‘Documentary Now!’ serves up satire

Documentary Now! is the most recent of many quality projects that have been made by retired cast members of the famous Saturday Night Live skit TV show. Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Seth Myers came together to create this amazing satire series, and the quality remains consistent with each episode. Documentary Now! spoofs actual famous documentaries, but with exaggerated or fictitious characters replacing the original subjects. From a chef that serves chicken at his restaurant, but is also afraid of chickens, to an Eskimo who turns into an obsessive movie director, the comedic scenarios are odd and unique.

The idea for the show came about after Armisen and Hader wrote a skit for SNL in 2013 that was inspired by the mockumentary style of This Is Spinal Tap (1984). The production team of Documentary Now! uses the same filming techniques as the original documentary they are parodying, including similar cameras and lenses, wardrobe, camera angles, and even background music. Although the visual aspects are similar to the original, the writing and acting of the mockumentary pushes the subject of the original documentary to the limit by emphasizing the ridiculous extremes.

The main writer of the show is Late Night host Seth Myers, and on certain episodes the stars, Hader and Armisen, write some parts. These three comedic geniuses have carried their talent from SNL on to this project flawlessly. Hader and Armisen star in every episode together, which is one of the many reasons this show is great. Their on-screen chemistry is unbelievable, and this is the perfect venue for their persona.

The humor is subtle most of the time. The majority of the jokes make fun of the original documentary, so it may be hard to separate the jokes from the actual content of the original. The jokes that are very obvious, however, are extremely funny. Hader and Armisen are able to do almost exact impressions of characters from the documentaries. SNL fans will appreciate the comedy set behind this show.

The IFC network produces the show, and they release many short clips on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to compare the parody with the original documentary, so the viewer gets a feel for its style and approach. However, even if you can’t identify the similarities, the comedy is so farfetched it’s humorous.

The first season of Documentary Now! can be found on Netflix, and the second season is in full swing. You can watch new episodes every Wednesday at 10 p.m. on IFC. There are also full, free episodes located on the IFC website, along with special content for the series. This is a tongue-in-cheek satire leaves viewers smiling, laughing out loud, and appreciating the wry humor.

~nate thomason, staff reporter

School community loses talented chemistry teacher

On Thursday, Oct. 13, when chemistry teacher John Thomas was found dead at the young age of 28, the administration was faced with the difficult task of breaking the news to students and staff, and with offering grief counseling

“It was very sad for all of us,” Principal Clarence Burton said. “I was immediately in contact with Frank Finn, the assistant superintendent. He contacted experts and followed their advice. We brought in mental health professionals to help the students when they needed it. We really wanted to help people as much as we could.”

Senior Anna Hiner had Thomas for two years for chemistry and AP chemistry.

“Mr. Thomas was easily one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” Hiner said. “He was really honest with his students. If someone was [struggling] at something, he would tell them that, but then work with them to fix the problem. If I didn’t understand something, I knew I was always welcome to come to him for extra help. Mr. Thomas made every student feel like they were his favorite student.”

Senior Peyton Evans also had Thomas for several classes, including chemistry, AP chemistry, and a chemistry independent study.

“Mr. Thomas was the type of teacher that you knew was so passionate in what they do. He did everything he could to make sure his students loved coming to class. From good music to fun extra credit trivia, chemistry was always a fun place to be,” Evans said. “He was understanding and would always tell you like it was. He had so much faith in each and every one of his student’s success. In the end, we all started believing in ourselves and in chemistry, too, even if the comical complaints ensued well into AP.”
Thomas had a personality that resonated with students.

“Mr. Thomas was a great person to just talk to,” Hiner said. “He was really sarcastic and funny. We could talk to him about anything, whether it was chemistry-related or not. I think that not just me, but other students, as well, feel like they’ve not only lost a great teacher, but a friend. I feel a little selfish because I know that I won’t be able to have him as a teacher anymore, and that really bothers me.”

Evans enjoyed Thomas’s sense of humor.

“He was lighthearted, motivated, and a complete jokester. He was always motivating me to do more in chemistry and pushed me to to pursue higher studies in a field I already loved,” Evans said. “That’s one of the things I’ll miss most about him, that and him making fun of me being a nerd, even though he’s just as much of one. I’ll miss his music and trading playlists with him at the start of every week.”

Losing Thomas so unexpectedly has made it difficult for students to accept, and the reality still not sunk in for some.

“I mentally couldn’t grasp what happened. I cried all weekend, and I see him in everything I do,” senior Lexi Boone said. “Losing a teacher so unexpectedly is something that I never want to experience again or want anyone else to experience. I’ve seen him and talked to him everyday for two years, and now it’s gone and I don’t know how to feel about it. It’s like he’s not dead, but just gone on vacation or something.”

Evans also had a hard time coming to grips with the loss of Thomas.

“When I first heard the news, I was speechless,” Evans said. “There’s still a part of me that’s holding on and saying that he’ll be back in class next week, laughing. All I have left is his memory and my motivation to make him proud.”

If students are still experiencing grief or are having a hard time coping with the loss, the administration stresses the importance of getting help.

“The best thing you can do is talk to somebody, especially an adult [like a] teacher or a parent. Everyone handles grief in different ways, and we want to be there to help people and put them in contact with those who can help them,” Burton said.

In memory of Thomas, students painted the rock in the courtyard after school on Oct. 17, a tradition that has been in the school for decades.

“We painted the rock as a tribute to Mr. Thomas,” Boone said. “The rock has always been something students use to get a message out to the school, and I thought that everyone should have a glimpse of the life he lived, whether they had a chance to meet him or not. He was such an amazing person, and he deserved to be remembered in a remarkable way. Naturally, painting the rock with everything he loved and stood for was something we really wanted to do.”

Evans believes that Thomas instilled a sense of school pride that all students should follow.

“Mr. Thomas had more support for his students and fellow teachers than I have seen in most people. He was always there to give extra help in a tough chapter or go see his students play soccer at Kettle Run. He would even be the first to volunteer to supervise theatre rehearsals,” Evans said. “I believe that it’s important to learn something from this and come together as a school to keep up that support for our classmates. Go to those band concerts, those soccer games, those musicals, those poetry readings more [often]. Support who you go to school with. It’s what he would have loved to see.”

~emma dixon, copy production editor

Cheerleading tumbles into third place

The cheer team placed third at the conference tournament on Oct. 22, following a win at the mini-conference on Sept. 28 that earned them a bid to regionals. They hope to place well at regionals on Oct 29, and eventually states, by relying on their strengths.

“One of our main assets this year is how many tumbling skills we have,” cheer coach Ashlynn Foster said. “The level of gymnastic skills has dramatically increased over the past few years, and this year we have more skills than teams in the past. We’ve also really improved on executing very difficult stunts.”

Although the team uses the same routine at each competition, the girls are constantly practicing and looking for ways to improve it by making it more complex and adding harder stunts. They are also preparing for future competitions by working on consistency and precise performance of stunts.

“There are no second chances, so we’re constantly working on how we can execute our skills better and to make sure that we are able to hit them when the team competes on the mat,” Foster said.

Practice for the fall season started in March; since then, team members can now do stunts, like high-to-highs and 360s, that involve cooperation between the flyer and the base. The stunts can lead to serious injury if the flyer falls. Upperclassmen are pleased with the team’s progress.

“[Our] tumbling has gotten so much better,” senior captain Jazmine Fitts said. “We’re doing really hard stunts compared to my freshman year when I was doing straight-up heel stretches, and now I’m doing high-to-high tick- tocks. I never thought I’d do that. We’ve just grown so much in the past four years and since March.”

According to Foster, the team’s biggest competition is not another school, but rather the VHSL scoring rubric. Specific skills need to be executed to earn points, so many of the teams are working hard to execute the same skills.

“VHSL has continued to change the scoring rubric over and over, making this year especially challenging,” Foster said. “It’s a little unfortunate because the rubric has taken a lot of creativity away. Every school is working on the same stunts, just in a different order. So, as long as we can execute them the best, then hopefully we can come out scoring the best.”

The team has formed a strong bond, and coaches have assigned “cheer sisters,” pairing athletes together to support one another. They have team dinners at each competition.

“We always help each other out, especially as cheer sisters,” freshman Brielle Phillippe said. “We always try to give each other advice. It’s like a sisterhood.”

Unfortunately, the team did not make it to states last year, but they did compete both years previously, and they hope to return again this year.

“Our biggest goal is winning states, and we’ve been told by our choreographer that we have a lot of potential, too,” Fitts said. “[We need to] go through [and] watch our routine, and basically find what we’re doing wrong, and then make it better and do what the judges want, because that’s what’s going to get [us] there.”

~emma dixon, copy production editor

Candidates model poor behavior, values for future generations

It seems like this year’s presidential election has been more focused on xenophobia, low blows, and “he said, she said” than any other. With Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump going at each other’s throats, we have forgotten that this is more at stake than a petty competition of who can throw the worst insults.

Since spring, 2015, the race for president has seemed like an under budget soap opera with the big, mean bully and the lying goodie-two-shoes front and center. With the front runners being the main topic discussed over dinner, people are forgetting about the children that will grow up during the campaigning and the next presidency. There couldn’t have been a more inconvenient time for parents to teach their children about right and wrong when the media is fixated on Clinton’s truthfulness or Trump’s lechery.

When I was growing up, my parents instilled strong values in me, including respect, honesty, and compassion; that’s the baseline of raising a good person. Now that’s hard enough; it’s even harder when the media is full of allegations about Trump sexually assaulting women or Clinton’s secrecy and dishonesty about her health, e-mails, and a host of other topics. Kids are impressionable and follow by example; shouldn’t the president be someone all Americans can look up to as a role model? Is it hard to imagine that when children hear their parents advocate for someone who doesn’t respect women, they will come to believe that it’s all right to touch someone without consent? Or that they will come to believe that lying is acceptable, as long as it gives them an advantage?

The presidential debates are meant to show voters where the candidates stand on the issues. However, the Clinton-Trump debates (which had the most viewers in history) have seemed more like a competition of who can deliver the best insults, rather than an informed discussion of their tax plans. The debates have featured childish outbursts, name calling, unsupported assertions, and interruptions—far from a reasoned, well-informed discussion of issues affecting the nation’s future. Children shouldn’t think that the way to confront a problem is to throw a temper tantrum, spit nasty remarks, shout down the opposition, and lie through your teeth.

The candidates are the most disliked in history; according to a poll by the Washington Post, Clinton has a disapproval rating of 56 percent, while Trump takes the lead with 63 percent. With neither of the candidates registering well, it seems inevitable that the American people won’t be happy no matter who gets elected. Whichever joker gets into the Oval Office, he or she will represent America as the figurehead of this country. Young girls and boys want to look up to the president, but when the major parties nominate two such unpopular and unsuitable candidates, children can draw the conclusion that someone doesn’t have to be a good person to lead the free world.

For those who are voting in this election, the choice may be between the lesser of two evils as to which candidate will make the best role model for the children who are maturing and forming themselves during this next presidency. According to a study done by Livescience, personality is set by the time a child reaches first grade. By the time the kids of this generation are adults, they could potentially be molded to think that this is acceptable behavior.

Which candidate would you rather have a child modeled after? A lying corporate puppet or a loose cannon? Get to the polls on Nov. 8; your vote counts. And hope the nation has better choices four years from now.

~erica gudino, editor-in-chief

FFA prepares students for the future

Senior Camden Franklin poses with TV veterinarian Dr. Jan Pol and his wife Diane Pol. Dr. Jan Pol stars on the Nat Geo Wild television show The Incredible Dr. Pol.


From the competitions to the national convention, the activities that FFA members participate in contribute to one goal: career development. Competitions are designed to enhance each student’s knowledge of the agriculture business and its influence locally, according to FFA advisor Susan Hillary.

“FFA is developing students for careers in agriculture,” Hillary said. “Even if people don’t have a career in agriculture, they have a better understanding of agriculture. As they go into their adult life and make purchases and decisions, they have a basis that helps them make better decisions.”

FFA started the year off strong by participating in the state fair in September. Students competed in a variety of events over a span of three days, including a horticulture demonstration and crop and forestry events. Junior Ben Scaring competed in the log throw in which he had to throw a four to six foot pulpwood log.

“I had to throw a 40 pound log and I threw it 21 feet,” Scaring said. “[The toss] was different than I expected; I expected the log to be a lot smaller than it was, so I went in with a different mindset than what it needed to be.”

Freshman Mack Barney competed in a one-man saw competition, and sophomore Josh Carl and freshman Logan Risden competed in the two-man saw competition. In both, participants had to saw through a six-inch thick log within the time limit of two minutes.

“It was hard work,” Carl said. “You just have to really push yourself to get it done. It was completely different at the competition than at school; they had pressed the log which made it harder.”

On the final day, seniors Devyn Martino, Justin Barron, Tyler Newman and junior Katie Crow competed in a crop judging competition in which they judged and identified a panel of seeds. Overall, FFA placed third among 35 other schools.

“It was pretty hard,” Martino said. “Some classes were easier than others, like the red clover was easy. I expected it to be a bit challenging, but this was my second year competing in it so I had a bit more experience.”

FFA celebrated homecoming by decorating FFA advisor Dennis Pearson’s hay wagon to ride in at the homecoming parade. The float was pulled by the club’s new tractor and rode in the beginning of the parade, proudly displaying a colorful banner. They also had a social event in the agriculture shop before the homecoming football game, with food and drinks.

“It was by far the best float in the parade,” Pearson said. “Overall [the parade] was nice. I’m glad it didn’t rain since it was threatening.”

On Nov. 3 FFA will be hosting the annual Food For America event on the FFA field from 10 am to 1pm. At this event, 25 different stations are set up, varying from presentations about machinery safety to welding to animals, for fourth graders from local elementary schools to come and explore. Students are welcome to come during advisory to learn about the different aspects of agriculture.

“It’s going to be a big event,” Pearson said. “We have a lot of [participants] and are going to have a lot of animals out there.”

FFA seeks to spread in-depth knowledge about agriculture to the club members and the community.

“[FFA members] have belonging—an organization that they can belong to and the sense of an identity,” Hillary said. “They can get a lot of experience for resumes or an application. It’s an opportunity to be a leader and make a difference.”

~nina quiles, managing editor

Some choose not to stand for the pledge

When Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, did not stand for the national anthem before a preseason football game in August, he was protesting the country’s oppression of minorities, especially police killings of unarmed black men. The entire nation responded. He faced backlash from those who said his demonstration dishonored the nation. However, thousands supported his cause and his exercise of freedom of speech, sparking a wave of young people who refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem.

Sophomore Addi Bowman said that, although people are entitled to their opinions, not standing for the anthem and the pledge is highly disrespectful to veterans of the military who fought for the country and the values that the flag symbolizes.

“There are men and women, young and old, that are out there giving their lives to protect us,” Bowman said. ”They went out and gave their lives for us to be here. Honestly, I feel like if you’re not standing for what they fought for, then it’s just so disrespectful [and] wrong.”

In West Virginia Board of Education vs. Barnette, the Supreme Court decided that reciting the Pledge is political speech, and therefore, reciting it, or not, is protected by the First Amendment. However, the court has never ruled whether school students, who do not have the same constitutional rights as adults, could be required to stand during the pledge out of respect. According to senior Daniel Parry, sitting during the Pledge and the anthem is not only inconsiderate, it is also uneducated.

“I find it really ignorant and people are trying to blame other people instead of themselves,” Parry said. “For Black Lives Matter, as an example, you see that police officers are getting a lot of backlash for doing their job and doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Junior Kevin Mulliss began not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in his freshman year, not as a form of protest, but because he does not identify with the religious language.

“I’m not trying to be the next Colin Kaepernick or anything,” Mulliss said. “Personally, I’m not religious, and I feel the pledge is pretty strongly religiously affiliated. Anyone who wants to stand can stand, but I’m not going to if the teacher’s okay with it.”

Junior Tim Ruff does not stand for the Pledge because he does not agree with the phrases “under God” and “liberty and justice for all.” Although he is not protesting police brutality specifically, Ruff believes that the nation has many social, political, and racial injustices. He also finds it unnerving that students stand to recite a “prayer” to a flag.

“Why do you [stand]?” Ruff said. “Do you do it because you’ve been doing it since kindergarten, or are you doing it because you believe in it? If you do it because you believe in it, great for you. If you do it because it’s what you’ve been doing since kindergarten, have you [ever] thought about [why]?”

Although Mulliss remains seated, he does not believe that it is an effective form of protest because it doesn’t get anything done.

“If you want to sit down for the Pledge of Allegiance, like I do, I think that should be an issue of [whether or not you] feel it’s right for you,” Mulliss said. “If you just want to sit down because someone, somewhere faced injustice, I don’t think it helps. There are a lot of better things you could do.”

According to Parry, sports stars like Colin Kaepernick who sit for the national anthem brought attention to issues they’re protesting, but the attention is not positive.

“I think that it’s making other people look at them as ignorant and very disrespectful to the country and the people who serve them,” Parry said. “I think people need to be educated, because if they’re going to protest against something, they should at least learn about it and actually look into the facts and statistics.”

According to history teacher Tyler Walker, sitting during the anthem only further divides the country.

“My professional stance is that you have the right to petition your government, to not stand if you don’t want to, and as a soldier I defend those rights for you,” Walker said. “However, I don’t think it’s the appropriate manner to petition your government. I can understand being frustrated and wanting to express your displeasure with the current status of the country, but I think that is a way that is creating more of a divide, instead of providing for a solution. If you really want to be an advocate for change, stand up for what you believe in. Why would you passively sit down? That kind of [protest] shows weakness to me. Stand up and do something about it; go bridge that divide, go to the communities, and do something.”

According to Walker, students should not be compelled to stand, and the right not to stand is protected by the constitution. However, he will always stand to honor soldiers who didn’t come home.

“I cannot, by law, tell you that you should or should not, so I want that to be clear, that as educator, we cannot force you,” Walker said. “Morally, I will always stand. I will stand until I can’t because I know there’s some brothers of mine and soldiers who couldn’t come back, and there are some men and women who can’t stand because they’ve lost their legs. I’ll stand for those who can’t, and I will stand and continue to honor the country that I love, because I believe that I’m blessed to be here.”

~katie johnson, features director

Presidential election creates controversy

In a combined poll using paper ballots and Twitter, the Falconer conducted a poll of 290 students asking whom they would vote for in the 2016 election if they were allowed to vote.

With election day less than one weeks away, it’s crunch time for the presidential candidates who are two of the most disliked nominees in American history. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has been on the national political stage for nearly 35 years, as the First Lady with President Bill Clinton, the first female senator from New York, and as Secretary of State from 2009-2013. Republican candidate Donald Trump a business mogul and star of his reality show The Apprentice, is an outsider to the political office.
Roughly 25 percent of the population have unfavorable views on both Trump and Clinton according to a poll run by Gallup.com. In the latest poll by the New York Times, Clinton has a six percent lead over Trump.

“It seems that [Trump] could get by in the primary election with 30-40 percent, but that’s not good enough when you want to win,” government teacher David Smith said. “The thing that many of the observers in the Trump campaign are not paying attention to is that you have to win the electoral college to be president. That means there are certain states that [Trump] just has to win. There may be some political pundits who will surprised [by the outcome of this election].”

Senior Gretchen Dietrich is leaning towards Clinton and agrees with her economic reform policies to rebuild the middle class and with her stand on abortion and women’s issues. Due to her years of working in public service, Dietrich feels that Clinton has enough experience to be in the White House and improve the infrastructure.

“I think she’s a really valuable candidate and will fix this country,” Dietrich said. “I was a Hillary supporter [from the beginning], but whenever people asked me [who I liked], they shot me down because of the email scandal. I know she has a lot of problems with trust, and I think that she should talk openly about it instead of sweeping it under the rug. Other than that, I think she’s a really strong woman.”

Senior Alex Amirato, who volunteers for the Clinton campaign, said that the 2016 election is probably the craziest of recent times.

“Some of the rules of a regular election have gone out the window,” Amirato said. “Usually, during the debates, the candidates are diplomatic, calm, and level-headed. At this point in the election, the candidates are bringing up stuff that isn’t relevant.”
Sophomore Anthony Doble originally supported Rand Paul, but shifted to Trump when Paul dropped out of the race. He also thinks that Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, is a good choice for Vice President and agrees with his views that businesses should not be required to provide services that conflict with their religious beliefs.

“I am choosing Trump because I think that we have a problem with the border, are losing jobs to other countries, and need to support our military more,” Doble said. “[Trump] loves our veterans; he wants to treat them with the best. Sometimes veterans are treated worse than illegal immigrants.”

According to a CBS/New York Times poll, 51 percent of voters think Trump would do better with the economy than Clinton. Sophomore Caleb Bristow agrees and is also a Trump supporter.

“Trump is more of a businessman and he’s really straightforward; he does exactly what he wants when he wants to,” Bristow said.

However, according to the CBS/New York Times poll, 67 percent of voters think that Trump would be a risky choice for president, and 64 percent do not think he has the right temperament. The release of tapes that record Trump’s vulgar comments about women, and his stereotypes of Mexicans and Muslims, have helped reinforce this perspective. Dietrich thinks that he should focus on how he is going to help this country, instead of attacking other candidates and people with crazed rhetoric.

“I think that Donald Trump is going to get this country into a lot of trouble and put a lot of fear into our eyes,” Dietrich said. “You want the U.S. to be a really stable country. We are a mix of every race, a kind of hybrid country, and if he wants to take that all away to make a white supremacist [country], then we’re not going to have any culture left.”
One of Trump’s primary campaign focuses is immigration; he promises to build a wall that would separate America from Mexico. Although he is a Trump supporter, Bristow disagrees with the deportation of immigrants.

“It’s very unethical; [he just wants people gone] because they’re taking [Americans’] jobs, but [at least] they actually go out and get jobs,” Bristow said. “He’s trying too hard and needs to focus on where he can get, instead of what he will never achieve.”

During her four years as Secretary of State, Clinton used a private email server to conduct government business. When requested by the State Department to turn over her emails, many accused her of hiding those that contained sensitive information regarding the attack on the embassy in Benghazi, leading to controversy about her honesty and trustworthiness. In June, the FBI decided not to charge Clinton with wrongdoing. Doble believes that Clinton is unfit to be in office and should be imprisoned for her involvement in the Benghazi and the email scandals.

“I don’t like her policies at all, supporting the TPP, being a feminist, and her tax plan for the middle class,” Doble said. “She says there’s a wage gap, but it’s proven that if women take the same amount of vacation days, they’d be paid the same as men.”
Trump has called Clinton’s health into question after she stumbled into public, implying that she was ill and unable to perform presidential duties. Clinton brushed Trump’s allegations off and continued campaigning. Amirato said that by not addressing the controversy, Clinton seems more untrustworthy.

“I feel that she needs to be much more open about [the health controversy]. A lot of people don’t trust her, which is rightfully so,” Amirato said. “She said she didn’t have health issues when she did; she was battling pneumonia, but she lied about that. If she had been more open about [her health and] emails, she wouldn’t be under as much scrutiny.”

Senior Adam Ward says that both Clinton and Trump are corrupt, represent the anarchy that is politics, and that neither would make a good choice for president. He is in favor of Libertarian Gary Johnson, one of the third party candidates in the race, because he thinks government should be less involved in the civilians lives.

“Trump is obviously insane; I’ve always thought of him as one of those people that others think [represents] the stereotyped perspective of America: white, xenophobic, bigoted, and we don’t want that,” Ward said. “Hillary Clinton is also terrible; she is the epitome of corruption in politics. But at least she somewhat knows what she’s doing because she’s been involved in politics for so long. The fact that we have a two-party system that gives us such limited options makes us feel like we don’t really have a choice. A lot of people don’t even realize we have other options: Gary Johnson. To me it’s a lesser of multiple evils.”
~erica gudino, editor-in-chief