Les Mis: Epic story brings tears

I have been a sucker for musicals since my family took me to New York at age five, and I saw my first Broadway performance of Beauty and the Beast. So, when I heard that Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Les Miserables, was being made into a movie, I knew that I had to see it. Better known as Les Miz, the film was mesmerizing.
Taking place in France about 25 years after the French Revolution, Les Miserables is a tale about political injustice, redemption, unrequited love, and lost dreams. The story centers on Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a downtrodden man, who is paroled after serving a 19-year prison sentence for stealing a loaf of  bread. The film chronicles his trials and triumphs as he works toward redemption. Along the way, he encounters characters such as Javert (Russell Crowe) the relentless police inspector, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) an unwed mother, and the Thenardiers, played by Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen. Needless to say, director Tom Hooper pulled together an A-List cast. Anne Hathaway shocked me with her amazing vulnerability, and the raunchy comedian, Sasha Baron Cohen, has redeemed himself.
The film’s soundtrack is sure to please. The classics, “I Dreamed a Dream” and “On My Own,” are sure to provide chills to listeners. These songs have been stripped down of the usual theatrics, and the lyrics truly resonate, so that the audience can fully empathize with the characters. You’re definitely going to want to bring tissues. There are also campy tunes, such as “Master of the House,” which was stuck in my head for days. This song provided some much needed comic relief.
Another thing that I enjoyed was the spectacular costumes and make-up artistry. I felt like I was sitting in the middle of the students’ revolution. Because the film covers a large span of time, all of the characters had to age realistically; Hugh Jackman is virtually unrecognizable at times. I would not be surprised if there is an Oscar nomination in the costume designers’ future.
Les Miserables is a truly epic production. It was heart-wrenching, touching, uplifting, and an all-around emotional roller coaster. Thematically, the film offers a powerful portrayal of the poor and the wretched during a pivotal point in French history.  I give Les Miz four stars, and rate it as quite possibly the best movie of 2012.
~Jordyn Elliott, associate editor

Couples support PDA; Teachers, lookers digress

DSC_1524For many, there are lots of lovely attributes to having a high school sweetheart. Nevertheless these special moments are sometimes seen as inappropriate by the faculty, staff, and even some students.
“It’s definitely a class change occurrence,” math teacher Paul Reynolds said. “Some of them even act offended when I ask them to stop. I try to use my judgment. A kiss is fine, but if they elongate, I intervene. I stand very close to them and watch; I like to embarrass them.”
Public displays of affection do not easily fall under the radar with teachers who stand outside their classes during the class changes. Teachers try to make sure that there is no over-the-top displays in the hallway.
“I personally feel very awkward anytime I see children involved in PDA,” Reynolds said. “Maybe it’s because I still see you guys as 10-year-olds.”
The school handbook states that “excessive displays of affection and/or sexual behavior” is prohibited, but what is excessive is open to interpretation.  Some teachers have a much stricter approach to PDA.
“No kissing, no groping; I think a friendly hug is alright,” Math teacher Rosanne Lantz said. “There is a time and a place for that sort of thing, and this is neither the time nor the place.”
Affection in the hallways is not the only issue; risque and suggestive dancing at homecoming or prom can quickly earn a time-out for some couples.
“There were a couple people at homecoming that we had to speak to,” marketing teacher Diana Story said. “There were some girls standing on their heads, basically, with their butts in the air, and that’s not appropriate.”
Story agrees with Lantz that school is not the place or time for PDA. She has established certain criteria for students who wish to participate in such displays.
“My rule is three feet or three days,” Story said.
Many couples can attest to getting reprimanded for being too close.
“We used to kiss a few times in between classes, but we got in trouble by Mrs. Lantz,” said junior Sarah Delaney about her boyfriend, senior Andrew Warzinski. “So now we just kiss outside and not in the hallway.”
Students are known to avoid teachers by finding “secret” spots to mingle, like stairwells and rarely traveled hallways.
“I’m mean school is, like, one of the only places we get to see each other so we go places teachers don’t find out…we don’t want teachers to find out,” junior Sofie Kasteroff said.
However, not all students feel their PDA should be an issue.
“We hold hands or put our arms around each other,” senior Samantha Cooper said about her boyfriend, Louis Heisler. “But we don’t do anything out in public to where it’s not appropriate.”
Most couples feel that spending a small amount of time reminding a significant other how much they care is an acceptable form of PDA.
“It’s okay to a certain extent,” senior Colin Diehl said. “Like, a kiss or a hug goodbye is fine.”
However, witnesses to PDA can be offended and feel uncomfortable around a couple’s passionate encounters.
“Kissing is fine, but I don’t’ want to see making out,” freshman Juliana Magalhaes said. “Save that for your bedroom, no one needs to see that.”
~Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director

‘Earnest’ expected to please audiences

photo by sophie byvik
Algernon (junior Daneel Patel) and Jack Worthing (senior Thomas Hooker) discuss the virtues and vices of courtship and marriage as Jack reveals his plan to propose to the lovely Gwendolen Fairfax.
The winter production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest opens tonight at 7 p.m. Director Melanie Ankney has reveled in the experience of learning with the actors and producing a play to be proud of.
“The rehearsals have been wonderful,” Ankney said. “It’s nice to start a product and finish it. I love working one-on-one with the actors. It’s been fun getting to know a group of students I didn’t know at the beginning of the year.”
The Importance of Being Earnest follows bachelor John Worthing’s, as he attempts to capture the heart of young Gwendolen Fairfax, who will only wed a man named Earnest. Worthing’s best friend and Fairfax’s cousin, Algernon Moncrieff, refuses to give him consent to marry her unless he explains a peculiar inscription engraved on his cigarette case, forcing Jack to reveal his mysterious double-life. The play is traditionally set in England in the late 1800s. However, Ankney has adapted the production to fit her own style.
“It’s going to take place in early 60s London, and the script lends itself easily to that,” Ankney said. “We only changed a couple of words in the script. The play is so much about surfaces, and I think dealing with kind of a plastic -mod- 60s kind of feel supports that. I also feel that it makes it a little more accessible.”
The Importance of Being Earnest presents a new opportunity for the cast. Many of the actors will be performing speaking roles for the first time, and others are new to the stage entirely. Sophomore Olivia Fresa will play Cecilly Cardow, her first leading role.
“It’s an awesome feeling to be cast,” Fresa said. “My character is kind of naïve and a little bit innocent, and I can pull it off because she’s kind of like me. She thinks she’s been engaged to Algernon for months when it was just misunderstanding. She’s kind of ditsy and funny.
Sophomore Annalise Sears was overwhelmed when she found out she had been cast.
“I ran down my driveway screaming,” Sears said. “It just felt amazing. I was honored and very excited. My character is an old lady, so to get into character I think of old lady things, like crochet and cats.”
Junior Daneel Patel, who plays Algernon Moncrieff, landed his first lead role and the role he aspired to since the beginning of the audition process.
“When I got my role I literally started dancing,” Patel said. Algernon is a giant flirt. A good thing about Algernon is that a lot of him is me already, so although I do get to act, I also get to show a little of myself onstage.”   The cast has been rehearsing several days a week since late October, working to overcome the obstacles that come with putting together a production.
“The biggest challenges I’ve faced have been scheduling conflicts, whether it’s scheduling the auditorium, scheduling rehearsal time, or coordinating with Shakespeare Troupe and the One Acts,” Ankney said. “When students have so many opportunities, you don’t want to make them choose just one thing, so that’s been a challenge for me.”
Senior Thomas Hooker, who plays John Worthing, finds challenges both in adapting to his character and mastering the script.
“I have to learn the dialect, and that’s definitely a pain in the butt,” Hooker said. “Also, there are a lot of lines to memorize, but I guess that comes with any play. I just look at the lines over and over again until they stick.”
The Importance of Being Earnest is Ankney’s first solo production with FHS, taking over the mantle of director from 11-year theater veteran Kevin Mettinger. Mettinger turned over his final spring musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, to Ankney mid-production.
“I think my approach to directing is very different than Mr. Mettinger’s was,” Ankney said. “My education was in performance, as opposed to Kevin’s, which was in direction itself. He had a lot of insights as a director that I’m still learning about, but as a performer I feel like I can probably relate to and develop the acting in a different way. I think my vision in theater is not as focused on spectacle as Mr. Mettinger’s, and some people will like that and some people won’t. The set will be interesting, but it’s not going to fill in every detail for you.”
As opening night approaches, nerves build among the cast.
“I’m nervous about having enough time to do what we need to do, about being ready,” Ankney said. “But 80 percent of the director’s job is in casting, and I feel like this is the right cast and that, no matter what, it’s going to be a great show.”

Performances will be held January 11, 12, 18, and 19 at 7 p.m., and January 13 and 20 at 2 p.m.


Spirited students show sports support

If FHS was a body, the Zoo would be its heart. Made up of students with school spirit, the Zoo sports their nicknamed shirts and gathers on Friday nights to support the Falcons.
The Zoo began when a group of students in 1985-1986 enjoyed being a part of the energy at games. Business teacher Diana Story was part of the original zoo when she attended FHS.
“We were a big group of students who caused a scene,” Story said. “We definitely were not liked in the district. We yelled at the refs, we yelled mean stuff at the other teams. We would get right to the line, but never crossed it.”
Back when there was only one school in the county, the biggest rivals were Stafford and Stonewall Jackson High Schools. The group enjoyed the game and gathering with friends who all had similar opinions on school spirit.
“It’s a different time and age,” Story said. “They were much more tolerant [of our behavior] then. The best part was when they announced the other team, and we would ‘read newspapers’ or turn our backs.”
The Zoo Part II was started back up by the class of 2006 when senior Tripper Henson wanted to fill the shoes of his father, an original Zoo member. Business teacher Kathleen Evans served as a sponsor and let the group meet in her room to discuss T-shirts, school spirit, and ways to get people to turn out at the games.
“They packed my room with kids. They tried a lot of trial and error ideas at the games,” Evans said. “They didn’t used to have to stand on our side of the bleachers in one section, so it got pretty dicey. We were good, and we would win.”
Now, the Zoo Part II takes up an entire section in the stands and cheers loud enough for the whole stadium to hear. Zoo captain senior Hailey Miller was originally taken back by the idea of the cheer section because she came from Wakefield Country Day school, a private school with only 180 students at the time. She was introduced to the Zoo when former captain Erika Kondeziwala came into Charles Lewis’ history room selling Zoo shirts her freshman year.
“I told Mr. Lewis that day that I was going to be in the Zoo all four years, and I would be captain,” Miller said. “Here I am, captain of the Zoo. It’s definitely one of my favorite clubs; I love it so much.”
Now ‘Hailstorm’ balances her own basketball schedule with the schedule of the boys games to get the crowd going as much as she can. As a player on the court, junior Leif Heltzel enjoys having the Zoo present and loud at games.
“They make it hard for the other team to focus,” Heltzel said. “It makes our team play better; it gives us motivation.”
~Sarah Thornton, managing editor

Spanish teacher advocates studies abroad after trip to South America

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One of the best parts about new teachers is finding out all the interesting facts and quirks about them: where are they from, what have they done, what would they do if they weren’t teaching, and what do they bring to the classroom besides just the usual curriculum? As far as interesting experiences go, students should look no farther than new Spanish teacher Dani Bush.
“My senior year [of college], I decided that I wanted to teach Spanish,” Bush said. “It’s my background. When I studied abroad, I fell in love with the culture and language, and I wanted to share that with students.”
Bush, a native of New Jersey, was a junior at Milligan College in Tennessee when she spent five months studying abroad in Costa Rica.
“I would do it again is a second,” Bush said. “It was a little hard at first. I didn’t speak the language in the beginning, and my host family didn’t speak English. Figuring out the bus system was hard, and the showers were electric. You could barely turn them on; if they were on just a little bit, the water was really hot, and if they were on all the way it was really cold.”
A math major with a minor in Spanish, Bush began by spending her first month in language school. During this time she walked every day to a school, where she spent four hours a day, five days a week studying Spanish. Afterwards, she began studying Latin American history and science.
“I spent two weeks in Nicaragua where I taught English at a school and two weeks in Guatemala. I also studied sea turtles at a nature conservatory,” said Bush. “That was probably my favorite part, along with the scenery and my host family. The hardest part was seeing all of the poverty. When we were in Guatemala, they wanted to open our eyes and so they took us to the city dump. There were babies and small children living there with their families and that was just really hard to see.”
Bush, who has visited 13 other countries during a month spent in Europe, returned once to Costa Rica for her host sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, she later lost touch with the family.
“All of their information was saved on my university-issued laptop,” Bush said. “Everything ended up getting deleted. I was so upset.”
After graduating from college, Bush taught Spanish for two years in Tennessee. Although she applied for jobs in several other Virginia counties, Fauquier held the most appeal for her.
“When I drove out here for the interview, it was very similar to Tennessee,” Bush said. “It was also similar to the other counties I’ve taught in, based on how nice everyone was.”
Bush spends her free time reading, playing the piano, and hiking; she has trekked in Virginia’s Shenandoah region during the summer.
“[Milligan College] was a very large outdoors college,” Bush said. “I joined hiking club, and we’d go hiking every Saturday. I just enjoy being outdoors.”
According to Bush, all students should explore their study abroad options in college.
“You definitely have to know yourself,” Bush said. “You need to think about what your interests are and think about what kinds of things are on your bucket list. Studying abroad is a great experience, though. It’s a chance to expand your knowledge of how other people live, as well as a chance to become more comfortable with yourself and boost your confidence. You get to find out who you are and do so on your own.”
~Jordyn Miller, associate editor

Former track star molds young minds

by sarah thornton
Science teacher Ian Lansdowne lectures students during an earth science class.

Ian Lansdowne does it all. He teaches earth science and special education by day, and coaches cross country and track and field by night.

“I originally started teaching just to fulfill a need,” Lansdowne said. “I eventually became accustomed to it and grew to enjoy teaching.”
Lansdowne started his running career at FHS, where he ran track. After graduating in 2001, he attended George Mason University, majoring in psychology with a minor in education, while running for the Patriots.
“I came back to FHS and coach [Quentin] Jones was still coaching, and he asked me to join him,” Lansdowne said.
According to Lansdowne, when he learned of an opportunity to teach at FHS, he knew it was a good place to teach.
“It felt like home,” Lansdowne said.
According to Lansdowne, he coaches because it’s another way to reach students and have a positive impact on them.
“By coaching, I get to have a different view of the students,” Lansdowne said. “I get to have a different relationship with them outside of the classroom.”
According to Jones, Lansdowne brings a lot of experience to the team, with his extensive high school and college running careers.
“He excelled at hurdles, sprinting, and jumping when he was an FHS athlete,” Jones said. “Then he ran at GMU, so he knows how the athletes feel; how hard it is to have everyone counting on you.”
The team had a scrimmage against Woodberry Forest on Dec. 9 where they did really well despite losing many top performing seniors who graduated last spring.
“We lost a lot of seniors and the team is really young,” Lansdowne said. “But there were a lot of impressive performances out of the younger members, and the veterans help them to prepare for what they had to do and excel at the meet.”
According to Lansdowne, a major goal for the team is to develop the younger athletes and defend the district title.
“We want to develop uprising talent,” Lansdowne said. “We want to make some noise when it comes to regionals.”
Not only does Lansdowne enjoy working with the athletes, but he also enjoys working with Jones.
“He is a fun person to be around,” Lansdowne said. “He’s always positive and upbeat and allows me to grow and develop as an assistant coach.”
Senior Sam Donahue enjoys Lansdowne’s fun, encouraging coaching style.
“He’s definitely not a scary coach; he’s really funny and makes everyone laugh,” Donahue said.
According to freshman Liam Holland, a student in Lansdowne’s earth science class, Lansdowne’s easy-going personality makes him not just a teacher, but a friend.
“He’s probably the best teacher ever,” Holland said. “He’s not strict, and he’s more like a friend than a teacher.”
Outside of teaching and coaching, Lansdowne is also an action-hero movie buff. Among his favorites are the X-Men movies, any film based on Marvel Comics, including Captain America.
“I grew up with them,” Lansdowne said. “They’ve gotten a lot cooler since I was younger.”
Lansdowne also enjoys going to the beach, and engaging in outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, and walking around D.C. to see the museums.
“I’m inside the school building all day,” Lansdowne said. “I don’t want to be in a building afterwards, that’s one of the things I enjoy about track practices.”

~Caroline Liebel, staff reporter

Swim team rises from the depths

Halfway through their season, the swim team has learned to adjust to whatever is thrown their way. From new coach Robert Blashill to a young roster, the team has seen it all. In their most recent meet, the team finished third on Dec. 21, behind Kettle Run and Millbrook.

“Starting a new job is always a challenge–learning new traditions and incorporating my own coaching style,” coach Robert Blashill said. “Our athletes have risen to the occasion.They’re cooperative, open minded about learning, and very coachable. We will definitely have some swimmers qualify for regionals, and hopefully some will qualify for states.”

According to Blashill, sophomore Jake Boulter is close to qualifying for states in the 100 fly with a time of 58.9 seconds, just shy of the 57.4 second state cut time.

During the post season swim, all team members are eligible for the district competition, but only the top five from districts advance to the regional level. Swimmers can either advance to states by being in the top five at regionals, or beating a state time. According to Blashill however, the team is still working towards their playoff goal.

“We will never be done working on everything we need to work on,” Blashill said. “Endurance is a big part of the program.”

This year, the team fields only four seniors, which, according to junior Amanda Bengston, has required some adjustment.

“We have a really young team,” Bengston said. “But we have really strong underclassmen which will help us next season.”

In addition, there are only seven boys on the team. According to junior Sam Henson, the boys team can be affected by one swimmer’s weak performance.

“We can only have one relay team,” Henson said. “So even if we win our race, we may not win overall because other teams have more relay teams.”

~Caroline Liebel, staff reporter