Category Archives: features/arts

Tree Choice Strikes Debate

Rachel Harrington loves the tradition of decorating her Christmas tree.

When one thinks of Christmas, one big motif that comes to mind is the Christmas tree. It has a place of great importance in many people’s memories around the holidays. Recently, certain debate has gained more heat as we reach another year of practicing this christmas tradition, this debate being, real versus artificial trees.

While real trees have been a long time tradition for families, the world has modernized and artificial trees provide new opportunities to compete against the evergreens. According to the American Christmas Tree Association, 81 percent of christmas tree consumers ar using artificial trees while 19 percent are using real trees. However, real trees are not going down without a fight and are still a favorite among many.

Real trees come with many pros and cons. Beginning with the pros, real trees provide a very a traditional experience for people. Junior Rachel Harrington says that she prefers real trees over artificial trees for this reason.

“It’s fun to pick a new and different tree each year,” she says, “I like going out with my family and getting excited for the holidays.”

Another benefit includes the environmental benefit, some argue that cutting down real trees is not environmental friendly at all but christmas tree sellers and the American Christmas Tree Association combats this by saying that the trees are grown mainly on farms so they are not causing deforestation.

They also argue that real trees are a better option environmentally as they are 100 percent biodegradable, lead and chemical free, recyclable and created from renewable resources; all which artificial trees are not.

However, there are some cons that have been brought up to argue against real trees. One argument is that they are very dangerous as they are a possible fire hazard and people also comment that many are allergic to the pine trees. Sophomore Gillian Royal is one of these people so she has an artificial tree that she brings down from her attic every year.

Other arguments include the mess and maintenance as real trees constantly drop pine needles and require to be watered every day. Consumers also comment that real trees are too expensive and since you only have them for about a month and then throw them out, the prices are unreasonable.

Artificial trees come with their pros and cons as well. One pro that many enjoy is the wide variety that the artificial tree provides. Because, the trees are man made, consumers can buy them in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Royal says that it’s fun to have a variety of things to choose from and sophomore Cammi Winston says that her family puts up a white tree and “it makes a tree unique.”

Another pro is the financial benefit. Winston says that her family gets their tree from Walmart. “They usually have a good variety of colors and prices,” she says. Although they can be found to be more expensive than the average real tree, consumers can use the tree every year, therefore, they save more money every year.

Unlike real trees, artificial trees are argued to be safer and cleaner as most are argued to be non-flammable, do not drop needles and do not require watering.

However, like real trees, artificial trees also have their cons. For one, they are not very environmental friendly, according to tree sellers across America. They are created from non-renewable resources such as petroleum and contain lead. They are also not recyclable and many end up in landfill when thrown away.

Artificial trees also do not provide the annual tradition of going out picking a christmas tree and do not have any other traditional factor such as the smell. Royal says that real trees “smell nice and it’s like growing a tree in your house,” but due to her allergies, she can not have a real tree.

While people claim that artificial trees are non-flammable, tree sellers debate this is not true and allege that when the lights burn out or blow on an artificial tree, they have a high chance of catching fire.

Despite the hot debate, one thing most can agree on is that the christmas tree is a beautiful part of the holiday which brings both sides together. “You can still celebrate christmas without a tree but it’s a big part of the holiday,” say Winston. Royal agrees in saying “it brings spirit, joy, light, and happiness; it just makes Christmas better.”

by Rachel Singleton–Sports Editor


Wrapping Up for Christmas

Emma Anderson always puts he love and time into every gift she wraps.

Gift-giving has been a long time holiday tradition that started as a mainly religious rite in which Christianity used it in remembrance of the three wise men gifting gold, frankincense, and mure to the baby Jesus. The rite quickly spread and is now a popular christmas tradition that is practiced by many.

As the Christmas season comes around for it’s annual visit, so does the holiday stresses. While the holiday comes with feelings of joy and celebration, it is also accompanied by many expectations that many feel may be unreachable. According to a poll taken by the American Psychological Association, 61 percent of Americans experience holiday stress due to the financial and time strain, specifically around one expectation which is gift-giving.

This stress can be especially impactful on students who don’t always have the time or money to practice this tradition. According to a survey taken by the Falconer,  52 percent of Fauquier students experience gift-giving stress while 15 percent do not and 33 percent said sometimes.

Freshman Ellie Henry says that christmas shopping can be stressful when you don’t have enough money and when you don’t know if they’ll like the gift. She says that it’s always ok to just give a nice card because it shows you thought of them. “Christmas gifts should not always be expected, it’s the appreciation you show on a daily basis that matters,” Henry says.

Sophomore Aidan Stanton also experiences holiday stress and says that he loves giving gifts but sometimes shopping is difficult when you don’t have enough money. “Sometimes you might want to give someone a big gift but you have lots of other people to gift things to,” said Stanton. Stanton says that he usually shops midway through December because he needs to get all the money for shopping first.

Stanton does not believe gift-giving should be expected as some people don’t have the time or money to do so. “But that’s ok,” said Stanton, “the best and easiest gifts to give someone is a big hug or a nice text… because it shows you care.”

Students also say that gift-giving is not stressful. Sophomore Emma Anderson says that gift-giving is not stressful for her because she can usually afford to buy the gifts and she enjoys giving gifts to the people she loves. She, however, still plans in advance and shops weeks in before christmas so she has time to wrap and give them.

Anderson believes that it should be expected to give gifts on christmas, “it is a tradition… but it’s understandable if something conflicts that.”

Senior Nick Furr agrees with Anderson in saying gift shopping is not stressful but also says that he can’t but anyone any expensive gifts as he like to give gifts to a lot of people.

No matter if gift giving is stressful for you or not, Christmas is a period of celebration where one can spend time with family and friends and enjoy life and should not be a time of stress and anxiety. If any student is feeling stressed about the holidays, talk to someone; whether it be friend, a trusted teacher, or guidance counselor. Make sure the holidays this year are full of joy and memories and not stress and negativity.

by Rachel Singleton–Sports Editor

December 2018 Artist of the Month

Caroline brings her ideas to life in the form of art through different mediums and colors.

Junior Caroline Austin was nominated by the art department to be the Fauquier Falcon’s Artist of the Month. Austin is currently taking Art 3 with art teacher Charlene Root. Austin said that she loves art and just being able to sit down and express herself. She said her favorite mediums to work with are water colors and painting with acrylics. Her art teachers, Dawn Brown and Root, have been very supportive as well said Austin. “Mrs. Brown is amazing and Mrs. Root has really helped me learn,” Austin said. Both teachers agree that Austin is an exceptional art student. “[She] is a very creative, hard-working artist who enjoys the challenge of every assignment,” said Root. Brown said that Caroline is one of the best art students she’s ever had. “She is creative, innovative, and original in her thought process and project production,” said Brown. “I can always count on her for Art Club, often working on community projects on her own time.”

by Rachel Singleton–Sports Editor

FHS Introduced to the Art of Dance

Arttacgo Luckett impressed many FHS students during his brief time teaching them dance.

Acclaimed dance choreographer Arttacgo Luckett from Indianapolis, Indiana came to Fauquier High School on Monday, November 26, on an invitation from drama teacher Emmett Bales. Mr. Bales invited him to come give the students a dance experience as Luckett is a professional choreographer. Mr. Bales was Arttacgo’s drama teacher back in 2002 when he was a senior in high school.

The students react positively to his spirited energy, fun personality, and insightful criticism.  “He is very cool, chill and smooth,” sophomore Dayvonte Hill said. “Its kinda like he is just one of the boys.”

Luckett was excited to come to FHS to teach the theater classes. “I’m here to share my gifts with the wonderful students of Fauquier,” Luckett said. “My favorite thing is definitely seeing the growth in the kids, and everyone having fun and getting introduced to new things that they haven’t been exposed to necessarily.”

The theater classes break up their lessons into about a week and a half to get a feel for different experiences of theater. Each class is being taught how to waltz, afro funk (a fusion between hip-hop, jazz and African dancing), and the students are working on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as well. The dances are based upon how Luckett is feeling and the energy the students give off. Luckett has worked with professional recording artists, who are in development.

Along with being a talented choreographer, Arttacgo is gifted in other fields in the arts including hair styling, wig design, staging for musicals, painting, drawing, singing, writing music, and costume design. He has been choreographing and teaching dance since he was twelve years old–about 21 years.

Luckett gets to travel often and he has the opportunity to meet new people since he doesn’t have a studio keeping him to one city. “I don’t have my own studio because I like the freedom to not be tied down to one place so I can go share my gifts to other places,” Luckett said. “Having my own place is a lot of responsibility so I like to not have to worry about that.”

Arttacgo travels all over the country and continues to teach dance and share his gifts.

by Dakota Santee and Emilee Korent–Staff Reporter

Dr. Croft Talks About Life Outside of FHS

Science teacher Dr. Croft helps students with an experiment.

For three years Dr. Catherine Croft has been teaching biology and anatomy at Fauquier High School. But she also has an extensive and interesting life out of Fauquier High School including experience in neurology research labs, a game board company, various scientific papers, and many more. Her classes are always bumbling with engaging experiments and excited students.

Croft states, “I love teaching, I love explaining things to people, I like bridging the gap between scientists and the public because there’s such a huge gap. Some people don’t know what scientists do, and scientists don’t usually like talking to people, so I feel like it’s my calling to do that.”

Teaching was not her first calling though, she recalls that in high school she loved history and wanted to pursue it.  She admits, “I hated science with a passion because it was taught so badly, and it was really boring, and I didn’t understand. And then I happened to tour a lab when I was in college at Duke [where] they were cutting up brains. I thought ‘that’s amazing’ and ‘I really want to do that.’ So I took all these classes, and I really liked neuroscience.” This slice of inspiration led her to start a path towards being a research professor. She continued her four years at Duke University and went into graduate school for a PhD. in science and attended UVA for six years in neuroscience. But she didn’t stop there; she continued for a post-doctorate and went into the National Institute of Health with a focus on how the brain develops.

“I would do lots of self-biology like growing neurons [and] lots of microscopy to look at them. I would alter the DNA of the neurons and see what happened, like [with] different pathways. I would do electrophysiology, which is when you [seal] electrodes [onto neurons] using a microscope, and then you measure the activity of the neurons. [I did] lots of biochemistry to see what kind of proteins were expressed in different neurons.” She did this for five years. She then spent three years in a bioinformatics lab. Croft explains, “It’s up and coming so it’s all computer-based research. We would take all of the known genes linked to autism, so [there are] thousands of them. Then we would do network analysis to see where in the brain they are expressed how they interact with each other and we would try and predict new genes for autism. It was really fascinating.”

She was on the brink of fulfilling her dream, but it took a turn when she had kids. “It sounds like a cliché, but it’s really hard for women in science because it’s really really [hard] to have your own lab and to have babies. If you want to spend any time with your babies it’s not possible. It was really sad and heartbreaking for me.” She pushed on and decided to become a writer after her colleagues tried to convince her to stop her search for teaching. Writing, however, didn’t allow her to do what she loved: Interacting with people. So she decided to get her feet wet: Tam Pouler convinced her to be a long-term sub for Mrs. Copperthite and she was officially lured into the teaching game.

Experiments such as pulling DNA from strawberries and various dissections engage students and make them eager to learn. She says that she tries to be the teacher she never had. She admits she only had one good science teacher but every other teacher didn’t do relevant things. “I never really understood what scientists did or why we were doing anything. There was always an answer to the lab and [you were] supposed to get [a specific] answer and that’s not fun. I like making little mysteries and [therefore] you have to [learn] how to think, not just get an answer.”

Croft is also co-coach of Fauquier High Schools Academic Team. “We’re really strong; we’re really really smart. They are very assertive; I think they are growing in confidence.” Her ties to Academic Team stretch back to when she was in high school. She was part of her school’s academic decathlon but explains that it was different from the academic team. “It was ten different subjects and we took tests on them and then there’s one of them called a super quiz that’s in front of people, [and] you don’t buzz in your answers. I was really competitive with that so I kinda want to give back. It was so fun for me.”

Croft’s enthusiastic personality and engaging teaching style sets her apart from the average teacher. When asked what her favorite thing about teaching is her answer was simple, “My students, I like when they excited about experiments, that makes me happy.”

by Nayeli Arellano–Staff Reporter

To shop or not to shop:

Graphic created by Hannah Singleton

Black Friday: An American “holiday” of sorts which takes place the day after Thanksgiving every year. A day which is considered the first day of Christmas shopping, for which many (if not all), retailers offer phenomenal deals and/or discounts. Many Americans celebrate this day by spending their time shopping at their favorite stores, taking advantage of the discounts offered. Others, more hardcore shoppers, start the holiday the night of Thanksgiving by camping outside of their favorite stores, and lying in wait for their selected store to open. There are a few issues, however, with the Black Friday tradition. The first being many shoppers become very aggressive on this day to buy their Christmas gifts, and it is very hard to get anything anywhere without stooping to their level of aggression. Another flaw, as junior Savannah Snider points out, is that: “Black Friday is too inconvenient. The traffic is usually crazy, so is getting a parking spot. Plus you have to weave your way through thick crowds to get to where you want to go.”

A proposed alternative to Black Friday, however, has recently risen from the ashes: Cyber Monday; the Monday after Thanksgiving during which stores offer the same incredible discounts, simply online instead. So one is able to shop for the same things with the same discounts, from the comfort of their own home. Many people, such as junior Ethan Hawes, prefer this to its alternative (Black Friday): “I prefer Cyber Monday, because there is a much wider variety online than in stores.” Hannah Robbins, also a junior, tends to disagree with Hawes: “ I prefer Black Friday, because I am able to see what I’m getting: It’s right in front of me. I can easily try it on right there and see if it fits. Also, I love going out late at night to shop: Everyone is outside with you, and it’s really crazy, and you just spend hours shopping with hundreds of other people in the same store. It’s just fun.”

As seen from the quotes above, both days have their respective positives and negatives. However, some believe that there aren’t enough people in the world who enjoy the thrill of shopping like Robbins. They fear that Cyber Monday will soon render Black Friday obsolete, since to so many, waiting out in the cold, dark, night for exceptional deals can in no way compete with the world of online, where you can receive the exact same deals from the comfort of home. Junior Nicola Tressler, is one of these people. When asked if she fears that Black Friday will one day be swallowed whole by the ever-expanding online market, her answer was clear: “I believe it definitely has the potential, because Americans tend to be more lazy when it comes to stuff like that. (They prefer) like staying inside, and (being) on electronics instead of going out and experiencing things.” Others, like junior Jillian Keilholtz, believe the tradition will stay long standing: “I don’t think it will because Black Friday is not just about the deals. Most of the time the deals aren’t that good. It’s just the whole experience of waking up early and going out with your friends shopping that makes Black Friday what it is.”

Although everyone may not agree on which day to spend shopping, there is one thing all Americans can agree on: Deals like those offered on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are once a year, and should most definitely be taken advantage of. So, whether it’s from the comfort of one’s home, or out late at night with hundreds of others, make sure to shop til’ you drop!

by celeste pollack–news editor

Thanksgiving Reaches the Culture of Students

Photo provided by Jamie McCloud
Jamie McCloud gets to have the best of both worlds with a half-American, half-Dominican Thanksgiving experience.

I moved to America from France at age ten; I was foreign to the country as well as its native traditions. Amongst these traditions was the one of Thanksgiving: (in North America) an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621, and is held in the US on the fourth Thursday in November, as defined by Google Dictionary. So, when my family moved here, the “Thanksgiving tradition” was unlike anything we already knew. We have, over time however, adapted to the American way of life and now happily spend Thanksgiving with our immediate family. We still, however, have added a European twist to how we celebrate the holiday, mainly in the form of traditional foods. We still have the traditional turkey, but it is usually coupled with another meat, such as beef. We also do not have the traditional yam casserole or stuffing, but instead we have asparagus and broccoli coupled with different salads. Lastly, for dessert, instead of an assortment of pies, we have the traditional Buche, which is a chocolate cake rolled up with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

Freshmen Jamie McCloud and Ariane Drakic-Cuéllar are in the same boat as I, both having a culture diverging from the American norm. Jamie Mccloud is half Dominican. Because of this, she also eats a wide variety of non-American foods for her family’s Thanksgiving: “We have chicken, ham, and turkey, empanadas, rice and beans, flan, and tres leches.” Ariane, who is Bolivian, also has a diverse food selection for her family’s Thanksgiving: “We usually eat about the same things but with a mix of either Cuban or Bolivian food like croquetas, frijoles, milanesa and salads.” When asked if they have any traditions differing from Americans, Drakic-Cuéllar responded, “Not really, we just have a lot of people who come over,” McCloud added: “It’s a party!”

When asked about her culture, Freshman Paige Shorey had the perfect way to describe hers: “My family is as American as it gets!”  They are, what one might call the perfect model for a “traditional American family.” So when asked what her family traditionally eats at Thanksgiving dinner, the answer proved her original claim true: “The normal turkey, cranberry sauce, we always bring the Waldorf salad, rolls, mashed potatoes… I always get extra helpings of rolls.” One couldn’t find a more traditional Thanksgiving meal if Googling it! When asked of her Thanksgiving traditions, her answer was concise: “We always go to my Nana’s house. She bakes like most of the stuff.” So, whether you are French, Dominican, Bolivian, or plain American, everyone can pull away from this that Thanksgiving is a delicious holiday. One which should be celebrated in giving thanks to your loved ones, as well as enjoying the multitude of foods your family makes.

by celeste pollack–news editor