Pledge inspires debate

In the state of Virginia all public school students begin the school day with Pledge of Allegiance, facing the flag, hand over heart or saluting if in uniform. If a student or his parent or guardian objects, the student may sit or stand quietly.

Some teachers and students at FHS think students should stand out of respect. Others feel the pledge isn’t an accurate representation of what the country stands for.When students don’t stand for the pledge, history teacher Liz Monseur is conflicted between respecting their views and honoring the sacrifices made by veterans.

“To me, standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, not even saying but standing, is a mark of respect,” Monseur said. “It’s not for the flag so much as for the sacrifices made by all people in the history of the nation. When I talk about sacrifice, I think largely of veterans. They were called to duty; they did it regardless of how they felt.”

Senior Anthony Campos sits during the recitation of the pledge every morning. His main reason is that it feels too compulsory. He says that by sitting, he is exercising his rights of freedom of speech.

“Everyone must show some sort of evidence that they have some patriotism for the country. I really don’t like that,” Campos said. “Another thing is that if you don’t stand then you seem unpatriotic, but I don’t agree with that.”

Campos says that another reason he doesn’t stand is because of the words “under God” which were added to the pledge in 1954.

“I don’t think people should pledge to that if they don’t believe in God or if they aren’t religious,” Campos said.
Campos started not saying or standing during the pledge in protest of laws against gay marriage.

“I feel like it’s lying to me when it says ‘freedom and justice for all,’” Campos said. “I just think, ‘It is a lie; I can’t stand for this.’”

Campos says the nation is getting better and improving but that many still do not have the equal protection of rights on which America was originally founded.

“I do love this country, and the amount of rights we have in comparison to other countries is what I really love,” Campos said. “But, I feel like if it really was worth standing up and pledging, our country would have everything accomplished, or at least a lot of things fixed.”

Senior Robert Morrison acknowleges that people can’t be required to say the pledge, but it makes him angry when they don´t stand.

“To not at least stand just seems disrespectful,” Morrison said. “Thinking about all the people that have protected our rights,

I just think it’s disrespectful for everyone serving in the military, sacrificing their lives for what they believe in, like our safety.”
Although the pledge may seem outdated to some, Morrison still thinks students honor the country’s founding principles.
“It’s what the country was founded onñ it’s what they believed back then,” Morrison said. “It’s just like the constitution – obviously some of the stuff isn’t applicable anymore, and I think people take it too literally; but a lot of it has to do with paying respect to the history behind it.”

Teens seek salons for a “sun” tan

During the winter months, the glowing signs of summer begin to fade, literally, and teens turn to the warm embrace of tanning salons. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, approximately 2.3 million teens visit a tanning salon at least once a year. In the United States, 37 percent of white female teens and over 11 percent of white male teens between 13 and 19 years old have been to a tanning booth.

Teens seek tanning salons for a multitude of reasons. Seniors Laura Cornish and Angella North go to the tanning salon once or twice a year for events such as prom and homecoming. Both prefer salon results over spray tans.

“I did it for prom over a month span. It was about $30 to $50, and I went about three times a week,” Cornish said. “[The tanning bed] is more natural.”

Like Cornish, North chose to use a tanning bed instead of a spray or airbrush tan because she believes it looks more natural.
“Overall I’ve done it probably 30 times,” North said. “[I wasn’t worried about the effects because] I didn’t do it excessively. The spray tan makes you orange. In middle school I did a spray tan, and it made me look like an oompa loompa.”

The skin of teens is more susceptible to skin cancer than adult skin because adolescents’ skin cells are dividing and changing more rapidly. A 2002 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that indoor tanning devices increased the risk for squamous cell carcinoma by 2.5 times and the risk for basal cell carcinoma by 1.5 times. Because there are no set guidelines for adolescents to get skin examinations, most skin cancers in children go undiagnosed.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, tans are caused by harmful ultraviolet radiation, and teens sustain skin cell damage by visiting a tanning salon one even time. For those in high school or college, just one indoor tanning session a year boosts the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 20 percent. Each session after increases the risk almost another 2 percent, and the risk rises to 73 percent after six or more sessions. Cumulative damage caused by UV radiation may lead to premature skin aging, including wrinkles, lax skin, and brown spots, as well as skin cancer.

“How would you like to look like a leather handbag by the time you’re 30?” anatomy teacher Sinead Arndt said. “A tan is skin damage– the skin is trying to protect itself. Skin cancer is almost a guarantee from tanning. Skin will prematurely wrinkle. It can cause skin discoloration– so blotchiness and it damages the skin to the point where it loses that soft, youthful appearance.”

In 2014, the FDA issued a final order reclassifying ultraviolet tanning devices from low-risk, or class I, to moderate risk devices, (class II). This requires warning labels on the devices to alert young people of the dangers associated with their use. However, according to Arndt, there are some conditions tanning beds can help.

“Now on a positive note for tanning beds, some people with severe eczema or psoriasis on their skin can benefit from UV treatment,” Arndt said. “You’re not going to be in there until the point where you tan. You’re in there for much shorter periods of time, but the ultraviolet light can help with skin conditions.”

An airbrush tan is a spray tan applied by a train technician using a compressor gun by a trained technician or in a spray tan booth. The primary ingredient in spray tanners is DHA, or dihydroxyacetone, which is not toxic and produces no risk of skin cancers.

“Basically if you’re tanning just to tan, like for prom, you’re just damaging your skin,” Arndt said. “Spray tans are a much better way to go.”

And although no tanning is good for one’s skin, indoor ultraviolet tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those that have never used a tanning bed. Senior Hunter Hall decided to try an airbrush tan after his dermatologist recommended it. Hall has a $79 monthly membership to Palm Beach Tan in Gainesville, which gives him access to the highest level beds and all spray tanning. Hall uses a tanning bed about three times a week.

“I have spray tanned. I like bed tanning better because your results last longer and look better. [I tried spray tanning] because of the risk of skin cancer, primarily, and the risk of aging,” Hall said. “I went to the dermatologist, and they told me I needed to stop or I was going to die. I actually went for a sun spot, and they said it was nothing this time but that I need to stop because I’m going to die eventually of skin cancer. They said I should try spray tanning instead.”

Hall says that tanning salons don’t discuss the risks of tanning beds with their customers, but he is aware of them.

“There’s signs in every room. They don’t really say anything about it; you just go in knowing,” Hall said. “I do care about the consequences; it’s more of an addiction to tanning- like once you start going and getting that look, you just keep wanting it.”
With his monthly membership, Hall has access to the 10–minute maximum beds, where he can get a tan quickly.

“I probably go around three times a week to keep [my tan] steady,” Hall said. “I’ve tried stopping. In tanning beds you turn dark and you don’t peel and get a burn or sun poisoning. It’s a lot more hassle-free, other than the long term effects of skin cancer and aging.”

~sararose martin, co editor-in-chief

Prom to be held at Alwyngton Manor

For the first time in more than ten years, FHS will be hosting prom off campus. The venue is Alwyngton Manor.
Junior class officers and seniors Rooty Jackson and Kendall Scott proposed the idea of an off campus prom to the administration through a Prezi presentation. Junior class representative Nicole Hutt helped students to voice their wishes for prom.

“After some research, we figured out that there was a phenomenal decline in the amount of students going to prom, and these numbers had been dropping every year,” Hutt said. “When I asked students for their thoughts on this, they all agreed that the cafeteria setting dampened the prom experience.”

Junior class president Peter Myers worked with Jackson, Scott, and senior Jackie Crabtree to create the Prezi.
We presented our extensive research and surveys to students about whether they would be willing to pay extra to have prom off campus,” Myers said. “We gave them different options of where it could be, and after Mr. Burton toured Alwyngton Manor, it was approved. They seemed to be impressed with our efforts.”

This year’s theme at prom will be a black tie soiree. Tickets will be $50, which is pricier than previous years, but the package offers more. Prom will also be hosted earlier this year: from 7 to 11 p.m. Space is limited at this venue, so seniors will have the first opportunity to buy tickets.

“There will be appetizers and drinks, and Ciao Bella photography will be there to cover the event. Additionally, there will be a trolley provided, and when you purchase your tickets, there will be different package options for just tickets, pictures, and a trolley ride back to the school for after prom, which will be hosted in the gym as usual,” Jackson said. “It is more of a special and formal event because we have it at a nice venue as opposed to the school cafeteria.”

Hutt expects the student body will carry themselves well at prom.

“The music will be more elegant and refined, and there won’t be as much of a homecoming feel. This is being held where people have wedding receptions. It’s a big step up from the cafeteria, so we expect students to present themselves respectably,” Hutt said. “I am really excited about this, and I hope that it will be Fauquier High School’s place and that it will be the first of many years hosting prom here.”

This year’s After Prom will be an After Hours Glo Party, and will take place at FHS from 11 p.m. on April 11 and continue until 4 a.m. on April 12. There is no charge to attend After Prom; FHS juniors and seniors are welcome, regardless of whether they purchased a prom ticket. After Prom will feature a movie theater with newly released movies, a popcorn and candy bar, a money machine, a selfie station, inflatable twister, bungee basketball, a black light atmosphere, video games, and various new prizes, including King’s Dominion tickets, an Xbox One system, cash prizes, Nationals’ tickets, and new student gift baskets. Of course, the red car donated by Country Chevrolet will be won by a lucky senior. Prize winners will be announced at 3 a.m.

After years of helping her mom, Kim Steves, at After Prom, junior Megan Steves will finally get to attend. She says some people choose to attend parties instead of After Prom, but they shouldn’t.

“I am beyond excited for After Prom because it’s free, when all of the things that we are offering would be a lot of money regularly. You won’t run out of anything to do, because even after you finish the games, you can go stuff your face and watch movies,” Steves said. “You have the rest of your life to party, and not too many After Proms that you could attend. You can never be too old for a moon bounce.”

~kate larkin, staff reporter

Fifty shades of a bad movie

As soft porn, interspersed with a weak plot and mediocre acting, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, is an improvement over the book – which is not saying much. Despite the promise of risque action scenes, the audience was left checking watches for most of the 125 minute film.

E.L. James’ bestselling mommy-porn novel was adapted for screen by Kelly Marcel, and produced by Sam Taylor-Johnson. The novel was originally posted as fan fiction to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and the parallels between the two books are obvious. The male lead is transformed from vampire Edward Cullen to kinky multi-millionaire CEO control freak Christian Grey, but the female leads are remarkably similar, despite the slight age difference. Both Anastasia and Bella are very ordinary girls with long brown hair and mousy personalities; they are uncoordinated, and intelligent women who somehow manage to attract men for no apparent reason.

The first scene of the movie is littered with blatant sexual innuendos. Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) conducts an interview with powerful young CEO Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) in place of her roommate who has come down with the flu. After literally falling into his office, Ana, outfitted in what could be her grandmother’s floral blouse, is intimidated by Christian’s beautiful staff and powerful demeanor. Christian lends her a pencil; then, in a not so subtle gesture, she begins sucking the eraser. After leaving his building, Ana pauses in the pouring rain, another unsubtle clue as to her depth of infatuation.

As the movie progresses, Christian proves himself to be quite the stalker. He shows up at Ana’s workplace, rescues her from the drunken advances of one of her many admirers, and even follows her on a visit with her mother in Georgia. Ana battles her lust for Christian with actual common sense – that he a sadistic stalker. He convinces her to partake in his lifestyle choices, which eventually backfires. The movie ends on a huge cliffhanger – clearly designed to bring viewers back for the next movie development, Fifty Shades Darker, scheduled for release in 2016.

This movie raised several questions. First, how could a college student living in Washington not have a single appropriate interview outfit? Was she unable to borrow clothes from her prettier and better dressed friend? Second, why is a powerful man like Christian attracted to boring, plain Ana? One of the most infuriating qualities of Ana is her inability to say anything original. Over and over she is presented with a scenario and states the blatantly obvious.

Johnson plays the part of Ana fabulously and adds to the character portrayed in the book; she is cute and sexier with a stronger personality. Dornan, on the other hand, fails to do Christian Grey credit. His perfectly toned body and excellent hair were unable to compensate for the dull and unsatisfying delivery. His one-dimensional acting failed to show any of the “fifty shades” of the troubled, controlling dominant.

Moreover, The movie radically toned down the graphic BDSM sex scenes from the book, in an attempt to appease the suburban mom demographic, but failed to capture the main pull factor of the book – allowing the reader to escape into the oblique female lead and experience secondhand “mindblowing” sex with a billionare. This left the movie as sort of an unconvincing blend of romance and kinky sex behind the doors of the “red room of pain”.

On the plus side, the cinematography showed off the beautiful scenery of Washington, and after the almost comically bad writing of the novel, the script far exceeded readers expectations.

The main criticism to Fifty Shades of Grey came from the middle-aged demographic who were concerned that the movie was promoting the wrong relationship values to younger generations. Luckily their concerns are unfounded, no one watching this movie could possibly related this twisted romance to a real-life scenario.

~madeleine lohr, staff reporter

The administration censors Falconer article on manufacture and use of dabs

On March 10, Principal Clarence Burton told The Falconer that he would not permit the publication of an in-depth article written about dabbing, the smoking of a highly concentrated form of marijuana that’s popular in the student drug subculture. After being notified of the potentially controversial article, Burton asked to review the article prior to publication, and then denied publication on the grounds that the information might endanger the health or safety of students. This is a new phase in the history of The Falconer, which has not been censored in over 36 years, if ever.

The article is a well written, extensively researched, unbiased, and informative piece that  relies on several student sources to document first-hand experiences with the drug. The article discusses what dabbing is and identifies numerous risks associated with the use and manufacture of the drug. Although he acknowledges that  the article is quality student journalism, he says it is not appropriate for ninth grade readers, even though one of the sources began using the drug as a freshman. According to Burton, young students should not be permitted to read the information without adult guidance to tell them what it means. In his letter stating the reasons for the censorship, Burton said, “Unlike a drug safety unit taught in a health class by a trained professional, this article does not come with that trained instructor. If this article was to be published, children would be exposed to a new and dangerous drug without adult guidance.” The only problem with this position is that students are not taught drug safety units in high school. The administration has known about dabbing for months, but has not provided information to the school community.

By censoring the article, the administration’s position seems to be that educating young people about a topic that is controversial and dangerous means that they will go out and do it. Topics like teen pregnancy, drunk driving, suicide, and drugs should not be discussed, at least not by students in a student newspaper. The voices of high school students on these topics must be silent, and the only messages that are sanctioned are those of the administration. That way, controversy will not happen, and it will not exist. In reality, most of the student body, including freshmen, knows that dabbing exists. For those who don’t, is it better for them to learn about dabbing through a friend or a peer, or through a researched, comprehensive article?

Prior review takes the student out of a student publication and makes it a publication by the administration. A student journalist’s job is to report on the activities of students in their school, and that is what the article does. The School Board’s publications policy requires student material to be fair and balanced, well-written, grammatically correct, and suitable for audience for which it is intended. Some controversial topics may be uncomfortable for adults, who do not like to admit that some high school students may be involved in drug use or other controversial behavior. However, we contend that not saying anything is more harmful than saying the truth. Just because a topic may be uncomfortable for the administration does not mean that it is unsuitable for a high school audience. Or that students are incapable of understanding it.

Although the publications policy requires students to notify the principal of potentially controversial stories, this does not mean that student First Amendment rights do not exist; nor does it mean there should be prior review. Most importantly, it does not mean that censorship is okay. Essentially, the new editors of The Falconer are the administration, and the voice of the student body is severely compromised.

Because of censorship, being a part of the student newspaper is no longer a way to learn about real journalism and write real stories about real issues. If The Falconer does put in the hours to write stories that matter to the lives of students, the administration can kill them with the stroke of a censor’s pen. The administration-approved stories may have our names, but not student voices. The principal could support us, he could trust us, and he could be an advocate for the student voice.

The Falconer encourages opinions from the student body and the community about this issue.