 

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Working Around the Coronavirus

Leah Russell

Social Media Coordinator


Coronavirus has impacted so many people around the world and right here in the Hammond community. Many students did not expect that when they packed their backpacks up on March 13th, that the school year would be over. But this impact on Hammond students goes past their studies. With many businesses still closed due to social distancing measures, many students are concerned about their current or summer jobs.

Many businesses, like Merriweather Post Pavilion and the Columbia Association pools have pushed back their openings, or decided not to re-open at all. The Hammond students planning to work at those places may have to find a new job, or choose not to work until places begin to open. Camryn Johnson expresses her struggles with working because of Coronavirus, “I’m not working right now and I was planning on finding a job in March right after we got let out for the two week break at first. Soon after though, all the businesses closed so I could not find a job.” With so many businesses closed, it is already hard for students to keep their job, let alone find a new one.

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“No Justice, No Peace”: Protests Sparked by the Death of George Floyd Lead to Positive Changes, Police Continue to Incite Violence

QAN5BCMZJRGPLMCF2YYZTMXNQEProtests following the death of George Floyd continue in Baltimore City.

Image Source: The Baltimore Sun 

By Uma Ribeiro

In-Depth Editor

On May 25th, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered by a White police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As he pleaded for his life and expressed he could not breathe, the police officer continued to press his knee into Floyd’s neck while three other officers watched him die and did nothing. The resulting uproar and nationwide protests sparked by Floyd’s death have been necessary for a long time. Protesters are demanding an end to police brutality, calling for the rightful defunding of police departments, and are fighting against systemic racism. The protests are not solely about the death of Floyd, but what his death represents: the thousands of Black lives lost to police violence, White supremacy, and systemic racism in America.

The fact is, police presence within the United States has not been positive. Law enforcement incite violence and take lives, and continue to do so every day. In a time when we are not even supposed to be in contact with one another due to Coronavirus, racism is still running rampant, and the death and maltreatment of Black people across the world did not cease when COVID-19 surfaced. 

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Hairspray Live: A Swingin’ Good Time

By Chinyere Godfrey

Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Hairspray live is a musical that takes place in Baltimore, in the year 1962. It is about a plus-sized girl, the perfect boy, an ambitious mean girl and an African American boy who struggle together to discover themselves.

120720Source: TheaterMania

Tracy decides to fulfill her long lasting dream: to dance on “The Corny Collins Show,” a local TV program. Though all odds are against her, she qualifies for the role in the show and becomes a celebrity overnight. She meets a colorful array of new characters which includes: perfect boy, Link, ambitious Amber, African American boy, Smooth Seaweed, and last but not least, Motormouth Maybelle, who change her life forever. The conflict is centered around Tracy’s idea to integrate the all-white Corny Collins Show.

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“Never Have I Ever”: Not Your Average Coming-of-Age Story

By: Anna Tache

Editorials Editor

If you’ve been as bored as I have during this quarantine and you have a Netflix account, you have most likely stumbled across the new teen comedy-drama created by Mindy Kaling entitled “Never Have I Ever.” The show follows 15-year-old Devi Vishwakumar, a first-generation Indian American, while she deals with school, her love life, and friendships, all while trying to navigate the traumatic death of her father.


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Are YOU Radio Rebel?

By: Sydney Phillips

Co-A&E Editor

With the talk of Debby Ryan and some of her former roles recently, I figured we should bring back one of her most popular Disney Channel original movies: Radio Rebel. In addition to Ryan, this movie stars Adam DiMarco, Merritt Patterson, and Serena Parmar. Taking place in a high school, this movie provides something for everyone as a drama, family and teen movie.

Debby Ryan Radio Rebel Memes - StayHipp unnamed

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King Kong Movie Review

By Chris Parris

Staff Writer


Image Source: Warner Brothers Pictures

In the early 1930s, RKO Pictures was hit hard by the Great Depression and was struggling financially. At the same time, filmmaker and adventurer Merian C. Cooper was shopping around his idea for a movie about a gigantic ape fighting a komodo dragon. Cooper soon found himself getting employed at RKO. While working on a live-action adaptation of The Most Dangerous Game, Cooper came across test footage of a movie about dinosaurs titled Creation, a project headed by stop-motion animator Willis O’Brien. Recognizing stop motion as the best possible way to bring his gorilla epic to life, Cooper convinced RKO to greenlight his movie. During production, the movie was known by many names. Examples include The Beast and The Eighth Wonder. By the end of production, the movie was called King Kong. This movie would go on to change the art of cinema.

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