LONG.LIVE.A$AP: Trash this CD A$AP

LONG.LIVE.A$AP may be the headstone to mark the grave of Rocky’s career as a rapper.
A$AP Rocky proclaimed his potential late in 2011 with his mixtape Live. Love. A$AP. I was enticed by the mixtape, particularly his single, “Peso,” which could prime the pump for any party worth attending. Both through his lyrics and production, he obtained an intensely raw and intriguing feel that set him apart from the big-box rap that currently dominates the pop music scene.
After multiple release delays over a year of anticipation, A$AP’s debut studio album promised to invigorate the new year. However, I’m incredibly disappointed in A$AP and his team. They completely fell short of the potential demonstrated on his previous releases.
Though the lyrics on his mixtapes were nothing to tweet about, Rocky puts even less thought into the lines on his record, which recycle the same women-money-drugs theme through almost every track and fail to sustain any depth whatsoever. His references are strikingly predictable, such as Bill Gates on the subject of money or Kurt Cobain when discussing suicide. His lack of depth, diversity, and the slow flow of his delivery render him unintelligent. Even “Phoenix,” the only song displaying significant introspection, is laced with cheesy metaphors and a sporadic form.
The first four tracks live up to the production quality on the mixtape. Clams Casino’s production, “LVL,” is by far my favorite track on the LP, furnished with an abrasive chillwave synth and a phaser that will collapse your lungs. But the majority of the second half of the album fades into something other than hiphop.
Many tracks would be better off on a teen pop album. One song, featuring Santigold singing a jaunty pop chorus, is decent, but Rocky is completely out of place. Despite A$AP’s gnarly vocals, it feels like a Nelly Furtado song with the sub dropped. And there’s the eerie pop song, “Fashion Killa,” where A$AP spreads vogue brand names and raps about shopping with his girl. It’s for sure a song pitched to the females, sounding like it belongs on a Keysha Cole or Brandy album.
The album’s flagship single, “F**king Problems,” disgraces the entire genre of hiphop. The single went on to top charts with its catchy chorus and expansive collection of featured rappers. But I wonder what middle-aged, white-collar producers and writers diminished A$AP’s originality and potential after he was signed to RCA Records. The track is cheesy beyond description. The atrocious pop song contains the same chord progression found in Justin Bieber’s track, “Eenie Meanie,” and One Direction’s “Live While We’re Young.” What once sounded like raw authenticity now sounds like a Disney cartoon edition of The Human Centipede.
The track “Wild For The Night,” Skrillex and A$AP’s duet, which starts as a laid-back Rocky track and then suddenly napalms into a typical Skrillex malfunction that leaves one wondering, where did that come from? From here the album is straight up boring and often feels like A$AP is running out the clock. There are a couple laid-back attempts at sentiment that ramble until you plead for them to end.
Rocky is an exhibitionist, writing for the sake of writing without deliberation or inspiration, but what he manages is simply asinine obscenity. I consider rap an art. Poetry, in fact. If licking the sole of your shoe is art, then congratulations, Rocky, you stuck your entire foot in your mouth.
Whatever originality and audacity Rocky previously displayed is now thoroughly whitewashed. What once promised quality, backslid to the lewd women-money-drugs cliché that was better off when it was uttered from some middle-school guy friends.

~Jake Lunsford, staff reporter

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What’s Up

Parent Teacher Conferences
Parent teacher conferences will be held on Feb. 28, from 1-8 p.m. There will be no school for students this day.

Spring Sports
Spring sports try-outs will begin on Feb. 18 including baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, tennis, track, and boys and girls lacrosse.

DECA States
DECA state competition will be held from March 1-3. The students will travel to Virginia Beach to compete with students from all over Virginia.

Red Cross Blood Drive
HOSA will do American Red Cross Blood Drive March 5th outside the gym entrance on the Red Cross Van and sign up donors in the cafeteria during lunches the week before.  The one we did in Dec was a huge success from the Red Cross perspective, well organized and over the expected donor contributions for a van drive.

Fundraiser for Finley Hope
The National Honor Society is selling bracelets marked with the phrase “Finding Hope”, to help Finley Hope, a three-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, raise money for an operation that will allow him to walk for the first time. The bracelets are $1, and are available through March 20. Contact seniors Fiona McCarthy, Nicole Layton, Caity Ashley, Sofia Luna, Jillian Holt, Kellie Sengstack, or Mallory Wyne to contribute.

Winter Sports Awards
Winter sports awards will be distributed on March 5 at Fauquier High School.

Marking Period
The end of this term’s first marking period will be on February 20. Report cards will be released on February 22.

Midterms
Midterms will be held on March 21 and 22. Both of these days will be half days for students.

SAT
The SATs will be held at Fauquier High School on March 9. You must arrive at 8 in the morning and bring a pencil, calculator, snacks, and water.

Spring Break
Spring Break will begin on Monday, March 25. Students will come back to school on Monday, April 1.
Book Fair
The library will be holding a book fair from Feb. 25 to March 1, featuring items from Bookworm Central, a local book carrier from Manassas. The selection will include material for children, young adult, and adult age groups, and will also carry book marks, pencils, and notebooks. According to librarian Becca Isaac, the book fair is buy-one-get-one free, and the proceeds will help the school buy more books. The book fair will also be open during parent teacher conferences on Thursday evening, Feb. 28, until 8 p.m.

Read Across America Day
March 1 will be read across America day, which is a day that promotes reading with children and young adults.

HOSA States
HOSA State Conference and Competitions March 15-17th in Williamsburg, VA

NHS Food Drive
NHS will be doing a food drive for the Fauquier Food Coalition from March 1-20.

~compiled by staff reporter Gavin Cranford and design editor Josh Henry

Students attend band clinic

Senior Collin Steves (far left) practices percussion during a band class at the University of South Carolina’s honors band program.
Senior Collin Steves (far left) practices percussion during a band class at the University of South Carolina’s honors band program.

Over 400 students from high schools in Maryland through Texas take a trip every year to The University of South Carolina to participate in the college’s renowned Band Clinic. Band directors nominate 10th grade and older students who are eligible to participate, and they take the students on a four day road trip to USC where they learn instrument and performance techniques and have the opportunity to play in front of the entire university.
“This camp is top notch,” band director Andrew Paul said. “The guest conductors are the best in the world. I’ve been to at least seven other band camps like this one in respectable universities, but none of them come close to the quality of USC. Everything they have is top notch.”
This year, Paul nominated seniors Kayla Griffith, Emma Nobile, and Ben Thompson, junior Mya Payne, and sophomore Kristi Lapins to attend the camp. The group travels to the campus on Valentines Day and returns that Sunday.
The students in the clinic will audition for a spot in one of four ensembles. Each of the four ensembles consists of around 100 students and a hired conductor. Three of the bands have equal skill levels while the fourth is an honor band with the exceptionally able students. The students have lunch and then attend concerts performed by the university’s band and by professional symphonies.
“I absolutely think students should go,” Paul said. “I attended this one as a high school student. They get experience and learn a lot, to say the least.”
The students lodge at a nearby hotel, and Friday and Saturday they have intense 8 a.m. to 11p.m. instruction on their instruments. University professors teach the students instrument techniques, with at least one professor for every instrument. They also spend this time practicing for their performance. On Sunday, all four ensembles perform what they’ve practiced in front of the university students at a world class facility that rivals the Kennedy Center.
Last year Thompson attended the camp with a few other students from the county, and he will go again this year.
“It’s pretty intense because you have to learn all the songs in just two days,” Thompson said. “But everyone’s so experienced, so it’s more fun rather than a big challenge. I want to do it again and see if I can do better in the standings. I hope to get to the honor band. Last year I came close, but this year I want to break though.”
Paul says that all the students that have gone in the previous years have said they enjoyed it. The students get to roam the city, eating at really nice restaurants and visiting record stores. They also get to know each other well, particularly during the seven hour car ride. Senior Collin Steves also went to the camp last year.
“Ben Thompson was the only person I was rooming with that I knew,” Steves said. “But the other guys and I became good friends. All of us who went down together were just with each other a lot, whether we were practicing, eating, at the hotel, or just hanging out. We were the only people we knew in a program with hundreds of students, so it brought us closer.”
The clinic also allows students to get a taste of what majoring in music would be like, and it looks good on college résumés.
“After the trip I realized that I didn’t want to major in percussion or performance but still wanted to major in music,” Steves said. “So now I’m auditioning at colleges with piano and a major in music business.”
Both Steves and Thompson were surprised at how fun the conductors made the experience, despite the intensity of the clinic.
“I enjoyed it,” Steves said. “The place is great. You are surrounded by people who are passionate about music, and you learn off of other students, as well as the conductors. I would recommend it for any student if they are passionate about their instrument.”

~Jake Lunsford, staff reporter

Trivia team places third

The science trivia A team, consisting of seniors Sergio Ribeiro and Chenoa Payne, and sophomores Claire Burke and Rhiannon Begley, took third place at the annual Blue Crab Bowl on Feb. 9. An academic competition revolving around what mere mortals call trivia, the Blue Crab Bowl focuses on ocean sciences, with questions ranging from ecosystems to marine laws and technology, with some chemistry thrown in for fun.
Science department head George Murphy has been the team’s advisor since the competition began 16 years ago.
“I ask the students in my Biology II honors classes to participate,” Murphy said. “We actually have a Blue Crab Bowl of our own. As a practice for the end of the year exam, I split the classes into two teams to compete against each other.”
Participation in the Blue Crab Bowl requires interest in marine biology, but it can also be a learning experience.
“I am really interested in marine biology,” Payne said. “I was really nervous at first, but when the team made it to the trophy round, I was so proud of us.”
At last year’s Blue Crab Bowl the team did not place, making this year’s performance a major improvement.
“It was just great,” Begley said. “I didn’t expect to get as far as we did after last year when we got crushed, but it was pretty awesome winning as much as we did.”
Ribeiro plans to be an engineer, and participating in the Blue Crab Bowl is another step towards his goal.
“I learned how complex biological systems and natural systems are,” Ribeiro said. “In the future I plan to understand biological systems and then model them using software.”

~Josh Henry, design editor

DECA goes to states

Seniors Colin Steves, Kevin Sanford, Casey Adamowicz and junior Brady Burr pose and prepare for DECA’s regional competition at the Apple Blossom Mall.
Seniors Colin Steves, Kevin Sanford, Casey Adamowicz and junior Brady Burr pose and prepare for DECA’s regional competition at the Apple Blossom Mall.

Competition is one of the most exciting aspects of being part of DECA for most members. Thirty-nine DECA members competed in districts on January 10, and 14 will continue to states, which will be held from March 1-3 in Virginia Beach.
“I was very excited. The students did very well, and there were a fair number who came extremely close to placing,” DECA sponsor Kathleen Evans said. “I haven’t taken 14 students to states in a long time, so it shows how well we did.”
DECA, an exclusive student marketing club, has over 100 members this year, a record number. Members choose from 16 categories in which to compete to demonstrate their marketing knowledge, and they receive a score based on a test and role play. To move on from districts, a student must place in the top three of the category, or be one of the club’s seven officers. Junior Parliamentarian Brady Burr placed third in automotive services marketing.
“It gives me the chance to test my marketing knowledge and skills,” Burr said. “I really like going to Apple Blossom Mall with kids from all of the local schools.”
This is Burr’s second year of competing at districts. Competition is often difficult for some of the new DECA members who have never had the experience.
“Nerves definitely set in,” Burr said. “I was really nervous my first year, but it was a lot better this year.”
New members had the opportunity to calm those nerves and gain experience by practicing on Wednesdays after school when students practice their role plays and testing abilities. Even with the practice, senior Curtis Grady was nervous.
“I was pretty nervous at first, but once we got into it, I started feeling better,” Grady said. “It was a great feeling to be able to get to states. I really surprised myself.”
Grady placed first in his category, sports and entertainment marketing. In addition, DECA President senior Kevin Sanford placed second in business finance, and sophomore Gavin Cranford placed third in sports and entertainment marketing. The remaining officers, who did not place, receive an automatic bid to compete at the state level. The final spots are given to underclassmen who came close to placing. These students will attend to gain experience for future competition.
Each level of competition becomes more challenging. Students who qualify for nationals, which will be held April 24-27 in Anaheim, California, will face off against DECA members from every state.

~Gavin Cranford, staff reporter

Scholarships: get the most bang for your buck

College tuition is steadily on the rise, along with expenses such as textbooks, housing, travel, and food. In a recession, paying for college is one of the hardest challenges that young people face, and the average student loan debt for 2011 graduates is $27,000, according to CNN Money. Many high school students, however, just don’t know how to take advantage of all the financial resources available.
“Between the local and national scholarships, the amount of money that students can potentially receive is really unlimited,” said guidance counselor Julie Kirk, who coordinates the scholarship program. “If you look deep enough, there’s something for everyone.”
Indeed there is – between local and national scholarships, college-granted scholarships, and full or partial tuition, last year’s senior class earned a whopping $2,019,240 in scholarships. That figure doesn’t even include the loans and other forms of need-based aid, such as work-study programs, that students received. So, to get you started on your quest for aid, here is a short list of financial resources available. Good luck!
1. National Scholarships, Zinch.com and Fastweb.com: Zinch and Fastweb are online sources for scholarships and student loans. Both require users to fill out specific information about their academic and personal lives to match them with the appropriate scholarships. Zinch is an affiliate of Chegg, which lets college kids buy and sell used textbooks for classes at a fraction of the price from traditional bookstores. It matches you with scholarships from all over the country, and lets you formulate a list of which ones to apply for. Zinch sends you an email when a scholarship deadline is approaching, or when a school is interested in you. The best part? If you win a scholarship that you find on Zinch and send in the documentation, the site will match the scholarship amount to double your money!
Fastweb doesn’t match scholarship funds, but it has a more accurate scholarship matching system. You don’t get repeat information, and you don’t have to sift through hundreds of scholarships to find the ones that you’re actually eligible for — it eliminates them for you. Fastweb also continuously searches for new scholarship matches, and it will send an email every time a new match comes up, listing the deadline and scholarship amount. And remember, transcript requests for scholarships, whether local or national, are absolutely free.
3. The FAFSA – Many students don’t know much about the Federal Application for Student Aid, but it allows applicants to be considered for all types of federal, state, and college-specific loans, grants, internships, programs, and need-based scholarships. The FAFSA asks students to input family income and tax information to determine individual levels of need, automatically qualifying students for low-interest loans, work-study programs, and other types of aid. Even if you don’t qualify for any of the federal or state aid, colleges look at the FAFSA to determine the amount of money that they will give you in grants or scholarships.
4. Fauquier High School Scholarships – Guidance frequently announces scholarship deadlines and reminders in the mornings and afternoons. You won’t find these scholarships anywhere online, except on guidance’s tab on the FHS website.
“The scholarship list is posted on the guidance website and nobody looks at it,” Kirk said. “Students should check it weekly because it’s updated all the time. We have around 40 right now, but we should hit 80 by the end of it all.”
Guidance counselors are there to answer questions about each scholarship, help you with the application, and give you information about where to turn it in and when to submit it. Many scholarships go unclaimed each year because students don’t apply for them.
“Some scholarships are for people on specific teams but no one applies,” Kirk said. “And that either keeps committees from giving the scholarship at all, or they choose someone from a different high school in the county. We don’t want Kettle Run or Liberty getting our money!”
Most of the scholarships offered through guidance are local, and many are specific to sports teams, trade and technical students, or academic achievers in Fauquier County. The lowest scholarship is around $250, while the highest is around $4000 or $5000. As an added bonus, students applying for local scholarships do not need to fill out a transcript request at all – guidance automatically submits one along with your application.
“I just hope that everybody applies,” said Kirk.

~Fiona McCarthy, staff reporter

Wrestlers advance to states

Sophomore Matt Raines pins a Loudoun County wrestler. Raines placed first in the 132-pound weight class and had a 4-0 record throughout the tournament.
Sophomore Matt Raines pins a Loudoun County wrestler. Raines placed first in the 132-pound weight class and had a 4-0 record throughout the tournament.
Senior Michael Villalobos rides a Sherando High School competitor at the Region II tournament on Feb. 9.
Senior Michael Villalobos rides in an attempt for victory a Sherando High School competitor at the Region II tournament on Feb. 9.

 

The wrestling team won the region II tournament on Feb. 9 for the fourth year in a row. Seniors, Max Strum and Michael Villalobos and sophomore Matt Raines placed first in the tournament. Four wrestlers will be advancing to states on Feb. 15 and 16.
“We finally came together as a team at Regionals,” head coach Doug Fisher said.  “We were competitive in all of our losses this year, but just couldn’t find a way to fire on all cylinders at the same time. The guys really came to that reality at Districts when we lost by such a thin margin. They took ownership in that second place finish, and really came together for a focused and determined week of practice prior to Regionals, and the result is now history.”
The Falcons have persevered through many problems this season, one of which was the lack of returning wrestlers.
“I am continually amazed, though, at our level of success this year,” Fisher said. “Other than Michael, we have had principally only three other returning starters from last year’s squad and one of those was a freshman last year.”
The biggest obstacle for this year’s squad was injuries. Senior Marko Tcheukado and junior Henry Weber were knocked out by season ending injuries.
“These injuries left a tremendous void to fill,” Fisher said. “Although their absence has provided opportunity for some, their leadership and experience has been missed by all.”
Tcheukado got in only two days of practice before breaking his leg in three places. As a senior, he will not get another chance at FHS. However, Tcheukado has joined the coaching staff for junior varsity and helped teach up and coming wrestlers what it takes to make varsity.
“I felt really bad about it,” Tcheukado said. “I had to just tell myself that I wasn’t going to wrestle this year. I am still a team captain, and I go to all the meets and help the junior varsity players with weight management.”
Weber was primed for a big year in 2013, but was knocked out by a shoulder injury which he suffered from while playing varsity football in the fall.
“It’s been awful because there have been many situations this year where I could’ve helped the team,” Weber said. “On a personal level, it sucks because I could’ve done really well this year and won’t get the chance to.”
Because of the injuries, the few remaining veterans are forced to step up and convince the young guys to compete as hard as possible.
“[The injuries to other guys] make you want to do better,” Villalobos said. “You have to do your best all the time and encourage the younger guys to keep pushing through everything.”

~Josh Henry, design editor

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