Category Archives: news

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: https://youtu.be/h6WPe0ghrE4

By Nayeli Arellano – News Editor

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

Haunted Spots

The Hauntings of the Old Jail

The “Old Jail” can be found at the entrance to Main Street. It is the longest, continuously used jail in Virginia with 150 years of history. However, with all this history comes many paranormal phenomena.

The sanitary conditions in 1808 were not very adequate. This jail was not one you wanted to end up at because of many deaths because of illnesses, fights and other conditions. These deaths result in ghost haunting the jail to this day.

These ghosts may be inmates or the jailer’s children. Several children died of scarlet fever in the jail. The former director had many instances where she heard children laughing, and when she went to see where they were, no one was there. Her hair or shirt was often tugged every once in awhile.

When director Erin Clark took over, she also heard children laughing. Another incident occurred when she brought a brass door knob and placed it on her desk. While working, she would hear a dinging noise, as if someone was flicking the knob. Eventually, the noise stopped.

Another incident occurred when a painter came into the “Old Jail” to fix up the walls. He heard what sounded like a child running down the hallway. He went to check where the noise was coming from, but the hallway was vacant, so he continued working.

That night, before he left, the painter said, “Alright Josie, I’ll see you in the morning.” The next morning, when he found a child-sized footprint imprinted on the wall. However, “it was painted over, so we do not have proof of this,” said Clark.

There are a few well-known ghosts at the “Old Jail” that are continuously communicating with staff there. Josie, one of the jailer’s three daughters who passed away, is one of them.

Another goes by Mr. McGee, a man who lived in the Delaplane area and struggled with dementia. The court records report that he thought people were trying to take his house, so he burned his house with himself inside. He survived, however, he was brought to jail for arson and suicide attempts with severe burns. Eventually, he caught pneumonia and passed away in the jail.

10 years later, a woman was arrested and placed in the same jail room. In court, the judge asked if anyone visited her during her stay. She said no, however, every night a man with a white beard would come into the cell and try to steal her blankets.

Peach Shirley was the jailer at the time. When he heard this story, his first thought was that the description fit Mr. McGee. To this day, the lights will flicker on and off. “We’ve had paranormal groups come in, and they get lots of readings,” said Clark. “In this room, when they pull out cigarettes or alcohol the meters will go crazy.”

Hauntings on the Warrenton Streets

Gustavus Richard Brown Horner was known as the best doctor in Warrenton in the late 1700s. However, in 1795, Horner would receive patients who would later never be seen again, at least not alive.

When Horner’s son mysteriously died, the height of the suspicion was enough to ensure an investigation. Many rumors and accusations were heard, but eventually, his assistant told the truth. Horner was poisoning his patients.

Unexpectedly, all the charges were dropped. Nothing became of the situation, and that was the last that was heard of Horner. But to this day, his patients have been spotted haunting the street named after him.

There is another ghost who haunts 305 Falmouth Street. Elizabeth Hutton was a spinster who died in 1991. She lived in a house that was built in 1885 by Hutton’s parents.

Towards the end of her life, she lived on the second floor while she sold the house to Warrenton residents. The owners in 1998 took a photo when they bought the home. In the background you can see an image in the mirror, thought to be Hutton.

The owners did not notice a ghost until they went to the second floor. There, many unexplained things occurred, one being a coffee cup which appeared to be thrown off the mantle when the owner went to paint. The owner then believed Hutton left, but some beleive she is still connected to the house.

Spirits of the Post Office and Bike Shop

Two spirits have been sighted in Warrenton at the post office and what is now the bike shop in Old Town.

A Civil War soldier has been spotted on many occasions and even mistaken as a reenactment actor.

The post office building was originally an army recruiting base in the 20th century. The first known sighting was in the early 2000s. An employee working a late shift in the building across the street spotted the man pacing back and forth near the steps outside the post office.

After a few minutes, the man dressed in an old-fashioned uniform ran up the stairs into the building. The employee across the street went over to check on the man. When he entered the building it was empty. He later learned that the post office had been closed for many hours by that time.

The legend states that the man continues to wait for his orders outside the recruiting office.

The Authur Jeffries, the second individual, has been sighted at what is now the bike shop on Main Street. He was a man of the community who passed away years back. His family owns a farm in the country.

One day, a lady walked passed and saw him on the stairs. She stopped to talk to the elderly man, learning his name. After this encounter, she learned Jeffries had passed away 10 weeks ago. His daughter says he’s been seen multiple times and will have conversations with people.

Compiled by Catherine Smith – Student Life Editor

New Principal, New Policies

This 2019-20 school year, Fauquier High School underwent many changes made by new principal Kraig Kelican and the school administration. The most significant changes include those made to homeroom and hall passes. Morning homeroom now replaces last year’s midday advisory, and purple passes take the place of the old agendas and red block passes.

According to Kelican, the school moved advisory for numerous reasons. Advisory was originally set up for Standards of Learning (SOL) remediation, and for students to obtain the credits required for graduation. However, some students were not using the time constructively and often roamed the hallways and other areas they weren’t permitted to be in. Because of this, the administration met to discuss options to improve advisory productivity.

“The option that we were kind of leaning [towards] in the beginning was to completely eliminate the homeroom period or advisory,” said Kelican. “And take that time, and divide it into the four blocks. So, you would add like eight or nine minutes to each class, just eliminate homeroom altogether.”

However, this would mean the school would have to interrupt class for remediation, and travel students would lose class time as well. Therefore, the administration determined that moving homeroom to the beginning of the day was the best choice.

“It accommodates the travel kids. We had a huge problem with tardies to school last year. Many of the kids who were coming to school late were missing instruction in their first block class. Now they’re not missing the formal instruction,” said Kelican. “It also gives us the opportunity for anybody who has sports, after school activities, whatever time to make up work. So, it can still be used as a study hall.”

Since moving homeroom to the beginning of the day, the number of tardies and late arrivals to school has decreased significantly. Along with this, hall traffic significantly decreased during instructional time.

Kelican admits that the homeroom changes have their drawbacks, specifically regarding club meetings. However, he says those are things the school is currently working on in order to accommodate people who need that meeting time.

“We could have eliminated homeroom, and that would have completely eliminated any meeting of any type during the day.”

“It’s just taking some time to get everybody used to the system,” said Kelican.
The implementation of purple passes also caused commotion within the school. But, according to Kelican, the purple passes are no different than anything FHS has used before.
FHS originally issued agendas as passes, but students were not using them. Thousands of dollars were going down the drain; as a result, the school replaced the agendas with regular paper passes to save money.
“Either way you look at it, you’ve got to have a pass. [Without it] there’s no accountability of where kids are, and if we have any kind of emergency in the building, we have to account for everybody,” said Kelican.

The Reaction

The changes received both positive and negative feedback. One policy that caused chaos stated that clubs could no longer meet during homeroom. This change disappointed many students who are active within the school, and a petition initiated by seniors Kendon Sheppard and Bella Schaub began to circulate protesting against the policy.

“Once we heard that co-curricular clubs couldn’t have meetings during homeroom, that threw a wrench into all of our plans that we had for the year,” said Sheppard.
The two accumulated about 30 signatures before school staff shut down their operation, who informed Sheppard and Schaub that it was not a good idea to fight this.

While some students strongly dislike the changes, some find them more helpful than harmful which is the case for junior Camryn Bland.

“Coming to school, it’s really hard for me to wake up in the morning, so it’s a really good time for me to wake up,” said Bland.

Bland said that when she first found out about the changes, she thought that they were a very good idea. “I like the fact that they are trying to put their foot down… and make sure everyone’s in their place.”

However, Bland says she is not a fan of the purple passes. She said that originally she liked the idea. “It sounded like it was a good way to keep everyone in check and in order. But now, I feel like it’s chaotic, and teachers don’t really take it seriously and same with students.”

Teachers also expressed their feelings on the purple passes. For French teacher Nicole Goepper, the new form of passes proves to be a small inconvenience in her classroom.

“The bathroom is right across the hallway from my classroom. Yet, for consistency and compliance, I require my kids to take a pass, even though the bathroom is right across the hall.”

Still, Goepper says that she sees the advantages of the new pass system. “I do feel like there is a message, school-wide, that everybody is being held accountable, and it just seems to be pretty consistent,” said Goepper. “I have one laminated purple pass, so only one kid is out of the classroom at a time. So, I think it’s been helpful.”

To all of these reactions, Kelican says the biggest thing “is to just be patient. Let’s try to give it a chance. I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

By Rachel Singleton – Editor-in-Chief

Falcon Football Team

On Friday, September 6, Fauquier High School conquered the Brentsville Tigers with a win of 32-0. This victory ended the Falcon’s losing streak and sets an exciting tone for the rest of the season.

The Zoo played a significant role in making the game a memorable night. The moment the game ended, The Zoo rushed onto the field. The student body surrounded the football team with excitement after their first victory of the season.

“We want to get everyone involved in cheering on their school,” said sophomore Zoo captain Rachel Puckett. “I think the support they got from us encouraged them to push harder in the home game.”

Another highlight of the game was the colored powder The Zoo threw up into the air before half time. Junior Camryn Bland suggested the idea. After principal Kraig Kelican approved the proposal, the Student Council Association (SCA) officers and their sponsors brought the idea to life during the game. “It was such a memorable moment that I would love to be able to do it again if the student body would be willing,” said Bland.

By Amanda Arellano – Sports Editor

New Tech in the Science Department

jing.fm

The science department has recieved a new addition in the form of high tech machinery. Two Thermal Cyclers (aka PCR machines) and a DNA sequencer from the National Institute of Health will now be implemented into science classes, primarily biology and marine biology. “Our mission in the Biology Department this year is to have every student do gel electrophoresis and then use the PCR machine because we want them to [use] cutting edge [technology],” said biology teacher Dr. Catherine Croft.

PCR machines, rapidly replicate DNA using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). This amplified DNA can be used for genotyping, cloning and sequencing. This technology is used in forensics and companies such as Ancestry and 23andMe.

DNA sequencers are exactly what they sound like, they sequence our DNA. Many students remember writing out the G’s, C’s, A’s and T’s when learning about DNA. This is exactly what this machine does except it’s automated and much more efficient. Unfortunately, the DNA sequencer is missing a part so cannot be used until the part is replaced.

The school acquired this technology thanks to Croft. “I used to work [at the National Institute of Health] and heard they have a surplus. One of our connections gave us a form for the surplus warehouse, so I submitted that and we got approved as a school,” said Croft. “I got to this huge warehouse, and I showed my form, and I got to walk around and pick out whatever I wanted.”

This technology is considered “old” to big science institutes such as the NIH. “It’s really high end cutting edge stuff [but] to them it’s old,” said Croft. Much of this “old” technology in these surplus warehouses is only three or four years old.

With the arrival of this new technology, students are excited to use it. Senior, Zita Ribeiro plans on using the PCR machine to do research for her independent study. She is focusing on Alzheimer’s disease and the P. Gingivalis bacteria.

“I will be culturing [the bacteria] on blood agar plates. I will actually get to actually see the DNA sequence for the bacteria and go through the process and really learn what it’s like to be in the science field,” Rebeiro said.

Croft plans on doing a forensics lab in her classes and marine biology teacher George Murphey is plans on using the equipment on saltwater fish.

By Nayeli Arellano – News Editor