Category Archives: features/arts

Sadie Carr takes spotlight

Senior Sadie Carr’s characters have left their mark on the theatre scene. She has brought to the stage the regal Queen Elizabeth of Richard III, the spunky Bertha Bumiller of Red, White, and Tuna, and the pretentious Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, all to amuse and entertain the community.
Carr has been involved in theatre and with singing since she was in sixth grade. However, Carr was never quick to show off her talent.
“My sixth-grade orchestra teacher got me to start singing,” Carr said. “He told me that I looked like I could sing, so I did.I started taking chorus when I got to FHS.”
In addition to singing in the choir, Carr became ensconced in the theatre program, where she realized she had a passion and talent for acting.
“I always liked musicals,” Carr said. “I love to sing and acting was just kind of the gateway to get to musicals. But now I really enjoy doing both normal stage productions, as well as musicals. Plus, in normal stage productions I don’t have to dance, which is good, because I’m not a dancer.”
Since her first role as Alma Hix in The Music Man her freshman year, Carr has become more comfortable with herself and more open to the characters she is given.
“The types of characters I can play has definitely expanded,” Carr said. “I don’t get nervous anymore and am able to step out of my comfort zone more.”
Carr has also been involved in shows at Fauquier Community Theatre and through the FHS Shakespeare Troupe. She favors Troupe over her other theatre endeavors because it strengthens her acting abilities.
“I wish I had auditioned for Shakespeare Troupe sooner,” Carr said. “The cast is always so much closer, and we work well together. Doing Troupe has really broadened my abilities; I always believed the theory that if you can act Shakespeare, you can act anything.”
Her favorite roles include the two she was cast in this year, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest and Queen Elizabeth in Richard III.
“Lady Bracknell was definitely a change for me, but a good one,” Carr said. “Queen Elizabeth was a challenge, primarily in memorizing all the lines; it gets very intense and takes a lot of focus.”
Theatre teacher Melanie Ankney is proud of Carr’s development.
“Passionate would be the word I would use to describe her,” Ankney said. “She has taken huge steps forward this year and presented more challenges for herself.”
Carr directed a one act last fall, entitled When Shakespeare’s Ladies Met, an endeavor that displayed her in-depth understanding of theatre, and persuaded Ankney to cast her as Lady Braknell.
“She was exactly what I was looking for in Braknell,” Ankney said. “Her interpretation was the most unique and entertaining version of the character I have ever seen.”
Ankney also attended the Richard III performance and was impressed by Carr’s performance.
“Acting in black-box theatre requires tremendous focus and honesty,” Ankney said. “I believe that Sadie captured that perfectly and with great strength.”
Carr will attend Christopher Newport University and hopes to pursue acting. But before then, you’ll have one last chance to see her as Dolly in Hello, Dolly this spring.
“I am proud of my accomplishments in the music and theatre department,” Carr said. “I hope to go out with a bang in Dolly, and I’m so excited to have been cast.”

~Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director

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Musicians make melodies down in the pit

The musicians of the orchestra pit are every musical’s unsung heroes. Hidden away from the audience deep in the pit, woodwinds, strings and brass horns all work together to toot out the twist to which the stars on stage shout.
Senior Emma Nobile is directing the orchestra pit for the second year in a row. Nobile played her first note when she was three years old, and has been playing music ever since.
“I started seriously playing piano when I was seven; then I started playing trumpet when I was in fourth grade, and after that, that’s all I played,” Nobile said. “I played in the orchestra pit as a freshman and a sophomore, and then the vocal director, Meredith Schmall, asked me if I wanted to direct, so I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Nobile considers the musicians her peers, regardless of the authority she’s been granted. Senior William Stribling has been a close friend of Nobile’s since sixth grade, and plays trumpet for pit under her direction.
“Emma’s really, really great,” Stribling said. “She’s had a lot of practice throughout the years working on conducting, and because she got the practice last year, she’s even better this year. When Mr. [Andrew] Paul isn’t in band class, she usually conducts. The musicians know her as a friend, but they also recognize that she’s their leader, and without her they wouldn’t get anywhere.”
Stribling has been participating in school band since the sixth grade, and has been a part of the orchestra pit since he started high school.
“The pit is very different than band,” Stribling said. “First of all, the style of music is very, very different. In band, usually an instrument will have the melody, and in pit the actors have the melody while we act as underlying themes and rhythms. We also have to downplay ourselves and really work with the actors because we’re so much louder.”
The orchestra pit is a conglomerated effort between both band and orchestra students. Although they have conducted a few collaborations, the band and the orchestra rarely work together.
“Working with the orchestra students isn’t all that strange,” Stribling said. “I mean they play an instrument like any other. Maybe if there was some super technical string part, but for the most part we’re all playing the same music, so we just stick together.”
Junior Maya Payne plays piano with longstanding participant and seasoned pianist Laurie Bersack, who also plays for Taylor and Marshall middle school choral programs.
“Dolly’s music is a lot faster than what we normally play, and we don’t have as much rehearsal time,” Payne said. “It’s really helpful, especially since she has more experience than I have.”
Given Dolly’s challenging score and the limited rehearsal time the orchestra pit has to work with, Payne is unsure of the pit’s ability to master the music before opening night.
“I really can’t say now, because we just need to practice more with the actors,” Payne said. “It’s difficult getting the dance and the music together.”

~Patrick Duggan, news director

ADHD makes focus a challenge

Some days, having to sit in class is a struggle. Your teacher seems to like the sound of her own voice, and the only thing you can think about is all the things you would rather be doing. Imagine having a disorder that made this common teenage struggle even more difficult.
Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a behavioral and genetic disorder that causes students to have difficulties with paying attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.
“It can be difficult to keep thoughts organized [for students with ADHD],” counselor Julie Kirk said. “The key is learning to compensate.”
ADHD affects three to five percent of adolescents. Depending on the severity, students that are diagnosed with ADHD may have accommodations in the form of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan that state their disorder, what it entails, and how to accommodate it. Some teachers recognize the disorder without a plan.
“I think they kind of pick up on it,” freshmen Tyler Pavlock said. “I’m so loud and I don’t focus.”
Math teacher Paul Reynolds has an understanding way of approaching the disorder.
“I have a student that can’t pay attention to me for more than 12 seconds,” Reynolds said. “I’m not going to punish him for it; I have a really small class and I can tell him to go do something different for three minutes and come back.”
Stimulants, like Adderall, are most commonly prescribed to treat ADHD because they have an opposite effect on people with the disorder; it calms them down. However, the side effects include loss of appetite, sleep problems and mood swings.
Sophomore Jessie Dawson was diagnosed with ADHD in the eighth grade. She said she always knew she had it, but her mom didn’t feel medication would be helpful.
“When I took medication it helped so much and then my mom felt really bad.” Dawson said. “[Without medication] I can’t focus. I’m not energetic; tt’s hard to get words for it.”
However, Dawson explained that the medication affects her mood, sometimes causing her to become depressed. Freshmen Nick Jacobus was diagnosed with ADHD in first grade when he had problems focusing.
“Sometimes I forget to take my pills and it irks me,” Jacobus said. “Like today I forgot, and I’ve gotten in trouble a few times; it doesn’t really bother me though.”
Kirk said that learning to cope puts a great deal of responsibility on students. Depending on the severity of a person’s ADHD, it can be controlled through medication, a different learning environment, or a combination of both. Others can control symptoms on their own.
“[Medication] made me too calm, so I stopped taking it,” Pavlock said. “I don’t do anything to control [ADHD]. I just go with it.”
ADHD medication is a weak amphetamine that, taken without the actual condition, produces a high. One anonymous student buys ADHD medication from students at school with the disorder. He explained what the drugs do for him.
“I can concentrate; it gives me a numbed out feeling that weed doesn’t,” the student said. “I think so much clearer, and it’s safer than other drugs if you’re smart about it.”
ADHD medications are subject to abuse by high school students. A person with ADHD may sell medication instead of taking it, and in some cases, people will tell a doctor the right symptoms in order to get a prescription. In 2012, 7.6 percent of high school seniors abused Adderall, according to a study by the University of Michigan.
When medication and other accommodations are used properly, having ADHD is not all bad for teenagers. Symptoms can be positive and give people unique qualities, like creativity and intuition.
“Without medication my mind goes everywhere,” Dawson said. “You’re thinking about so many things it’s easier to get new ideas and think outside the box.”

~SaraRose Martin, staff reporter

Students share adoption success stories

A young senior Greer Blanchette gives her young Samoan sister a piggy-back ride.
A young senior Greer Blanchette gives her young Samoan sister a piggy-back ride.

Choosing to adopt a child can change a life, bringing tremendous joy and happiness to a family and to a child in need. Senior Greer Blanchette was adopted at birth from San Antonio. She agrees that adoption was the best thing for her.
“My birth mother could have aborted me,” Blanchette said. “Now I have my entire life to look forward to. I’m no different; I just have a different story than everyone else. I still have parents that are there for me.”
Blanchette’s mother adopted because she could not have children due to health problems. Her parents later chose to adopt a child from Samoa, Blanchette’s younger sister. She says they are very open about it.
“We both know we’re adopted. We’re very comfortable talking about it, and it’s not awkward at all,” Blanchette said. “Personally, we don’t know any different. It’s just life to me.”
Senior Maeve St. Ledger’s parents adopted her at birth, but St. Ledger has ceased to wonder about her birth parents.
“I used to want to know [about my birth parents] when I was younger, but now I have this life,” St. Ledger said. “I don’t know when I found out I was adopted. I’ve always kind of known.”
St. Ledger’s two younger sisters, however, are not adopted.
“At that point in time, they weren’t sure if they could have kids or not, so they adopted me,” St. Ledger said. “But later they were blessed with my sisters.”
Although Blanchette consistently asked her parents for a sibling, she was not informed of her new sibling until her father returned from Samoa with her sister.
“I actually found out about my sister when she came home,” Blanchette said. “I walked out of my room and saw this little girl sitting on the couch. I was talking to my mom, and she told me to be quiet, not to wake my sister. I thought, ‘uhh, what?’”
Freshman Keion Lewis was adopted when he was 12 years old. He was born in Warrenton and has two biological sisters, who are older and currently living in other states. He agrees that adoption can be great for a child.
“Adoption is great because you might get the chance to meet a new family,” Lewis said. “The adoptive family might be better for you or put you in a better position.”
Lewis now lives with his parents, along with three adopted siblings. But not every adoption works out perfectly. Like raising any child, it comes with hardships and difficulties. Sometimes the adopted child wonders about the biological parents and why they gave the child up.
“Sometimes I think about my real family, and what it would be like if I was raised by them,” Lewis said. “I even think about if it would be easier on my adoptive family if I wasn’t there. I’m close with my current family. I trust them and can tell them anything. Being so comfortable with them really helps me a lot.”
Over 100,000 children are adopted each year and nearly 30,000 of them come from a foreign country and are adopted by parents of a different nationality. Adopting and raising a child from another country presents unique challenges.
“My sister’s adoption was way different,” Blanchette said. “My dad had to fly over to Western Samoa to adopt her, but he had to stay for two weeks because the paperwork wasn’t ready. He says my sister was living in basically a grass hut.”
Blanchette’s sister still retains some of the mannerisms ingrained within her during her short time living in Samoa.
“When my dad went to Samoa to get her, her foster parents were just holding her, sitting in a grass hut,” Blanchette said. “My parents told me right when she came home, my dad couldn’t put her down at all. They had to sleep with her on their chests. She’s still really attached to my mom – holding her hand and hugging her – and she’s 13.”
Lewis says despite the differences between every adoption, all adoptions are important.
“If you’re thinking about adopting, you should do it,” Lewis said. “It can give a kid a new life that is way better than the life they would have had.”

Junior plans to return to birth country

Plenty of kids experience a traumatic move or life-altering change, but few experience a cataclysmic upheaval on the scale of junior Tao-Zhu Slaton’s journey. Slaton was one of hundreds of Chinese orphans adopted by American families in 2005.
“When I first found out I was going to be adopted, I was eight years old. I was super excited, because they describe America like something you would always want,” Slaton said. “We were told you get to work and make money and be successful, and that you can be rich. I was so excited to meet all the beautiful people in America because everyone in China wanted to be white. I was also excited about all the material wealth in America – the fashion, the food, and endless toys.”
Slaton’s exuberance was eventually crushed by an overwhelming sense of loss when she realized she was leaving her family at the orphanage.
“It’s like you leave something that was a part of you,” Slaton said. “I was holding on to the nannies as tightly as I could, so tightly I almost started choking one of them. Eventually they got me into the car to go meet my parents.”
Slaton was taken to a conference building where men in suits took her handprint and signed her paperwork. Then she was driven to a high class hotel to meet her parents.
“I was really scared of them because they were just ginormous,” Slaton said. “My dad sat down to comfort me, but in China only monks sit criss-crossed, so that freaked me out. I tried to run away.”
Slaton spent the next few days in the hotel getting to know her parents and trying to learn to communicate with them.
“The hotel was like a jail,” Slaton said. “I just sat at a humongous window overlooking the city all day. Communication was really hard because I couldn’t speak English, so we had to use gestures for when I needed some water or to use the bathroom. I didn’t even know how to use a toilet, so they had to teach me that.”
Slaton’s trip to America was achieved in two flights, the first to Hong Kong and the second to California.
“There was this really nice flight attendant who tried to comfort me,” Slaton said. “He brought me a glass of milk because I was crying, but my hand was too weak and I dropped it on my lap, so he brought me a second one which I also dropped. He brought back a third glass with two cookies, and I managed to hold on to that one.”
Slaton experienced a culture shock in California unbeknownst to most eight year olds.
“California was super rough because there were no more Asians, and there was no more Mandarin,” Slaton said. “Everything seemed so much cleaner in America. The people were definitely cleaner. Everybody was so proper. There were manners, and you weren’t allowed to burp.”
When Slaton finally reached her new home, she attended P.B. Smith Elementary school. Despite Slaton’s fear of white people and inability to communicate, it didn’t take her long to make friends in school, but that didn’t cure her loneliness.
“It wasn’t difficult to make friends because everyone was so excited because I was from China, and everyone wanted to be around me,” Slaton said. “Learning the language was a little bit more difficult. But it was still scary, because I was the only Chinese girl in school.”
Slaton braved her first few years in America with art as her comfort.
“I really got into music,” Slaton said. “My mom taught me piano through a number system, and then I gradually taught myself how to read. I also got into photography. I love pictures; I love taking them and I love looking at them. My dad had given me this film camera, and I’d take pictures throughout the week and every Saturday he’d take it to Wal-Mart to get the photos developed.”
Slaton also plays on the FHS soccer team and has explored other sports since middle-school.
“I’ve been playing soccer since fourth grade,” Slaton said. “I played recreationally until I got into middle-school, and then I switched to travel. I usually play left defense, but I can play midfield, as well. Other than that, I did cheerleading and volleyball in middle-school, but soccer is my only serious sport.”
Slaton’s step-sister, Quinn, is also an adopted Chinese orphan.
“I got really jealous when she first got here,” Slaton said. “I was kind of angry, because it seemed like my parents just paid more attention to her.”
Slaton’s only visit to China since her adoption was in 2006 when her sister was adopted, but she plans on returning this summer.
“An adoption agency called CCAI is giving a ‘Give Back to China’ service trip,” Slaton said. “You volunteer at orphanages to help take care of the kids, and I applied and got accepted, so this summer I’ll be going back to China.”

~Patrick Duggan, news director

CTE fair introduces future students to elective options

Eighth grade students from all five county middle schools visited the CTE Career Pathways fair hosted at FHS on Feb. 26. Students from Kettle Run, Fauquier and Liberty set up booths in the new gym for the twelve career classes offered at FHS.
“I think [the fair] is important because they don’t know a lot about high school,” senior Nicole Layton said. “It’s an introduction to classes, and they get to see how [high school students] interact with each other in the actual high school setting.”  Layton gave students information about the Child Care program and urges students to sign up because of the good experiences she’s had working with the preschool students.
Kettle Run senior Austin Rodgers helped kids explore the opportunities marketing classes provide. As a part of DECA, Rodgers runs Kettle Run’s school store.
“It can help better them in their future with decision-making and marketing, and it helps them manage money,” Rodgers said.
The Health Occupations class was represented by the nursing students who travel to the Fauquier Health Rehabilitation Center to work with the patients, one of whom is CNA-certified senior Eva Velasco. Velasco gave students a lesson on the Heimlich maneuver for adults and babies, hoping to help them save a life.
“I think it might help them if someone is choking; it’s important to know,” Velasco said. “They got an inside look at what nursing is really like, if they are interested.”
One of the eighth grade students who visited was Taylor Middle School’s Amanda Maskell. Maskell went into the program knowing she was interested in taking agricultural classes, but found new interests.
“I really liked the culinary arts station,” Maskell said. “I think I will take it in high school.”

~Sarah Thornton, managing editor

Enigmatic teachers proffers wisdom

An oasis of creativity occupies the end of the 100s hallway. Cinderblock walls display an array of posters, featuring everything from Walt Whitman to The X Files. near a wooden desk, flooded with papers. A towering man sits at the desk, sporting a few ear piercings, a collared shirt, and infamous dreadlocks.
“My dreadlocks are a pseudo-spiritual measure of time,” English department head Lindell Palmer said. “T.S. Elliot once wrote, ‘I measure my life in coffee spoons.’ My dreadlocks measure my life.”
Palmer grew up in South Hill, Virginia, a small town about 20 minutes from the North Carolina border. He graduated from The College of William and Mary with degrees in anthropology and English. While he dreamed of being an anthropologist, a career in teaching was a “natural progression,” according to Palmer.
“My father is a principal, and my mother is a teacher,” Palmer said. “I grew up in schools, waiting for them to be done so I could go home. I love talking about English, and now I get to do it every day.”
Palmer has taught a number of courses, including mythology, American Civilization, and English 10. He currently teaches AP Literature, creative writing, and English 11.
“My favorite part of teaching is meeting wonderful students and interacting with them,” Palmer said. “I love discussing literature and film and introducing students to different elements of it, and seeing their reaction when the light bulb goes off and they understand it.”
Palmer developed his student-centric teaching philosophy through education classes and trial-and-error.
“I believe in facilitating learning with a little bit of instruction and lecture, but then I stand back and let students discover things with my guidance,” Palmer said. “If a student has an interest, we can pursue it together.”
Palmer’s AP class is infamous for time-consuming projects; however, students find the work worthwhile.
“[Palmer’s AP class] makes me laugh, makes me cry, and changes my life,” senior Danielle DiLisi said. “He’s hip and funny. He’s lenient, but he’s still tough when it comes to work. He’s a paradox, and I love it.”
Palmer said students play a large part in their learning.
“My favorite projects were student suggested,” Palmer said. “One year, a student was struggling with understanding happiness, so I had the class research happiness and write a paper. I continue to assign that project today.”
Colleagues, such as Lee Lorber, enjoy working with Palmer.
“He’s never too busy to stop and talk to teachers,” Lorber said. “He’s not all crazy when it comes to his ideas; he’s flexible in his thinking. He’s always upbeat. His laugh is his signature.”
Palmer has sponsored Voices and Visions, the school’s literary magazine, since he first began teaching at FHS seven years ago.
“My favorite part of Voices and Visions is working with students who love the arts and graphic design,” Palmer said. “I like working with students outside of the classroom environment and seeing the best art and prose and poetry in our school.”
AP student and Voices and Visions design editor senior Tony Frank said that Palmer’s compassion for students sets him apart.
“Not only is he a good listener, but he’s a good conversationalist,” Frank said. “He’s open minded, and he’s not as judgmental as other teachers. He doesn’t look down on students.”
Outside of school, Palmer’s interests vary from watching American Dad to dance.
“I like modern dance; I danced in college,” Palmer said. “With ballet, it’s all about pretty and point shoes. In modern dance, there are contractions and contorting.”
Palmer directs Stonewall Jackson High School’s color guard, which is currently ranked number one in the country after a first place finish at the 2012 Atlantic Indoor Association Championships in Raleigh, NC.
“I was a natural at color guard when I did it in high school,” Palmer said. “There was a girl I liked who invited me to do it. She quit, but I fell in love with [color guard]. I like coaching because I enjoy watching students progress.”
Palmer cited Sherman Alexie and Toni Morrison as his favorite authors.
“My favorite work of Alexie’s is The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” Palmer said. “It’s a collection of short stories that are intertwined, so you can read them as one, or read each story individually.”
If he isn’t watching history documentaries or jamming to Radiohead, Palmer can often be found interacting with the natural world.
“I like going for nature walks and hiking,” Palmer said. “I like driving down back roads and getting lost. It’s my dream to live off the grid.”

~Abby Seitz, online/associate editor