Photos taken by online/associate editor Abby Seitz.
Balancing sports games, practices, schoolwork, and a job can be difficult, but senior Hailey Miller manages her heavy schedule with a positive attitude.
“I try to be as organized as possible,” Miller said. “I love all the things I do, and I want to be able to fully and successfully commit myself to them.”
Miller, who works at Harris Teeter, has a boss who is flexible and works with her and her rigorous sports schedule. As a student-athlete for all four years of her high school career, Miller plays field hockey, basketball, and soccer. Currently, Miller is a key player on the basketball team.
“The scoreboard doesn’t represent how we are as a team,” Miller said. “Or the amount of hard work we put into practices and games.”
According to Miller, senior Sami Cooper inspired her to work harder and become a better player. With Cooper’s departure from the team, Miller became the only senior and has stepped up into a leadership role.
“Hailey has always been a leader,” head coach George Jolley said. “She is the most positive person on the team and continues to look for ways to lift the team.”
As winter turns to spring, Miller transitions from basketball to soccer.
“Everyone on the team inspires me,” Miller said. “Everyone works hard and really wants to be there.”
Last year, the Falcons girls soccer team had a successful season, with a record of 12-4-1. Miller is confident about the outcome of her final season.
“I can’t wait for the season to start,” Miller said. “I love playing soccer, I love the girls, and the coach is awesome. I really want to win districts this year, and I know that we can.”
For many teammates, Miller’s positive attitude and eagerness to play inspires them to be better athletes. Sophomore Megan Diehl plays all three varsity sports with Miller, and has watched her grow as an athlete.
“She gets better every day,” Diehl said. “She cares a lot about the sports, and is a really good role model. She puts in all her effort, and makes me want to try harder and not slack off.”
Although Miller is undecided about where she wants to attend college, she plans to study pediatric medicine and says that playing collegiate field hockey may be an option at a smaller school. Miller sees herself as a very competitive person, and enjoys being a strong component of the successful field hockey team that placed third in the state competition in 2012.
“It’s nice to know that at the end of the season we’ll have a good shot at states.” Miller said.
Miller has received numerous honors. Freshman year she had an honorable mention, all district. Her sophomore year she made first team, all district and region, defensive player all district, and second team all state. During her junior year, she made first team all district, second team all region, and received an honorable mention for the state competition. Her senior season, she made first team all district and region, player of the year all district, defensive player of the year all region, and second team all state.
Not only is Miller a physically strong athlete, but recovering from multiple injuries has made her mentally strong, as well.
“I’ve had a few sprained ankles, and a concussion from soccer,” Miller said. “But the worst injury was when I tore my ACL freshman year during field hockey. Tearing your ACL is a big deal, and coming back from that has made me stronger when I go out on the field or court. Mentally and emotionally, I am 110 percent.”
Miller attributes her success in sports to the drive to succeed in all aspects of her life.
“When I’m doing well in school and in my personal life,” Miller said. “I know I’m going to go out on the field or court with much more concentration and drive.”
~Caroline Liebel, staff reporter
If you hear the sounds of banjos and mandolins in the distance, or that classic, southern, bluegrass music, from our very own history teacher Liz Monseur, librarian Rebecca Isaac, and transportation secretary Patty Embrey. These echoes form the sound that is The Virginia Bluebelles, their bluegrass and folk band.
Three years ago, The Virginia Bluebelles split from a larger group called Chesham Creek, a large band with many members and many different talents. It was mostly formed to promote Donny Nuckles Jr.’s songs. They still perform sometimes with some or part of the band.
“We just wanted to do old songs that we liked and to have fun playing in small venues,” said Monseur, who plays guitar.
Isaac agreed with Monseur about the ‘fun in small venues.’
“Ms. Monseur and I liked to play more folk-type tunes that the band did not play,” Isaac said. “So we worked up a few songs on our own, and that’s how it started.”
As in most folk bands, the whole group plays, and is learning how to play, many different instruments. Isaac sings and is learning the mandolin; Monseur sings, plays acoustic guitar, some mandolin, and is learning how to play the claw hammer banjo. Finally, Embrey is the main acoustic bass player.
Their sound is inspired by artists like Emmy Lou Harris, Nanci Griffith, Gillian Welch, The Wailin’ Jennys, Patty Lovelace, and Crosby Stills, and Nash. The Bluebelles also find great inspiration in bluegrass music.
“Bluegrass music is so intriguing because it is steeped in history. Its roots go back to songs from the middle ages, brought over by immigrants,” Monseur said. “The words have changed to fit into the landscape of America, and over generations, lyrics from one song have found their way into other songs. Bluegrass is also a fusion of other genres – gospel, blues, old time, and country music. It’s great storytelling, too. Instrumentally, it is just beautiful.”
Even though they are serious about their music, they also see their gigs (and practices) as a “girls’ night out.” Isaac has fond memories of shows they’ve played at, but most of the fun results from their practices.
“It’s a time to tell stories, joke around, and eat food, – oh, and practice, too,” Isaac said. “[Ms. Monseur can imitate] the lead singer from a band we really like and it always makes us laugh.”
Although their main goal with the band is fun, Monseur explains that they all have their own personal goals.
“I am certain that we all want to improve as performers in terms of confidence and ability,” Monseur said. “Exapanding our repertoire is an ongoing goal. Are we going to quit our day jobs and go on the road? Highly unlikely!”
~Alex Holland, guest reporter
Sources’ names have been changed.
Some laugh it off. It doesn’t happen here; if it does, it’s one of those emo kids. Them. Not us. But the one in 12 teenagers who practice self-injury – who cut or burn themselves – are more than whatever stereotype we use to comfort ourselves. Self-injury has been almost romanticized, leaving victims like freshman Linda McAllister carrion for peers. McAllister, one of the 15 percent of teenagers who self-harms, began cutting her wrists over a year ago, in August, 2011.
“It’s something people will make fun of you for because they don’t understand,” McAllister said. “[When it happened to me], it was actually because of how I dressed. This guy was like, ‘Are you emo?’ and I guess the guy thought I cut myself because it goes with the stereotype of the look. I had to calmly explain to him that it was something I used to do, and it was an addiction – it’s my past.”
While under intense emotional stress at school and at home, McAllister was influenced by students who turned to self-injury to solve their problems.
“At first I didn’t understand why they did it, but I kind of felt I should try it once to make myself feel better,” McAllister said. “It does numb the emotional pain. It gets your mind off everything. [But] afterwards, I felt like crap. I hated myself, and that’s how it is, all the way through it. You think you’re a monster.”
Using a cheap razor, McAllister would lock herself in her bedroom or bathroom and slice her wrists. Early in her addiction, cutting only occurred after especially traumatic events, but increased to nearly once a week, forcing her to hide her wrists beneath long sleeves, bracelets, and hair bands.
“Eventually, one of my friends saw and told my guidance counselor,” McAllister said. “My parents didn’t understand, so they said it was disgusting and just kind of blamed it on me.”
After being discovered, McAllister’s parents restricted her access to sharp objects, registered her in therapy and at the local gym, and only permitted her to be with friends if an adult was present. Healing her relationship with her parents has been just as difficult as healing her addition.
“It’s gotten better with my mom,” McAllister said. “She understands that you’ve got to be in a lot of emotional pain to convert it to physical pain, but my dad’s really closed-minded.”
Recently, McAllister has found it difficult to resist the urge to cut, because it remains the emotional release she needs.
“Sometimes my mom makes snarky comments, and it hurts,” McAllister said. “She’s supposed to be there for me and she’s picking out my one weakness and tearing it apart. It’s not the best thing to do, but it’s the quick release I need. I am going to try to stop soon. I don’t know when, because I’m temperamental and emotional when I’m trying to stop.”
Although guidance counselor Barry Kennedy stresses that his perspective on self-harming is not expert, he has spent years following research on the subject and observing its effects on his students.
“There’s so many reasons why young people do this,” Kennedy said. “It can be in middle school, high school, and even into the college years. It’s a way of dealing with emotional pain, with people not knowing exactly how to cope. I feel that being a young person today has never been more challenging. It’s a much more complicated life you have than when I was growing up. Students are exposed to so many different things through social media and peer pressure.”
A common belief is that when teenagers cut themselves, they’re yearning for drama or attention. Sophomore Emma Elizabeth Grey refutes this motive; her emotional journey was much more complex.
“We don’t do it for attention,” Grey said. “I can walk down these halls and think, oh, she would never cut, but she might have an eating disorder. It’s not always about boys; we’re not always lesbian or gay. It’s about bullies, or parents, or not feeling included, or having your own mom tell you you’re ugly.”
Grey, who is now in remission, turned to self-injury in sixth grade after intense bullying at school, slicing her wrists and right hip with razors, scissors, and nail clippers.
“I was just looking for ways to cope, and I came across it on Tumblr,” Grey said. “It hit me that maybe that could help me, and it all started. It made me feel relaxed, happy, and kind of saved.”
In seventh grade, Grey’s parents discovered her cutting, took her phone away, and offered her little sympathy, making it easy for Grey to continue. But in ninth grade, Grey’s guidance counselor discovered her habit, and again informed her mother. That spring, Grey found a path that helped her begin her journey of emotional healing.
“The second semester of last year, I got [English teacher Julia] Follendore,” Grey said. “We started off with reading Shakespeare’s poetry and Edgar Allan Poe. I fell in love with [Poe] because it was dark, and I ended up writing a story that got all my feelings out.”
Although her material is often dark and foreboding, writing short fiction and poetry has given Grey an emotional release she was unable to find before.
“Mrs. Follendore was so helpful; she didn’t say no to anything,” Grey said. “She was the only English teacher who gave me a B because other teacher’s didn’t like my dark writing. I have continued to write because writing is very helpful to me. I find myself sitting in class, just starting to write.”
When a guidance counselor is made aware of a student who self-harms (either by a friend, a teacher, or the student themselves), he or she assesses whether the problem is moderate or mild, and calls in family members, other counselors, and therapists to help the student address emotional and physical pain.
“We try to get to the bottom of it,” Kennedy said. “There may be varying degrees of it. There are some people that cut pretty severely and the others not so seriously; the fact that they are is a cry for help. I’m in my 44th year working as a counselor, and this concept of cutting has probably been one of the most distressing things I’ve seen occur.”
McAllister felt that after she was reported to her guidance counselor, the department did not offer her the help she needed.
“They tried taking me out and talking to me,” McAllister said. “It didn’t help. It kind of pissed me off. I think they should give an option to kids between talking to an in-school or out-of-school therapist, and if it gets to a certain level, tell their parents.”
Grey, who has found her light at the end of the tunnel through music and writing, believes that, despite great difficulty, an end to the cycle of cutting is possible.
“People say it gets better once you find something you like and that makes you feel happy enough that you’re not self harming,” Grey said. “It will get better. I know everybody says that, but people like me need to believe that.”
~Sophie Byvik, editor-in-chief
The gun control debate is complicated to say the least. I’m not a bleeding-heart liberal who wants to ban all guns from every aspect of American life. As much as I’d like to say that this country can consist entirely of puppies and rainbows, I know that if any progress is to be made on this issue, realism and open-mindedness are key.
Nevertheless, it’s far past time for America to take action on gun control. I’m a staunch supporter of the Constitution; the Second Amendment guarantees citizens the right to arm themselves against tyranny. The amendment, however, was written in a time where firearms were not as efficient, not as easily accessible, and certainly did not have near the capacity for mass murder as modern guns. So, like any constitutional right, the interpretation needs to change in accordance with the times.
The bill introduced by Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein covers only a small portion of what really needs to be done to prevent mass killings. The bill would ban around 120 guns, classified as “assault weapons,” which is a loose definition that doesn’t include any of the 900 exempted guns that are used for “hunting and sporting purposes” even though most of those guns could easily be used in mass murders with the right accessories. The bill would also ban high-capacity magazines that can fire 10 or more rounds.
Unlike “banning assault weapons,” banning high-capacity magazines would substantially diminish a shooter’s ability to inflict mass casualties in seconds. High-capacity magazines have been used to carry out almost every mass murder committed in the United States over the past decades, including the 2011 Tucson shooting that injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people, including a nine-year-old girl. The shooter, who does not deserve the notoriety that comes from being named, fired 31 bullets in 15 seconds. Had the man not modified his Glock 19 handgun, which has a capacity for only 15 rounds, bullets 16-31 would not have been fired so easily, and at least one life would likely have been saved. Opponents say that it is easy to change clips and takes very little time, but in the Tucson shooting, bystanders had enough time to take down the shooter as he was changing clips, and that finally ended the carnage.
A popular argument by gun control opponents is that “guns don’t kill people – people kill people.” While a gun by itself will not go on a shooting rampage, when a person with evil intentions picks it up, then it does become an inherently dangerous tool. Could a person with a hammer walk into a public place and kill 30 people before he or she was taken down? Since the right to own guns is guaranteed and will not be taken away without another constitutional amendment, America should pay very, very, very close attention to whose hands that our guns fall into. That doesn’t strictly mean more limits on the guns we are so reluctant to relinquish – what we need is enforcement of sensible limits set on gun ownership. Currently, it is possible for people with no criminal background in states like Virginia to purchase and transport guns to a state with stricter gun laws, such as New York, and sell them to people who would not pass the requirements to own a gun there. According to a 2010 investigation, Virginia is the number one supplier of illegal guns to New York. In many states, including our own, anyone – anyone – can buy any type of gun at a gun show from a private dealer without even giving his or her name. That is the loophole that allowed the Virginia Tech shooter, to buy a gun despite his known mental health issues. This country needs to close these loopholes by enacting a federal gun trafficking law, requiring every gun purchaser to pass a mental health check and a thorough background check, and amping up state and federal laws and enforcement that deal with private gun sellers. That is gun control. That is what we need.
Yes, even with effective laws and enforcement, there will still be those that slip through the cracks. As long as these weapons are available, they will find their way into the wrong hands. Still, we owe it to the people of Newtown, of Aurora, of Tucson, of Fort Hood, of Blacksburg, of Columbine and of too many others, to try and stop future tragedies, to stop another town from achieving that kind of notoriety, to save innocent children. The fascination with violence in the media will never end, and neither will violence. All the guns and bullets in the world, however, will never be worth even one human life, and no one – no one – should have to die because we are too proud to compromise.
~Fiona McCarthy, staff reporter
It’s the same thing every time I log onto Facebook; I see pictures split into quadrants. ‘Hey girls,’ the first picture reads. ‘Did you know,’ the second one says. ‘That your boobs,’ asks the third. ‘Belong inside your shirt,’ reads the last one. Hey, I feel like asking, did you know that you sound like a jerk?
This degrading trend is what is known as “slut-shaming,” when people mock or humiliate a woman because of her sexuality. This can mean the number of her sexual partners, her way of dressing, or her attitude. The shaming part can be accomplished by calling a woman a name such as “skank” or “whore,” spreading rumors about her sexual exploits, or by posting pictures like the one I just described. In short, it’s a way to fill a woman with self-doubt and keep women down as a whole. And, quite frankly, I’m sick of it.
For some reason, society accepts men who have multiple sexual partners. Men can have casual hook-ups and advertise this information to anyone who will listen, and still suffer no consequences. The same rule, however, does not apply to women. If a woman has an active sex life, people will say that she has low self-esteem or that she isn’t “serious girlfriend material.” If she talks openly about said sex life, people will call her a “ho” or say she has no class. It’s a double standard and every time someone “likes” one of these idiotic photos on the internet or calls a girl a demeaning name, they’re feeding into this mind set.
Not only is slut shaming disrespectful (and everyone is deserving of respect regardless of the number of sexual partners), but it can also be incredibly dangerous. Many times when a woman is sexually assaulted, the question is not who did this and how can they be punished, but rather what was the victim wearing and is she known for being promiscuous. We can look at pop culture and see blatant evidence of this. When basketball superstar Kobe Bryant was accused of rape in 2003, his alleged victim was bullied to the point that she finally dropped the case. Bryant’s female defense attorney dug up every sordid detail of the girl’s past in a brutal attack on her character. Bryant shed a few crocodile tears for ESPN, bought his wife a number of guilt-baubles, and was back to being the Laker’s golden boy. His victim, on the other hand, had her reputation destroyed. She was accused of everything from having sex with two other men that week, to being an “attention whore” and worse. I, for one, don’t understand how a man can be accused of rape and cop to cheating on his wife and mother of his child, while the alleged victim is treated like a criminal.
Ladies, we need to support and empower each other. We need to let people know that we won’t be bullied. We need to be free to wear whatever we want to, to feel sexually liberated, and not feel the need to apologize for it. Guys, you need to recognize women as equals and respect them, their boundaries, and beliefs.
Don’t be one of those those self-proclaimed nice guys, who turn into sore losers when you get rejected. Teachers, at homecoming and prom, squelch your first instinct to call out the girls dancing provocatively, but not the boys dancing behind them. It is 2013. We should be past these judgmental and harmful attitudes. It is time to stop treating women like inferior creatures and set an example for the next generation.
~Jordyn Elliot, guest writer
Students may have noticed security changes in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Maybe it’s that the cafeteria doors are locked during non-lunch hours, or that teachers are standing in previously unmonitored areas, or perhaps there’s an extra police officer roaming the halls.
More changes are coming as classes begin to occupy the new building, primarily in the form of technology. Over 100 brand new video surveillance cameras will be located throughout the school. The cameras will be connected to a single server that will constantly store footage and will be accessible to the school’s resource officer, Sergeant Torelli, as well as 911 dispatchers and administrators.
“Eventually I’ll have access to years of footage, all of which I’ll be able to view in my office or on my laptop,” Torelli said.
When pressed, panic buttons will automatically connect to 911 allowing for quicker response to trouble, in a new, larger school. Also, new one-way emergency exits and auto-locks on many of the school’s doors will secure what was designed to be a very open campus.
“Once the new building is completed, that will make five buildings on campus,” Torelli said. “And I can’t be everywhere at once.”
The increase in the total size of the campus remains the biggest safety concern following the adoption of the new policies. Emergency exits are still a question mark, since the new building has four stories and only three exits, all of which are on the ground floor.
“We’re still working with the engineers on that,” administrator Kraig Kelican said. “But we’ll be okay; there are three or four exits on the first floor, and there will be more when the 100/200 wing is taken down.”
The new building expands what is already a large campus, which will make security even more difficult. The best way to cover that ground would be to hire another student resource officer, but that is very expensive.
“The total cost of your average SRO is about $100,000,” Torelli said. “Multiply that by 20 schools in the county, and that’s $2 million.”
Torelli is confident that the new security system will be very effective in ensuring that the school remains a safe learning environment.
“The system is top of the line; it’s unbelievable,” Torelli said. “School is already one of the safest places you can be. Now it’s going to be even safer.”
Many students have expressed displeasure with these new policies, especially the locked doors.
“They seem to only lock the doors that inconvenience everyone,” junior Michael Oaxaca said. “It drives me crazy while trying to get to class.”
Some students argue that the safety measures are a problem and an overreaction to a tragic, but highly publicized event.
“The way to avoid being terrorized is not to act like you’ve been terrorized,” junior Brooke Cheatwood said.
However, the administration urges students to be more open about finding alternative routes around locked doors to get to class.
“The doors are old, and some don’t shut properly, so they must be secured,” Kelican said. “When the 100/200 wing is torn down, less people will need to go outside.”
~Kerian McDonald, staff reporter