Are Freshman Groups Worth It?

Freshman students study in a lobby area during homeroom.

A new policy at Fauquier High School has freshman attending monthly group sessions during homeroom. During these meetings in which the same students gather, group advisors (FHS faculty) have students participate in getting-to-know-you activities.

Principle Clarence Burton, whose idea it was to create these groups, believes that “the major goal, the overwhelming goal, is to help students get to know [other] students really well. That way they have a person here that they can feel more comfortable with, and that they can go to.” He also feels that “it’s more of the connection piece, the relationship piece” that is important when it comes to meeting with the groups. According to a poll, most of the teachers and administrators working with the freshman groups think they benefit students. The majority of the students, on the other hand, do not find these useful.

A school guidance counselor and freshman group advisor, Mrs. Scott, suggested that “we only have these groups for a certain amount of time, instead of the entire freshman year.” She also commented, “while they can be useful, [the freshman] have better things to do with their time. As we get closer to SOL time, some kids go to see other teachers to work on them. Some of our kids are going to have to go do that because that’s more of a priority anyway. It just gets busier as the year goes on so I think that through the first semester would be most effective and after then, I’m not so sure.” Mrs. Scott is somewhat in the middle when it comes to this situation, and has mixed opinions on whether or not the groups should be completely cast aside. While they help students connect with each other and get to know new people, they can also take up time that could be used for studying.

Although some students find these meetings helpful, the majority think that the groups are pointless. Like freshman, Sawyer Morris states: “I don’t enjoy [the freshman groups], because they don’t help at all. We just sit there and talk a lot, that’s it.” Multiple other freshmen have the same view as Sawyer when it comes to these meetings. Several groups do fun get-to-know-you activities, while others sit and do nothing productive. “They are just a waste of time when we could be getting work done.” While researching this article, the general answer students gave was that they don’t enjoy them and don’t make much progress with anything during that time.

While most students aim to get rid of these groups completely, teachers find them useful and would like to continue them in the future, even if only for a short period of time. It has not yet been discussed or decided if the groups will continue to meet, and with the contrasting opinions of the freshman students, teachers, and group advisors, no one will be able to predict what will come of these groups in the future.

by Ella Tedeschi and Helena Lovell–Staff Reporters

Advertisements

“Faux” Ice-Skating Rink Opens to the Community Near Marshall

New ice rink gives members of the community an opportunity to ice skate in the comfort of their own neighborhood.

A new “ice” rink has opened in Northern Fauquier Community park near Marshall. “Our director Mr. Miller [had the] idea, he thought it would be a good idea to get new and different people out to the park”, Park Director Laurie Crofford said.

Last year they featured a non synthetic ice rink. Crofford explains, “The big difference is last year we had a water [ice rink] and we had to wait for it to freeze, [but] last year and a few years prior we just didn’t get the cold weather. We needed [the temperature to be] below 32 degrees for at least 3-5 days constantly in order for it to freeze we were only open one time [last year].”

Now they have adapted and thanks to the PATH foundation they were able to set up a synthetic ice rink. Crofford says, “The difference here is that it’s not weather dependent [and] we can have it here in the summer and people can still skate.”

The rink is great for children and beginner skaters due to a slight texture difference making it not as slick as ice. There is a $5 fee that includes a pair of skates and 30 minutes on the “ice”. It’s open on Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays from December to March 1.

by Nayeli Arellano–Staff Reporter

Purple Lanyards Are Here to Help

To all students out there struggling with mental health, there may be a new way to help. Many Fauquier High School teachers have recently undergone extensive training in mental health awareness. Meaning that these teachers are now well trained to help students who struggle with mental health. To signify their training in the matter, these teachers wear purple lanyards around their necks which help students identify the trained from the untrained.

The course required to be taken in order to receive certification is called the Mental Health First Aid class. Anyone with hopes of becoming certified can take the class, which predominantly helps trainees understand different mental illnesses and how to go about helping people through them. The training helps people better understand illnesses such as depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, personality disorders, and many more. This class was put together in hopes of bringing mental health awareness to public schools, and to give students support where they otherwise could never find it.

When asked what they thought of the new program, Fauquier students responses were extremely enthusiastic: “I think it’s a great idea and initiative, because it helps students who need it. Also, I think it helps bring awareness to the cause, because not many people know that so many struggle with a mental illness.” Said junior Hannah Robbins. Robbins said this with a smile, and expressed her gratitude to the teachers who signed up to be vetted. When asked, senior Bridget Ward responded with the same positive aura: “I think it’s such a big issue, that it’s really nice that the teachers are there to support it. I think everyone needs a support system. It takes a village… I think we all need to be there for each other.”

Mr. Walker is a teacher here at Fauquier who took the class and is now certified. When asked why he took the class, his answer came easily: “I have always had an interest in psychology, so when I heard they were offering this class, I jumped at the opportunity. I love my students and want to help them in any way I can.” He was also asked how/what he was trained in during class time, “Our role is not to treat you, but to refer you to someone that can help… we’re here to recognize the issue and to evaluate and see is this a serious issue… mainly my role in this is to recognize that there’s a problem, engage with that student, try to figure out what problems in their life may be causing them stress, and then either refer them to their guidance counselor or Emergency Medical Services (EMS) but that’s only if it’s extremely serious.”

If you or a friend is struggling with any mental issues, know you can always visit any teacher with a purple lanyard and/or purple sticker outside their door. Remember, they are “here to help.”

by celeste pollack

Outlaw King: A boring but well-constructed Braveheart follow-up

Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) is Scotland’s new hope for freedom in Outlaw King.   photo acquired via imdb.com

The long awaited sequel to Braveheart has arrived! Not really, but Outlaw King is likely to be the closest we will ever get to a follow-up to the 1995 Mel Gibson classic. It follows Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) shortly after the death of William Wallace and the quenching of the latest Scottish uprising. Robert has just been forced to kneel to the King of England (Stephen Dillane), and his father has just died. All of these events coalesce with Robert rising up against the English tyranny and claiming himself as the King of Scotland.

The one thing this film does better than Braveheart is that it is considerably more historically accurate. Braveheart is an excellent film, but let’s face it, almost nothing depicted on screen actually occurred. Outlaw King has considerably more accuracy, and while there are some obvious liberties taken here and there, it gets the general gist of things correct. Unfortunately, this may be the only aspect of this film that truly improves upon Braveheart.

That’s not to say this movie is completely worthless, because it’s actually not bad. In fact, it’s actually very good at times. One of those times is the very opening scene, which introduces all of the main characters in one long nine minute shot. It really gives of glimpse of the immaculate set design that went into this film, and it is insanely well shot. In fact, the absolute best thing about Outlaw King is the combination of cinematography and production design. Even when some scenes can be kind of boring thematically, this film looks positively gorgeous. Director of Photography Barry Ackroyd (Captain Phillips, The Hurt Locker) really outdoes himself with this one. The battle scenes (though tone-deaf, but we’ll get to that later) are fully realized and incredibly gritty, and all of that is due to both the incredible set design and cinematography.

Director David Mackenzie also shows he is not a one-off director here. He has to follow up his previous film, Hell or High Water, which is one of the best films of 2016. He doesn’t get anywhere near that level of suspense or expertise, but it is easy to see that the talent is still there, especially in some of the quieter scenes, which I found to be far more chilling than the loud and bombastic war scenes.

Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce is another highlight, but did we honestly expect any different? Even when Pine is in an abysmal film (A Wrinkle in Time), he still manages to be the best part of it.

On the subject of acting, this unfortunately brings me to my nitpicks with Outlaw King. Many people often say that a movie is only as good as its villain. This is definitely not always true, but if a movie has an awful villain, than chances are it won’t succeed near as much as the filmmakers want it to. Unfortunately, Outlaw King falls under this spell. The main antagonist, in the end, is not the King of England: instead it is his son, Edward. Edward is an incompetent and sadistic baby who cannot keep his temper under control for more than half a second, which was honestly more funny than menacing. When the main villain is that incompetent, it is impossible to feel at all threatened by him, which means that throughout the movie there are essentially no stakes. Yes, I know that he could potentially die and be oppressed by the English, but the film made it feel as though the main characters were just wandering around Scotland fighting random battles.

This leads to another unfortunate aspect of this film: the battle scenes. They remind me of the action scenes in Michael Bay’s Transformers movies: they give the viewer no sense of what is happening. Random objects are flying around, people are getting hit by objects, blood is being sprayed, and I have no earthly idea what is happening. Whenever I look to a great medieval battle sequence, I look to the Battle of the Bastards sequence in Game of Thrones. All of the carnage is shown in complete clarity so that the audience can feel every blow that the main character receives. I could go on for days about the mastery of that sequence, but unfortunately Outlaw King does not follow any of these visual techniques.

My biggest complaint about Outlaw King is that it is simply boring. The movie seems to drag on far longer than its actual runtime, and the Netflix version isn’t even the full cut of the movie shown at the Toronto International Film Festival. Even during the action scenes I was checking the time, which is the last thing a filmmaker wants a viewer to be doing when they should be scared that the main character will violently perish.

Outlaw King is not a bad film. It just isn’t good either. I really do wish I was more invested in the events portrayed, but the film had a significant lack of suspense that I could not seem to get over while watching. I would recommend this for some casual viewing, but there’s an extremely graphic sex scene at the end of the first act, so I definitely wouldn’t recommend inviting your girlfriend/boyfriend over to Netflix & chill. If you’re a fan of Chris Pine or just war films in general than you might like Outlaw King, but if not, it’s probably not worth wasting your time.

by Joel Alexander–Entertainment Editor 

Bohemian Rhapsody film provides disappointment

Via 20th Century Fox

There is no better Oscar bait than the biopic, and Bohemian Rhapsody, an examination into the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, fits the bill perfectly. Mercury is indisputably one of the greatest vocalists to exist, and, to me, he is the best lead singer of all time. Queen is known by essentially everybody under the sun, and even for those who don’t know them by name (if not, where have you been for the last 40 years?), you will definitely know them from songs like “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” They are absolute legends, and it’s about time Hollywood made a film about them.

Unfortunately, the filming of Bohemian Rhapsody has become almost infamous at this point, because of the change of directors halfway through filming. For those not educated in the drama, the director, X-Men’s Bryan Singer, was showing up late and neglecting his responsibilities according to lead actor Rami Malek. On top of that, Singer was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women around this time. Malek complained to the studio, and they fired Singer, who was shortly replaced by Eddie the Eagle’s Dexter Fletcher.

Typically, whenever this much turmoil happens behind the scenes of a film, it shows on screen. Unfortunately, this is no exception.

Bohemian Rhapsody comes up short on almost every level. Some of the only positive traits I could take away from it were Malek’s dedicated performance as Freddie Mercury and the soundtrack (obviously). That’s about it.

I wasn’t alive when Mercury was, but even I can tell when a man’s reputation is slandered on screen. I’m not saying this movie needed to be a propaganda piece about Mercury’s genius, but it didn’t need to make him look like the anchor that was dragging the rest of Queen back. The film doesn’t concentrate on his genius at all. From the beginning, they simply portray him as an eccentric personality who would strut around like he was on top of the world, putting his own needs above that of his band members. I don’t know where they got this information, but this just seems like a portrayal based on stereotype, not on reality.

This movie misses on a whole bunch of aspects of Freddie’s life, but easily the biggest that it gets wrong is its portrayal of his homosexuality. From the instant it is brought up in the film, there is a negative connotation surrounding his sexual preference, which sends an awful message to those struggling with their identity. The film also completely generalizes homosexual mannerisms by making Freddie Mercury seem overly “flamboyant.” If you take a look at Mercury’s actual mannerisms, they are outgoing yes, but not flamboyant. Bohemian Rhapsody takes the fact that he was gay, and injects the stereotypes into his personality. This perpetuates stigmas that shouldn’t exist in society, and casually slips them into viewers minds.

The entire reason that viewers watch biopics is to get some new and interesting information either about a person they already know or a person they are discovering for the first time. The only new information that Bohemian Rhapsody gives us is either uninteresting or just completely false. Every time Mercury or any other members of the band write a famous song, it is just incidental–like they just happened to be playing it in order to get a cheer out of the die-hard Queen fans in the audience. There is absolutely no insight into the creative process that goes behind the writing of their iconic songs, and when there is an attempt, it ends up just being a montage sequence of Malek and crew lip-syncing in the recording studio.

There is also a conflict that lasts the second half of the movie between Mercury and the other members of Queen that was cringe-inducingly fake. The film depicts a falling-out of Mercury and Queen that goes on for years, but in reality this never happened. Mercury did make two solo albums, but they never made the entire band fall apart, and the Live Aid concert that comprises the finale was in no means a reunion.

There are far too many historical inaccuracies in Bohemian Rhapsody to name, which is shameful beyond words. There is absolutely no point to making a biopic if most of the events you depict are based on false information. Not only that, the actual Mercury’s real life was far more interesting than this film made it seem. Mercury spent the first seventeen years of his life in India listening to American music and striving to be a rock star, even forming his own band in his tween years. The first seventeen years of one’s life form who they are as a person, so why wasn’t this depicted? The Live Aid concert would have been far more impactful if we had seen his poor upbringing in India, and it would have given the film an emotional weight that is nonexistent in the version we got.

Rami Malek is good here, but he is not good enough to pull this dumpster fire of a movie together. Remember Freddie Mercury as he actually was, not what this film wants you to think of him. Mercury was one of the best performers ever, and if you want to see why, then looking on his Wikipedia page would be a far better source of information than Bohemian Rhapsody. Few films this year left me as disappointed as this one did. Instead of wasting money on this film, stay home and watch the incredible and iconic Live Aid performance yourself rather than viewing a mediocre recreation of it.

by joel alexander–entertainment editor

The Haunting at Hill House is a Truly Horrific Spine Chiller

Via imdb

Truly effective horror shows are very difficult to pull off, which is why they are so rare. Netflix pioneered the concept of good horror television with Stranger Things, and have gone all out with their new project The Haunting of Hill House. Horror to this degree has not been done effectively in television due to the difficulty of keeping the audience in constant suspense for an entire ten hours of film. Nevertheless, Mike Flanagan seems to have cracked the formula, with one of the most bone-chilling and truly terrifying pieces of horror in the last decade.

Flanagan introduces the Crains, a fragmented family who are all still haunted (literally and figuratively) from their past–specifically when they lived inside Hill House, a giant and spacious mansion that is tailor made for horror. The show often flashes back to the Crains’ childhood in order to give more context to the events happening in present-day. Storyline-wise, Hill House contains virtually everything you could possibly want in any television show: insanely suspenseful sequences, emotionally investing characters, and insane non-linear storytelling.

As the show goes on, each episode appears to take place at the same span of time but from different characters’ perspectives. The greatest aspect of this show’s structure–which is saying a lot–is that it is like putting together a puzzle. When each episode passes, more pieces are added to the puzzle, and a bigger picture is gradually created that is equally horrifying and emotional.

The best horror films/shows are those that don’t just involve demon possession. No offense to The Conjuring, but when a film’s only theme is simply attempting to scare the audience, it seldom succeeds due to the weak emotional stakes. Of course, there are exceptions to this generalization, but fortunately Hill House doesn’t have to deal with problem at all, because it has more emotional stakes than the best of TV’s dramas. This season is essentially a better version of This is Us. Episode Five, “The Bent-Neck Lady,” is a wonderous example of how the show combines nail-biting horror with tear-inducing melodrama. The last twenty minutes of this episode contain some of the most beautiful scenes in recent years of television, despite the horror undertones. And then the final thirty seconds…. Well, you’ll have to watch it for yourself.

The horror is all the more terrifying due to the emotional stakes it brings to the table. Every single creature or entity that is introduced in the first half of the season is explained later in a way that isn’t simply saying, “it’s a demon.” The explanations also make the entities that much more disturbing, instead of quenching all the horror that was built up throughout the show with a shallow write-off.

Flanagan writes and directs Hill House with ease and has finally made the horror masterwork that audiences have been yearning for from him. His previous films, while very good, nearly achieve mastery but just barely fall short. Here, Flanagan finally rises to all of the potential he showed with films like Hush and Oculus. One episode that was especially masterfully crafted was Episode Six: “Two Storms”. This episode was filmed in roughly five shots, with the cast and crew continually working without cuts for twenty minutes at a time. This is quite an achievement, especially since Flanagan still manages to make it suspenseful and gut-wrenchingly emotional.

One particular quirk that cannot be ignored when discussing The Haunting of Hill House is the inclusion of random presences appearing and disappearing in the background of shots. This can be as simple as a person standing in the doorway in one shot and then disappearing the next, to entire statues moving positions to face ominously towards the camera. Most of this is very difficult for the casual viewer to spot–someone had to point out to me that there was a stark white face in the background of the scene in which young Theo goes into the cellar–but once you do, it will cause you to peer into every dark corner as if something is staring back at you.

If this show does not win every single Emmy for acting, then there is no justice in the world. Particularly transcendent are Victoria Pedretti as Nell, Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Luke, and Kate Siegel as Theodora. Pedretti has an especially tough job, delivering some of the most emotionally devastating scenes in recent TV history during Episode 5. Jackson-Cohen nails the gait of a drug addict who cannot seem to escape a levitating figure from his childhood. Siegel delivers an understated performance as the sister who hides a secret from society that gives her an advantage (or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it) in her area of work. The Haunting of Hill House is easily the best horror I have seen in recent years, and it will most definitely get under your skin in some way by the time the ten episodes are up. When finished, I immediately wanted to watch it again despite its horrifying nature; the twists and turns along the way changed my perspective of the show and it would be interesting to see the ways it foreshadowed what was to come. Skip over Chilling Adventures of Sabrina; the best show around right now is easily The Haunting of Hill House.

by joel alexander–entertainment editor

To shop or not to shop:

Graphic created by Hannah Singleton

Black Friday: An American “holiday” of sorts which takes place the day after Thanksgiving every year. A day which is considered the first day of Christmas shopping, for which many (if not all), retailers offer phenomenal deals and/or discounts. Many Americans celebrate this day by spending their time shopping at their favorite stores, taking advantage of the discounts offered. Others, more hardcore shoppers, start the holiday the night of Thanksgiving by camping outside of their favorite stores, and lying in wait for their selected store to open. There are a few issues, however, with the Black Friday tradition. The first being many shoppers become very aggressive on this day to buy their Christmas gifts, and it is very hard to get anything anywhere without stooping to their level of aggression. Another flaw, as junior Savannah Snider points out, is that: “Black Friday is too inconvenient. The traffic is usually crazy, so is getting a parking spot. Plus you have to weave your way through thick crowds to get to where you want to go.”

A proposed alternative to Black Friday, however, has recently risen from the ashes: Cyber Monday; the Monday after Thanksgiving during which stores offer the same incredible discounts, simply online instead. So one is able to shop for the same things with the same discounts, from the comfort of their own home. Many people, such as junior Ethan Hawes, prefer this to its alternative (Black Friday): “I prefer Cyber Monday, because there is a much wider variety online than in stores.” Hannah Robbins, also a junior, tends to disagree with Hawes: “ I prefer Black Friday, because I am able to see what I’m getting: It’s right in front of me. I can easily try it on right there and see if it fits. Also, I love going out late at night to shop: Everyone is outside with you, and it’s really crazy, and you just spend hours shopping with hundreds of other people in the same store. It’s just fun.”

As seen from the quotes above, both days have their respective positives and negatives. However, some believe that there aren’t enough people in the world who enjoy the thrill of shopping like Robbins. They fear that Cyber Monday will soon render Black Friday obsolete, since to so many, waiting out in the cold, dark, night for exceptional deals can in no way compete with the world of online, where you can receive the exact same deals from the comfort of home. Junior Nicola Tressler, is one of these people. When asked if she fears that Black Friday will one day be swallowed whole by the ever-expanding online market, her answer was clear: “I believe it definitely has the potential, because Americans tend to be more lazy when it comes to stuff like that. (They prefer) like staying inside, and (being) on electronics instead of going out and experiencing things.” Others, like junior Jillian Keilholtz, believe the tradition will stay long standing: “I don’t think it will because Black Friday is not just about the deals. Most of the time the deals aren’t that good. It’s just the whole experience of waking up early and going out with your friends shopping that makes Black Friday what it is.”

Although everyone may not agree on which day to spend shopping, there is one thing all Americans can agree on: Deals like those offered on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are once a year, and should most definitely be taken advantage of. So, whether it’s from the comfort of one’s home, or out late at night with hundreds of others, make sure to shop til’ you drop!

by celeste pollack–news editor

Fauquier High School's student newspaper. By the students, for the students.