Category Archives: staff memo

Boys basketball shoots into new season: Brizzi and the Falcons look to improve on eight-point record

Despite only having an eight-win season last year, the Falcons remained competitive throughout most of their games. This will be used as a fuel to grow for head coach Wayne Brizzi and the boys basketball team, looking to carry their offseason momentum into a new year.

“If the offseason is any indication of our upcoming regular season, we will have a tough and hardworking team,” Brizzi said.

The Falcons will first need to replace Grant Keithley and John Smith, two standout stars from last season lost to graduation. Both were key components to the offense, with Keithley the team high scorer, averaging 15 ppg shooting 42 percent from the field. Smith averaged 10.9 ppg shooting 47 percent from the field. The team will look to seniors Frank Strano and Dakari Mullins to fill the void, both among last season’s top scorers behind Keithley and Smith.

“We know that losing our top two leading scorers from last season,” Brizzi said. “Grant Keithley and John Smith may be a challenge, but I feel excited about this year’s senior class to fill their shoes.”

This season, Brizzi and the team are confident that their training and preparation will help power them through the year, helping them improve the minor details. The Falcons start the season away facing non-conference opponent Charlottesville on Nov. 25.

“Our strong suit is the hard work our players are bringing. We’ll work on becoming more consistent on every possession, both defensively and offensively,” Brizzi said. “Our number one goal is to improve every day and every game, and to be in the mix of the playoffs at the end of the regular season.”

~alex wright, sports director

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FHS students perform civic duty in election

Walking into the polling location and casting a ballot for the first time is a rite of passage for many students, marking their transition into adulthood. But before making a final decision on which candidates to choose, they must first realize their stances on issues like immigration and education. Senior Kevin Mullis said he has been waiting to vote since he was a child, and after being one year short of the age requirement last year, he was excited to finally cast his ballot.

“I think it’s important to be involved and care about the government around you,” Mullis said. “I always thought voting was a good thing, so being able to vote in this election made me happy and inspired me to get more involved in the political process. I was very happy to put on the ‘I Voted’ sticker.”

When making the decision on whom to vote for, senior Carleigh Cordova said she made sure she was informed on the candidates’ different policies and if they supported her ideals. However, she was turned off by the negativity that the advertisements reflected.

“I read about their perspectives [on certain issues] and tried to find unbiased websites or read both sides,” Cordova said. “I looked at their ads, but I honestly hated them because they were so hateful toward each other. Nobody focused on what they wanted to do.”

Mullis, who views himself as more liberal, said one of his main focuses is keeping funding for Planned Parenthood. Because of this, he decided to cast his ballot for the three Democratic candidates on top of the ticket in the Virginia gubernatorial race: Ralph Northam for governor, Justin Fairfax for lieutenant governor and Mark Herring for attorney general. All three were ultimately elected on Nov. 7.

However, Mullis said he also disliked the attack ads—as well as scam calls that gave voters false news about changes in their polling place, and the aggression of campaigning outside the polling areas.

“The sheer amount of signs and people trying to hand me stuff when I was walking up to the polling place was annoying,” Mullis said. “I personally don’t like the in your face campaigning method.”

Unlike Mullis, senior Daniel Duca voted solely for the Republicans on the ticket, including Ed Gillespie for governor, Jill Vogel for lieutenant governor, John Adams for attorney general and Michael Webert for delegate. He said he doesn’t limit himself to one party, but that his vote was based off of the candidates’ anti-abortion policies.

“I agreed with what a lot of the [Democratic] ticket said, but it just came down to pro-life for me,” Duca said. “It’s more about the morality of the politics, as opposed to the details.”

While Cordova said she leans more toward the Republican viewpoints, she decided to split the ticket. Even though she did choose GOP candidates Adams and Vogel, she also voted for Northam for governor. She said that she was more focused on personality than a candidate’s political affiliations.

“I was looking for someone who would represent our state well and someone who agrees with what I [believe],” Cordova said. “Someone who is more mellow and not radical, [and is] willing to work with both parties and [isn’t] as stubborn or close-minded.”

Although Northam, Fairfax and Herring beat out their Republican adversaries, incumbent delegates Michael Webert, Scott Lingamfelter and Mark Cole, all Republicans whose districts fall within Fauquier County, won back their seats in the General Assembly. Approximately six in 10 Fauquier voters also favored the top-ticket Republicans, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

In other formerly red districts, however, the state GOP did not fare as well. Democrats flipped an estimated 15 seats, according to the Washington Post, potentially creating a power-share situation in Richmond, where the GOP formerly controlled 66 of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates. Cordova said that she was not surprised by the results.

“I expected that Virginia would go blue because a lot of people are unhappy with [President Donald] Trump,” Cordova said. “I’m not one to be really upset about it because they only have so much control, but I think that you have to be open-minded and not be so judgmental the second they get elected.”

Cordova emphasized the importance of having every eligible voter participate in the election by first informing themselves about the issues and then casting their ballots.

“[Voting] is a really easy process, and there’s not any reason for people not to vote,” Cordova said. “They need to be educated when they vote and look at each candidate instead of going in and basing it on different parties.”

~erica gudino, editor-in-chief

Lamper commits to play on Rams softball freshman year

After visiting Shepherd University over the summer, senior Sarah Lamper signed to play softball this fall. This makes Lamper the third FHS student to join Rams softball , following alumni Leann Brown and Rachel Taylor. Shepherd University is an NCAA Division II college in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, competing in the Mountain East Conference.

The recruitment process was a long one, she said. The Rams recently changed coaches, and after being offered a place on the roster from the previous coach, Lamper had to start over once the current coach took over.

“The new coach was so busy getting back in the swing of things so I couldn’t get a hold of her for a really long time,” Lamper said. “I had been in communication with the coach, and I got her to come and see me play in some games and I got to practice with her team. After she offered me a spot on the roster.”

For the last 10 years, softball has been a core aspect of Lamper’s life. Even though she began at second base and outfield, she gradually worked her way up to becoming a pitcher. In addition to the school team, she has played with the Fauquier Freeze 18U team for three years, as well as the recently combined Fauquier Freeze–Ott team for the last year. Softball coach Mark Ott, who has been coaching Lamper since she was 9 years old, said he is confident in her ability to thrive at Shepherd.

“She is a coach’s dream,” Ott said. “She is very enthusiastic about what she does. She works so hard and never complains about anything. I don’t think anybody can have a better teammate that her; whether she’s pitching or not, she is cheering on for whoever is.”

Although she was offered a spot at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Lamper said she knew that Shepherd was right for her. Even though playing softball in college was a priority, she also made sure that they provided classes for her major and that she was still close to her family.

“I just really like the area,” Lamper said. “It’s a really cute, small town, and it kind of feels like home. It’s really scenic and it’s also close to home; I didn’t want to go too far away.”

Lamper is planning to pursue a career in occupational therapy after college, and although Shepherd does not have that program, they do offer the classes needed before getting a master’s degree. Balancing school work and adjusting to college will bring challenges, Lamper said, but she feels that softball is her way to cope with stress.

“Softball has helped me with a lot of things in life and it is a way for me to get away from everything else,” she said. “It’s a good thing to have as I continue through school.”
Ott said he is confident that Lamper will thrive at Shepherd and feels that she will fit right into the community.

“My words of advice are keep doing what she’s doing,” Ott said. “That’s all she can do, because she is a phenomenal individual. She’ll do well, and I think she’ll make a big impact this year.”

Even though Lamper has secured a spot on the team, she said she hopes to improve her stats before entering on the Shepherd team, increasing her ability for more opportunities as a college freshman.

“I hope to start at Shepherd; it’s kind of a big hope for a freshman pitcher,” Lamper said. “They only have two [pitchers] this year, and I know that they’re trying to bring in three with my class. There’s going to be a lot of competition, but I plan to work hard.”

~erica gudino, editor-in-chief

Munoz accepts offer as midfielder on Walsh lacrosse

Senior Anthony Munoz recently announced that he would be attending Walsh University, located in North Canton, Ohio, to play lacrosse next fall. Munoz said he knew he wanted to play in college after playing for the travel team Apocalypse during his sophomore year. He began the recruitment process two years ago by playing in tournament showcases to get his name out to the colleges and immediately drew the attention of a recruiting coach from Walsh.

“At the very first recruiting showcase I went to in the summer, he was the first coach that talked to me,” Munoz said. “He saw me at the next tournament that I went to, and then the tournament after that. We just kept talking from there.”

After contacting the recruiting coach, Munoz worked even harder to prove himself to the other coaches. He spent countless hours working out and practicing on the field to better his game.

“I went to Walsh’s prospect day because he wanted to get me in front of the head coach,” Munoz said. “The head coach really liked what I had to offer for the team, so I went back for another visit, and shortly after that I decided that’s where I wanted to be for the next four years.”

After officially announcing his commitment, Munoz is already looking ahead to next year and playing for the Walsh Cavaliers. Even though he will only be a freshman next year, Munoz said he hopes to make a big impact on the team.

“My expectations are very high,” Munoz said. I’m hoping to bring in my recruiting class and really take the team to the next level. I think I bring everything that they’re looking for.”

Besides Walsh, several other schools were interested in Munoz, such as Davis and Elkins College, Alderson Broaddus University, and Chowan University. Although they peaked his interest, the characteristics of Walsh were too enticing to pass on.

“It’s a whole new area; there’s so much to do off campus [and] the campus is really beautiful,” Munoz said. “They’re always adding new stuff [and] new programs. The lacrosse program is always growing, so it’s nice to be a part of something where you’re building up a team.”

Munoz gives a lot of credit for his commitment to his summer travel team, Apocalypse, and also to the hard-working coaches who helped him in the recruiting process.

“All of the coaches were very helpful; you could ask them for almost anything and they would definitely help you out,” Munoz said. “They were all young guys and played in college, so they all knew what a college coach was looking for and helped me get noticed.”

Munoz said he plans to major in exercise science or sports management at Walsh University. He will be receiving $6,000 in athletic scholarships, as well as $12,000 for academics.

“The scholarships really motivate me,” Munoz said. “It really helps me out that I got these, but now I just have to work extra hard in the classroom and on the field.”

~alex wright and nate thomason, sports director and design director

Football looks back: Team reflects on highlights and missed opportunities

After finishing 2-8, the 2017 season now holds the title for the worst record in the last decade for Falcon football. However, this may have been the hardest schedule in years for the Falcons, as eight of the ten teams they played went to the playoffs this season, combining for a total record of 60-27 among them all. For head coach Joseph Prince, despite the disappointing season, he can still take away a few positives.

“We played some pretty hard teams,” Prince said. “The number of wins doesn’t always concern me, and I felt like we competed in a lot of games. I enjoyed working with the guys and the coaches that we had. That’s the part I enjoy about football the most.”

Yet still, after three seasons as head coach, Prince has not beaten either county rival and still hasn’t made the playoffs, dropping his overall record at FHS to 11-19. Both of these were major goals for the team this season, and with the last times the Falcons reigned victorious versus county rivals Liberty and Kettle Run was in 2002 and 2012, leaving no seniors to have ever experienced beating the Eagles or Cougars.

The Falcons lost 21-20 in a close game against Kettle Run on Oct. 6 but fell to Liberty on Nov. 11 in a 57-13 blowout. Both opponents made the playoffs.

“We had our shot against Kettle Run, went for two, and just didn’t execute. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot with penalties that night,” Prince said. “In the Liberty game, we had some momentum when we blocked the punt, and scored two quick ones [to get] back into it—we just didn’t capitalize. Liberty is a very good football team; both teams are.”

Along with remaining competitive in most games, a few more positives can be taken away from the season, including junior running back Kevin Chavis’ 1,000 yard season, where he lead the district in rushing yards. Chavis also secured a spot on the first team All-Northwestern District, along with senior captains Joe Heisler (Center/All-purpose), Cole Anderson (Linebacker), and Franco Camarca (Tackle/guard). The team will be graduating eleven seniors.

In the future, Prince wants to establish more depth within the team, something they were plagued by throughout the season. He said a key to that will be keeping players for all four years, providing a greater amount of time to develop.

“We need to get kids that can play football, to play football,” Prince said. “We have a lot of kids in our school that don’t play, [and] it would be nice to have them. We need more depth, that probably hurts us as much as anything [because] when someone goes down it really puts us in a bind.”

This offseason, Prince will be emphasizing training in weight room to prepare for next season.

“We have to get in the weight room and get stronger, were lifting three days a week and we have to convince our kids they have to get stronger,” Prince said. “You have to pay the price in the weight room, you have to be there if you want to get stronger.”

~alex wright, sports director

Black Friday bargains cause craziness, controversies

After waking up at the crack of dawn, millions of Americans brave excited hordes of people and long lines at big-box stores on Black Friday, one of the busiest—and most highly-anticipated and advertised—shopping days of the year. The day is also one of the most controversial annual events.

Some look forward to the Friday after Thanksgiving as the unofficial beginning of the holiday season, during which they can score massive savings on their Christmas shopping; others, however, worry that the day promotes commercial greed.

Junior Ashley McGregor said that although she loves the great deals, Black Friday can be too hectic to be fully enjoyable.

“All the sales are great, but some people go a little bit too crazy about it,” McGregor said. “It’s a good time to go Christmas shopping.”

Senior Shelby Bush said that Black Friday can pressure shoppers to buy anything that’s on sale, causing them to overspend to waste money.

“Some people, when they go, buy things they usually wouldn’t, just because there’s a good deal,” Bush said.

One of the biggest arguments against Black Friday is that it takes the focus off of Thanksgiving and makes people forget about being grateful for what they already have.

“People go from being so very thankful to being so greedy, and waiting for Thanksgiving to be over so they can go and do their Black Friday shopping,” Bush said.

Senior Haiden Smith said that although he likes the idea of Black Friday, it’s often poorly organized, and stores and shoppers don’t focus on the safety of others.

“Honestly, I would do it, but the way it’s organized makes it one of the most dangerous things I would ever be attending,” Smith said. “I’ve seen a lot of news about people getting trampled at those things.”

Recently, many stores have been opening their doors for Black Friday sales earlier and earlier. Many commercial chains have even begun to open their shops on Thanksgiving day, some as early as 4 or 5 p.m., when many families are still eating dinner.

“It’s called Black Friday, not Black Thanksgiving,” McGregor said. “They’re more focused on shopping, not on spending time with their family on Thanksgiving.”

Senior Joseph Morales works at Walmart, one of the most popular Black Friday stops, for its wide array of products. Morales said that the Warrenton location is already prepping for the rush of holiday shoppers by reorganizing the placement of merchandise throughout the store and on the shelves to maximize space and visibility of popular items.

“They have a whole system that doesn’t change much, but it just started changing too because of the holidays, and they’re trying to accommodate shelf-space,” Morales said.

The popularity of online shopping has inspired many consumers to sit out on Black Friday, opting to wait until Cyber Monday to take advantage of holiday deals.

“The problem with a lot of stores now is that more and more people are doing online shopping,” marketing teacher Tiffany Chappell said. “They probably have all these additional Black Friday deals to try to boost Black Friday sales, because sales are declining on that one day.”

Cyber Monday allows shoppers to avoid the hassles that come with shopping in traditional stores, like crowds and limited inventory. McGregor said she prefers to participate in Cyber Monday because of its convenience.

“Most of the time there will be more selection [online], and you won’t have to deal with all the people in the lines,” McGregor said.

McGregor added that commercialism should begin to focus more on Cyber Monday, because it’s calmer and doesn’t require consumers or store employees stress out too much.

“I think we should into Cyber Monday, because it’s less crazy,” McGregor said.  “It would give [workers] a break that they deserve. A lot of people like [Black Friday], so we should move away a little but not completely. It shouldn’t only be Black Friday; if they’re going to do it, they should do it like twice a years so you have  two opportunities.”

~katie johnston, managing editor

Elections prove importance of participation

The past two years, for the 2016 presidential election and the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial election, I’ve volunteered with the Fauquier County Electoral Board as an election page. Both times, I arrived at the polling station at 5 in the morning to help set up for the day, assisted voters and the precinct chief, and handed out stickers. While most of the tasks lacked any major significance or contribution to the day, it helped me realize the importance of political involvement at both the national and local levels. The past two years, for the 2016 presidential election and the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial election, I’ve volunteered with the Fauquier County Electoral Board as an election page. Both times, I arrived at the polling station at 5 in the morning to help set up for the day, assisted voters and the precinct chief, and handed out stickers. While most of the tasks lacked any major significance or contribution to the day, it helped me realize the importance of political involvement at both the national and local levels.

Almost every election official was elderly, and they all seemed so excited that a young person was interested and willing to participate in the election process. Individuals under the age of 30 are notorious for their lack of interest in politics, while Baby Boomers have the highest voter turnout of any age group; according to census.gov, only 46 percent of the population between 18 and 29 voted in the 2016 presidential election, compared with 70 percent of the population over 75.

It’s crucial that young generations familiarize ourselves with the political process and participate in it as much as possible so we can create the world we want ourselves and future generations to grow up in. After all, the results of elections have the greatest impact on the youth, who will have to live with the consequences of the results.

The difference in voter turnout between the 2016 election and the recent election also stood out to me. While the line was hours long in 2016, the same polling station never had a line of more than 20 people during the governor’s race. While I wasn’t expecting as much enthusiasm, because it wasn’t as highly-publicized or controversial as the presidential election, I was disappointed that so many people didn’t bother exercising their right to vote. When I asked the other workers if this was normal, they said that there was a greater turnout than usual for a local election but that, on average, only around one-third of the precinct’s registered voters participated in local elections. However, local elections are more important than national ones because they have a greater impact on our everyday lives.

For example, a governor’s plans for reform in public schools will most likely affect students and families more than a president’s position on abortion, even though the latter is more controversial. It’s essential to keep in mind that every election is important; news coverage and campaign size do not equate significance.

Too many high-schoolers assume that because they can’t vote, their voices are unimportant or that they are simply just unable to participate in politics yet, but  there’s much more to politics than casting a ballot on Election Day. Among the many ways to get involved in politics, students can:

•Participate in the election page program, like I did, or volunteer with a political party or organization.

•Advocate our ideas in school clubs and petition and contact our representatives about legislation.

•Attend and speak up at town meetings and hold leadership positions in school clubs and organizations to help us develop the necessary skills to become strong political leaders in our  community.

•Encourage our parents to vote, reminding them that our future is in their hands.

Of course, one of the best things we can do is learn and stay informed about political issues, so that when we are old enough to vote, we can make an educated choice and ensure that we are truly making the decision that we believe is best for our nation’s future.

~katie johnston, managing editor