“FHS Fight Week” creates fear in student community

A fight that occurred on Monday, Sept. 23, and isolated fights that followed, spurred rumors on social media that Fauquier High School is having a ‘fight week.’ According to Assistant Principal Kraig Kelican, there have been four verified fights on school grounds this week; several other fights were reported but are not yet verified. A gun threat reported by a parent was investigated and has been deemed inaccurate. Kelican discourages parents from picking up their kids from school.

“Anything we see that has merit, we’re dealing with,” Kelican said. “This is not us. Stop the rumors. It’s a sad, unfortunate thing. In the 29 years I’ve been in this building I’ve never seen anything like this.”

The hashtag FHS Fight Week and an account called FHS Fight Club is consuming social media sites. Student tweets have threatened administrators, faculty, and other students. The administrators are identifying and investigating the owner of the twitter account. Kelican believes the posts are not malicious, but are serious and will be disciplined.

“It depends what the intent was,” Kelican said. “If it continues, then there will be firm consequences.”

Athletic Trainer Bryan Grimley was threatened as a target after he broke up a fight that occurred on Sept. 24.

“I’ve heard. I think it was just people trying to be funny,” Grimley said “I think it’s a social media thing. That’s the biggest problem.”

Along with many other students, senior Claire Lindsey has heard a multitude of rumors.

“Somebody told me that if there were more than six fights, then the school would have to close, which I didn’t believe.  I heard that someone was passed out on the stairs and that someone broke their jaw; that’s horrible,” Lindsey said. “I heard that Bryan broke up a fight and he had the other kid’s blood all over his shirt, and that was true. I heard that 10 people were going to be in one big fight on Friday, which I hope doesn’t happen.”

There are rumors that today is “jump a freshman Thursday” and tomorrow is to be a “Purge Friday.”

“I’m not going to school if that’s going to happen. I thought this was a good school until now,” a freshman who wishes to remain anonymous said. “I feel bad. I feel scared to come to school. I’m afraid they’re going to take away phones because people are recording fights. It’s like the purge, but it’s a full week.”

Students involved can be disciplined with a suspension from one to 30 days. No amount of fights will result in student evacuation. Student behavior that is classified as a major school disruption may result in a 10 day suspension. This includes inappropriate posts to social media accounts.

“Other than the fact it’s sad that kids would do this, when you see posts about the zoo and then you scroll down and see a fight that happened it’s sad for you all,” Kelican said.

Senior Claire Lindsey feels scared and ashamed of how the ‘fight week’ reflects on FHS.

“A lot of people are talking about it; kids from Kettle Run and Liberty. It gives a bad image to the school,” Lindsey said. “ I feel like people are fighting each other at random, for no reason, and it’s scary. I think that this is where people are getting all of their anger out, and I think if someone was mad at me for some reason, then this would be the week they’d do something.”

The administration has to report any incident resulting in discipline to the state. There are three tiers of severity, tier three being the most severe. The amount of discipline reported could ultimately affect the reputation and status of Fauquier High School as being a “Safe School”.

In a meeting this morning, senior class sponsor Paul Reynolds and administrators asked the SCA officers, class officers, and Zoo captains to help end the rumors associated with FHS fight week.

“I think it’s ridiculous, the whole concept of this fight and why. I know we’re forced together in a student community by choice, but part of going to school is learning how to function in a society. I just don’t understand it at all,” Reynolds said. “We knew administratively years ago that this social networking would be a problem, a concern with schools. Are we going to go away with these devices? No, because that’s our society.”

Kelican has hope that leaders in Fauquier High School’s student body, can diminish talk of fight week.

“I think it’s something that with the help of student leaders, this can go away quickly. We asked the SCA officers, class officers, and Zoo captains to help us stop the rumors.” Kelican said. “It’s sad for you all. It’s miscommunication and poor decisions across the board.”

~SaraRose Martin, co editor-in-chief (with contributions from Erin Conolly, Emma Spector, and Eryka Hackett)

Twitter-sparked ‘Fauquier Fight Week’ is senseless, stupid

It’s like I always say— kids are stupid.

And lately, kids have been particularly stupid. “Fauquier Fight Week” began the week following Homecoming, and with the arrival of this so-called “Fauquier fight club,” (I believe “loose-association of certified idiots” would be a more apt name) the school atmosphere has been noticeably more tense, and understandably so. Assault is not a joke. Threats are not a joke. This whole matter is absolutely not to be laughed at. I, like many other students, originally thought the whole concept was asinine and would blow over almost immediately. “It’s just a dumb Twitter trend,” I thought. “Nothing could possibly come out of it.”

But now people are scared. People have gotten hurt. And you know what comes out of mobs of panicked, scared people? Blind chaos. Rumors get created, blown out of proportion, then passed on.  Before you tweet something, set your phone down for two seconds and think, “Is this ridiculously ignorant? Am I posting this to fan the flames of some idiotic movement that could hurt people?” A modicum of forethought would be greatly appreciated.

Allow me to set the record straight: you live in Fauquier County. Not in a warzone, not in West Side Story—rural little Fauquier County. When you make threats of violence, these matters get taken seriously and reflect poorly upon FHS. Release your frustrations via civilized discourse and debate, not through knocking someone out cold. Now that’s simply uncalled for.

Ultimately, school should be a place where people feel safe. FHS is a place of learning, not a WWE arena. Nobody deserves to feel threatened here.

~Lana Heltzel, online/associate editor

Bite into Telltale’s ‘The Walking Dead: Season Two’

Despite playing a crucial part in the landscape of modern horror, zombies have always seemed excruciatingly unfrightening and lame. What is there to fear about a herd of catatonic dead people who move at a glacial pace?

However, Telltale Games injects life into an otherwise boring genre (so to speak) with The Walking Dead, a video game adaptation of the comic book and television series. The Walking Dead: Season Two reintroduces Clementine, an intelligent and resourceful 11-year-old from the first game, but this time as the protagonist. Clementine is the soul of this game—over the course of the series, players watch her evolve from a scared girl who doesn’t know how to hold a gun to the de facto leader of a group of survivors.

The Walking Dead: Season Two features a branching storyline, a characteristic it shares with its predecessor. Every single painful decision is left to the player, effectively allowing for distinctly different stories each time you play. The game is dominated by a myriad of scenes where players choose what Clementine says and does, and then must navigate her out of tricky zombie-induced situations via quick button mashing. Moments of unassisted, player-controlled exploration, however, are few and far between (and when they do appear, the controls are rather slow and clunky), but that isn’t a dealbreaker. In fact, this makes the game easier to play for those who love a good story, but aren’t necessarily gaming experts. One has to think of The Walking Dead: Season Two as more like a playable choose-your-own-adventure novel.

The faint-of-heart should beware—this game is emotionally draining. The environment is often cold and hopeless, fitting for a world populated chiefly by reanimated corpses. While it certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the setting is eerily beautiful. Taking place in the American south, largely during winter, the game’s rustic scenery and comic-inspired art creates a chilling and unique allure.

For all its ghastly brilliance, The Walking Dead: Season Two has not achieved perfection. This installment of the game has a relatively large cast of characters, but many are so woefully underdeveloped that the player can’t form any connection with them. In the case of a character death, instead of genuine sadness, it’s more, “Oh well, they’re gone.” And there are a lot of character deaths.

Additionally, the game’s endings (of which there are five!) are all relatively disappointing and open-ended. Constant tragedy and an unrewarding conclusion don’t leave the player feeling satisfied or triumphant—just empty.

The Walking Dead: Season Two is a riveting, harrowing journey. Highly recommended for zombie enthusiasts, amateur gamers, and everyone in between, Telltale Games has created a work of art.

~Lana Heltzel, online/associate editor

ALS ice bucket challenge promotes tentative awareness

The ALS ice bucket challenge has been sweeping the nation for over a month. The idea is to dump a bucket of freezing ice water over one’s head and then nominate or challenge friends, family, or co-workers to do the same. After the new group is nominated, they have 24 hours to either complete the challenge or donate $100 to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association.

The trend started when golfer Charles Kennedy, whose cousin suffers from ALS, completed the challenge and decided the money raised should go towards fighting ALS. The challenge spread by social media before it came to former Boston College baseball star Pete Frates who was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 27 in March, 2012. Frates called out multiple celebrities, including Tom Brady, and other Boston athletes. The challenge then went viral. LeBron James, Kevin Hart, and Tom Cruise all participated and chipped in. The fad swept the nation on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Vine. But that’s exactly what it is, a fad. And that’s the problem.

Kony 2012

The video Kony 2012, produced by Invisible Children, was released in March, 2012. War criminal Joseph Kony became infamous due to his abduction of children to become sex slaves and soldiers. The video received nearly 100 million views and over one million “likes” on YouTube. But as the views began to rise, the focus started to shift from Kony to Invisible Children, especially after Invisible Children co-founder, Jason Russell, was seen naked outside his home in San Diego, California, spewing f-bombs and raging about the iPhone. By April, 2012, the movement to capture Kony had waned significantly. Invisible Children attempted to mend critics’ hearts by releasing a second video with a clearer objective, but the damage was done. The momentum that Invisible Children once had disappeared, while Kony still roams in Uganda with the Lord’s Resistance Army and tens of thousands of captured children.

Bring Back Our Girls

On April 15, 2014, a convoy of terrorists rolled into a small town in northern Nigeria and abducted nearly 300 high school girls age 15 to 18. The terrorist group, Boko Haram, opposes western education, as well as the education of women, and abducted the girls as punishment. People began to use the phrase “Bring Back Our Girls” on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Even the first lady Michelle Obama participated by posting a famous picture with the phrase written on a piece of paper. The United States sent troops to Nigeria and used surveillance planes to look for the women. But after a few short weeks, the powerful phrase fell out of use. What seemed like great activism turned to apathy. The world became indifferent and over 200 women are still missing.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The ice bucket challenge is the current trend that narcissistic social media participants are using for likes, favorites, and retweets. The majority of participants aren’t even aware of what ALS is, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The disease affects cells of the brain and spin, slowly decreasing a patient’s ability to use his or her muscles. Soon after diagnosis, the patient has trouble walking, and as the atrophy progresses, victims begin having trouble speaking or eating. The disease is not curable, and respiratory failure eventually occurs. While it lasts, the Ice Bucket Challenge is undoubtedly a great thing for ALS. It’s clean, it’s fun, and it has raised awareness significantly. The donations have grown to over 15 million. Just like previous trends, however, the participants are often slacktivists who complete their “obligations” to receive a feel-good experience about this social cause without actually making much difference. The ice bucket challenge will fade, but the serious illness that is ALS will remain.

~Gavin Cranford, co-editor-in-chief

Mental illness is no laughing matter

The suicide of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams caused an outpouring of grief and shock. The immediate reaction to William’s decision to take his own life was to ask the question, why? Robin Williams generated positive energy; he spent his life spreading joy to others. He embodied a warmth and spirit that few people possess. He was talented and successful. He had a family and financial security. So, why?

Robin Williams had been public for years about his struggle with substance abuse and bipolar disorder, a disease that affects approximately 5.7 million Americans and causes a series of severe mood changes and often depression.

Reactions to William’s death highlight the misconceptions and stigmas associated with depression, suicide, and mental health. People are afraid to talk about mental illness, yet it affects many Americans. According to the Huffington Post there were approximately 40,000 suicides in the United States in 2011, making it the 10th leading cause of death, above car accidents. Approximately 1 million people attempt suicide each year. Mental illness is a brain disease, as real as cancer, or any other deadly disease. According to government statistics from 2010, 60 percent of Americans with mental illness did not seek treatment because they couldn’t pay for it, they thought they would be fine, or they didn’t want others to find out about it.

Despite the misconceptions that still exist, there has been progression in the understanding of mental illness. Those with mental illness are no longer treated like freaks, blamed for their condition, or hidden away in institutions. There is a greater understanding of the tie between mental illness and addiction.
We will never know what was going on in the mind of Robin Williams, and we will never know exactly what made him act on the decision to end his life. If anything good will come from his death, it is the increase in mental health awareness. With the news of his death, social networking flooded with tributes and calls for greater awareness of mental illness. Typically 90,000 people a day visit the Facebook page of The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); the day after William’s death, the website had 1.1 million visitors. Direct messages, blogs, and tumblers exploded with people searching for and offering help for mental illness.

What is important is keeping this awareness alive. His suicide affected people around the world. Robin Williams spent his life spreading joy when he had none. If such a beautiful, joyous and selfless man could be so strongly affected by this illness, how many others also suffer in silence?

~SaraRose Martin, co-editor-in-chief

Marching band takes the field

Senior Kelly Shaw is the drum major of the marching band; she not only conducts the band, she leads the entire show.

“For me, it’s a whole new ball game,” Shaw said. “Last year I was the junior drum major in the back conducting. Now, I’m in the front conducting. It’s a step up. We have captains and lieutenants. For me it’s interesting to be the one in charge and have everyone look up to you.”

Shaw’s passion for music began six years ago and has led to her leadership role today.

“I first got introduced to it back in the sixth grade. My brother was doing marching band, and he told me about how fun it was,” Shaw said. “I started playing flute in the sixth grade, and I still play it to this day.”

The marching band begins practice with stretching, and then breaks up into sections based on their instruments or into basics block, where they practice the fundamentals of marching. Members warm up musically and then begin practicing for the drill, or show. Dot books lay out where each student is supposed to stand and how the show is set up.

“The most challenging part for me is having to be strict with the band,” Shaw said. “I don’t like to be angry with them, but at the same time I’m strict because I have to be. They know whenever I’m serious, they have to be.”

Junior Austin Evans is junior drum major and hopes to be the leader, next year.

“This year I’m learning the ropes of drum major so next year I can lead the band,” Evans said. “It takes a lot of talent to stay focused. Kelly can pick up places and know exactly where it is; that takes me awhile. I envy her.”

Marching band students attend band camp in West Virginia before school starts where they meet the incoming freshmen and get acclimated with the show they will be performing.

“It’s always interesting to get to know the freshmen. You never know what to expect,” Shaw said. “We say we’re a family. We all know each other and encourage each other. I love that. It’s a sport that needs everyone else to complete it.”

In 2009 the marching band won group A competition, which enabled them to be an open, or competitive, band, and they have stayed an open band ever since. The marching band has five competitions a year. The fourth competition is states, held in Virginia Beach, and the fifth is nationals held in the MET Life Stadium in New Jersey. FHS’s marching band gets invited to nationals each year. Competitions are judged on a scale of 0 to 100; this year the marching band hopes to break 90.

“You have to be invited to nationals,” Shaw said. “Last year we scored in the 80s, and we did really well, so they invited us back.”

This year the marching band is putting on a production based on Hansel and Gretal, in which Shaw plays the old lady who narrates the story. The first competition will be Sept. 27 at Herndon High School. Marching band productions involve many people in addtion to the musicians. They have a composer, the color guard, a pit crew, and people who make their props.

“The props are mostly done by parents. Band moms and dads make the world go round,” Shaw said. “They do everything. They make us meals and do our hair-things like that.”

Shaw believes the best part about being a part of the team is the friendships she’s made.

“I’ve made so many friends, and it’s made high school so much easier,” Shaw said. “I remember freshman year. I was lost, and I ended up finding a band kid who showed me where to go and took me to my class. I’m friends with everyone in band. We all know each other.”

~SaraRose Martin, co-editor-in-chief

Students deem A+ period a success

A new Advisory Plus, also known as the A+ period, was introduced this fall to serve as a study hall for students. The period allows students who have difficulty passing SOLs to attend remediation courses. All students can use the period to make up quizzes and tests or to complete course work.

Senior Tia Jackson, who is receiving remediation for the Algebra II SOL test thinks the intended purpose of A+ won’t be achieved due to the rowdy atmosphere in her advisory.

“I really wish the A+ would actually help my grades, but it’s not going to,” Jackson said. “I realized that a lot of the people I failed [the SOL] with aren’t the most motivated students to begin with. Now they’re in advisory with me and instead of being remediation, it’s just a pity party. The people who actually want to pass don’t have the opportunity to because of [distractions] caused by the kids who don’t care if they pass or fail again.”

Forty-seven percent of FHS students expect a dramatic increase in their grades and academic performance as a result of the A+ period.

“I think the A+ will help improve my grades,” sophomore J.R. Sweeney said. “Now I have time to work on my homework and actually get class work turned in on time without stressing.”

Math teacher Mary Violett teaches remediation and says that her students are determined to achieve better scores on their SOL tests.

“I think having the advisory plus every day can benefit all the students,” Violett said. “Having the remediation consistently everyday should help improve the SOL scores. The students who are remediating want to be here and seem to be very motivated.”

The A+ period gives students with after school obligations, such as jobs and sports, an opportunity to reduce the amount of school work they need to complete at home.

“For some students, I think [the A+ period] is very beneficial,” senior Nathan Catchings said. “For athletes, we’re all too tired to go home and do homework. After long practices you just want to go home, shower, and sleep, so it gives us an opportunity to lessen the workload.”

Along with giving students extra time on assignments, the A+ period offers what some consider a much needed break in their hectic school days.

“I like having homework in the middle of the day because it gives me a break in between classes,” Catchings said. “I don’t dread the entire day as much as I used to before the new A+ schedule.”

Although 32 percent of students consider A+ a waste of time, Principal Clarence Burton disagrees.

“[A+] gives us flexibility,” Burton said. “It’s only a half hour and you can’t get everything done, but you can get a lot done. Having the opportunity to go see teachers on a one-on-one basis [is an advantage for students]. [The A+ period] is only limited by what we make it.”

Band teacher Andrew Paul uses the period to give the steel pan club some rehearsal time each Tuesday.

“Mr.Paul has marching band practice right after school, so A+ is the only time we can practice for steel pan,” junior John Snyder said. “It would be much more difficult to try to play the instrument well if we didn’t have time to work on the fundamentals together during A+.”

Band students can also go to the band room for individual practice during the A+ period.

“Practicing in [the band room] is really helpful because I can work on pieces for auditions or parts I need extra practice on,” Snyder said. “Being able to practice individually helps me hear my own sound better so I can tune with the entire ensemble better and create a more rounded sound.”

~Eryka Hackett, Advertising Manager