OPINION: Morning-after treatment a right, not a privilege

A New York judge recently ordered the FDA to make the Plan B contraceptive pill available over the counter. In 30 days, the pill will be available to girls of all ages without a prescription or parental consent, and women will rightly have control of their own bodies. However, some groups that oppose sexual activity among adolescent girls are outraged, as if making the morning-after pill available would result in girls of all ages engaging in sex.
As of now, to get the morning-after pill, a girl has to be at least 17 years of age or have the consent of a parent. This assumes a girl has a supportive family life, because without one, the consequences might be an unplanned pregnancy, which could make the family situation even worse. According to the New York City Health Department, over 7,000 girls under the age of 17 become pregnant in the city each year; 90 percent of those pregnancies are unplanned.
The morning-after pill is not a form of abortion. It does not terminate a pregnancy; it prevents a pregnancy from occurring. Plan B contains a synthetic hormone, which is also used in birth control, that delays ovulation or interferes with fertilization of an egg. However, this does not mean it should be used excessively. The pill should only be used in extreme cases, such as rape and incest, or if a girl makes a mistake, like people, young and old, sometimes do.
One concern raised by groups opposed to wider availability is that young people will use the pill as a form of birth control. This is unlikely, since the morning-after pill costs $40 to $50 a pill. I don’t know many young people with that kind of a disposable income.
If money were not an issue, obviously taking the pill excessively could have dangerous effects on one’s body, such as increasing the risk of blood clots. In addition, wider availability may increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases if young people stop practicing safe sex.
This is where education comes in. Sex education should teach young people the importance of safe sex to prevent sexually transmitted disease, as well as the option of using the morning-after pill to prevent unplanned pregnancies. After all, the purpose of sex education is to inform young people on the possible consequences of sexual activity and, based on one’s decision, how to go about it safely.
Not allowing girls access to the morning-after pill encroaches on the rights of women to control our own bodies. As much as adults would like to protect young people from everything they feel is unsafe and wrong, they can’t. Ultimately, the decision is not in their hands. With or without the availability of the morning-after pill, young people must make their own decisions regarding their sexual activity. So educate, but don’t make a girl and a child suffer for a mistake.

~SaraRose Martin, staff reporter

Advertisements

Love Taylor; Don’t be a hater

As soon as a musician like Taylor Swift rises to the top, a stream of constant criticism will likely follow:
“She sounds like a dying raccoon.”
“She’s not even pretty. She has rat eyes.”
“This music is for 10-year-old girls!”
I have heard these comments attacks on her abilities, her beauty, and her music for the seven years that Swift has been on top of the charts, and it’s time to set the record straight.

She is gorgeous
Blonde hair, blue eyes, long legs, beautiful smile. Taylor Swift is quite simply the all-American idea of flawless. She is one of the few in Hollywood who isn’t notorious for fashion blunders. Taylor has changed her style as she discovers who she is, just like any young adult. Watching her transition from awkwardly cute country girl to glamorous CoverGirl model has been exhilarating.
She writes songs we all (secretly) relate to
Everyone has heard a Taylor Swift song. Everyone has also related to a Taylor Swift song. The attacks on Taylor often involve the maturity level in through her songs. I didn’t get the memo that once you turn 23, you stop having feelings, experiencing heartbreak, and obsessing over relationships. Her songs are the conversations that girls have with their friends put to music, and they touch on everything, from spending forever with your best friend, to rants about exes who didn’t treat her right. No matter what you’re going through with a guy, you can find a Taylor Swift song to put on repeat until the situation is resolved.
She’s self-made
Taylor Swift pursued a passion that turned into a success story. After singing in talent shows and bars, 14-year-old Swift moved to Nashville with her family to pursue a music career. With persistence, Swift released her first album at age 16, raw look into her teenage mind. Swift is known for writing her own lyrics. She maintains a clean, authentic image that makes it easy for fans to relate to and love her.
She is a good role model
From Vanessa Hudgens’ racy role in Spring Breakers to Miley Cyrus’s destruction of her clean country image, young female celebrities have an iffy track record. Swift, however, has managed to keep a squeaky clean reputation; a serious Swift scandal has yet to hit the newsstands. Swift’s songs also teach important lessons to young girls, since her songs don’t revolve around partying, drinking, or promiscuity (looking at you, Ke$ha). Through her music, Swift sends the message that heartbreak is human and just because he dumped you, it doesn’t mean you will die with cats, which is an important lesson for adolescent girls.
She has matured and will continue to grow
I cannot deny that Swift’s earliest songs sound like a whiny teenage girl’s Tumblr read aloud. Her first eponymous album goes through a relationship, from fond memories of sneaking out and talking all night, to how much Taylor actually hated her ex’s pickup truck. Rhymes were hastily crafted, and lines were paraphrased cliches, which is perfectly fine for a 16-year-old’s debut album. Swift’s artistic maturation is documented through her albums. In her 2012 release, Red, Swift compares a broken relationship to “driving a new Maserati down a dead end street, faster than the wind.” As her music career advances, Swift continues to develop into the fantastic woman she is bound to be.

~Abby Seitz, online/associate editor

PHOTOSET: Baseball hosts Brentsville

The Fauquier Falcons baseball squad faced Brentsville on April 25. After three innings, the game was scoreless. Brentsville took the first lead after two defensive errors by Fauquier. The game would remain 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth when freshman Ty Pavlock hit a deep double to the right center field gap, and senior Hunter Ball scored. The game was a pitchers duel all the way through, and drove the game into extra innings. Fauquier won in the bottom of the eighth with a walk of run scored with the bases loaded when the Brentsville third-baseman committed an error.

“I felt great,” Smoot said. “I felt in control, and I haven’t felt like that in a while. This is definitely the best game I have ever pitched in high school.”

~Josh Henry, design editor

Cheater cheater, grades are sweeter

illustration by natalie smith
illustration by natalie smith

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

PRO/CON: Bears – Cute and cuddly or Godless killing machines?

PRO by Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director

Let’s take a moment and appreciate bears. They are the soft toilet paper of the world – necessary and comfortable, yet often overlooked. But the truth is, bears are a necessary part of the food chain, environment, and entertainment industry.
Picture this: salmon everywhere, flopping all over schools and homes, swimming in pools and bathtubs and tearing apart the universe one fin at a time. If only there was a furry beast that depended on fish to survive that could save us from this dystopia. Oh, wait. There is – the bear. If it weren’t for this magnificent creature, the fish surplus could clog streams used for drinking water and dominate the habitats of other underwater life.
Since ancient times, bears have been a symbol of power and strength. But with the release of the teddy bear in the 1900s, their image transitioned to one cuddly and cute. They dominate the film and television industry. Let’s not forget the Pixar classic, Brave, which won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Animated Picture; bears showed us the meaning of true family. Not good enough, you say? More convincing is what you require? Then take a gander back to 1967 when Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book taught us the importance of the ‘bare necessities’ with the help of the goofy and charismatic Baloo. And don’t forget the honey-loving, cuddly, chubby, stuffed-with-fluff Winnie the Pooh.
Can you imagine a world without Winnie the Pooh? I can, and I want no part of it. If it’s still difficult for you to imagine bears in a tender light, think back to Disney’s Brother Bear, which put us in the bear’s paws after a curse forces the protagonist into a grizzly’s body. Although he hated the species that killed his brother, Kenai’s journey showed him that humans and bears are all just creatures trying to survive.
Some may portray these magical, misunderstood creatures as violent, scary or maybe even terrifying. Yes, there is the occasional mauling accident, but would you stand idly by while someone was hiking in your home? Didn’t think so. Bears attack humans because humans are in their territory, or threatening their cubs. The real issue, however, is the way humans treat bears. Six out of the eight bear species in the world are endangered because poachers kill them and sell their body parts and fur for a profit.
There are ways for humans to peacefully coexist with bears, despite being two of the most aggressive predators on the planet. Humans living in a bear populated area should be aware of bear behavior and ecology in order to cohabitate safely. In addition, an effort should be made to remove lures such as bird feeders, livestock carcasses, or fruit trees.
In a time when our world is technology-heavy, taking time to understand bears is taking time to understand nature.

CON by Abby Seitz, online/associate director

America has been completely blinded by the internet and the media once again. Many times when I have logged onto Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr with high hopes of finding entertaining material, I have found my peers consumed with bear mania. Whether it’s a video of a polar bear cub sliding around on ice or a large bear sitting at a picnic table, it’s about as repulsive as that freshman couple that posts pictures of their make-out sessions. The adoration surrounding bears needs to stop.
As a child, I loved bears. I had hats, stuffed animals, and even a collection of panda postcards. Upon my first visit to the zoo, I was thrilled at the prospect of visiting all of the different bears. When I reached the panda exhibit, the bears were eating and hiding from the public. I moved onto the sloth bear exhibit to find a furry failure at life, asleep and apathetic. I decided to give the Andean bear a shot, only to find another bear playing dead. While that sounds like a case of bad luck, after five more visits to the zoo, I’m not sure the bears even rolled over in my absence. For years, I was misled by Bear in the Big Blue House, Winnie the Pooh, and Little Bear. My childhood was shattered by furry menaces. America needs to realize that underneath the alleged cuddly and adorable shell, bears are truly evil creatures.
Maybe you’ve been persuaded by the advertisements for wildlife funds to keep polar bears alive, featuring little puffs of fur in their natural habitat. If this is the case, you are a victim of propaganda. Where is the push to keep endangered reptiles alive? According to a Feb. 15 article on the NBC News website, nearly one-fifth of reptiles are on the road to extinction. Because lizards and snakes have a disgusting and slimy stigma disguising their true beauty, their endangerment is being overlooked. Pandas and other endangered bears are being kept alive purely because they’re cute. America cannot handle the facts – harmless reptiles are dying, while bellicose bears slowly take over the public’s heart.
Bears are violent killers. From 2000 to 2010, there were 27 bear-related deaths in North America, according to backpacker.com. Seventeen of the attacks were by black bears, while 10 grizzly bears unleashed their true mission in life. As Stephen Colbert has exclaimed on The Colbert Report, bears are “Godless killing machines.”
If cold hard science isn’t enough to prove bears dangerous and useless creatures, pick up a copy of the Bible. In 2 Kings 2:23, the prophet Elisha curses children in the name of the Lord. As a result of the damnation, two bears emerge from the woods and maul 48 children. If the Bible is enough of a reason to prohibit gay marriage and abortion, it is certainly logical evidence in the fight against bears.
Bears are just about as dangerous as kitchen knives or breaking up with Taylor Swift. What other despicable attributes do these creatures possess? Bears have been involved in a string of criminal acts, from stealing to breaking and entering. According to a Sept. 25 report by ABC News, a bear in California stumbled out of the woods and stole a backpack and an iPad, belonging to a fisherman. If any human committed this act, they would be in serious trouble with the law. However, because bears are so “cuddly,” this bear was let completely off the hook. Various other reports have surfaced in the last decade, involving bears breaking into Subway restaurants, Norwegian cabins, and cars in Colorado. In Churchill, Canada, dubbed the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” residents avoid walking the streets during bear season, and leave cars unlocked to provide refuge in case of an attack. Bears are threatening society because we’re letting them. If you are a whole-hearted American like myself, you are probably asking what you can do to aid the movement against the bears. First, we need to stop lying to children. We must stop buying Care Bear backpacks for children and or reading them Berenstein Bear books. Parents should trash teddy bears and buy stuffed reptiles instead. If we start by educating youngsters, we can erase the twisted concept of associating cuddly and cute with pandas and grizzlies. It may take several generations to completely rid society of their bear infatuation, but time is trivial when compared to saving America from these monsters.

7 bands you need to know

Even in the digital age, finding good music can be a Herculean task. One has to sort through all of the B-grade, “underground” rappers, the poor-quality demos of aspiring country stars, and the horrible singles of rising pop stars to find the few good new artists. To help save you some time, here’s a short list of some of the best artists to check out this year.
1. Kendrick Lamar – If you haven’t heard Kendrick Lamar, then you might be living under a rock. The 25-year-old rapper established a huge internet following with his mixtapes back in 2010, but with the release of his studio album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, Lamar has become one of the biggest names in rap. He has collaborated with everyone from Dr. Dre to The Lonely Island, and Lamar has received universal acclaim for his unique voice and lyrical talent. Be on the lookout for more collaborations and a slew of awards for the young rapper.
Must-listen song: “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
2. Husky – Australian indie rock band Husky hasn’t had a hit – yet. The quartet is named for the lead singer, Husky Gawenda, whose name describes his voice. The band’s material ranges from songs with slow rhythms and soothing acoustics, to upbeat tempos and sweeping melodies, but all fall into the genre of good. This is definitely a band to watch if you like music that will make you sit down, relax, and just appreciate the song.
Must-listen song: “Animals and Freaks”
3. Angel Haze – Females rappers have been underrepresented, but recently some bright stars have risen, and Angel Haze is definitely one. The 21-year-old phenom broke into the rap scene in 2012, after she covered Eminem’s classic “Cleaning Out My Closet” – and made it better. With new collaborations and original work on the horizon, keep an eye out for Angel Haze.
Must-listen song: “Gossip Folks”
4. Florida Georgia Line – Anyone who’s listened to the radio recently has probably heard this band. The group scored a top hit with “Cruise,” off the Here’s To the Good Times LP. The band is composed of musicians Brian Kelley, from Florida, and Tyler Hubbard, from Georgia, hence the band’s name. With talent that suggests more than one-hit-wonder status, the rest of the album is worth a listen. New backing from a major country label could make Florida Georgia Line a fixture in country music.
Must-listen song: “Cruise”
5. Death Grips – It’s hard to describe Death Grips’ sound beyond the relatively uninformative term “unique.” They have described their sound as punk, mixed with hip-hop, mixed with “noise.” The group’s approach to music has garnered ample critical acclaim, with their studio album, The Money Stone, ranking ninth on Pitchfork’s Best Albums of the Year of 2012.
Must-listen song: “I’ve Seen Footage”
6. Future – Future is the second vocalist for the 2011 YC hit “Racks,” and has collaborated with big-name hip-hop artists such as Lil Wayne, Drake, and T. I.. His sound is that of a mediocre rapper, but with melodies more on point than most of the big players in hip-hop. With a new studio album, Future Hendrix, featuring Kanye West, Rihanna, Drake, Rick Ross, Jeremih, and others, it’s likely that Future will pop up in 2013.
Must-listen song: “Tony Montana (ft. Drake)”
7. Animal Kingdom – For fans of the indie alterna-rock genre, British trio Animal Kingdom delivers songs that are reminiscent of folk-rock meets Muse. The traditional guitar-drums-bass setup is accompanied by sweeping piano and synth melodies on most every track, in addition to the lead singer’s quiet voice. Although the band has been around since 2009, their latest studio effort, The Looking Away, is the one that merits attention.
Must-listen song: “Strange Attractor”

~Fiona McCarthy, staff reporter

Retail options lack quality, variety

Living in the 21st century, patience is not a trait that comes naturally, but it’s necessary if one lives in Fauquier County. Retail development would go far to ease the stress and up the entertainment quotient.
Mall: Residents must either make the dreaded drive to Fairfax or Tysons for quality shopping malls, or wait all week and wonder why the slugs at UPS are still delivering packages with horse drawn carriages. A local mall would attract business to Fauquier, refine our wardrobes, and give us something to do on weekends.
Movie Theater: When I went to Manassas to watch The Hobbit, I felt like I had made a more significant journey than Bilbo and the dwarves. But that 30 minute drive was my only option. Fauquier used to have a movie theater, but it was filthy, small, and the projector would sometimes shut off during films. A movie theater would serve to build community by providing something enjoyable for everyone.
Book Store: Mark Twain once said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” The county’s book worms have mourned the death of its one and only bookstore since Borders closed last year. There is something in the ambiance of flipping through pages while enjoying the aroma of coffee, a vibe unparalleled by ordering books from Amazon or reading eBooks or even visiting the library. We need a new bookstore to restore our sanity and to improve our intellect.
Costco: Whether you go to troll the food samples or because you really need 80 rolls of paper towels, Costco offers an unrivaled impulse shopping experience. Since the Price Club days, Costco has maintained an exquisite assortment of groceries and household necessities in large quantities for bargain prices. The proposal to build a Costco in the New Baltimore area was stymied by community and land preservation concerns and issues with traffic congestion. As of 2007, more than 7,000 Fauquier County Costco members shopped at the Manassas store. Prince William County has received massive amounts of tax revenue due to the encouragement and development of retail businesses. By building a Costco, we could participate in this revenue stream, and keep Fauquier revenue at home. With a population of over 65,000, we have outgrown Walmart.

~Jake Lunsford, staff reporter

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