Category Archives: news

TSA champs win regional medals

The annual regional TSA competition was held March 9 at Mount Vernon High School. Eight FHS participants placed within the top 10 positions, and three placed within the top three. All participants within the top three positions will be moving on to the state competition on May 3 at the Richmond Convention Center.
“We’d been preparing for the competition since September,” technology department head Harold Mullins said. “We would meet every week on Thursday. [Jamell Newman and I] would give them opportunities to come in and prepare for the contest. They had to go through all the rubrics for all the different levels of competition. The students learn a lot on their own, and we just point them in the direction they need to take.”
Students participated in five different categories of the competition. Senior Tony Frank placed first in the category of promotional graphics; he used Photoshop to create a poster advertising one of the other competitive categories.
“I didn’t totally expect to win at first, but my friends saw all the other entries, and they told me I was a shoe-in,” Frank said. “I’ve been participating in TSA for two years now, and this is my second time placing within the top three positions in a regional competition.”
Also receiving top placements were sophomores Dana Lahman (first in CAD 2D Architecture), Zoe Waide (second in CAD 2D Architecture), and Elle DelGallo (second in promotional graphics).

~Patrick Duggan, news director

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Taco Bell moving to new location

Our generation has witnessed many historic events, from the election of America’s first black president to the opening of the new building on campus. In April, we will see another groundbreaking event in our community – the opening of a new Taco Bell at 238 Broadview Avenue, the site of a former Exxon station.
“I’m so excited that I don’t think I can put it into words,” freshman Dominique Herring said. “It’ll be bigger and brand new. The Gainesville Taco Bell has a beautiful color scheme inside, so I’m hoping we’re lucky and get one just as nice.”
Taco Bell is moving because their 20-year lease at the current location expires on April 13. The new Taco Bell will be 2,420 square feet.
“The new Taco Bell will have two drive thru’s, rather than one,” manager Shakur Ackbar said. “It will also have a bar style set up in place of some tables. Everything will be brand new; we aren’t bringing anything over there from the current location.”
While some may find the changes exciting, others are dismayed by the restaurant’s new location. Junior Davy Savering and his friends go to Taco Bell every Thursday, and while the new location is closer to the school, their experience will be compromised.
“Before, it was closer to my home and that shopping center with Chipotle,” Savering said. “Now it’s all out of the way for me. We would mess around in that shopping center after we finished eating at Taco Bell, and it’ll be too far away to do that.”
Junior Chase Lacy, also a member of the Taco Bell crew, was extremely disappointed to find out that his beloved restaurant is moving.
“I like where it currently is. It’s like taco home,” Lacy said. “I don’t want to move my taco home. It’s been there for as long as I can remember. It won’t be the same.”
Lacy also said the prospect of a newer and more modern setting does not soothe the pain.
“My friends add the flavor, not the decor,” Lacy said. “I like the gritty, poor feeling you get when you walk in there. It’s plain and boring, but it’s Taco Bell.”
Nevertheless, Lacy said he will continue to give the chain business.
“[The Taco Bell Crew] will make it work, and we will certainly continue to go every Thursday,” Lacy said. “You cannot put a price on love. Even though the Bell has sinned, I will forgive.”

~Abby Seitz, online/associate editor

FHS amps up safety with security changes

Students may have noticed security changes in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Maybe it’s that the cafeteria doors are locked during non-lunch hours, or that teachers are standing in previously unmonitored areas, or perhaps there’s an extra police officer roaming the halls.
More changes are coming as classes begin to occupy the new building, primarily in the form of technology. Over 100 brand new video surveillance cameras will be located throughout the school. The cameras will be connected to a single server that will constantly store footage and will be accessible to the school’s resource officer, Sergeant Torelli, as well as 911 dispatchers and administrators.
“Eventually I’ll have access to years of footage, all of which I’ll be able to view in my office or on my laptop,” Torelli said.
When pressed, panic buttons will automatically connect to 911 allowing for quicker response to trouble, in a new, larger school. Also, new one-way emergency exits and auto-locks on many of the school’s doors will secure what was designed to be a very open campus.
“Once the new building is completed, that will make five buildings on campus,” Torelli said. “And I can’t be everywhere at once.”
The increase in the total size of the campus remains the biggest safety concern following the adoption of the new policies. Emergency exits are still a question mark, since the new building has four stories and only three exits, all of which are on the ground floor.
“We’re still working with the engineers on that,” administrator Kraig Kelican said. “But we’ll be okay; there are three or four exits on the first floor, and there will be more when the 100/200 wing is taken down.”
The new building expands what is already a large campus, which will make security even more difficult. The best way to cover that ground would be to hire another student resource officer, but that is very expensive.
“The total cost of your average SRO is about $100,000,” Torelli said. “Multiply that by 20 schools in the county, and that’s $2 million.”
Torelli is confident that the new security system will be very effective in ensuring that the school remains a safe learning environment.
“The system is top of the line; it’s unbelievable,” Torelli said. “School is already one of the safest places you can be. Now it’s going to be even safer.”
Many students have expressed displeasure with these new policies, especially the locked doors.
“They seem to only lock the doors that inconvenience everyone,” junior Michael Oaxaca said. “It drives me crazy while trying to get to class.”
Some students argue that the safety measures are a problem and an overreaction to a tragic, but highly publicized event.
“The way to avoid being terrorized is not to act like you’ve been terrorized,” junior Brooke Cheatwood said.
However, the administration urges students to be more open about finding alternative routes around locked doors to get to class.
“The doors are old, and some don’t shut properly, so they must be secured,” Kelican said. “When the 100/200 wing is torn down, less people will need to go outside.”

~Kerian McDonald, staff reporter

Science teacher Shaw joins school

DSC_0475Prior education: “I went to Radford for my Bachelor of Science degree in music performance and Mary Washington for my bachelor’s in education.”
What drew you to being a science teacher, and why? “I wanted to be an Earth Science teacher because I have a love for the outdoors and knowing how things work.  The more I learn, I realize how much more there is to know. I wanted to teach ninth grade because the kids are happy.”
Past employment: “I have been teaching for five years. I taught at Liberty, but then I came to FHS because I love it here. I graduated from here in 1991. It is also closer to my house, and my kids will go here once they are older.”
How has FHS changed? “The only noticeable differences would be to the physical structure with the additions to the gym and the front of the building.  The school still has the same great students with tons of spirit and good kids.”
Hobbies: “My favorite hobby is music.  Before I die, I want to be a proficient banjo, guitar, and piano player.  I have a long way to go on those, though.”
Favorite book: “My favorite childhood book is The B Book by Dr. Seuss. I like to read, but I don’t have a favorite that is more recent.”
Favorite movie: “I cannot name one favorite movie. I love a good laugh or good mystery.”
Most embarrassing moment in high school: “A good embarrassing moment would be in 10th grade (my first year at Fauquier). At least two weeks into the year, I was completely lost.  I had trouble finding my locker and the right door for the trailers.  This place was a maze to me.”

~Sarah McIndoe, staff reporter

Instructional period shifts to advisory

The instructional period became a regular part of the school schedule last term. Designed to be a time to help students who struggle in an SOL class or who just need help, these periods were rotated between blocks. This term, the instructional period will start again in early March and take place during a 45 minute extended advisory on Wednesdays so students that participate don’t miss any class work.
“It was confusing; sometimes people weren’t sure which block it was, and it could never be third.” Principal Roger Sites said about the change to advisory. “We felt we had to tweak it.”
During the instructional period, teachers were not supposed to teach so that remediating students would not miss valuable instruction. Students that did not participate in the period were to use the time as a study hall. Some students made up quizzes and tests or worked on filling out college applications. This time also gave clubs more opportunity to meet.
“We’ve got the data that shows it pays off,”  Sites said. “It’s useful for a wide variety of student needs.”
However, some parents and teachers had mixed feelings about the floating instructional period.
“I like the idea,” math teacher Paul Reynolds said. “[Last term was] just not the best utilization; kids didn’t want to miss a lab or something, so they didn’t come.”
Junior Dominque Robinson used the instructional period for math remediation.
“It helped,” Robinson said. “They could have made it more active and interactive, though. We weren’t going to the board or anything; we just kind of sat there.”
Although most students that went to remediation felt the period was useful, many were not excited about having to go.
“People there didn’t care,” sophomore Tia Jackson said. “They took it as a get-out-of-class free card to sleep and talk to friends.”
Some teachers are worried that having the instructional period during advisory will not be time well spent since teachers cannot design enrichment materials for students they don’t have in class.
“We won’t know until we try,” English teacher Robin Moore said. “But I would prefer [the period] elsewhere. I’m not going to have students I can work with.”
The current plan for an instructional period during advisory is set in motion.
“It allows us an open period of time,” Reynolds said. “We get to reach students that we normally cannot reach.”

~SaraRose Martin, staff reporter