‘Godzilla’: Monster returns to stomp out box office competition

If anything can be said for Godzilla, the second American interpretation of the world-famous Japanese movie monster, it’s that it packs a lot more of a punch than the trailers let on. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

            The best way to go into Godzilla is with minimal knowledge of the plot, so I’ll keep it simple. After a mysterious incident at a Tokyo power plant in 1999 claims thousands of lives, including that of the wife of American scientist Joe Brody (Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston), Brody spends the next 15 years obsessing over the cause of the incident, suspecting that it was no natural disaster.

            In his quest for answers, Brody convinces his son, Ford (Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a bomb disposer for the Navy, to accompany him back to the now-restricted plant. There, they encounter a MUTO (Mysterious Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), a new and inventive monster that escapes the plant in search of another MUTO for the purpose of mating. To prevent this, the military unleashes the only force of nature capable of defeating the MUTOs: Godzilla.

            The most noticeable aspect of director Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla is the “slow-burning” approach he takes, similar to the pacing that Steven Spielberg took while directing Jaws. Edwards holds off the monster until the halfway point of the film. When Godzilla finally does show up, he’s completely worth the wait. The computer-generated effects are unbelievable, and every minute that Godzilla dominates the screen is gratifying.

            The film’s only major issue is that up until the titular monster’s grand entrance, the MUTOs hold the spotlight. They are animals just trying to survive and reproduce, so the CGI isn’t outstanding. The human characters are actually more interesting.

            That is, with the exception of Ford, who quickly becomes the lead. Johnson delivers another performance that’s watchable, but not memorable. Despite all of the events, he emotes little reaction to any of them. Elizabeth Olsen, in contrast, delivers a believably emotional performance as Ford’s wife, Elle, but it’s Inception’s Ken Watanabe who shines as a weary Japanese scientist who brings Godzilla’s presence to light.

            The facet that allows Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla to stand apart from the rest is, surprisingly, its themes. As opposed to being a symbol of atomic devastation, Godzilla represents a force of nature that humanity must adapt to instead of try to control. The MUTOs, on the other hand, created by radiation, represent humanity’s recklessness towards the environment. It’s a subtle comparison, and that’s what makes it work. For the legendary monster’s 60th anniversary, the moviecouldn’t have been a bigger compliment, not only to its titular monster, but also to its audience.

~Ryan Perry, entertainment director

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Freshmen shoot for success

2014 Post 72 State Team-Rifle Comp.-Hardy & OravecFreshmen Sam Oravec and Sean Hardy have an interest in a unique sport-competitive shooting. They participate in the American Junior Shooting Program which is a gun safety education and marksmanship program that includes the elements of safety, education, competition, and enjoyment in the sport. These competitive shooters use a .177 caliber air rifle to practice and compete with. On May 3, both boys placed in the American Region Air Rifle state match in Charlottesville, Virginia; Oravec placed 13th and Hardy 7th.

“I was excited because it was my and also my team’s first time on that level,” Oravec said. “I had to shoot a single shot pellet rifle a distance of 10 meters into a target. I loaded, fired it and the judges score on how close to the center of the target I hit.”

Oravec also competes in track and field and the concentration he learns in shooting helps him prepare for races and deal with nerves.

“It relaxes me and makes me calm,” Oravec said. “It also helps me with other sports to improve and keep my cool.”

Hardy, who started the sport when he was 11, has been to a state competition before.

“I went to a state’s competition by myself when I was 12 and I won a $5,000 grant,” Hardy said. “My favorite part about this recent competition was the cool facility, it was soundproofed.”

Hardy is dedicated to the sport, and loves the relaxing atmosphere of it.

“With the sport, there’s absolutely no pressure, and I can just show up and shoot,” Hardy said.

Hardy’s mom, guidance office assistant Karen Cerra, believes her son is hard work has paid off.

“He worked really hard to be in the competition and he took responsibility for himself,” Cerra said.” “He put a lot of time and effort into it and for him to qualify, and the team as well. It’s nice to see his improvement from week to week as he goes into practice. It’s absolutely a good thing to be involved in; it’s a great team and a great group of people.”

Coach Claude Davenport, who has been involved with Post 72 for four years, has a competitive shooting history with his 40 year military and law enforcement background. Davenport enjoys educating shooters required by the sport, such as concentration, focus, and shooting skills.

“To keep motivation up, we focus on reinforcing personal positive accomplishments and providing constructive support on any aspects that may need improvement,” Davenport said. “We tell the shooters they are really in competition with himself/herself when they start out, allowing them to put their attention and focus on getting a little better each time they shoot.”

As for the future in the sport for the two boys, Davenport believes that it could be extremely bright.

“Their accomplishments this year in practice, regional, and state matches have brought notice to themselves and the team by some national-level coaches.  I can see both Sam and Sean being part of a college rifle team, maybe even with partial scholarship,” Davenport said.  “What I would really like to see, is both of them continuing to learn and fine tune their skills throughout their school and college experience, but then return as coaches to pass on their knowledge and skill sets to the next generation of shooters.”

Oravec and Hardy are dedicated to practicing on their own, mentoring the newer shooters, and developing personal confidence.

“As coaches, we have seen the dedication of both Sean and Sam develop along very parallel paths.  Both were very quick starters, eager to learn.  They continue to be very open to coaching,” Davenport said. “Both of them are excellent examples of what the American Legion Junior Shooting Sports Program is all about.”

~erin conolly, staff reporter

Hayden-Pless overcomes, advocates for change

pic-5Greta Hayden-Pless has had more things to focus on than college applications and acceptance letters during her senior year. For Hayden-Pless, a bleeding disorder, called von Willebrand Disorder (VWD) has put the everyday challenges that plague others into perspective. The blood of people with VWD does not clot properly, and symptoms include nose bleeds and gastro-intestinal bleeding.

Following her diagnosis at age 16, Hayden-Pless joined the Hemophilia Association of the Capital Area and the Virginia Hemophilia Foundation where she found support.

“When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know what to think. I had never heard of this disease and I didn’t know what to expect,” Hayden-Pless said. “It was from the support of the bleeding disorder community that I have changed when it comes to my disorder.”

Hayden-Pless has learned the importance of advocacy on both the state and federal levels and of educating people about bleeding disorders.

“Through bleeding support groups and programs, I have been able to attend advocacy training, which I put to use to lobby for bleeding disorders and speak up for legislation that can help with the availability of medications,” Hayden-Pless said. “The bleeding community has educated me about various aspects of bleeding disorders through educational dinners, seminars, and teen retreats.”

At a recent retreat Hayden-Pless was a teen leader, and participated in the making and filming of a public service announcement. Another girl held a “girls’ discussion” with the younger girls to help them transition to adulthood.

“These retreats have had such a positive influence in my life. I have applied to be a volunteer this summer at Camp Holiday Trails in Charlottesville, Virginia, a camp for kids with special medical conditions. It provides an atmosphere that I love,” Hayden-Pless said. “I met a lot of teenagers there that have the same condition as me and I want to help others with their bleeding disorders just like my community helped me.”

Hayden-Pless’ interest in lobbying started when she attended Virginia Hemophilia Foundation Richmond Day, where families gather to share their stories with their representatives. Her advocacy activities include going to Capitol Hill to talk with congressmen and senators, and she presented an award to a congressman as a person with lifelong VWD and also presented a speech at a congressional reception. That day she developed bleeds in both of her feet and was not able to walk due to the pain.

“I had school the next day and instead of miss that day, I came to school in a wheelchair; it was one of the most difficult days I have ever experienced,” Hayden-Pless said. “While the school may say its wheelchair accessible, it’s really not. My disease has caused me to miss a lot of school and as a result I have had to teach myself a number of different subjects. I missed out on a lot, but because of it all, I now know how to adapt to different situations.”

Senior Mya Payne, one of Hayden-Pless’ good friends, describes her as positive and inspiring through her persistence with challenges, including symptoms like painful swelling in the joints.

“She is strong because she never lets anything get to her. Her outlook on life is probably one of the best,” Payne said. “She has her goals set, and she normally succeeds in getting them. She’s ambitious and actually very silly; she has a genuinely sweet personality.”

Hayden-Pless’ goals include attending Juniata College in Pennsylvania in the fall and helping those who have medical problems.

“I want to be there for them,” Hayden-Pless said. “I’m going to start a group for those, not only with bleeding disorders, but medical conditions- or anyone who just needs a little support.”

She will be able to create her own major through a program called A Point of Emphasis; she can focus on what she wants to learn and add to it as it grows. She plans to major in marine biology and study sharks, an interest she has had since she was six.

“I want to be a marine biologist because I love the ocean. I want to find things that no one ever expected to find,” Hayden-Pless said. “Sharks have always intrigued me and I have always known that I want to pursue science in my future, so it is only natural that my favorite subjects in school are anything to do with science.”

Family has been a big support for Hayden-Pless and helps her maintain her positivity.

“No one in my family has ever let their medical conditions get in the way of their lives or stop them from doing anything, I have learned from their examples,” Hayden-Pless said. “Watching my mom fight through pain some days and still work to support her family has placed a drive in me; to be more than a disease, to do what I have to and to do what I love no matter what.”

~erin conolly, staff reporter

Abeel involved in extra-curriculars

Hannah lightenedSenior Hannah Abeel has been a member of the FHS/Liberty Destination Imagination team since sixth grade. One of approximately 1,500 teams from around the world, Abeel traveled with her team for the third and last time to the Global Finals competition held May 21-24 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The team placed 10th out of the 73 teams that competed in the Pandemonium improvisational category, which involved researching 10 historical professions. At each level of competition, contestants were tasked with creating an improvisational 5 minute skit to act out for the judges.

“It’s a lot of fun to solve the problems they give you,” Abeel said. “At competition it’s pretty cool to see how other kids solve the same problem that you have.”

Abeel will attend James Madison University in the fall and wants to major in journalism.

“I want to use the skills I’ve learned in theater, but not necessarily for theater,” Abeel said. “So I want to major in broadcast journalism and maybe be a TV news anchor or something like that.”

Abeel starred in the school production Once Upon A Mattress as Princess Winnifred despite having taken a two year break from theater.

“I didn’t want to do sports in the spring this year,” Abeel said. “I had been to a few productions over the past year and it made me miss theater, so I decided to try out for the musical.”
Abeel impressed director Emmett Bales.

“It was obvious that she had studied for the part extensively beforehand,” Bales said. “If she had studied that hard before she even got the part, not knowing that she would get the part, then I couldn’t wait to see how she did with the part. Even with missing a week for the Bahamas, she was so far ahead that she barely missed a step.”

Bales also credited her singing ability as a reason for selecting her for the lead.

“She sings really loud and obnoxiously, but with grace,” Bales said. “Not many people can pull that off.”

Abeel also played left forward on the field hockey team in the fall.

“It’s unlike any sport I’ve ever done,” Abeel said. “Playing the games are a lot of fun and I really loved all of the girls on the team.”

Beating Western Albemarle in overtime 1-0 her junior year in the regional tournament ranks as one of Abeel’s favorite memories.

“We weren’t supposed to beat them,” Abeel said. “We went in as the underdogs and won. Beating them and going to states was one of the best feelings ever.”

Abeel’s favorite class was photography with Tom Falkowski.

“We got to learn how to develop photos,” Abeel said. “I also learned how to use a camera in different ways. I like taking pictures of interesting things. I especially like taking action shots, so I take pictures at a lot of sports games.”

Abeel joined the yearbook staff to help out with the delays caused by snow, despite only being in photojournalism 1.

“I really enjoyed being on staff,” Abeel said. “It was really hard though; we were so far behind and really had to get stuff done.”

~Brady Burr, staff reporter

High school seen from a different perspective

I felt a bit like Lindsay Lohan’s character from Mean Girls on my first day at FHS. I came to Fauquier my junior year, three weeks after moving to Warrenton from the exotic land of San Francisco. I had been homeschooled all my life; walking into hallways filled with over 1,200 kids with backpacks, hustling to class, was rather intimidating. I also am legally blind. While I can see, my vision is very limited, and as I walked into school I got lost somewhere in the bowels of the annex until somebody told me how to get to my homeroom.
Homeschooling had worked well for me. There was no chalkboard I had to see because my classes were online. It didn’t matter that I took twice as long to read as other people because deadlines were more flexible. I also have a severe case of ADD that makes getting schoolwork done a challenge. I have spent entire days trying to complete one assignment and barely getting anything done because my mind refuses to tune in on the task. Though it was frustrating, I was able to work with it because, again, deadlines were more flexible.
When I moved to Warrenton, however, I wanted to get plugged in with a new community right away, so I decided to go to FHS. The school made a lot of accommodations for me, and I harbor much gratitude to the staff of FCPS for making everything work for me. One way the school helped me was to get me an iPad. This has allowed me to take pictures of the board and zoom in the photo to see what the teacher is writing. It allows me to get powerpoints, worksheets, books, and textbooks on my device where I can make the text in a font size I can see. I do most of my homework on my iPad and turn it in through Dropbox. Without this technology, school would be 10 times more difficult. Thanks Apple.
The public school system also provides amazing services because of my disability. The vision specialist for the county, Bethany Martin, has helped me be successful with a visual impairment in other aspects of my life, like learning how to cross streets, though I can’t see the walk sign, how to navigate stores and office buildings, and how to overcome many other obstacles that arise. She also put me in touch with a girl from Kettle Run who has the same eye condition as I do. This was the first time I had ever met someone my age with vision like mine. I am proud that the school system provides these kinds of services.
There were still some complications. In the cafeteria I can’t see where anybody is, so once I get my food, I have no idea where to sit. But eventually I found a good place. Many people say hi to me in the hallway, and I have no idea who they are because I can’t see their face. I just say hi back because it takes too much time to ask who it is every time. Occasionally I have made embarrassing mistakes such as sitting in someone else’s seat in class without realizing it, running into people, or calling people another name because I think they are somebody else. I used to get embarrassed, but I’ve learned that nobody really cares. I can just laugh it off now.
My ADD has not been as great an issue as I expected. The school gives me extended time to work on homework, projects, and tests because of my vision. I have taken advantage of this extra time because of my ADD, even more than because of my vision. I’ve also found that learning in a classroom is a more productive learning environment than doing schoolwork in my bedroom by myself. In the classroom there are people to keep me engaged, whereas in my bedroom there is nothing to stop my mind from wandering.
My favorite experience at FHS has been writing for The Falconer. Though it was work, it got me involved in a fun community right away that I certainly wouldn’t have experienced otherwise, especially because I can’t play sports. During third block every day, I met all kinds of cool people when I went on interviews, and some of my favorite memories at FHS were staying hours after school to work on the newspaper.
One of the lessons I have learned since being at FHS is not to judge people. I was disappointed at how people constantly gossiped about other people behind their backs, and I hate the labels people use for other people, such as ratchet, basic, and especially the term patio kid. Coming from the urban, hipster culture in San Francisco to suburban Virginia, I realized that I was judgmental, as well. I would judge people for reasons as foolish as their taste in music or the way they dress. There were many people that I judged at first, but when I heard about their home life or background, it completely explained why they act the way they do. I learned that the people who aren’t the popular kids are often the ones that will be the best friends. Once I accepted and enjoyed people for who they are, and I stopped caring as much about other people’s perceptions of me, I enjoyed high school a lot more.
My high school experience has been very unconventional, but overall, it was definitely a good choice to come here. I met some amazing people, learned a lot about life, and I feel much more prepared for the future. I want to thank God who organized every detail of my high school career and who got me through the hard times and the good times. I want to thank my mom who put in countless hours to teach me until I came to FHS. I want to thank my teachers for working with me and making other accommodations for me, and I want to thank the students of FHS for your friendships and support. I could not have made it without you.

~Jake Lunsford, staff reporter

 

Schedule in store for change

The leadership team, which includes Principal Tripp Burton, assistant principals, and department heads, is considering proposed changes to the schedule for next year that may result in a daily A+ period. The A+ period was devised to provide time for teachers to remediate students who need support to pass SOLs or tutoring in their classes. However, the inconsistencies of the A+ schedule has caused frustration and confusion for teachers and students.
“People like a regular schedule,” Burton said. “The top reaction I hear from students [about A+ days] is that ‘I don’t like the days being flipped all over the place; I’m confused and it bothers me.’ I think an A+ period everyday gives more flexibility for students. It can give students extra help. AP students who took a class in the fall could use the time to review in the spring.”
One plan under consideration is the Academic Enhancement Period (AEP). The period would be created by taking away five minutes from each period. Each day would have a different subject focus so that students will have more coverage in all areas, instead of just one or two.
“[The AEP] would build a consistent block into the day for students to get help or give them creative options,” English teacher Cynthia Pryor said.
Students would report to a teacher for the AEP period for attendance-taking purposes, much like advisory, and then would report to other teachers for remediation or to work on projects.
“Some people really like advisory,” Burton said. “It’s not so much about homeroom; it’s about having a group of kids to be with every day. You can still do that through A+ if we schedule that time through the day. It doesn’t matter when that is. It just matters that you get to see a group of people and form relationships.”
The purpose of the AEP is to take a preventative approach to helping students with passing their classes and standardized tests. Teachers with A+ responsibilities could help students analyze sample test questions, or students could use the period as a study hall.
“A+ days are a response to a high failure rate on SOLs,” Pryor said. “It would be nice if we could be more proactive and less reactive. Tailoring the AEP to student needs is a great way to differentiate and eliminate the problems before they occur.”
A key element in implementing a daily A+ period is the timing. There are advantages and disadvantages to scheduling the period at the end of the day. Another proposal places the period in the middle of the day, changing around lunch schedules.
Science teacher Mark Ott proposed scheduling the A+ block as a one-hour free period in the middle of the day. There would be two 30 minute lunch periods; after reporting to a class for attendance, students would have the choice of when to take a lunch break during the period.
“It would be limited to certain areas of the school if we could do this,” Ott said. “There has to be accountability to make it all work. Students would be able to figure out on their own when to go eat or not. The idea behind it is to do away with staff and students walking throughout the building not knowing where to go. The whole goal is to create a better solution to [the A+ period].
For the implementation of a one hour free block plan, teachers would need to patrol the hallways to keep order. Also, students who were sent passes for a certain class would be required to go for remediation. If a student did not report to the class, it would count as a cut. However, arranging the teachers to monitor the halls presents challenges.
“We don’t have a traditional facility,” Burton said. “To try to come up with a system of keeping the building supervised during [the free block], it takes away more teachers and more staff than would be available to help people.”
Although final decisions about the schedule have not been made, many are in favor of changing the current once-or-twice-a-week system.
“In my opinion, we need to do something [like A+] everyday,” Burton said. “We need to have something in place that allows us to help students with what they need every day.”

~Josh Henry, co-editor-chief