Category Archives: staff memo

Schedule in store for change

The leadership team, which includes Principal Tripp Burton, assistant principals, and department heads, is considering proposed changes to the schedule for next year that may result in a daily A+ period. The A+ period was devised to provide time for teachers to remediate students who need support to pass SOLs or tutoring in their classes. However, the inconsistencies of the A+ schedule has caused frustration and confusion for teachers and students.
“People like a regular schedule,” Burton said. “The top reaction I hear from students [about A+ days] is that ‘I don’t like the days being flipped all over the place; I’m confused and it bothers me.’ I think an A+ period everyday gives more flexibility for students. It can give students extra help. AP students who took a class in the fall could use the time to review in the spring.”
One plan under consideration is the Academic Enhancement Period (AEP). The period would be created by taking away five minutes from each period. Each day would have a different subject focus so that students will have more coverage in all areas, instead of just one or two.
“[The AEP] would build a consistent block into the day for students to get help or give them creative options,” English teacher Cynthia Pryor said.
Students would report to a teacher for the AEP period for attendance-taking purposes, much like advisory, and then would report to other teachers for remediation or to work on projects.
“Some people really like advisory,” Burton said. “It’s not so much about homeroom; it’s about having a group of kids to be with every day. You can still do that through A+ if we schedule that time through the day. It doesn’t matter when that is. It just matters that you get to see a group of people and form relationships.”
The purpose of the AEP is to take a preventative approach to helping students with passing their classes and standardized tests. Teachers with A+ responsibilities could help students analyze sample test questions, or students could use the period as a study hall.
“A+ days are a response to a high failure rate on SOLs,” Pryor said. “It would be nice if we could be more proactive and less reactive. Tailoring the AEP to student needs is a great way to differentiate and eliminate the problems before they occur.”
A key element in implementing a daily A+ period is the timing. There are advantages and disadvantages to scheduling the period at the end of the day. Another proposal places the period in the middle of the day, changing around lunch schedules.
Science teacher Mark Ott proposed scheduling the A+ block as a one-hour free period in the middle of the day. There would be two 30 minute lunch periods; after reporting to a class for attendance, students would have the choice of when to take a lunch break during the period.
“It would be limited to certain areas of the school if we could do this,” Ott said. “There has to be accountability to make it all work. Students would be able to figure out on their own when to go eat or not. The idea behind it is to do away with staff and students walking throughout the building not knowing where to go. The whole goal is to create a better solution to [the A+ period].
For the implementation of a one hour free block plan, teachers would need to patrol the hallways to keep order. Also, students who were sent passes for a certain class would be required to go for remediation. If a student did not report to the class, it would count as a cut. However, arranging the teachers to monitor the halls presents challenges.
“We don’t have a traditional facility,” Burton said. “To try to come up with a system of keeping the building supervised during [the free block], it takes away more teachers and more staff than would be available to help people.”
Although final decisions about the schedule have not been made, many are in favor of changing the current once-or-twice-a-week system.
“In my opinion, we need to do something [like A+] everyday,” Burton said. “We need to have something in place that allows us to help students with what they need every day.”

~Josh Henry, co-editor-chief

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Lax squad prepares for playoffs

If there was one word to describe this year’s boys lacrosse team, it would be “developing.” As the regular season wraps up, the squad currently has a 6-4 record, most recently capturing a 13-7 win on April 25 against Eastern View. The district tournament will begin on May 11. Fauquier’s seed has yet to be determined. However, the team is optimistic about playoff play.
“We’re clicking as a team, and we know how each player on our team plays,” senior Nick Succop said. “We know more plays on offense, and our defense is doing really well.”
Succop and senior Collin Steves brainstormed a revolutionary method to ensure the team’s success in the postseason.
“We’re growing playoff mustaches,” Steves said. “Other sports bleach their hair or shave mohawks, but lacrosse is a man’s sport, and men have facial hair.”
Succop is sure that the team’s effort to grow facial hair will translate into a run for the district title.
“The hardest part of winning will be the mental part,” Succop said. “Growing mustaches will help with the mental part. The look will present the players as leaders.”
The squad faces Culpeper on May 2. The Falcons will conclude their regular season play at home on May 6, facing crosstown rival Kettle Run. The games are critical to postseason success, according to Succop.
“It won’t be easy, but we have to win it out now,” Succop said. “We’ve beaten Culpeper before.We have the idea in our minds that we can’t beat Kettle Run, but we should be able to beat Kettle Run this time.”
The Falcons have experienced their fair share of challenges this season, according to head coach Eric Morrison. Both newcomers and veterans have come together to conquer difficulties.
“Most of our players are young, but I think most are ready for the challenge and the rest will learn quickly,” Morrison said. “We even have two freshmen, Tyler Bane and Jack Liebel, who have had key roles from the start. They worked hard all summer and it shows.”
The team knows how little experience some of the players will have to start, but the senior leaders have a voice on the field and help the younger players.
“A lot of young guys are going to have to play big parts this year,” senior Colin Diehl said. “But they are ready for it.”
The team captains believe it is important to pass on their work ethic, desire to win, and by the end of the season, their leadership.
“There’s a lot of responsibility put on the seniors this year, since there are only four of us,” Diehl said. “We are definitely prepared and can handle the pressure. I remember looking up to the seniors when I was a freshman on varsity, and now it’s my turn to set the example, on and off the field.”
Diehl, who has lettered for four years in lacrosse, embraces being as a leader. Rising varsity players practiced over the summer with older players, to gain experience at a higher level.
“A larger number of players played all summer long, so they are fit and ready,” Morrison said. “Last year’s team lost some close games, and I think we now know how to win those types of games.”
The team was initially disappointed with their performance in the first few games. Despite the slow start, they are building upon working cohesively.
“The season definitely started out pretty rough,” sophomore Robert Morrison said. “But after the first couple games we started to mesh, and now we’re looking really good.”
Robert also adds that the team will continue to develop through the playoffs.
“We’re trying to focus on getting up early in games and holding the lead,” Robert said. “Playing defensively is a lot easier than trying to fight uphill.”
Junior Kenny Palmer says despite their slow start, the team’s hopes are still set high.
“We had a couple bad losses in the beginning but we still had a good start. We won a couple games and started to come together as a team,” Palmer said. “There’s a lot of competition between us, Kettle Run, and Culpeper this year, and we’re still looking to be the top team in the district.”

~Gavin Cranford, staff reporter

Wolfe excels in national automotive competition

Alex Wolfe stands with her pink haired automotive teacher, Scott Freeman. The two made a bet that if Wolfe placed in the national automotive competition, he would paint his head pink.
Alex Wolfe stands with her pink haired automotive teacher, Scott Freeman. The two made a bet that if Wolfe placed in the national automotive competition, he would paint his head pink.

Senior Alex Wolfe placed fourth in the nation at the National Automotive Competition in New York on April 20 and was the first female to place that highly in the history of the event. Her auto body teacher, Scott Freeman, speaks highly of Wolfe and says that he is very proud.
“Alex always does well, even though she had some really tough competition this year,” Freeman said. “She had an uphill battle because he had to compete against last year’s first place winner, but she still found a way to win.”
Last year, Wolfe placed second in the state at the Ford AAA competition as a junior, and this year she qualifies for nationals in the Skills U.S.A. automotive service competition by placing first in the district and the state. She will be attending this event in Kansas City this June.
“Being a girl in a field with all guys is nothing special to me,” Wolfe said. “I shouldn’t get any special treatment because I’m a girl. I beat the other competitors fair and square.”
With her qualifications and accomplishments, Wolfe has received nearly $75,000 in scholarship money to attend the University of Northwestern Ohio.
“Because I’ve been doing so well, I can go to UNOH basically for free,” Wolfe said. “I plan on getting my associate’s in automotive maintenance and high performance.”
As for her career, Wolfe has goals of her own and doesn’t plan on letting anything hold her back.
“After college, I want to work at a dealership as a service technician and hopefully one day have my own shop,” Wolfe said. “But I know what I have to do to be taken seriously. I’ll have to work really hard, but everything I’ve done so far has prepared me.”

~Gavin Cranford, staff reporter

Eating disorders plague teens

photo illustration by natalie smith
photo illustration by natalie smith

Though individuals often suffer under the radar undetected, eating disorders are everywhere. While both the skeletal ideal displayed in the media and the insecurity and stress of adolescence are factors, the roots reach significantly deeper in most cases, complicating recovery.
“They might be 100 pounds, but they look in the mirror, and the way they see themselves is so different than what everyone else sees,” guidance counselor Julie Kirk said. “There’s something that is causing them to think differently, and that is what needs to be reworked.”
The two primary eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Although both disorders involve excessive concern with body image, someone with anorexia focuses on losing weight through strict control of the amount eaten, while a person with bulimia goes through cycles of binging and purging. One out of every 200 American women currently suffers from anorexia, and two to three out of every 100 American women struggle with bulimia. An eating disorder usually emerges as a coping mechanism for some stress in the individual’s life.
“Kids might turn to drinking, drugs, self-harm, or eating disorders, which are all forms of self-medication,” Kirk said. “Most people with eating disorders might start once they are in high school because of stress or family life, and that is their control, how they cope.”
Graduate Elizabeth Bennett says her eating disorder came on gradually, but the night she discovered her parents were getting a divorce, she first tried purging. After that she began restricting her food intake and counting calories. Similarly, junior Jane Eyre’s eating issues developed in response to family stress.
“I think it started because I didn’t really have any control over anything in my life,” Eyre said. “My mom and dad used to be really strict, so it probably started so I could have something to control in my life.”
Peers might notice symptoms when a friend purges in the restroom or they witness a battle at the dinner table with parents about eating, but the disorder usually plays out behind the scenes. People with eating disorders report experiencing a continual internal dialog with their condition.
“The voice is there all the time, especially when food is around,” Eyre said. “At the beginning it felt more like a voice talking to me, but the more I got used to it, it was hard to tell which voice was me and which was the eating disorder. It’s, like, ‘you’re fat.’ So you’re, like, ‘I’ve been doing everything I can.’ And the only option is to either not eat or purge it all. It calms down for a little while.”
Teens with eating disorders report that the voice subtly intrudes as part of their thoughts and feelings, convincing-them of their worthlessness, and ensuring they don’t eat.
“You trust it because it plays on your insecurities. Since it’s in your head already, it knows what you’re insecure about, what you’re paranoid about,” Eyre said. “It tells you stuff like, ‘If you take even one bite, you will gain 20 pounds. You will have failed yourself. You will have ruined your life. You’re disgusting.’”
Food becomes an obsession, and in many cases, the calories of all the food eaten in a day are accounted for. As the disorder progresses, the quantity of food consumed decreases, and the body begins to starve.
“I don’t want to be super underweight,” Bennett said. “I want to lose some weight, but not a lot. So I tell myself, ‘It’s fine, you just lose that much weight, then you’ll stop.’ But once you reach that point, it’s not going to stop there.”
The disorder advances like a virus, polluting almost every aspect of the victim’s life. As the symptoms become overwhelming, the person often feels hopeless and out of control.
“It can definitely feel like it’s consuming my life,” Eyre said. “It feels like your insides, like in your chest, there’s a big black pit, but it hurts somehow and it’s sucking at you, and the only thing that stops it is throwing up or exercising. There was a period of time where I would literally stay up all night just exercising when I felt too guilty of what I was eating.”
Often people with eating disorders forcibly resist attempts from loved ones to help them recover, leaving family members frustrated and hurt. The affected person becomes convinced that people trying to hinder the disorder, their control, are their adversaries.
“Parents can make it worse by constantly picking at their child about the same thing,” Kirk said. “Depending on the severity, there are times when you have to go into your child’s room and make sure they are not throwing up into a bag, make sure they’re not hiding dinner, escort them to the bathroom to make sure they are not throwing up, but constantly barraging them − that’s probably the worst thing any family can do because it’s a symptom. The real problem is something else that they need to figure out.”
People with eating disorders often seclude themselves from life and plan their days around the disorder.
“It’s like you don’t even care anymore,” Eyre said. “I was so obsessed about my eating disorder, I didn’t have time for [people I really care about] anymore. I wanted to be by myself all the time. I would plan my whole day around when I can purge and stuff. I couldn’t even function.”
Eating disorders can hinder relationships since the illness often is not something that the person wants a partner or friend to know about.
“It’s such a huge part of my life that it’s hard to hide it, so I avoid dating altogether,” Eyre said. “I dated this one guy, and I finally told him after two months because I was doing really badly and throwing up all the time. When I told him, he started making horrible jokes about people with eating disorders, so I was like ‘never again’.”
The numerous physical effects of an eating disorder may cause harm to one’s body that might never go away. The body begins to eat its muscle when it doesn’t have food to run on, and normal body functions are impaired. More people die of eating disorders than from any other mental illness, often due to heart failure. The mortality rate for people diagnosed with anorexia is approximately 20 percent.
“Over a long period of time, [eating disorders] make your body sick, just sick, because it’s not getting what it needs; it can’t just keep going,” school nurse Denise Moravitz said. “You can’t have normal muscle regeneration, bone regeneration, or skin cell regeneration. You’re getting a buildup of all these waste products, toxicities, and your body can’t handle it. You start getting organ failure, heart failure, kidney failure, and liver failure. ”
Studies reveal that people with anorexia are 50 times more likely to die of suicide than the average person. Depression and anxiety frequently lead to eating disorders, but are also symptoms of them. Both the psychological affects and malnourishment can lead to depression.
“It feels like my brain is yelling at itself, which sounds so stupid, but it kind of takes over,” Bennett said. “There was a time when it was really bad, and I would just feel awful and be crying half the time because I felt so bad about it.”
After the disorder is discovered, a team of specialists, including therapists, doctors, and nutritionists, devise a recovery plan.
“The school lets everybody know what’s going on and helps the family make a plan,” Kirk said. “We start by talking with the student. We have to tell parents and generally get personnel involved, either a school psychologist or school social worker. The goal would be to set up outside counseling, and depending on the severity, possibly send them to an intensive inpatient eating disorder clinic; kids who leave the state are gone for months.”
Inpatient clinics ensure that patients are eating and attempt to dig to the roots of the issue. The patient receives counseling and learns techniques to deal with symptoms. In extreme cases, saving the patient’s life may involve immobilization to prevent a heart attack. After starting freshman year, Eyre was sent to a treatment center in Arizona, where she stayed for a few months.
“At first I wanted to leave. I did not want to be there at all,” Eyre said “They had really strict rules, and then the second day I got a feeding tube, but once I got close to everybody, the staff was really nice and I learned a lot. I probably would not have changed at all had I not gone. They taught me a lot about health and mind set tools you can use to help with anxiety. I also got so close to all the girls there, and we still keep in touch through texting and Facebook. “
The sooner the disorder is addressed, the greater the likelihood treatment will prove successful. Professional treatment is the only hope for recovery in many cases.
“I don’t think it’s something that just ends on its own,” Bennett said. “It’s like a psychological thing that you can’t just take medicine for, like depression. I think therapy helps.”
After returning from an inpatient clinic, the patient is monitored with a long term recovery plan. Since leaving the treatment center, Eyre has had weekly appointments with doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, and nutritionists. Though it may take many years, about 60 percent of people with eating disorders recover completely when treated appropriately. They are able to re-engage in social activities and relationships, and they regain and maintain a healthy body weight.
“There are students who don’t see it as an eating disorder because they see it as just limiting their intake of food,” Kirk said. “And maybe they haven’t gotten to the point where it’s having a negative impact on their body yet, but it’s not going to get better. It can only get worse unless you deal with the issue that you are masking.”

~Jake Lunsford, staff reporter