Category Archives: features/arts

Young Life provides safe space for adventure

For the past three summers, junior Emma Gorg has been a camp counselor at Capernaum, one of many Young Life camps. Young Life is a Christian group focused on improving the lives of teenagers by spreading their message of faith. Capernaum is focused on students with intellectual and physical disabilities, where they can participate in activities ranging from horseback riding to zip-lining to swimming. The camp lasted for five days and took place in Rockbridge County. Gorg had two buddies for the week, one of them a student at FHS.
“I’ve always had a special place in my heart for special-needs kids, and I have been to many Young Life camps myself so I wanted to give [them] an opportunity to do what I’ve always loved to do [at] these camp,” Gorg said.
This summer was junior Aleeya Hodul’s first time attending Camp Capernaum. Being that her little brother has Down syndrome, Hodul said she wanted to be a part of the impact that Young Life makes on these teenagers lives.
“It was a lot of fun, and I definitely learned a lot about the campers and how much like us they actually are,” Hodul said.
The camp’s main priority is to give these campers the ultimate summer experience, one where their disabilities don’t overshadow their abilities to have fun and be adventurous, while also tying these activities in with daily messages of God.
“[The camp is centered around] having fun and making sure they’re OK, helping them grow spiritually and hear the message that they had each week,” Gorg said. “Another part was encouraging them to get out of their shell. You don’t necessarily want to get them out of their comfort zone, because then they’ll get scared, but allowing themselves [to realize] they are capable of doing all the same stuff.”
One of the camp’s main objectives is to incorporate sermons in a way that the campers can comprehend. The campers learn about the basic story of Christ, his death for the people’s sins, his resurrection and how he loves each of them personally.
“We related how Jesus forgives us for our sins to [them being able to] forgive their friends, by a hug,” Gorg said. “We say, ‘You can trust that you’re not going to fall, just like you can trust Jesus to be there for you.’ Most of the time, I tried to incorporate the [message] into each activity.”
Before becoming a camp counselor, students must go through basic training and fill out a questionnaire. Through this, they learn how to care for the campers properly and how to respond to over stimulation.
“You learn wheelchair etiquette, to not kneel down and not touch someone else’s wheelchair,” Gorg said. “[I was also taught] how to help someone when they get uncomfortable and overstimulated. We always have a set of earplugs on us; or if they just need a quiet moment, we’re taught to pull them out and talk to them.”
Because each camper had a different challenge, Hodul was able to learn how to care for each camper depending on the individual needs.
“You had to see the differences [in each diagnosis] and adjust to how you would approach situations,” Hodul said. “You just have to comforting and encourage them and be there for them, more than anything.”
Gorg said personality and attitude were key factors in making the campers comfortable and engaged. She found that she had to overcome her shy demeanor in order to do the best for them.
“Originally, I was always quiet and never was outgoing, but I’ve learned to be more outgoing. If you’re outgoing, then they will be, too, because they see [that example],” Gorg said.
Hodul said being a part of this camp made her more aware of students with special needs, and she has begun to befriend them more than she would prior to the camp.
“There was a lot of positivity and everyone there was so helpful; if you looked like you needed help, everyone was there to help you out and help the campers,” Hodul said. “[People need to learn that the campers] are different, but they’re more like us than you realize.”

~erica gudino, editor-in-chief


Martinez tours the country with Drum Corps International

This past summer, one exceptional student from Fauquier High School made the cut to join the Drum Corps International Tour, a marching band that traveled the U.S. playing in shows and competitions in various big name cities. Junior Alex Martinez spent over 2 months with the group learning about band and the realities of how it works.

“We’re basically just a band on a tour bus. We did competitions at High Schools and big football stadiums,” Martinez said.

Alex Martinez plays the euphonium for Fauquier’s marching band, and has only been playing since his sophomore year. Even though he has only been playing for a short time, Martinez has already developed enough skill to play at such a high level. Martinez had to go through an application, and audition just to get a spot.

“My friend Mason did it last year and told me about it, and he told me there was a hole I could probably fill, and I said let’s go for it,” Martinez said. “I was not confident whatsoever. I wasn’t confident because of lack of skill, I’ve only been playing for a year.”

To be selected for the group, Martinez had to try out for his spot. He went through various tests to see how he would compare with such a talented group.

“I signed up for a membership, signed up for the camp fee, then I went to their place in New Jersey and they saw how I was with the band playing wise, how I could march, how I looked visually, and then they take you out and hear you play,” Martinez said. “The next day I found out that I was contracted for the summer.”

Once Martinez was selected to join, he met up with the other 150 members to prepare for the journey. There they began their vigorous training.  

“We were in New Jersey for 2 days, then we went to Pennsylvania for most of Spring training where we get physically and mentally ready for it all,” Martinez said. “Training wise, we do 3 weeks of spring training, which are basically the hardest days, because instead of being on the bus for 1 day, it’s just 3 weeks of getting up doing practice and all of that hard stuff.”

After the band started the trip, they began a cycle of driving to a city, stopping, playing, then moving on again.

“We traveled as far as Texas, we went pretty south like Kentucky, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, we finished finals week in Indiana,” Martinez said. “When we stopped we would have a rehearsal day or two, then we would have the show day.”

Practicing with such a highly talented group allowed Martinez to build skills he could take back to Fauquier with him. Playing with this skill level also allowed Martinez to see the differences with the school’s band.

“I learned that it’s all mental, you learn how hard you can push yourself and get up and do the same thing over and over again,” Martinez said. “It actually sounded good when we played. It’s a lot different from the school’s band just because of the size alone. Also the age gap was different because it was a lot of twenty year olds.”

Traveling with such a large group over this amount of time led to Martinez forming bonds and friendships with the other members.

“Playing with these people is indescribable, because you see them everyday,” Martinez said. “You’re going through some of the hardest days of your life, and they’re always there for you, and you’re there for them.”

~nathaniel thomason, entertainment director

Students, faculty advocate at Women’s March

The day after Donald John Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the Women’s March on Washington (WMOW) brought an estimated 1.7 million protesters to the nation’s capital on Jan. 21, for the biggest inaugural protest in American history. Co-chair of WMOW and social rights activist Tamika Mallory claimed the march was “not anti-Trump, but pro-women.” Over 15 FHS students and at least eight teachers attended.

“It was such an overall positive, empowering experience,” said senior Alex Amirato, who marched for equality for all Americans. “The rhetoric of this election season was not okay, and it made a lot of people feel like their opinion didn’t matter, but coming together with like-minded people was a really good, different feeling.”

The D.C. Metro system reported that this was the second busiest weekend in its history, trailing behind Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Thousands flew in, drove, and took buses from all parts of the country. Senior Madison Luellen got up at 3 a.m. to be at the metro station when it opened at 5 a.m.

“It was definitely overwhelming, but incredible. I participated in the Dakota Access Pipeline protest in D.C. last year, and I thought there was a lot of people then,” Luellen said. “It was nothing compared to the numbers [at the march] on Saturday.”
Luellen stayed in D.C into the night as people continued to march down Independence Avenue.

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I refuse to respect corrupt authority,” Luellen said. “I was there for all basic human rights, especially the importance of intersectional feminism, which supports women of color and ethnicities. This was a protest on a global level.”

There were large sister marches in downtown Los Angeles, Portland, Miami, and New York City, along with smaller marches across the country and the world, as far away as New Zealand and even on the coasts of Antarctica.

“It was amazing to see the enthusiasm and the hope that democracy in action can make a difference,” librarian Rebecca Isaac said. “Everyone, no matter what side you are on, deserves to be respected and loved. We had a peaceful march and a positive showing, and I have a deep sense of gratitude that in our country we have the privilege to do that.”
Junior Tatjana Shields advocated for the acceptance and celebration of diversity at the march and has been inspired to continue to take action in her community.

“At this march, I felt empowered like never before to stand up for what I believe in [and] for what is right,” Shields said. “Some focuses of mine were the recognition of Muslim rights; the Islamophobic reaction across the country because of someone’s religion kind of sickens me. I also believe in the Black Lives Matter movement; black Americans have been at the end of the totem pole for a very long time. It’s about strengthening the relations we have together.”

Freshman Macy Major went with her mother, English teacher Jennifer Major.

“I was really lucky to go with my mom,” Major said. “She’s very supportive, and I know not all parents are like that; it was very empowering to go with another woman in my life.”

The march was criticized in articles and social media posts from both men and women who strongly opposed the it and its platform. Junior Ben Nesbit attended the March for Life in D.C. the Friday following the women’s march and advocated for defunding Planned Parenthood.

“I think they need to get over it. The Democrats lost, and because they haven’t lost in a while, they’re just not used it,” Nesbit said. “I believe that every person has a right, and I marched for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. I feel like the women’s march kind of took that right away from people, which is sad. People are going to hate me for this, but they can hate me.”

Senior Max McDaniel-Neff, who attended the women’s march with his family and senior Aidan Kierans, viewed the march differently; he said that the protest was peaceful and everyone was supportive of each other.

“I was there to support Planned Parenthood, and that women still need to be respected,” McDaniel-Neff said. “The fact that Donald Trump even got elected shows that sexual assault is still a pretty big deal.”

Senior Victoria Rucka, who is an exchange student from the Czech Republic, was able to participate in the march and observe American politics up close and in action. Her country had its own women’s rights march in the capital city of Prague last year, but she said that it’s unlikely that her country would elect a female leader in the near future.

“I think [American politics] are going to get worse. A lot of things over here would never happen in my country,” Rucka said. “ I don’t think we’ll have a woman president [in Czech Republic] any time soon; a lot of people wouldn’t have a lot of respect for her simply because she is a woman, and most of the people in the government are men.”

Spanish teacher Karen Falcon had a unique perspective and reason for attending the women’s march with her oldest daughter. The Affordable Care Act, enacted during the Obama administration, helped Falcon’s family members obtain health care, a right that many people take for granted.

“I grew up overseas, and so I was always conscious of being an American and being patriotic,” Falcon said. “So for me, patriotism stands for democracy, freedom of expression, and diversity. To see the country pulling away from those things makes me worried. I think those things are our biggest strength. It’s important for people internationally to see that Americans can argue about opinions, yet still maintain a strong democracy.”

~julia sexton, news director

Athelte-scholar, Oravec commits to Cornell

Senior Sam Oravec, who has been a prominent force on the school track team for all four years of his high school career, recently committed to Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York.

“It was definitely a goal that I’ve really wanted to meet for a while,” Oravec said. “I achieved one of my goals of being a D1 athlete, and continuing my dream on for four years, which is [continuing] jumping [events] and getting better.”

Oravec knew that Cornell’s close community was a good fit for him when he visited.

“The team up there was a lot like our high school team: very family-oriented and very close. The coaching staff is a lot like the coaching staff here at the high school: very skilled and dedicated coaches and athletes,” Oravec said. “What it really came down to was the academics. That’s what set it apart from other schools.”

At his parents urging, Oravec began track as part of a club in elementary school, but he never anticipated getting to his current level. Oravec was a member of the 4×8 relay team, which won the 2016 Outdoor State meet and secured the top time in Virginia. Oravec received all state honors in four events in the 2016 Outdoor State meet: 4×4, 4×8, 500, and triple jump.

“I started out with cross country, and I knew I wasn’t going to be a very good endurance runner because I’ve always been more of a speed, power guy,” Oravec said. “Then, I got to winter track and started doing some more of the shorter [events], and found out I excelled more at those than the distance events.”

Oravec has been a member of six championship relay teams: 2015 Indoor 4×4, 2015 Outdoor 4×4, 2015 Outdoor 4×8, 2016 Indoor 4×4, 2016 Indoor 4×8, 2016 Outdoor 4×8. After coaches got him involved in sprinting and jumping, Oravec was driven to excel.

“I started looking at college standards when I was a freshman, just to see what I should meet. That really got me motivated to be a jumper and middle-distance runner here,” Oravec said. “I [wanted] to get to the college level.”

After years of taking advantage of the science curriculum, including biology and anatomy classes, Oravec is considering majoring in biology with a focus in physiology.

“I would like to take more of a research approach, not a pre-med approach,” Oravec said. “I really like the whole idea of science. I’m really interested in the field of physiology and how the human body works, and the applications of that on the world around us. I like to figure things out for myself.”

In addition to track, Oravec has been a member of a local shooting club since sixth grade, where he shoots three-position air rifles. Oravec received the CMP Gold Standard, which is the highest honor earned through competition.

“Other than that, I don’t really have any other hobbies,” Oravec said. “It’s either track, training for track, getting ready for the next day of school, and track.”

Oravec is determined to accomplish his goals for this season.

“I would like to get into the 22.6 range for long jump. I’d also like to get 45 ft for triple jump. Those are my two goals for jumping,” Oravec said. “My 500m, I’d like to bring down to 1:06, which I’m pretty close to. The 4×4 and 4×8 relay teams, I really want to push them, and get everybody to place well in states this year, like we have in years past.”

Coach Mark Scott has known Oravec since his freshman year, and he said that Oravec is a good teammate and leader with big goals and a plan to accomplish them.

“He came in as a freshman, and we could tell he was capable of performing in a lot of different areas. He is very competitive and multi-talented; we can put him in a lot of places,” Scott said. “He has a big vision of where he wants to be. He has little and small goals of where he wants to be in track. I’m super proud of him, and he means the world to me.”

~emma dixon, copy production editor

Walker brings unique skills, outlook to classroom

In a recent yearbook poll, government teacher Tyler Walker was voted “Most Likely to be Mistaken for a Student,” a distinction that he finds amusing.

“It is funny, and I’m not that much older than my seniors,” Walker said. “I think it’s humorous, but I try to dress like an old man a lot. I did get told, that, one day when I wore a sweatshirt and jeans, that someone actually thought I was a student.”

However, Walker is most proud of his military service. He enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard when he was 17, after hearing about the opportunity from his best friend. Service in the National Guard combines his longtime passion for history with the desire to serve and be a part of something bigger than himself.

“When I [heard] about [the National Guard], I learned that they would pay for college,” Walker said. “So, on top of wanting to do all those other things, now there was the added bonus of paying for school.”

Walker went through basic training the summer of his junior year and attended advanced training the summer before he started college at Shippensburg University in south-central Pennsylvania in 2011. In college, he decided to join ROTC to become an officer.

“There wasn’t enough helping I could do,” Walker said. “I wanted to do more to serve. I wanted to be an officer to serve as a leader.”

Walker is commissioned as a lieutenant, and although he originally enlisted to assist in natural disaster relief, he’s currently training to go into combat.

“My units have been able to go and help with natural disasters, but as infantry, we’re a combat brigade,” Walker said. “We’re [constantly] preparing for deployments to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s an amazing opportunity that we could go fight terrorism.”

Being a young leader can be challenging since many of the soldiers Walker commands are more experienced, with 10-20 years of service and multiple deployments. According to Walker, commanding a mechanized infantry unit is a big challenge.

“I’ve got four Bradley Fighting Vehicles that are like armored personnel carriers that I have to train and know how to use,” Walker said. “I have to know the armored side of things and know the infantry side of things, while still learning how to be in the Bradley and command it myself and lead soldiers. It’s a lot of things to juggle.”

Although Walker had an opportunity for deployment in 2013, it was canceled due to budget cuts.

“Right now we have a potential deployment in 2018, that I can’t really talk too much about,” Walker said. “It’s been fortunate because I’ve been able to finish my education. I would like to go, to be able to serve, because I feel like I haven’t done anything. It’s been years and I’ve just been training so much. I want to do more, to earn being called a veteran before I get out, because I’ve only got a couple of years left.”

Walker trains over the summer and one weekend every month; he occasionally needs to take a day off work to fulfill his duties. Working as a teacher while serving in the military has proved challenging, especially when he was also coaching football last year.

“When everybody else is lesson-planning Saturday and Sunday, I’m training and leading soldiers,” Walker said. “When I was coaching football, and doing that and teaching, I thought I was going to die. So, I had to take a step back from coaching to focus on teaching, but it is incredibly challenging.”

Walker’s commission ends in 2020, and although he could stay in the military longer, he hopes to settle down.

“I feel like, especially now as a teacher, I’d like to get settled here, and eventually start a family and slow things down,” Walker said. “A deployment would kind of make that a little bit more challenging.”

Walker knew he wanted to be a teacher in his junior year in high school, after moving to a new school where he was picked on.

“My history class was the one place where my teacher made it an atmosphere of inclusion,” Walker said. “It was just a comfortable place to be, and so it was that year that decided I would be a teacher because I wanted to create that same atmosphere for other people.”

Walker is passionate about history; he believes that a foundation in history is critical for understanding and solving current problems.

“I think that you need to understand history to prepare for future problems and for what’s going on today,” Walker said. ”I wanted to explain [history] and have it make sense for other people, so they can better understand what’s happening today and in today’s society.”

Both of Walker’s parents graduated from FHS, and he lived in Warrenton until he was eight, so he knew he wanted a position here. He eventually came across a position as assistant football coach, and later, an opening for a social studies teacher.

“As soon as I saw [the opening for] assistant coach, I knew this was God telling me I need to be there,” Walker said.

Both teaching and his service in the National Guard have helped him develop skills in leadership, communication, and organization; he has also developed the ability to understand people and how they need to be taught. His experiences in the military allow him to share perspectives on world events with his students.

“I think it’s really cool because any time I show a video from the news, I can explain to these kids why it happened, and then I can give them first-hand experience of what we’re doing to combat it, and why we’re doing that,” Walker said. “I think that adds a really cool twist to things that you don’t usually get from a teacher.”

~katie johnston, features director

Theater students deliver superior performances

From Feb. 3-5, eight theater students attended the International Thespian Society (ITS) Festival at Virginia Tech University, performing musical numbers for judges to qualify for a spot at nationals this summer.

Chaperoned by theater teacher Emmet Bales, seniors Peyton Evans, Ben Rawlins, Luisa Turner, and Owen Connolly and juniors Tatjana Shields, Charlotte Langford, Arielle Ward and Andrew Perrius represented the school in its first ITS competition.

“I sang “Bobbles, Bangles and Beads” from Kismet,” Langford said. “That’s one of those songs where people ask, ‘What if opera didn’t only have singing? What if it had lyrics, too?’”

In addition to performing, the students could choose from 120 workshops to attend that covered a variety of topics relating to theater, including costuming and tech design.

“So, in our downtime from performing, we were attending workshops about auditions, education, technique, careers in theater,” Evans said.

Rawlins, Evans, Langford, Shields, and Perrius all received superior medals; however, Rawlins not only qualified for his individual performance but also in a duet with Perrius from Les Miserables. These students have qualified to attend nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska, during the summer.

“We all qualified for individual events, which means we’ll take what we did at Tech, perfect it even more to fit the national rubric, and see if we can get a superior on the national level, which is even harder,” Evans said. “It has over 500 workshops per day and is a huge event. It would be great if we could go.”

While at the conference, Evans learned about the other options in the theater field and gained a better understanding of her capabilities in each area.

“Everything I did there helped with my flexibility, personability, and the abilities that I can take to the other areas of my life even if I don’t pursue theater,” Evans said.

Bales said that each student performed music from each genre of theater; he couldn’t be more proud of his students, considering this is their first year of attending the program.

“That’s what theater is about: bringing your best to the game and doing what you can,” Bales said. “As a teacher, you sit back and think, this is worth the 15 cents [I’m being paid] to do this.”

~erica gudino, editor-in-chief

Verdun encourages teamwork

Sophomores Tessa Skirsky, Alyssa Gilmore, Lauren Burrell, Hope Burnett, Kevin McGeeching and Daniel Mclinden were challenged to use two-by-fours to create a bridge from one side of a ‘lava pit’ to the other. 


Experiential learning, a popular teaching trend, gives students the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities, followed by reflection on their work, to achieve a higher level of learning. On Oct. 28, English teacher Cynthia Pryor took her sophomore English classes to Verdun, a team building retreat, to explore themes from the novel Lord of the Flies.

“I thought it might be interesting to take students to Verdun to experience a situation similar to those of the boys on the island to force them to work in groups to problem solve to ‘survive’ difficult challenges,” Pryor said.

Verdun provides a safe environment for the students to consider the relationship between the physical activities and the disturbing events depicted in the novel. Pryor split the students into random groups to force them out of their comfort zones and then let the Verdun facilitators take over. Sophomore Sydney Stafford said that the groupings required students to exercise skills they didn’t know they had.

“We were all very inclusive and supportive of one another. I think it was the teamwork and trust that we built throughout the day that got us to the end,” Stafford said. “It’s a good thing to be reminded every once in a while that you still have potential.”

The activities were designed to place students in the survival mindset of the boys stranded on the island. Some activities required students to collaborate to scale a 10 foot wall or lift a tire off a 10 foot pole without touching the pole, while others required teams to solve problems in complete silence.

Sophomore Sydney Stafford’s favorite obstacle was the Walk of Life, where the students were required to help each other walk across a thin cable suspended between two wooden poles over the ground.

“[I like how] we all got to work together; we all had to be able to trust each other to get one another across and hold onto each other’s arms and stuff,” Stafford said. “Personal boundaries were out the window.”

Pryor described this field trip as a high-yield experience in that students gained invaluable insights into themselves and the novel. Sophomore Jake Sadowski learned valuable life lessons from the experience.

“I learned that everyone, no matter their status or appearance, does have something to offer. Many times we will overlook their potential based on clothes they wear or the friends they have,” Sadowski said. “If school is truly about learning, shouldn’t it be more important for children, the next generation and the inheritors of the earth, to learn practical information? I learned more about myself in team building in just a few hours at Verdun than I have [while] at school for a year.”

~nina quiles, managing editor