Nobblitt creates lighthearted, energetic environment

Yearbook advisor Phil Nobblitt came to a career in teaching through a circuitous route that eventually led to journalism and becoming a publications advisor. After two years as an undergraduate at Old Dominion University, took a break from school to work as a Nuclear Security Officer at the North Anna Power Station for five and a half years. He credits his wife with motivating him to go back to college and graduate.

“I carried a rifle on my shoulder, a pistol on my hip, and a novel in my vest for 12 hours a day, four days a week,” Nobblitt said. “If it wasn’t for my wife being so supportive and confident in me, I’m not certain I would have finished college at all. I would have just kept my job at the power plant until the radiation killed me.”

According to Nobblitt, he has always been an avid reader and writer. When he returned to college at the University of Mary Washington, he began an online literary magazine called The Tomfoolery Review with four of his friends.

“We would take in humourous student-created microfiction, poetry, and short films,” Nobblitt said. “It was a fun experience because again it was all humor-based, which is what I think gravitated students to it. After graduation, we considered sticking with it, but that was a pipe dream.”

Nobblitt continues to write short stories, and his ultimate dream would be to produce enough short stories to create a collection.

“I write short stories all the time, and most of them are about life occurrences. I had a professor who said, ‘There’s no point in making anything up because life is so interesting there is enough material to write forever,’ and that really resonated with me,” Nobblitt said. “And the fact that I was a little bit older, that I had experienced more, it gave me some new tools and ideas that were usable.”

Nobblitt thanks his father, who was a teacher at Madison County High School, for being his inspiration to begin his teaching career.

“Former students would walk up to him and let him know how much they learned from him, or that they appreciated everything he ever did for them,” Noblitt said. “That made me so proud to have him as a father. I found how rewarding the profession of teaching could be through him.”

Senior Anna Hiner was on the yearbook staff when Nobblitt made the transition to take over from Nicole Schiffhauer. Now, a year later, his class has become her favorite class of the day.

“I was really nervous at first because he had different ideas from our previous yearbook teacher, but it’s clear now that he definitely knows what he’s doing,” Hiner said. “[He] is a great teacher. He’s put up with so much from us, but he still respects us. We can talk to him about a personal problem or politics or just a funny story, so it’s cool that we can confide in him.”

After graduating with a master’s in education from UMW, Noblitt got a job at Madison County High Schools for four years where he advised the yearbook and newspaper and also taught English and creative writing. He says that transferring to FHS has been his best employment decision. After working with publications, he can no longer see himself teaching without being the yearbook advisor.

“I love the fact that [yearbook] is something new every single year. There is no way to become stagnant in being a yearbook advisor. It’s a new crew, a new theme every single year. It sounds really cliché and everything, but it’s interesting to watch the staff evolve over the course of the year,” Nobblitt said. “It’s fun watching the kids grow and almost become a family with each other, and that’s what makes it tough. The toughest part of this position is to know these guys literally for two, sometimes three years and towards the end of the year, I develop this kind of separation anxiety. But that’s one of the more rewarding parts of the job.”

~nina quiles, managing editor

Luisa Turner attends famous music, drama academy

Since her childhood, senior Luisa Turner has demonstrated a natural talent for performing. She began singing in elementary school in her church choir and has continued throughout high school, joining numerous music clubs from chorus to acapella. Turner will attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York to pursue a career in musical performance, primarily singing.

“[Singing] was the main goal and still is, but theatre has now been added to that goal. If you love something, you will do it no matter the time management,” Turner said. “My goals for the future are to get my degree and then perform on broadway for a couple years, then break off from that and go on performing as a singer.”
Turner became involved in theatre during her freshman year when she took Emmet Bales’ theatre class. After watching a professional production of Into the Woods, she fell in love with theatre. Turner has performed in multiple plays every year of high school. Her favorite part is the double role as the narrator and the Mystery Man which she performs in her final play, Into The Woods. She enjoys the challenge of playing different personalities.
“[Mr. Bales] was really positive and showed us all the sides to theatre,” Turner said. “I fell in love with the sets on stage, the lights, the actors, the choreography, everything put into the show. I realized I wanted to be a part of that.”
According to Turner, the moment she is most proud of is the day she sang the National Anthem at the fall pep rally; she will repeat the performance at graduation.
“I am most proud of my progress from freshman year, a point where I didn’t know how to move gracefully on stage while acting and being afraid to sing in front of others, to now, where I dance and sing and act wherever I am,” Turner said.
Theatre teacher Emmet Bales has grown to appreciate Turner since she has started and has grown to appreciate her as an actor and also as an individual. He especially appreciates her maturity in discussing roles and styles with him rather than arguing. Bales is very proud of her for being accepted into AMDA, which is very difficult to get into. AMDA has more people on and off broadway than any other organization and requires an audition to be accepted.
“What I appreciate about Luisa, more than anything, is her drive. Once she decides she wants something, there is nothing to stand in her way to do that. She’s focused, she gives her 100 percent all the time,” Bales said. “She is a breeze to direct. I would always want her to be cast in one of my shows; she’s one of those people you always want to have around.”

~nina quiles, managing editor

Guardado excels in french, fascinated in culture

Although she has served as the Secretary of the National Honor Society and is on the Executive Council of the SCA, senior Rosemary Guardado’s real passion is French Club, a tightly-knit group of students under the guidance of French teacher Nicole Goepper. She has especially enjoyed learning aspects of French culture through the club.

“In the past, we have had a sense of community there,” Guardado said. “It is all of us, who loved French and Madame Goepper and took the classes and all hung out together. Madame Goepper’s class is mainly grammar and how to form sentences, so you don’t get much cultural aspect,” Guardado said. “We play games and learn about carnival and mardi gras. I didn’t realize how many countries speak French until I joined French Club.”

Guardado says that Goepper has been a driving force in her school career since middle school.

“I have had her since eighth grade, and she’s been my French teacher ever since,” Guardado said. “She has helped me a whole bunch of stuff: with French, academics, and even life. I’ll go to her for any sort of advice and she has pushed me to [excel].”

Last year, Guardado participated in the French exchange program and was there for two weeks.

“It was a total immersion,” Guardado said. “I tried really hard to not speak any English so I definitely learned a lot of slang and words that I didn’t know before. I also went to the catacombs in Paris, which was really cool because I had just taken anatomy. My friend and I were pointing out all the different bones.”

Guardado has been accepted into William and Mary and is thinking about pursuing a degree in mathematics.

“At first I was considering going into medical school nursing, but recently I’ve noticed that I really enjoy math,” Guardado said. “[Going to William and Mary] has been my dream since I was really little.”

~erica gudino, editor in chief

Tennis serves up wins in regular season performances


Boys Tennis

The boys tennis team currently stands 4-10, beating Culpeper 6-3 on May 9. The team has struggled with the loss of many strong seniors last year.
“Our team was kind of reset because all of our older players that were good [graduated],” junior Masahisa Takahashi said. “We just had to fill in roles and hope for the best.”
According to junior Ben Nesbit, the team has improved physically, but struggles mentally.
“We definitely have the strength and the capability to beat some of these guys, but our mental game is weak,” Nesbit said. “If we can just get our heads in gear, we can definitely start winning more games.”
The team stands fourth in the conference.
“We’ve done more running and more cardio buildup, trying to build stamina so we can continue to play throughout matches,” Nesbit said. “Getting away from our opponents has really improved, and I like how we’re looking [physically].”
The team’s game against Brentsville on April 28 was a turning point for many of the team members. In an upset, they beat their opponents 5-4.
“We had thought we had no chance, and we ended up winning, which should have not been possible, but somehow we managed to do it,” Takahashi said. “We walked in there and we were lucky.”
The team begins postseason play on May 15, facing Freedom, who they lost to twice during the regular season
“It’s going to be a tough match,” Nesbit said. “I think we can beat them; it just [depends on] whether or not our mentality has grown.”
The Falconer went to press before the results Monday’s conference game were available.


Girls Tennis

As the girls tennis team comes to the end of a strong season, with a record of 10-2, they currently stand second in the conference. After beating Culpeper 6-3 on May 9, they are preparing for post-season by ensuring their mental game remains strong.
“We have stay focused,” captain senior Kelley Violet said. “[We can’t] stress each other out; that’s the last thing we need.”
According to captain senior Rachel Crawford, despite winning 5-4, their match against Eastern View on May 4 was one of their hardest.
“We had some girls coming back from losses,” Crawford said. “Our doubles teams managed to pull out with a win, which was a huge break for us.”
According to Turner, one of the team’s biggest strengths is their perseverance.
“If we’re down by a certain amount, we’re pretty good at staying in the game,” Turner said. “We don’t give up if we’re down by a lot.”
The team also relies heavily on their experience, since many of the players are upperclassmen.
“Combined, we have over 15 years of experience,” Violet said. “The team knows how to find the opponent’s weaknesses and use them against them.”
The team has struggled with injuries, with Crawford out for the season due to a shoulder injury.
“A couple of us are working with sore muscles affecting how we play,” Violet said. “Injuries kind of set us back, but we’re compensating.”
The girls are trying to perfect their doubles teams before conference play.
“Everyone’s kind of unsure about things, and we kind of have to figure out who works best with each other,” Turner said.
The team will begin postseason play on May 15, going up against John Champe. After placing second in the conference tournament last year, they hope to place first this season. According to Turner, winning the conference tournament would be the perfect ending to a great season.
“All four years that I’ve been on the team, we’ve done pretty well,” Turner said. “It’s nice to know that we can still step up to the plate and do a good job.”
The Falconer went to press before the results of Monday’s conference game were available.

~katie johnston, features director

DECA competes at national level


Four students traveled to Anaheim, California, to compete in the national DECA competition from April 26-29. Three seniors qualified for the International Career Development Conference by placing in the top honors category at the DECA state competition March 3-5 in Virginia Beach. Freshman Sam Creveling also traveled to California to participate in the Leadership Academy, attending program seminars and classes throughout the week.
Senior Oliver Wrigley won first place in the state in Sports and Entertainment, while senior Erin Jones took second in Business Services and Marketing. Senior Emma Symanski came in fifth at states for Entrepreneurship Franchise Business plan. They are all still waiting to see the results of how they individually placed and scored at nationals.
At the national competition, Jones qualified to compete in the final round of Business Services and Marketing during the Achievement Awards session. She had placed in the top 10 in her test out of 160-200 competitors, and advanced to finals in the top 20, but didn’t place in the top 10 in the country.
“I couldn’t believe I had made it,” Jones said. “I didn’t even think they had called my name at first. I went into the awards session not expecting much, since there were so many competitors, so to say I was shocked was an understatement. I came down from the stage literally shaking with excitement, and it was definitely one of the coolest moments of my life.”
Jones was extremely grateful to qualify to go nationals since it’s her last year competing in DECA, and she values the “bigger picture” experience.
“Nationals was amazing and a completely different experience than states,” Jones said. “There were 18,000 students there competing, and the energy was something I’ve never experienced before. It really was a once—in—a—lifetime experience.”
Symanski spent the past couple of months working on a detailed, 30-page business plan for a restaurant franchise. She presented it at the state competition and again at nationals.
“Even though Oliver and I didn’t make it to the [national] finals, we are still waiting to see how we scored,” Symanski said. “But I think we both did a good job.”
DECA sponsor Kathleen Lynch traveled with the students to California and chaperoned their busy schedules through an action-packed and ultimately successful week.
“Everyone did great,” Lynch said. “Erin Jones was our one national finalist, which means she got called up on stage as a finalist, and got a medal for her test and her role plays. She competed alongside 19,000 students, so that was awesome. She didn’t make the top three finalists in the country, but we’re really excited that she was in the final competition.”
In addition to the role plays, leadership seminars, and tests, the group had time to go sightseeing around California. They traveled to downtown Anaheim and the Disneyland resort, and then Lynch drove the group through Hollywood.
“We went down Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Boulevard, and Venice Beach, where the water was so cold,” Lynch said. “We got all those touristy things on Saturday before we came back for the grand awards ceremony to see if Erin has placed first, second, or third.”
The four students appreciated Lynch taking the time to get the most out of their trip when they were at nationals.
“My favorite thing about California was was going to the beach,” Jones said. “I had never been out west and had never seen a west coast beach or the Pacific Ocean, so we went to Venice Beach and it was such a cool experience.”
Lynch is proud of what DECA has accomplished this year. Although it is expensive and takes a lot to compete at the national level, she encourages students who would like to travel to nationals in Atlanta next year to start thinking about it now. She and marketing teacher Tiffany Chappell welcome the opportunity to talk to students about options.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of what we’ve accomplished this year,” Lynch said. “The enthusiasm and the drive that these students had with this experience will carry them forward into college, as well, especially the seniors that are moving forward. I would encourage anybody who would like do this next year to be motivated and start practicing, now even. Start looking at improving and looking at what classes to take next year; just get that bug and say, ‘I’m going to do this.”

~julia sexton, news director

Lacrosse gears up for conference play


Girls Lacrosse

At a record of 5-6, the varsity girls lacrosse team is trying to strengthen their defense and improve the team’s record. On May 10, the team played against Liberty in a home game, losing 11-12. Junior Mindy Hale says that the loss was a reflection on how the season was this year.
“[The game and season] wasn’t as great as we wanted it to be,” Hale said. “Our defense is not where it was last year, and we knew that it was weak so a lot of it got to our heads.”
“We would get so hyped for a game, but when it gets canceled, then you can’t get in the same head space that you were in,” Hale said.
During the game against James Monroe on May 5, the Falcons lagged during the first 10 minutes, allowing Monroe to score five goals. Captain senior Maddie Martin says this shows that the Falcons have to start off strong and not fall back.
“Our defense hasn’t been as strong as normal,” Martin said. “We’re trying to figure out what our issues are and putting people in different positions. We’re still trying to work on transitions on going from defense to offense.”
At the beginning of the season, several games were canceled due to weather. To make up for lost time, the team had to play four games the week before conferences.
“We’re down to the wire; everyone is tired, but we all want to win,” senior Lexi Boone said. “Our record isn’t what we want it to be but we still have high spirits.”
With conference play beginning on May 15, the team is hoping to emerge victorious.
“I think we’re going to do really well. We’re really focused, and we want this for our coach,” Hale said. “He does so many things for us, and we know he really wants to do well.”

Boys Lacrosse

Despite a rocky season last year with a record of 4-9, the team is making a comeback at a current record of 7-5. In a game against Kettle Run on May 8, the Falcons won 16-5. Junior Nate Thomason said that it was the best game of the season.
“It was kind of nerve-racking because that is our rival, but we beat them,” Thomason said. “A lot of time we look at a game and judge it off of how many errors are made, but this game we had very few errors and everyone was having fun, which helped us play better.”
Unlike last season, the team is working harder on communication and has improved their offense. However, team captain senior Gordon Leary says that the defense needs some work.
“Our weakness is our defense because we have younger players that haven’t played much varsity level sports and need to feel more comfortable on the field,” Leary said.
During their game against Freedom High School on May 2, the team lost 9-20. Junior Jack Averna says that the team started the game off well, but deteriorated in the second half.
”That was a pretty tough game, but it was hard fought.” Averna said. “We put up some goals in the fourth quarter to shorten the lead but, the last three quarters, we were really playing up to their level.”
Despite a rough patch, the team’s chemistry is starting to come together. Averna says that the team needs to work more on team bonding, as well as fundamental passing and catching the ball. However, in spite of several hard losses during the season, Averna thinks the team will be motivated to end conference play strong.
“Coach always says that our losses are the best thing that can happen to us, so we will learn a lot from them and make a run this year,” Averna said.

~erica gudino, editor in chief

Body modifications represent individuality

Everyone has a different form of self expression, whether that’s fashion sense or humor. However, some choose tattoos and piercings which, although painful, serve as tools of self-expression.

Junior Shannon Aguilar, who has 10 piercings and 13 tattoos, many she did herself, says that her body modifications make her a walking museum where she can wear her story without having to tell it.
“I like the idea of body modifications because it shows [people] that this is my body, and I’m able to do what I want with it,” Aguilar said.“My favorite tattoo is the one for my cousin [who passed away]. It is a heart that goes into a heart rate, and then it flat lines. It has his name and the day that he died on it. It’s to remind me every day of who he was as a person.”
Junior Bethany Ramey, who got her first piercing at 14, says that she second-guesses her decision before she gets her piercings, but then she overcomes that fear and goes for it. She has five piercings, including her tongue and smiley.
“I think piercings show a different sense of somebody and [show the] different levels of pain they can handle; that makes them who they are,” Ramey said. “I don’t really care about the pain much.”
English teacher Lindell Palmer, who has two cartilage piercings, says what he likes most about piercings is that they aren’t permanent.
“You can change your look or commemorate an event in your life, but you’re not stuck with it,” Palmer said. “I enjoy art in general, so I find that piercings and tattoos are art forms, but with piercings you’re not as committed to it. I’ve had several piercings, throughout the years, usually to commemorate an important time in my life that I want to remember.”
Even though piercings and tattoos are creative ways to express oneself, there is always a possibility of complications. Ramey advises anyone who is thinking about getting a piercing to research how to care for them.
“Your skin could be sensitive, and if you irritate or touch it too much, it can [be rejected] from your body,” Ramey said. “Definitely know how to take care of them; you want to think about what could happen.”
Tattoo parlors provide instructions for caring for a tattoo and what to apply to it. Senior Jewelea Shubert, who has two tattoos and 10 piercings, used a saline gel to keep her tattoo moisturized and clean. However, she was surprised at how much her tattoo scabbed and itched afterward.
“Scabbing is kind of like when a sunburn peels, but imagine it being more itchy and dry; kinda scaley,” Shubert said. “[Your piercer should] give you steps on how to keep it clean, and as long as you maintain keeping everything clean, you shouldn’t have a problem.”
Although piercing guns are frequently used, needles are the safest strategy when getting a piercing. Shubert says that she has always used needles.
“A lot of people say that if you use a gun to pierce yourself, then it shatters [all the cartilage in your ear],” Shubert said.
Despite the appeal of body modifications, there are disadvantages to having them, including disapproval from family.
“People have told me that it’s gross and that they don’t like them, but it’s on my body and it’s my choice,” Aguilar said. “We are still human [even though we] have a different sense of style; we deserve the same respect as someone who doesn’t have tattoos and piercings.”
Junior Victor Roman says that, because he is Roman Catholic, many people don’t approve of his tattoo.
“They ask, ‘Don’t you think that’s going to affect your future or look bad when you’re older?’” Roman said. “[I tell them that] I don’t care; it’s what I want to do, and I feel like if I hadn’t done it at this age, I would have regretted it when I’m older. I wanted this, and I’ll be glad that I’ve had this experience.”
Before getting a tattoo or piercing, Roman advises teens to do research on different tattoo parlors and look at the artist’s previous work for reference.

“You have to go to a clean shop, one that you’ve heard multiple good reviews of,” Roman said. “If your artist charges more, you know you’re going to someone professional. Make sure you are getting something you’re willing to put up with.”

~erica gudino, editor in chief

DJ Smitty inspires, engages students

Engaging students with his quirky smile and witty jokes, government teacher David Smith begins class with a news notes presentation on current events everyday, an idea he got from his high school teacher.

“We only did it once a week. Everyone enjoyed [them],” Smith said. “I just felt that, because of the way our society is today, news notes are extremely important [to teach students how to] determine what is the news and how it is reported.”

The class then proceeds to take lecture notes on information students are required to learn for the curriculum, followed by a documentary or movie that pertains to government.
“[I like how] he jokes throughout his lessons. He is very laid back and friendly, which is a nice switch from the usually more professional tone of some teachers,” said senior Delaney Jooris, who has Smith for AP government. “He’s very understanding of how the average student functions. He understands we have other classes with equally strenuous work loads, and knows we can only pay close attention for so long.”
Through the years of teaching government, it becomes easier for Smith to appear politically neutral while teaching.
“It used to be really difficult [to be neutral],” Smith said. “I have learned, over time, how to say things without being [biased] to one side or the other. Sometimes, it’s very difficult; probably more so in this recent [election].”
Smith has lived in Fauquier County since he was born in 1953 in the county hospital, which is now the social security office. After graduating from FHS in 1971, Smith attended Mary Washington College where he majored in history and minored in economics. After graduating, Smith returned to Fauquier County to become a teacher. Over the past 42 years, Smith has taught a variety of social studies courses, including U.S. history, government, and economics.
“I have always had a tremendous love for the legal system. That naturally lends itself to the law and government. The judicial system [is my favorite part], without a doubt,” Smith said.
Over 30 years ago, Smith began incorporating mock trials into his classroom in the early 1980s. He participated in one during a pre-law class in college and thought the experience was powerful.
“We were doing the judicial system in one of my first government classes, and I really felt that students were not understanding the system; there had to be a different way of doing instructing,” Smith said. “I had heard about simulations for elections, so I thought I’d try a simulation of trial. It was just a one day activity, and it evolved into what it is today. I really didn’t know if it would work, and I was really shocked at how powerful it became.”
Every year, students in his AP and core government classes participate in numerous trials, which Smith records and saves. State police officers and members of the F.B.I. and C.I.A. have been witnesses in the trial.
“Because students do [the trials] themselves, they take ownership of whatever role they play. It becomes extremely important to them; they want to win and do well.” Smith said. “[Students] will even talk to me 15 or 20 years [later]. I’ll see them in a store, and the first thing they talk about are the trials. Of course, I’m trying to remember what it was like 20 years ago.”
Smith was influenced to become a teacher by Jim Wilson, one of the first black teachers at FHS.
“He was my supervisory teacher, and he showed me the way to care for students,” Smith said. “He was really active and involved with the students, which I thought was wonderful.”
Math teacher Wayne Leavell, who has known Smith for 19 years, believes Smith’s laid back attitude is a positive attribute to his teaching style.
“Mr. Smith is very, very knowledgeable,” Leavell said. “He has the appearance of being laid back, but he’s very precise and to the point and expects his students to be the same way.”
Smith’s favorite memory from his teaching career was a prank the senior class pulled when he first started teaching.
“Someone put a Volkswagen on top of the [overhang of the] bus ramp. I had a room in the 200s, so I looked out the window that morning, and I saw a Volkswagen sitting on the bus ramp. I hadn’t even noticed it when I came in,” Smith said. “I never knew how they did it.”
Smith’s hobbies and outside interests include the Warrenton Baptist Church, where he has been a member for 50 years, sports, computers and web design, and reading. In October, 2014, Smith published The Alluring Path, a 229 page historical mystery novel. The setting of the book is the Shenandoah Valley during the Great Depression.
“I began it as a short story during free time I had between [teaching] homebound students,” Smith said. “What inspired me to keep on writing was the students in my class. They would hear about it, and kept saying, ‘You can do it! Keep on trying!’ It was historical, and it was about an area I love: the Shenandoah Valley.”
Smith plans on continuing to teach for at least three more years.
“The biggest thing I want students to have is a questioning mind — not accepting anything at its face value,” Smith said. “My favorite part of teaching is when I can see students progress through their senior year and go into either work or further education. I love that.”

~emma dixon, copy production editor