On August 7, the Virginia High School League announced the finalists in their annual Writing/Photo/Design Contest. Sixteen Fauquier High School students were named finalists in the publications championships.The contest welcomes submissions from all public Virginia high schools. Winners will be announced at the Jostens-VHSL Publications Championships in October.
Junior Eryka Hackett, seniors Nicole Ward and Chris Perez, “No Place at All, Blossoming & A Tree for All Eternity”
Alumnna Nicole Layton (2013) and junior Ellie Avery, “That Small Room & Only Dancing”
Group AA: Newspaper
Straight News/News Feature
Alumna Sophie Byvik (2013), “Volunteers Coordinate Relief Efforts” and “School Meets New Principal”
Senior Abby Seitz, “The Hunger to Win”
Feature: Human Interest/Personality
Alumna Fiona McCarthy (2013), “World Traveler Aspires to Treat Horses”
Senior Patrick Duggan, “Hooker Hankers for Music”
Senior Abby Seitz, “School Sports Bring Long Term Consequences”
Senior Jake Lunsford, “Eating Disorders Plague Teens”
Alumna Sophie Byvik (2013), “Poverty is Not Shameful”
Bylined Personal Column/Opinion
Alumna Jordyn Elliot (2013), “Double Standards do Real Harm”
Senior Abby Seitz, “Adolescent Mental Health System Needs Reform”
Senior Abby Seitz, “Visual Spectacle a Dazzling Adaptation”
Front Page Layout
Alumna Sophie Byvik (2013), “Demolition of Main Hall Rolls On”
Alumna Sarah Thornton (2013), “Tolson Appliance”
Senior Natalie Smith, “The Price to Pay”
Clarence “Tripp” Burton, who will join the FHS community as principal on July 1, spoke to the faculty and staff for the first time on April 22. His short presentation emphasized the importance of tradition, accessibility, and relationship-building as the school enters its next transitional period.
“This is a high-achieving school with great students, great faculty, great community, and great tradition,” Burton said. “You feel it when you walk in. It means a lot to a lot of people; there’s a lot of graduates working in the town. I’m just honored and humbled to be selected for this position.”
According to Associate Superintendant for Instruction Sandra Mitchell, Burton was chosen for his leadership qualities and fresh perspective. However, Mitchell knew the appointment would be controversial since two FHS assistant principals, Kraig Kelican and Jim Raines, were also in the final round of interviews and were strongly supported by the school community.
“Mr. Burton is exceptional in leading projects and has a desire to build new relationships at FHS,” Mitchell said. “My heart breaks for those who are here, yet I do understand the decision.”
The announcement of Burton’s appointment resulted in a tense firestorm from students, teachers, and community members as people posted comments on Twitter in support of Kelican and Raines. Many faculty members felt that the surveys and interviews in which they expressed support for having an FHS assistant principal replace the retiring Roger Sites were ignored by the School Board office.
“I have an issue with presenting [the decision] as if we had a choice,” English teacher Lee Lorber said. “It’s part of our society to work hard and move up, and these two men have worked very hard to go forward in their careers. Because they are who they are, they will stay here and continue to do good work for the school, but it’s an insult.”
Spanish teacher Janice Hall expressed her frustration in a letter to the School Board that Kelican’s and Raines’ long careers at FHS appeared to be liabilities when they were considered for the position.
“I see the way [Mr. Raines and Mr. Kelican] work with students; they do it with such grace,” Hall said. “I wonder what [the School Board] think the message is to other people who work in the educational community. If the people you work for don’t recognize what it’s about, then you just kind of feel like a fool.”
While tensions have eased somewhat, some, like English teacher Robin Frost, remind colleagues to give Burton a chance.
“I’m keeping an open mind,” Frost said. “When he spoke at the faculty meeting, the thing that struck me most about him was that he acknowledged that there’s nothing to fix here. As long as he keeps that in mind when he’s making changes, I’m open.”
Frost believes that, in the past few years, accountability has become increasingly important to the school division, an emphasis that played a part in the decision to appoint Burton.
“Kettle Run seems to have gotten accountability under control through experimentation,” Frost said. “Hopefully, Mr. Burton has been on the trial and error side of things. He even said, will he make mistakes, but he’s willing to learn from them.”
Burton graduated from James Madison University with a degree in political science, and worked as a dean for Prince William and Loudon Counties before joining Kettle Run when it opened in 2008. He hopes to continue the student-teacher-administration dialogue built at Kettle Run as he joins the FHS community.
“I believe that our teachers and students feel comfortable coming to us and giving ideas,” Burton said. “I want people [at FHS] to feel comfortable coming to me with ideas. I’m talking about students, staff, parents, community members. If you have an idea or way to make our school better, I want to hear it because it doesn’t all come from the principal, and it shouldn’t.”
Building a network of trust also bolsters school safety, according to Burton.
“Part of keeping a school safe, too, is those relationships we have with kids,” Burton said. “[Students] are really the first line of defense because you guys tell us what’s going on. And I love preventing things more than I do reacting to things.”
Since the announcement, Principal Roger Sites, has worked closely with Burton to introduce him to the FHS environment.
“I’ve been meeting or talking with him almost daily to ensure we have a seamless transition,” Sites said. “We’re working together to make sure we do everything we can for the faculty, students, and FHS community.”
According to Kettle Run senior Maggie Swift, Burton does not shy away from enforcing school rules.
“He’ll definitely call you out in the hall if you’re breaking the dress code, but he’s fair about it,” Swift said. “He’ll [also] joke around and have conversations with you. He’s really nice.”
Burton stresses an educational environment that allows students to learn how they learn in order to prepare them for future learning, whether in the working world or higher education. And he expects to do a lot of learning as FHS principal.
“I’ve got a lot of listening and a lot of learning to do,” Burton said. “Like anything else, it takes time. Judge me not by what I say here today; judge me by what I do. I’m just here to help and serve. That being said, everyone here has treated me outstandingly – first class and professional. I can’t say enough about the way the present administration and everyone I’ve come into contact with has treated me.”
Tens of thousands of people will converge on Great Meadows, just outside of Warrenton, on May 4 for the Virginia Gold Cup Races, one of the biggest social and equestrian events of the year – and one popularly attended by FHS students.
“This is my first year going to Gold Cup,” senior Ryan Ranslem said. “I like dressing classy and I’m into horse racing. It’s also a good opportunity to hang out with friends… classily.”
This year’s Gold Cup will be the event’s 88th anniversary. Gold Cup began in 1922 as a single steeplechase race at an estate in Fauquier County. Now, the event consists of two steeplechase races, four hurdle and timber horses races, and a Jack Russell terrier race.
“It’s a really important race for local riders,” senior Samantha Bunn, an avid horse rider, said. “It has a lot of the big names in horses, and people look [at Gold Cup] to see which ones are doing well that season.”
The races are a big deal in the horse community because the event is nationally-renowned as a prestigious racing competition; both horses and jockeys must compete to be included in the lineup.
“It’s not just anyone who’s in it,” Bunn said. “There’s definitely more experienced riders who have been training all their lives for these kind of races. They have to qualify beforehand.”
Many of the 50,000 patrons that attend Gold Cup bet on the races, and some shell out upwards of $15,000 for a prime seat on the railside, but most spectators attend the event with a $90 car pass, available at vagoldcup.com. Despite these sky-high prices, however, Gold Cup remains a popular event among students.
“I didn’t know about it [before this year]” Ranslem said. “I found out about it via social media. [I’m excited to go] because it’s an opportunity to act like an adult.”
If acting like an adult includes a formal dress code, then Gold Cup has it down. The event tells ticket-holders that “afternoon dress” is expected from patrons, with women typically wearing sundresses and hats (there is even a hat contest), and men wearing button-downs, khaki shorts, and bowties.
“Dressing classy is the best part,” Ranslem said. “I’m going to wear a bowtie and shorts and nothing else.”
Gold Cup is also one of the most controversial events of the year, at least for the under-21 crowd. Senior Aubrey Munoz, who has attended Gold Cup throughout high school, estimates that most of the 50,000 spectators that attend the event are drunk by the end of the day – including many underage students.
“Most people that go are a bit older, like middle-aged or in their 30s, but about 10 percent of the people there are high school and college kids,” Munoz said. “About 90 percent of those are drunk, and the only ones who aren’t are designated drivers.”
This poses a dangerous threat to drivers on the road when the gates close at 7 p.m., and the drunken crowds are forced to leave.
“Police officers don’t really account for all the drinking unless a person is belligerently drunk,” Munoz said. “So a lot of people will still be drunk and driving. The cops tend to ignore older people because I guess they think they’re more experienced, and they’re a lot more suspicious of kids.”
Munoz believes that this problem could easily be solved by organizing public transportation, instead of trying to convince people, both underage and legal, not to drink.
“I think there should be buses to come in and out to prevent drunk driving – for everyone,” Munoz said. “As long as people are safe, then [drinking] should be fine.”
After an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and its resulting tsunami devastated northern Japan in 2011, the United States and Japan banded together to form the Tomodachi Initiative, an organization that funds a series of exchange programs between Japanese students affected by the earthquake and American students.
“Tomodachi means ‘friendship,’” said chaperone Takeshi Hatakeyama. “Through the American Embassy, the Tomodachi program invited us to visit D.C. and other historical places.”
A group of 20 Japanese students was chosen from a pool of over 500 students based on how their lives were affected by the tsunami, their participation in relief efforts, English language abilities, and teacher recommendations, according to local coordinator René Brown.
“This program was designed to lift these kids up and get them looking forward to what can be in their life, not just what has happened,” Brown said. “They are encouraged to benefit from coming here, broadening their horizons by living with American families, seeing the many things America has to offer, and putting that to good civic use in Japan.”
The group arrived in Northern Virginia on March 25 to spent 14 days experiencing American culture, from malls to monuments to food, one of several culture shocks for 16-year-old Kokoro Sasaki.
“In Japan everyone uses chopsticks, but everyone uses forks, spoons, and knives in America,” Sasaki said. “America is hot, and we wear shoes differently in Japan. When you’re at home, your shoes come off, but here, they don’t. But everyone is kind here.”
Many of the students lost family members during the tsunami, and most lost their homes, living in temporary housing until homes were rebuilt. Yukari was at a park when the tsunami hit.
“I was very scared,” Yukari said. “I don’t practice any religion, but I prayed. When I went home, it was snowing, and my grandmother’s house was damaged. We couldn’t use water and had to use candles until our power was restored.”
On April 26, 35 students from Kettle Run and FHS competed in a robotics workshop, although the results were not known at press time.
Two groups from technology department head Harold Mullins’ Engineering and Design class were given three weeks to design and assemble an advanced unmanned ground vehicle. Supplied with a fictional contract from the Department of Defense, the teams became their own small engineering companies.
“Students can look at [robots] as a way to help ourselves, to help others, and to do things that may be hazardous to humans,” Mullins said. “[Robotics] is just one aspect of engineering, and being able to have communication, to work together as a team, and to engineer as a team, is important.”
Each of Kettle Run’s four teams and FHS’ two were led by a project manager, and supported by a financial manager and a systems engineer. Senior Brandon Keithley, one of the project managers, looks forward to seeing the fruits of his leadership and teamwork.
“It will be fun getting to see what the other teams have designed,” Keithley said. “It’s also fun getting to design something that you created yourself.”
Various elements of the robots were judged by representatives from the Defense Acquisition University, a training hub for the Department of Defense.
“The robots had to be able to detect hazardous materials, go over an incline of a minimum of 15 degrees, and complete a Lost Communication test,” Mullins said. “The LostCom test programs a robot so that it will turn itself around and go to a specific point if it loses communication technology while exploring a hazardous area.”
Senior Sam Eleazer valued the introduction the project gave him into what engineering would be like as a career. He also discovered that teamwork isn’t just a term.
“A project like this shows you that the work is really on you and your team,” Eleazer said. “You can’t try to do everything yourself. You and your team have to focus on working together and getting things done”
Senior Tom Piggott, who worked with Keithley as a co-program manager, appreciated the experience and what it brought out of his teammates.
“There’s a sense of competition between the students because we’ve put in weeks of hard work,” Piggott said. “A project like this brings out the team-work aspect in people, and it took a lot of work and time, but overall it was worth it.”
Students looking for a chance to mix it up a little and try something different got the opportunity on April 19 during lunch. The cafeteria was adorned with decorations and enlivened with music, and students were encouraged to step out of their comfort zones.
Assistant Principal Dr. Elaine Yuille, one of the key organizers of Mix-It-Up Day, said the event is dedicated to promoting interaction between social groups.
“The purpose of Mix-It-Up Day is to give students a chance to meet new people,” Yuille said. “One way that we try to do this is to arrange the lunch tables by the months of students’ birthdays. Students who are born in November, for example, would sit at the same table and socialize.”
Complications due to constructions prevented students from participating in the planning process, as they did last year.
Several students said that their experience was positive. Junior Ethan Pelino particularly enjoyed the format by which students were grouped together.
“I think we kind of need to do this once a year,” Pelino said. “It’s necessary because everything’s so technology-based that we’ve lost touch with each other.”
Senior Caity Ashley agreed that getting students to interact with people in different social groups was beneficial.
“I think that it’s a really good idea,” Ashley said. “It gives people an opportunity to talk to people that they wouldn’t normally talk to. This is important because people are usually more accepting than they think.”
Another result of Mix-It-Up Day, according to instructional technology and research teacher Gail Matthews, is that students learn effective communication skills.
“When most students go off to college, they will probably go to a college where they don’t know anybody,” Matthews said. “Therefore, it would be helpful for them to know how to deal with new social situations and apply social skills. It also helps add a sense of comfortability.”
Yuille emphasized that, in addition to building social skills, students can learn to accept and appreciate qualities that make people unique.
“The idea has always been the same: encouraging students to mingle and talk to students that they normally wouldn’t talk to, and relate to students that they wouldn’t normally relate to,” Yuille said. “Diversity isn’t just about race; it’s about everybody’s differences. There are people who have different views on life, and getting them to interact can open their eyes to the similarities that they have in common.”
It’s so easy. A stretch, a yawn, a sigh at just the right angle to see a neighbor’s paper. It’s so easy. Just click on SparkNotes; there’s no need to read the book at all. Scribbling down a friend’s physics answers in homeroom saves at least an hour of work at home. Cheating is so easy.
“A lot of kids are under academic pressure,” junior Daneel Patel said. “Parents want their kids to get good grades, and trying to keep up with work is difficult, especially if they’re in a lot of AP classes. Some kids do it because they want the good grade and don’t want to work for it. Some people do it because they can.”
Patel considers copying of tests and quizzes cheating, as well as taking ideas from books and the internet without citation. He does not believe copying or sharing homework to be cheating, however.
“Homework is assigned for you to learn the lesson,” Patel said. “So if you don’t want to learn the lesson, don’t do it. But if you steal work off the internet, I feel that’s cheating. And that’s the extent of my morals. Everything else is fair game.”
Types of cheating vary across subject; a student who cheats in English may not cheat the same way in a math class. English teacher Robin Frost sees very little deliberate cheating in her classes.
“It’s usually copying other people’s assignments,” Frost said. “Usually, they’ve fallen behind; maybe their schedule is too busy, and they’re not getting their work done. I don’t see it as a malicious thing. It’s usually a desperate thing. They’re trying not to lose points from their grade.”
Plagiarism, which Frost sees infrequently, not only involves the direct copying of a source’s words, but also the use of its ideas without proper citation.
“I don’t get blatant plagiarism,” Frost said. “It’s usually unintentional. If I have plagiarism in my early research papers, I don’t punish, I teach. Usually, the kids just don’t know. But I do like that the book is thrown at them if the plagiarism is blatant.”
As technology becomes more commonplace, it is easier for students to text answers to a test on devices like cell phones and iPods. Math teacher Sarah Singer is especially concerned with the ease of cheating with technology.
“There’s tons of ways you could have the answers,” Singer said. “That’s why I always make multiple versions of tests and quizzes to avoid it. One time, years ago, one kid had all the right answers…to the other version of the test. I wasn’t very happy with him.”
While Singer also catches cheating infrequently, she believes it occurs often under her radar, and gives immediate referrals to cheating students she is able to pinpoint.
“It’s just not cool,” Singer said. “I think there are groups of people who cheat, and groups who don’t. My concern is that those pockets of cheaters create a cheating culture where everybody does it, and it’s wrong. To be honest, in some respect, cheaters today are lazier. People used to break into teacher’s classrooms. But with Google, I guess you don’t have to.”
Assistant principal Kraig Kelican also says that technology is an important tool for cheaters.
“[I’m sure] there’s a lot more cheating that goes on that we don’t find,” Kelican said. “I think the teachers who are diligent and watch for all types of cheating find it, but there are other things that happen with cell phone use. I think that’s a becoming a major problem here, as well as in other states.”
While Frost encounters “desperate” cheating, senior Mattie Reynolds believes that cheating occurs because students don’t want to work; ironically, they may spend more of the time cheating than studying.
“They don’t feel they need to take the time to actually study,” Reynolds said. “It was a lot more blatant in freshman and sophomore year. I feel like now, in senior year, people just accept failure a little bit more.”
In four years of high school, the majority of cheating Reynolds has observed occurs during quizzes and tests.
“I remember Mrs. [Cora] Tolosa caught at least two people in my Spanish II class with cheat sheets hidden in their desks,” Reynolds said. “Then there’s the blatant asking of questions to someone else [during the quiz].”
How to discipline students caught cheating usually depends on the teacher’s discretion; on occasion, teachers forgo writing referrals because methods like “wandering eyes” can be difficult to prove. Reynolds deems the current anti-cheating policy too elastic.
“I don’t think in this situation, it’s taken seriously,” Reynolds said. “Maybe if the punishment were more severe, like in college, where you can be kicked out for plagiarism, we could ease the problem.”
When a student is caught cheating, a referral documents the act with his or her assistant principal, parents are contacted, and the student receives a zero on the assignment.
“If they get caught again, they fail the course,” Kelican said. “I’ve only seen that happen once, that I can remember. I have probably seen a total of three or four [cheating referrals] this year. They’re very blatant; it’s usually the young kids. Half of it is plagiarism, and half of it involves cheat sheets and other assistance on a test.”
Further education could help to reduce the level of cheating in school, according to Kelican. Students are aware that methods like test cheat sheets are dishonest, buy may be ignorant about other techniques.
“I’m not sure kids realize what plagiarism is,” Kelican said. “I think they feel if they change a word or two, it’s okay. I don’t know what kind of education they get at the middle school level, but [plagiarism] is something we need to look into.”
Frost believes that whatever the temptation, cheating puts students at a disadvantage.
“The bottom line is, you could cheat up a storm, but you didn’t learn anything and build the skills,” Frost said. “When you get the next level class, you don’t know anything. Students see it as a game.”
~Sophie Byvik, editor-in-chief
Fauquier High School's student newspaper. By the students, for the students.