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The website of Fauquier High School's student newspaper, the Falconer. 100% student run.

FHS Community Divided Over Assembly Speaker

The student body, along with teachers and staff, attended an assembly organized by the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) club featuring speaker Angela Marie “Bay” Buchanan on Monday, November 11, Veterans Day. Buchanan is a conservative political commentator who served under the Reagan Administration as Treasurer of the United States. She spoke about leadership, however, she made several comments that spurred controversy among FHS. She touched on topics such as abortion, rape, second amendment rights and feminism that some found inappropriate for a high school assembly.  

Some students were not expecting the topics Buchanan spoke on as examples of her talking points, and after the assembly, they felt the meaning of her message was lost. “The beginning of the speech was perfectly fine, but when she got into the controversial topics that’s where it fell for me,” senior Zoe Savage said. “I was it expecting it to be more about leadership.”

Senior Caroline Austin also commented on the event saying, “The whole thing sounded crazy. It didn’t make any sense. She used very inflammatory language that I would not use in a crowd full of students.”

Buchanan addressed the controversy she stirred within the school. “My goal is always to promote the exchange of ideas among young people. Debating the issues exposes you to different points of view, forces you to listen and openly consider positions you oppose, all of which [strengthen] your own beliefs. It is how young people begin a path toward strong and bold leadership,” said Buchanan. 

She added, “For a school to be afraid of bringing to the attention of their students differing ideas, or to fail to challenge their students to openly discuss their beliefs and to listen with respect to those with whom they disagree, is to abdicate their responsibility to educate. The students of Fauquier High School have been well-served.”    

There were also concerns over students who were told they couldn’t leave the assembly. Senior Melissa Lucas was one of these students. Lucas said she felt uncomfortable when Buchanan mentioned rape and incest and felt the need to leave the assembly. Lucas explained, “I got up and said that I was going to leave. [A teacher] asked me where I was going to go. I said ‘the main office’ and [the teacher] said ‘you can stand here and wait for a couple of minutes until it’s over.’” Lucas stayed for the rest of the assembly. 

 Fauquier County Public Schools issued an apology on Tuesday in response to concerns made by students and parents over the assembly. The apology read in part, “Moving forward, Fauquier County Public Schools will ensure that guest speakers adhere to School Board Policies. We offer our sincerest apologies for the outcome of this assembly and its impact on some of our students.” 

On Thursday, November 14, Principal Kraig Kelican addressed concerns over the loudspeakers throughout the school. He announced, “I take full responsibility and I apologize,” Kelican added, “My intent is to support our students at Fauquier High School.” In an interview, he shared that he believed the speech was to focus on leadership and community service. However, she made several comments that were not acceptable. He “felt in the beginning [that the speech] was appropriate. However, [Buchanan’s] examples were not appropriate.” Kelican says he is “more than happy” to speak to any student who has concerns regarding the assembly. 

He also responded to students’ comments concerning the assembly’s aptness for Veterans Day. He asserted that the event was not intended to be a Veterans Day assembly. He reminds students that the school did many things to celebrate veterans including having the choir sing the morning of Veterans Day. He also mentioned that on Friday, November 8, when the Freedom Riders visited FHS, the choir sang and the band played for them and students hand-delivered cards to them.

The idea for the assembly was born after several YAF members attended a YAF conference over the summer and heard Buchanan speak. Senior Nicola Tressler was one of these members. “We really appreciated her very impressive resume and her successes in her past,” Tressler said. She said it has been YAFs goal since Tresslers sophomore year to host a speaker at the school. “It took a lot of hard work to do it,” Tressler said, “[we hoped] for good publicity for YAF, but it didn’t turn out that way.” 

Tressler explained that Buchanon was bipartisan most of the time. However, she said many students missed the point. “We weren’t expecting chaos to come from this. We wanted it to just be a good way to get YAF out there. We didn’t want to push anything down [students’] throats, that was never our goal, that was never what we were meaning to do. I didn’t want it to come across that way, [and] I am remorseful about that.” 

Lily Paccassi was another YAF member that helped organize the event. She said it was an honor to have Buchanan speak at FHS. “I think a lot of people complaining about it weren’t paying attention. She wasn’t trying to convince anyone to do anything,” Paccassi said. “I think people need to pay attention before they whine.”

Assembly Video:

By Nayeli Arellano – News Editor

FHS Fights Breast Cancer

About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. October is breast cancer awareness month, and the impact of breast cancer can be seen through the stories of Fauquier High School students.

Junior Daniela Lawhorn recently found out her mother had breast cancer in February. “It was pretty scary because it was a new topic to us,” said Lawhorn. “It made us help out more. She’s the central part of our family, and if she’s not feeling her best, then we all have to pitch in.”

When asked what she has learned throughout the event, she said, “Don’t take things for granted, there’s a lot of times during her process that we seriously don’t know if it’s going to take a really wrong turn, so you have to be ready for whatever will happen.”

Lawhorn’s message to those in a similar situation is to “be patient, no matter how hard it is for you, it’s even harder for that person.”

Junior Emily Glaze found out her mother had breast cancer in 2010. “It honestly didn’t worry me at all because my mom promised me that she would fight it and it wouldn’t tear her down,” said Glaze.

With the sudden news, the family had to pitch in. “We helped her by helping out around the house and just making jokes and making sure that she knows that we all love and support her,” said Glaze. “I learned that my mom is the strongest woman I know.”

The school held two pink outs to showed its support for those who fight, and fought, breast cancer. One was during the school day and one was during a football game.

By Amanda Arellano – Sports Editor

Cosmetology: Preparing Students for the Real World

Styling hair, doing manicures and giving facials are just a fraction of the skills cosmetology students are taught. However, it goes farther than that.

What is unique about Fauquier’s cosmetology course is that students can become licensed cosmetologists by the time they graduate. This means that once they leave high school they can go directly into the workforce with all the skills they need to know in hand.

To many cosmetology students, this is incredibly helpful for jumpstarting their careers. “I would like to start off my career doing hair and then go on to bigger things,” senior Kari Dudley says. She says she plans on getting licensed in cosmetology before she graduates.

Even if these students don’t want to pursue a career in cosmetology, they learn valuable skills needed in any type of working environment such as teamwork and communication.

Many students take the hands-on skills they learn in class and use it on themselves and family members.

Senior Darlene Ruiz says she uses the skills she learns in class to do her cousin’s hair. Ruiz and others in the class plan on getting certified as a backup plan for their future.

Currently, Cosmetology III students are learning to color and perm hair. They also learn how to wax and do pedicures and manicures.

By Nayeli Arellano – News Editor

Artist of the Month

Junior Amber Bozella is the Fauquier Falcon Artist of the Month for October. Bozella currently takes Art III with art teacher Rebecca Graham.

Her older sister played a huge role in the inspiration behind her love for art. “My sister used to be an artist, and as a child I loved to watch what she did and replicate the things that she drew,” said Bozella.

When asked what art style she prefers, Bozella said, “I like everything, especially painting.”

Graham said that Bozella is her only student enrolled in her Art III class. This puts her at a higher level than others in the class. “Amber’s strength is doing realisms and very realistic paintings,” said Graham who has high hopes for Bozella and is very proud of the artist that she has become.

By Margret McGee

Positivity Fills the Walls of FHS

Index cards decorate the walls of girls bathrooms, spreading motivational and inspiring messages.

Student Life Editor

Who knew something so small could be so inspiring? A mysterious yet contagious case of kindness can be found around many of the school’s women’s restrooms. It started with one person, and the simple act leads to an encouraging chain reaction.

Positive notes in the form of inspiring statements written on index cards, can be found in the female bathrooms on the first, third and fourth floors. These small, random quotes decorate the entire room. The messages were started by one intrigued student who found the yellow cards with a quote hanging in every bathroom entrance meaningful.

This student, who requested anonymity, said the idea was sparked when she was looking for a way to help others. “I was just not feeling great [and] because I’m one of those people who feels better when I can make other people feel better. It was one of those weird feelings where I didn’t know exactly what was wrong with me so I was like let me do something that benefits everybody.”

A similar situation happened last year when students used window paint to create a happy environment by painting thoughtful messages on the mirrors. The painting was ended by the administration as the paint was hard to take off the mirrors.

Now with approval from the janitorial staff, the artist has begun to share these brief but inspiring affirmations. Written on note cards, and placed on the wall with tape, they can be easily removed without leaving a mark.

“I like to draw and make cool stuff and I have 10,000 index cards at home. [I asked myself] ‘What am I going to do with them?’ I don’t use flashcards. So, every Monday I would write them. I’d prefer to go [to the bathroom] in the middle of classes. I would ask, ‘Can I go use the bathroom?’ Then I would run down all the flights of stairs really quick and post three or four [positive notes] in each bathroom, ” the student said.

For a majority of students, the bathroom is used for more than just using the restroom. Students use it as a sanctuary on bad days, where they met up with a friend who will comfort them. For many students, they prefer to walk into space where they feel welcomed.

Although it may take away from class time, this movement has created an awareness of others in the school community.

“I feel like it should be a thing people [participate in]. It’ll be kind of weird to just grab note cards from the bathroom but if people do something when they are bored they can impact others,” the student said.

For many, these notes create courage, hope, and happiness. Although one student may just be wasting time in the bathroom to design an index card another student will find meaning in the simple message. Students are unknowingly making others day better one note at a time.

Teens often deal with drama and other problems while going through adolescence and high school. These notes make students aware that others stand with them. Through these “positive notes,” all different types of female students help each other out and relate with one another. “They can just stick positive notes in the bathroom because you never know who needs it,” the student says.

By Catherine Smith – Student Life Editor

School Board Candidates Suit Up for Elections

All five Fauquier County school board members will be elected this Tuesday.   

Seven candidates, Susan Pauling, Rachel Bongiovi, Don Mason, Stephanie Litter-Reber, Shelly Norden, Suzanne Sloane and Mike Hammond are vying for these spots. Sloan and Mason are seeking reelection. 

Pauling and Bongiovi are in the running for the Central District board seat left open by Center District board member Brian Gorg. 

Pauling is a parent of three and active in her children’s parent-teacher organization. “One of the big things [I want to focus on] is improved communication and transparency for all stakeholders,” said Pauling. “I want to make sure we are being transparent with every decision we make…and our community is aware of what is happening with our schools.” According to Fauquier Now, Pauling plans to work towards further teacher support. She wants to make sure teachers have everything they need to teach their students. Pauling also advocates for more attention towards music, art and sports programs.

If Kettle Run graduate Bongiovi, age 25, is elected, she would become the youngest school board member in the history of Fauquier. Bongiovi is a mental health professional who works with children at  Chrysalis Counseling Center. Because of her profession her primary focus in her campaign is student mental health. According to her campaign website, she previously she met with Sheriff Bob Mosier to discuss mental health within Fauquier County schools. She also wants to focus on the improvement of teacher pay and fiscal responsibility, according to Fauquier Times  Bongiovi hopes to increase support for students and their mental health.

Sloan, Norden and Hammond are in a three-way race for the Scott District seat.

 Sloan is running for reelection after a four-year term. She has worked in the education field for 30 years and currently has two sons in the school system. If elected, she wants to make sure that “each student has what is needed to fully succeed.” She also strongly emphasizes working as a team to engage students in their learning. Three priorities she wants to achieve in office are school safety, staff retention and the looming issues surrounding the aging middle schools. “I love Fauquier County and want to continue to serve the students, staff and constituents through my work at the school board,” Sloan stated. 

Norden, an FHS alumna and previous CBS News producer, now teaches journalism and English at Kettle Run High School. She shared that she is running for office because although she’s a teacher, she says she’s also a taxpayer and cares about how her taxes are being spent. “I realized that by not speaking out, I was part of the problem,” Norden says. Her top focus concerns how taxes are being spent on education. “Education happens in classrooms, yet that appears to be the last place our tax dollars are being spent,” Norden says. She adds that our school system needs to work on teacher retention and hiring experienced teachers. She sees fair teacher compensation as crucial in improving teacher retention. 

Hammond is a father of two daughters and says he has immersed himself in the school system and “rather than sit back and watch, I want to be involved.” He expresses concern over teacher pay and believes they should be paid fairly, starting with establishing competitive wages. He believes the school system should “put money in the right places,” and spending should be made responsibly. He also shares a common opinion with the other candidates regarding support for the renovation of Taylor and Warrenton Middle Schools, which have recently become a topic of concern due to their age.

Mason is a retired father of two and has worked in the Prince William school division for 39 years. Mason is seeking reelection. He is competing with Litter-Reber over the Lee District seat. As a school board member, Mason worked on the renovation of the two middle schools, Warrenton and Taylor. According to Fauquier Now, he says he wants to focus on “equality and equity. ” Mason is a FHS alumnus of FHS has experience in a segregated school system,” said Mason. He also advocates for more support for students in special education and smaller class sizes. 

Litter-Reber is a navy veteran, IT manager and parent of two. She’s seeking the Lee District seat facing Mason. She said she is running for office because, as a parent, she saw a “need.” “It is not in my nature to sit back and complain without getting off my butt to find a solution,” she says. She wants to focus on open communication between the schools, teachers, administration and the community. “You can’t influence change without understanding the big picture, and taking into account the viewpoints of all involved,” she says. She also wants to keep Fauquier schools competitive while keeping “the qualities that make Fauquier special.”

There are currently five school board members. Members are elected for four-year terms, and each member represents the five voting districts in the county. Elections will be held on November 5.

By Nayeli Arellano – News Editor

Joke’s Over

“Joker” is an intense yet utterly brilliant character study which grapples the movie-goer’s attention from start to finish. Inspired by Martin Scorsese’s 1970’s hit Taxi Driver and his 80’s success of “The King of Comedy, Joker” depicts the stark and violent descent into madness of the mentally ill failed clown and stand up comic, Arthur Fleck.

Throughout the movie, it illustrates how a ravenous 70’s esc society can drive a person to the point of violence. Though it’s controversial nature, the movie doesn’t sympathize with one single viewpoint.

Within multiple instances of the movie, the main character goes through serious physical and mental abuses, to which his actions at times seem justifiable. But as his descent into madness deepens as the plot progresses, you begin to feel more and more disgusted as Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker becomes increasingly violent and homicidal.

Going into this film blind I expected nothing less than a mediocre “Taxi Driver” knock off in a drab superhero manner, and leaving the theater, I was thoroughly surprised. With the Oscar worthy performance of Joaquin, the chilling score by Hildur Guðnadóttir, the masterful cinematography and plethora more aspects of this meticulously created film, I was stunned.

The wonderfully written story riddles you with anxiety, unknowing when Arthur will finally snap, and combined with Phoenix’s near perfect performance it will literally keep you on the edge of your seat. Not to mention the satisfaction gained when Joaquin finally puts on the iconic make up, strutting his joker swag dancing around Gotham.

The color grading utilized unique contrasts to set the mood. The pacing of the movie was as smooth as butter.

Everything about this drama thriller just screams movie of the year, and though it remains controversial, it has every right to win at the Academy.

By Vincent Fanelli – Contributor