Thrift-shopping promotes individuality

THIS ONE OMG
Juniors Abby Lynch and Siani Leahy sport their trendy thrift shop finds.

To find unique and low cost clothing, some students turn to local thrift shops to satisfy their retail therapy needs, at stores such as Salvation Army, Treasure Box, The White Elephant, and Déjà Vu in Warrenton. Juniors Abby Lynch and Emily Stafford find that buying things from alternative shops is more interesting.

“There is something about finding things that are old or vintage that interests me. It’s like they have had a past life. They are very unique,” Lynch said. “You can guarantee that nobody has them, and that’s what I love about it because I don’t like to wear clothes that people have.”

Consignment shops sell unwanted items and give a portion of the proceeds to the original owner; Déjà Vu gives back 50 percent. Thrift stores, such as Salvation Army and Goodwill, are usually run by non-profit organizations and sell donated items. Their proceeds go to a charitable cause, such as food banks or homeless shelters.

On March 18 and 19, Déjà Vu held a dress give away at which a high school girl could come and select a free dress, as well as jewelry, shoes, and clutches. According to English teacher Robin Frost, who helps with the event, 23 dresses were given away in five hours.

“During the event, I do all I can to help the girls find that perfect dress,” Frost said. “It’s a lot of fun!”

Junior Haze Packwood’s mother owns and runs Déjà Vu.

“One of the good things about it is the fact that a lot of people of the community can actually come in and take part in the economy itself,” Packwood said. “They can take part in the community by having their items bought and sold and still get some profit back to help them, as well as the store itself.”

The appeal of lower prices and of unique items and older, valuable pieces attracts customers.

“I love doing jewelry [thrifting], too, because you can find old things that are valuable and a lot of the time they are marked really low. They don’t know the value,” Lynch said. “I have found a number of purses that are leather and gotten them for pretty cheap.”

Stafford started thrift shopping when she was old enough to walk around Old Town Warrenton with her friends.

“If you go every day you don’t see a lot of new stuff, so I go once or twice a week, and by then they usually have new stuff out,” Stafford said. “Half of my closet is all thrift store. I would say that every single one of my outfits has something that I have bought from a thrift store or consignment shop.”

Some of Stafford’s favorite finds are a knitted sweater with peaches and a pin she recently got that says, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

Junior Siani Leahy’s favorite thrift store is the Goodwill in Stafford County.

“It’s really cheap. A lot of the time when I buy new clothes, I will bring other stuff to the thrift stores,” Leahy said. “I like that I can make my own fashion and style from the different pieces that they have.”

Stafford encourages others to shop at second hand stores because it’s a fun way to recycle and find cheaper, unique items. “You have to keep an open mind,” Stafford said. “If you see something you want, you just have to get it. It’s impulsive.”

~by katie johnston, staff reporter

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Vaping becomes popular trend among teenagers

REAL ONE YOYOYO
Junior Jewelea Shubert uses her vape to help curb her cravings for cigarettes. “I quit smoking, so it’s a better alternative. The juice I have in here has no nicotine at all,” Shubert said. “It just makes me feel like I’m smoking, even though I’m not.”

One of the newest trends for teenagers is vaping—a form of inhaling vapors through an electronic device called a vape pen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, use of e-cigarettes by middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014.

The pens heat up, and with the press of a button, release a vapor that contains nicotine, propylene glycol, solvents and flavorings. Vaping doesn’t involve tobacco or the over 400 chemicals that analog cigarettes contain, leading to a perception among teens that it is a healthier alternative to smoking. While the “juice” for these pens usually contains nicotine, which can produce a slight buzz, some types just contain water and flavoring. These pens can also be used to inhale other drugs, such as marijuana.

Of the 4,450 students that responded to the 2015 Pride Survey, administered to students in grades 7-12 in Fauquier County, 50 percent perceive vaping to have moderate to great risk of harm. However, many teenagers believe vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Of the 270 high school students who responded to a survey on Twitter, 42 percent said that they vape while 33 percent said that they don’t vape, but do not object to people doing it. Twenty-five percent said that they don’t vape and are opposed to it.

“I don’t vape myself, but I do believe that vaping is a better social action than smoking a cigarette. While smoking cigarettes can lead to various types of cancer and lung failure, vaping doesn’t do these things,” senior Richard Opper said. “I think people should definitely vape instead of smoke cigarettes.”

Recently, teenagers have started vaping for the fun of producing thick clouds of vapor that can be used to do smoke tricks. Teens are also attracted to vaping because of the assortment of pens and flavorings to choose from. These pens and flavored juices are easy to purchase on-line.

“I like vaping; it’s smooth and produces a lot of smoke which is fun to play with,” junior Justus Gilmore said.

Many teenagers who vape say it gives off a cool image. Though you must be at least 18 to purchase a vape, teenagers have found them easy to acquire on the internet.

“I vape regularly. I actually think vaping is one of the coolest things on the entire planet because it’s very entertaining and helps me make friends,” said sophomore Ryan Berlin, whose name has been changed. “I don’t think vaping is that harmful, especially compared to cigarettes.”

Most vape pens contain nicotine, and school rules treat vape pens as a Tier 1 offense of the tobacco policy. If a student is found with a vape pen on school grounds, the pen will be confiscated and the student will receive a punishment anywhere from multiple days of detention to suspension.

“I have seen an increase in the possession of vaping devices and their use at school, especially from last school year to this school year. I believe the increase is a result of the products being more accessible,” assistant principal Kraig Kellican said. “I would estimate the number of vape violations that I have processed this term to be around four to five, and probably a total of eight to 10 for the school year thus far.”

Many teens perceive vaping to be much healthier than smoking cigarettes because it eliminates the toxins that are released when tobacco is burned. However, people can still become hooked because most vape juice contains nicotine, which has addictive qualities. Nicotine can cause inflammation of lung tissue, which can weaken the tissue’s ability to block out foreign substances, leading to infection, according to The Student Science Resource Society. Studies on the long term effects of vaping on humans are not available because it is such a new trend.

“I have vaped before. I personally don’t think vaping is that ‘cool’, but it can be fun to mess around with sometimes,” senior Elizabeth McCarty said. “I definitely see more teenagers vaping than adults nowadays, but I don’t think it matters how old you are to blow some dank clouds. Obviously anything you put into your lungs, other than air, will have some effect, but I don’t think vaping is that dangerous or harmful. I think it is a good thing that people are putting down cigarettes and picking up vapes because it seems to be a far safer option.”

~emily armstrong, staff reporter

Legal, dangerous, potentially lethal: Abuse of prescription drugs raises alarms

You hear about illegal drug abuse all of the time—on the news, at school, from the media. However, the misuse of legal drugs isn’t as widely covered, despite the fact that teenagers are one of the most at-risk groups for prescription drug abuse.

The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that recreational prescription drug use among adolescents 12 to 18 and young adults 18 to 25 is the most prevalent form of drug abuse, after alcohol and marijuana. In addition, a study by Dr. Jennifer R. Havens of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research shows that prescription drug abuse among those under age 18 increased 212 percent between 1992 and 2003; the abuse of these drugs is also more prevalent among rural adolescents.

The PRIDE Survey, which asked students in Fauquier County grades 7-12 multiple questions about drug use, found that, after alcohol and marijuana, prescription drugs are the most popular drug among 12th graders; 175 students reported abusing prescription drugs in the last 30 days. The use of these substances often takes place way from school grounds; nonetheless, many students use these drugs, both recreationally and in order to deal with the course load they’re given at school.

According to sophomore Sam Lader*, the most commonly abused prescription drug in the area is Adderall because of its availability.

“I would say the one that’s most enjoyed, however, is definitely painkillers,” Lader said. “Painkillers are much harder to get a hold of, specifically because they are opiates, and so they don’t want you to have them—especially kids our age.”

Lader first used opiates for non-medical purposes in September, 2015, as a way to relax, and has since used Oxycodone, Vicodin, Percocet and Hydrocodone, as well as other non-opiate medications, like Adderall and Xanax. One of the main reasons opiates are so ‘relaxing’ is because they slow down one’s heartbeat and breathing and can cause drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and even unrousable unconsciousness.

“Opiates can make you forget entire days,” junior Tom Jasso* said. “You lose control of yourself when you’re on them, and it’s just not fun. They’re easy to develop a dependency for and very, very easy to kill yourself with.”

Jasso first tried prescription drugs his freshman year but didn’t experiment with downers until six or seven months ago when he tried Xanax at a party simply because he was interested.

“It was pleasurable the first time, but I prefer stimulants more often,” Jasso said. “Xanax is a downer, like opiates, so my opinion on them is the same. All other benzos are essentially the same, if not worse for you, than Xanax, and with more extreme side effects.”

For many years doctors and pharmaceutical companies gave out prescriptions for narcotic painkillers without much consideration for the drugs’ potential for abuse. In 2014, the DEA started restricting these drugs more heavily—and as a result many people addicted to painkillers turned to heroin as a cheap, more accessible opioid alternative.

“If you do get addicted to them, it usually leads to a heroin addiction because opiates and heroin are one and the same,” Lader said. “That’s a huge problem in Warrenton because you have all of these kids that start out as pillheads in high school, and then they turn into full-blown heroin addicts the minute they get out.”

In addition to opiates, other prescription drugs, like amphetamines and muscle relaxers, are popular among high school students. Some students use the stimulating effects of amphetamines (usually ADD medicine) as a way to handle their workload.

“I got some Adderall from someone at the end of my freshman year,” senior Joe Fluke* said. “I took it then intending to use it as a study aid, but it didn’t really work as I expected it to in the ‘speed’ sense. It allowed me just to be more focused and actually get stuff done.”

After that, Fluke began experimenting with other ADD/ADHD medications and continued to do so throughout his sophomore and junior years. After trying several different types of medicine, he began to question whether he might actually have ADHD and benefit from a prescription.

“Vyvanse is what I’m now prescribed for ADHD, which I was finally diagnosed with back in October,” Fluke said. “Now that I have my prescription, all of my grades have significantly risen, and I’ve improved in all academic areas.”

According to Fluke, the most popular amphetamines that are used recreationally in the area are Adderall and Vyvanse.

“A lot of people will take them recreationally just to get the euphoric feeling, the energy, and the focus—you know, stay up all night and study for midterms,” Fluke said. “But there’s also some people who definitely exhibit symptoms of ADHD who I think are self-medicating without a prescription, which is what I sort of accidentally did before it led me to realize I might actually have ADHD.”

Taking amphetamines without a prescription (or even with one, if the prescription isn’t used appropriately) can be dangerous. Short term side effects of amphetamine use include an increased heart rate and possibly abnormal palpitations; they increase blood pressure and body temperature and can cause jitteriness, dizziness, stomach cramps, irritability and aggression. Coming down from an amphetamine high often causes one to “crash,” which can lead to temporary mood swings and depression. In addition, taking any type of speed reduces one’s need to sleep, which can lead to disrupted sleeping patterns.

Jasso, who often takes amphetamines recreationally, enjoys them but said that the underlying anxiety that he usually feels while on them is occasionally overwhelming.

“Sometimes I get jittery and uncomfortable,” Jasso said. “They help stimulate me, help me create things and concentrate, but they can make me feel sort of anxious, and that can make the experience less positive sometimes.”

School Resource Officer Lieutenant Sal Torelli said that, although some students abuse prescription drugs, it isn’t as much of a problem in high school as in colleges. Still, he maintains that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

“It’s dangerous to take a prescription that doesn’t belong to you,” Torelli said. “You’ve got to think about it—these drugs are given to a certain person to treat a specific illness. If it’s not prescribed to you, then you don’t need it.”

*student sources’ names have been changed to  protect their identities.

~jacqueline smith, co-features director

Folkers cope with loss, strive to help other addicts and their families

Above: Senior Lauren Folker and her sister Kathrine share a happy moment. “My [family] went to Mexico- we went to Cancun. Kathrine and I just hung out the whole time, and I think that’s my favorite memory of her,” Folker said. “We went out, and we would dance, and we just made a bunch of friends.

When senior Lauren Folker’s sister Kathrine, died of a heroin overdose in August, 2015, she and her mother decided to help others who are battling heroin addictions.

One of 10 people who died in Fauquier County of a heroin overdose in 2015, Kathrine began experimenting with alcohol and pills, like Molly, in high school. After graduation she went into a 30-day sober living facility.

“In March of 2015 Kathrine felt that she was ready to go out on her own, but she quickly relapsed with alcohol, pills, and then heroin, which she never had before,” Kathrine’s mother Caroline Folker said. “Then she voluntarily went into rehab for two weeks in July, then relapsed. She knew she had a big problem. In her words, she was in hell. By August, she was dead; it was a very quick battle.”

Alumnus Ryan Perry spoke at Kathrine’s funeral; he said that her smile and friendliness had a big impact.

“Every time I saw her, she treated me like we had been best friends for years,” Perry said. “She was one of those rare people who was constantly positive. We an keep her with us by being like that to others.”

Since her sister lived in Winchester during the addiction process, Lauren didn’t witness Kathrine’s struggle first hand.

“It was hard hearing about it; we would usually keep the conversation light and easy,” Lauren said. “Kathrine loved everybody; that was really admirable. If you needed anything, she was there, and she was so genuinely nice to people.”

Caroline created a group to educate and give support to addicts and their families. The group meets on the first and third Thursday of every month at the Fauquier Hospital. It has helped give Caroline closure on her daughter’s death.

“We discovered there was a huge [number] of people who needed to get information quickly and couldn’t,” Caroline said. “I decided to create a support group called Families Overcoming Drug Addiction, so families who were going through what we were have a place to go to.”

Recovering addicts attend the meetings to tell their stories and speak to addicts and their families about the choices they’ve made, the recovery program and what recovery could look like.

“We have a total of 30 people who come,” Lauren said. “We get into a big circle and just discuss what we’ve been through; a lot of people there are where we were a few years ago. We give emotional support and have all become very close.”

Caroline and Lauren are certified in giving Narcan, an opiate antidote, to those who have overdosed on heroin and prescription opiates.

“It’s really important for families with drug addicts in their home to have the ability to save a life very quickly,” Caroline said. “Also, at the end of April I’m going to try to get certified to become a recovery coach and to help families on making decisions [for their loved ones].”

According to Lauren, the best way to support someone going through an addiction is to be there for them.

“You can see them at their worst moments, and you just need to love them through it and do whatever they need you to do. It’s definitely made me a stronger person. I’ve learned more about addiction, heroin in particular,” Lauren said. “I’ve gotten close to some people who are struggling and have learned what to say and how to help them.”

The use of heroin has doubled since 2007 and heroin-related deaths have tripled between 2010 to 2013, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The heroin epidemic affects people of all ages, races and backgrounds. School Resource Officer Lieutenant Sal Torelli said that being educated is the best way for students and parents to be aware of the dangers of heroin and its addictive qualities.

“We’re doing everything we can to combat this problem. We know that locking [users] up isn’t going to solve this [epidemic]. We can’t arrest our way out of this; we need treatments,” Torelli said. “Enforcement has stepped up quite a bit, and there are numerous different programs out there that are helping addicts. If we save one life, I’m happy; one life lost from heroin is too much.”

Lauren says that outsiders watching someone go through the addiction process should be empathetic to addicts and realize that addiction is a disease.

“It’s not [the addict’s] fault, and it doesn’t make them a bad person. If you’re going through it, there is hope,” Lauren said. “[The whole situation] definitely brought us all close together and made us realize that family is most important.”

~erica gudino, viewpoint director

Want to save the world? Start by ensuring all women receive quality education

So many American teens take education for granted; we complain about waking up early, spending too much time on homework, or sitting through boring classes. Yet, around the world, more than 62 million girls are denied an education. Many of these girls have never even started school, while others dropped out because of poverty, a humanitarian crisis, early marriage and motherhood, violence, or many other reasons. Whereas we dread waking up and attending school, many girls have had to fight for their right to be educated and have been harmed for doing so.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban has attacked school-girls by throwing acid on them. In April, 2014, the extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their school in Chibok, Nigeria. On October 9, 2012, in Pakistan, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan shot Malala Yousafzai on her way to school for advocating for girls’ education rights around the world. The situation is the worst in the Middle East and Africa, where tradition and law dictates what a girl can and cannot do, especially when it comes to education.

It should be a global priority to promote the education of girls; it is one of the best things we humans can do for the world. Nations with low enrollment of girls in school struggle economically. Educated women have the ability to work, run businesses, and be educated consumers. In fact, increasing the number of people, including women, who have strong literacy and numeracy scores could increase a nation’s economic growth by two percent, according to malala.org. The site also notes that education increases a woman’s wages; for every year of school a girl receives, her income can increase between 12 and 18 percent. Educated women are better able to provide for their families, decreasing the percentage of families who live in poverty and increasing a family’s financial security. Furthermore, children raised by an educated mother will be more likely to gain an education for themselves, even further reducing poverty.

Education improves women’s health and the health of children. Educated girls are less likely to have teen pregnancies, decreasing the maternal and infant mortality rates. Educated mothers are also better able to find the appropriate health care for the family and provide nutrition and medicine that could save lives. Malala.org also states that, if all adults in the world completed primary school, there could be seven million fewer cases of HIV in a decade. This is extremely beneficial in sub-Saharan Africa where, according to amfar.org, 88 percent of the world’s HIV-positive children are located.

Girls who are in school or who have completed school are less likely to marry as children. Similarly, the more educated a woman is, the less likely it is that she will accept domestic abuse; according to malala.org, for every year of school a girl completes, her acceptance of domestic abuse drops by 10 percent. Education also promotes female participation in politics. Girls will be more likely to vote, advocate for policy changes that benefit families and other women, and even run for office. They will be more likely to change and improve the laws for women’s education and rights.

These 62 million girls could change the world if they only had the opportunity to go to school, but there is so much going against them. Millions of girls are not in school because of humanitarian crises, including natural disasters, pandemics, and war. Millions of people leave their homelands to escape these problems, but give up receiving an education as a result. In many countries, children live in remote villages hundreds of miles away from towns that offer opportunities for girls to gain a quality education; village schools are usually taught by untrained teachers and lack the resources they need to effectively teach students.

The tradition of child-marriage also keeps girls out of school, but even girls who are not married as children grow up in traditional cultures where they are expected to become wives and stay at home, never working; parents don’t see the value of paying for an education if their daughter will spend her life in the home. Girls in areas occupied by extremist groups are banned from attending school, and those who go against them are threatened and attacked.

We need to follow the example of Malala Yousafzai, and hundreds of other girls, and support girls’ education, no matter the cost. We need to set up schools in refugee camps and villages that offer a quality education with trained teachers, proper resources, and safe, sanitary buildings and facilities. We need to break traditions of child-marriage and end the idea that if a women will be a homemaker, there is no need for her to attend school. Education will empower women and young girls, giving them confidence in knowing that they have the ability to support themselves if need be. National governments should require girls to attend school, at least through primary school, and enforce that law.

Education for girls has improved worldwide over the past few decades, but it’s still not where it should be. Malala.org reports that girls spend an average of seven years in school, more than they have before, but they still don’t receive the education they deserve. Every child, regardless of gender, is entitled to a quality education. When every boy and girl receives an education, we will see the world change for the better.

~katie johnston, staff reporter

Students voice expectations for the future of Warrenton

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Students who would like a voice in Warrenton’s development have an opportunity to participate in a project concerning the 25-year comprehensive plan. Students have been asked to voice their favorite things about Warrenton today, and what they would like to see in 25 years, to help the planning council. The town of Warrenton wants students’ input because they will be the adults in Warrenton 25 years from now.

Art department head Charlene Root strongly believes that all students should participate in this opportunity. She is offering a service hour for all NHS members who complete a project.

“I think it’s a fabulous idea to get input from students who will or may be the residents of Warrenton 25 years from now in 2040 [so they] can say, ‘I had a voice in how Warrenton has changed or grown,’” Root said. “The possibility that some of our students’ thoughtful responses will actually impact the planning council is monumental. After all, this is a ‘once-in-25-years’ opportunity.”

Student can create a pair of postcards; the first postcard is about the student’s favorite thing about Warrenton now, and the second postcard is about what he or she would like to see in Warrenton in 2040. Each 5×7 postcard must contain a brief written message on the back.Postcard submissions can incorporate photos, collages, or drawings. Alternatively, students can write a brief essay describing how he or she wants Warrenton to be in 25 years.
Denise Harris, who works for the Warrenton Planning and Community Development Department, believes that students should submit their input because they will be the community leaders of tomorrow.

“Since the comprehensive plan is a vision of the entire community, it is important for everyone to have input and a voice,” Harris said. “You live here, you go to school here, you have an opinion of what you value, what works, and what you would like to see different. In 2040, your generation will help hold the decision-making reins of Warrenton. Therefore, you should have input now. Like voting, participating in your community’s conversation about its future is an important responsibility.”

The comprehensive plan is a long-range, guiding document for the town of Warrenton that helps prepare the community for the future by examining how the town will look, feel, and function in 25 years. Town budgets and capital improvement plans are based on the goals and objectives stated in the comprehensive plan.

“The students of Warrenton will jumpstart the public engagement process for the greater community,” Harris said. “Through your participation, you become an ambassador for the comprehensive plan update. There is an opportunity to inform your family, teachers, and neighbors this process is taking place and encourage them to participate in upcoming surveys and meetings.”

Students who are participating must complete all projects by April 22 and submit their work to their teachers, who will forward it to Amy Acors, the the social studies coordinator at the FCPS central office. The postcards and written submissions may be displayed on Main Street for people to enjoy. There is also a chance that some of the postcards will be turned into actual postcards and sold to the public.

~emma dixon, photography director

Grading policy change benefits students, promises consistency

Beginning in the 2016-17 school year, teachers will be required to round up to the next whole number if a student earns a grade of 89.5, 79.5, 69.5 or 59.5, to report grades in all classes using a 100 point scale. The policy was adopted in response to parents and teachers who objected to discrepancies between teachers who rounded and those who don’t.

Associate Superintendent for Instruction Sandra Mitchell drafted the new policy, and said that it does not remove teacher discretion in determining student grades.

“We received complaints about inconsistent final grading practices among teachers from parents, teachers, and teachers who are also parents. Dr. Jeck thought the concern was compelling enough to warrant putting a regulation in place,” Mitchell said. “Does this regulation obliterate all teacher discretion in grading? No way. I believe the most important teacher discretion actions exist in the instructional and assessment process.”

Some teachers prefer the discretion to round, based on a student’s effort and mastery. Other teachers prefer the new policy because it makes the decision on whether or not to round easier. Math teacher Ann Meyer doesn’t think rounding should be mandatory.

“I don’t think [the policy] should be mandatory because everyone has different standards. I use the rounding because my grading standards are so strict that I round to give the students an advantage,” Meyer said. “I understand the county wanting consistency, but I’d like for teachers to have more leeway.”

The county adopted a 10-point grading scale in 2009 that lowered an A from a 94 to a 90. Math teacher Laura Nix-Berg feels the rounding policy will make it even easier for students to get higher grades.

“The grading scale used to be more strenuous than it is now. With the policy, it is as if we are inflating the grades,” Nix-Berg said. “It’s almost as if it is setting them up, especially if they are going to college.”

Junior Alex Amirato sees advantages in the rounding policy and few disadvantages. To her, the half a point is not big enough to create a difference in the teacher’s grading or in the students’ work.

“The new policy won’t change anything,” Amirato said. “Students will still work hard for an A; if there is no risk, there is no reward.”

History teacher Ron Pfieffer does not have issues with the new policy because there are multiple ways a teacher can work in discretion by increasing the difficulty of the work, weighing participation grades more heavily, or giving the students more assignments.

“Consistency is the right thing to do. I can’t see a situation where a half a point difference will give a massively misleading idea,” Pfeiffer said. “There are more tools in a teacher’s tool box than just rounding.”
Pfeiffer also points out that the final letter grade tends to be extremely important to a student’s parents. In terms of college applications, the difference between letter grades is significant. If a student gets a rounded grade in one class, but not in another, the discrepancy upsets parents.

“Letter grades are very important to some parents,” Pfeiffer said. “To some, a letter grade is more important than the actual education.”

Most students welcome the new policy. The work load from classes can be stressful, so the new policy reduces stress. The half point isn’t seen as an unfair advantage, but rather as a consideration students deserve because of the work they have done.

Junior Erika Smith sees the new policy as a great opportunity for students. For example, students with a 69.5 could use the boost to a C. In the past, Smith has been on the verge of having all A’s, but one teacher, who refused to round, gave her the one B on her report card.

~nina quiles, staff reporter