Spirited students show sports support

If FHS was a body, the Zoo would be its heart. Made up of students with school spirit, the Zoo sports their nicknamed shirts and gathers on Friday nights to support the Falcons.
The Zoo began when a group of students in 1985-1986 enjoyed being a part of the energy at games. Business teacher Diana Story was part of the original zoo when she attended FHS.
“We were a big group of students who caused a scene,” Story said. “We definitely were not liked in the district. We yelled at the refs, we yelled mean stuff at the other teams. We would get right to the line, but never crossed it.”
Back when there was only one school in the county, the biggest rivals were Stafford and Stonewall Jackson High Schools. The group enjoyed the game and gathering with friends who all had similar opinions on school spirit.
“It’s a different time and age,” Story said. “They were much more tolerant [of our behavior] then. The best part was when they announced the other team, and we would ‘read newspapers’ or turn our backs.”
The Zoo Part II was started back up by the class of 2006 when senior Tripper Henson wanted to fill the shoes of his father, an original Zoo member. Business teacher Kathleen Evans served as a sponsor and let the group meet in her room to discuss T-shirts, school spirit, and ways to get people to turn out at the games.
“They packed my room with kids. They tried a lot of trial and error ideas at the games,” Evans said. “They didn’t used to have to stand on our side of the bleachers in one section, so it got pretty dicey. We were good, and we would win.”
Now, the Zoo Part II takes up an entire section in the stands and cheers loud enough for the whole stadium to hear. Zoo captain senior Hailey Miller was originally taken back by the idea of the cheer section because she came from Wakefield Country Day school, a private school with only 180 students at the time. She was introduced to the Zoo when former captain Erika Kondeziwala came into Charles Lewis’ history room selling Zoo shirts her freshman year.
“I told Mr. Lewis that day that I was going to be in the Zoo all four years, and I would be captain,” Miller said. “Here I am, captain of the Zoo. It’s definitely one of my favorite clubs; I love it so much.”
Now ‘Hailstorm’ balances her own basketball schedule with the schedule of the boys games to get the crowd going as much as she can. As a player on the court, junior Leif Heltzel enjoys having the Zoo present and loud at games.
“They make it hard for the other team to focus,” Heltzel said. “It makes our team play better; it gives us motivation.”
~Sarah Thornton, managing editor

Spanish teacher advocates studies abroad after trip to South America

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One of the best parts about new teachers is finding out all the interesting facts and quirks about them: where are they from, what have they done, what would they do if they weren’t teaching, and what do they bring to the classroom besides just the usual curriculum? As far as interesting experiences go, students should look no farther than new Spanish teacher Dani Bush.
“My senior year [of college], I decided that I wanted to teach Spanish,” Bush said. “It’s my background. When I studied abroad, I fell in love with the culture and language, and I wanted to share that with students.”
Bush, a native of New Jersey, was a junior at Milligan College in Tennessee when she spent five months studying abroad in Costa Rica.
“I would do it again is a second,” Bush said. “It was a little hard at first. I didn’t speak the language in the beginning, and my host family didn’t speak English. Figuring out the bus system was hard, and the showers were electric. You could barely turn them on; if they were on just a little bit, the water was really hot, and if they were on all the way it was really cold.”
A math major with a minor in Spanish, Bush began by spending her first month in language school. During this time she walked every day to a school, where she spent four hours a day, five days a week studying Spanish. Afterwards, she began studying Latin American history and science.
“I spent two weeks in Nicaragua where I taught English at a school and two weeks in Guatemala. I also studied sea turtles at a nature conservatory,” said Bush. “That was probably my favorite part, along with the scenery and my host family. The hardest part was seeing all of the poverty. When we were in Guatemala, they wanted to open our eyes and so they took us to the city dump. There were babies and small children living there with their families and that was just really hard to see.”
Bush, who has visited 13 other countries during a month spent in Europe, returned once to Costa Rica for her host sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, she later lost touch with the family.
“All of their information was saved on my university-issued laptop,” Bush said. “Everything ended up getting deleted. I was so upset.”
After graduating from college, Bush taught Spanish for two years in Tennessee. Although she applied for jobs in several other Virginia counties, Fauquier held the most appeal for her.
“When I drove out here for the interview, it was very similar to Tennessee,” Bush said. “It was also similar to the other counties I’ve taught in, based on how nice everyone was.”
Bush spends her free time reading, playing the piano, and hiking; she has trekked in Virginia’s Shenandoah region during the summer.
“[Milligan College] was a very large outdoors college,” Bush said. “I joined hiking club, and we’d go hiking every Saturday. I just enjoy being outdoors.”
According to Bush, all students should explore their study abroad options in college.
“You definitely have to know yourself,” Bush said. “You need to think about what your interests are and think about what kinds of things are on your bucket list. Studying abroad is a great experience, though. It’s a chance to expand your knowledge of how other people live, as well as a chance to become more comfortable with yourself and boost your confidence. You get to find out who you are and do so on your own.”
~Jordyn Miller, associate editor

Former track star molds young minds

by sarah thornton
Science teacher Ian Lansdowne lectures students during an earth science class.

Ian Lansdowne does it all. He teaches earth science and special education by day, and coaches cross country and track and field by night.

“I originally started teaching just to fulfill a need,” Lansdowne said. “I eventually became accustomed to it and grew to enjoy teaching.”
Lansdowne started his running career at FHS, where he ran track. After graduating in 2001, he attended George Mason University, majoring in psychology with a minor in education, while running for the Patriots.
“I came back to FHS and coach [Quentin] Jones was still coaching, and he asked me to join him,” Lansdowne said.
According to Lansdowne, when he learned of an opportunity to teach at FHS, he knew it was a good place to teach.
“It felt like home,” Lansdowne said.
According to Lansdowne, he coaches because it’s another way to reach students and have a positive impact on them.
“By coaching, I get to have a different view of the students,” Lansdowne said. “I get to have a different relationship with them outside of the classroom.”
According to Jones, Lansdowne brings a lot of experience to the team, with his extensive high school and college running careers.
“He excelled at hurdles, sprinting, and jumping when he was an FHS athlete,” Jones said. “Then he ran at GMU, so he knows how the athletes feel; how hard it is to have everyone counting on you.”
The team had a scrimmage against Woodberry Forest on Dec. 9 where they did really well despite losing many top performing seniors who graduated last spring.
“We lost a lot of seniors and the team is really young,” Lansdowne said. “But there were a lot of impressive performances out of the younger members, and the veterans help them to prepare for what they had to do and excel at the meet.”
According to Lansdowne, a major goal for the team is to develop the younger athletes and defend the district title.
“We want to develop uprising talent,” Lansdowne said. “We want to make some noise when it comes to regionals.”
Not only does Lansdowne enjoy working with the athletes, but he also enjoys working with Jones.
“He is a fun person to be around,” Lansdowne said. “He’s always positive and upbeat and allows me to grow and develop as an assistant coach.”
Senior Sam Donahue enjoys Lansdowne’s fun, encouraging coaching style.
“He’s definitely not a scary coach; he’s really funny and makes everyone laugh,” Donahue said.
According to freshman Liam Holland, a student in Lansdowne’s earth science class, Lansdowne’s easy-going personality makes him not just a teacher, but a friend.
“He’s probably the best teacher ever,” Holland said. “He’s not strict, and he’s more like a friend than a teacher.”
Outside of teaching and coaching, Lansdowne is also an action-hero movie buff. Among his favorites are the X-Men movies, any film based on Marvel Comics, including Captain America.
“I grew up with them,” Lansdowne said. “They’ve gotten a lot cooler since I was younger.”
Lansdowne also enjoys going to the beach, and engaging in outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, and walking around D.C. to see the museums.
“I’m inside the school building all day,” Lansdowne said. “I don’t want to be in a building afterwards, that’s one of the things I enjoy about track practices.”

~Caroline Liebel, staff reporter

Swim team rises from the depths

Halfway through their season, the swim team has learned to adjust to whatever is thrown their way. From new coach Robert Blashill to a young roster, the team has seen it all. In their most recent meet, the team finished third on Dec. 21, behind Kettle Run and Millbrook.

“Starting a new job is always a challenge–learning new traditions and incorporating my own coaching style,” coach Robert Blashill said. “Our athletes have risen to the occasion.They’re cooperative, open minded about learning, and very coachable. We will definitely have some swimmers qualify for regionals, and hopefully some will qualify for states.”

According to Blashill, sophomore Jake Boulter is close to qualifying for states in the 100 fly with a time of 58.9 seconds, just shy of the 57.4 second state cut time.

During the post season swim, all team members are eligible for the district competition, but only the top five from districts advance to the regional level. Swimmers can either advance to states by being in the top five at regionals, or beating a state time. According to Blashill however, the team is still working towards their playoff goal.

“We will never be done working on everything we need to work on,” Blashill said. “Endurance is a big part of the program.”

This year, the team fields only four seniors, which, according to junior Amanda Bengston, has required some adjustment.

“We have a really young team,” Bengston said. “But we have really strong underclassmen which will help us next season.”

In addition, there are only seven boys on the team. According to junior Sam Henson, the boys team can be affected by one swimmer’s weak performance.

“We can only have one relay team,” Henson said. “So even if we win our race, we may not win overall because other teams have more relay teams.”

~Caroline Liebel, staff reporter

Mountain Vista Governor’s School accepting applications

Juniors and seniors may apply to Mountain Vista Governor’s School, a regional program for academically talented students. The curriculum is composed of college-level projects, integrated with science, math and humanities.

Applications are being accepted through March 1, 2013. Current FCPS sophomores and juniors may apply. The application can be found here.

Interested students can also attend an open house on Feb. 12 from 7-8 p.m. at the Warrenton LFCC campus. For more information, visit MVGS’s website or FCPS1.org

Opinion: Adolescent mental health system is failing patients

In a country where one in five Americans under 18 have a diagnosable mental disorder, there is a major gap in both understanding and treating mental illness among adolescents. The flawed mental health system results from a lack of quality treatment and the crippling stigma surrounding those suffering from a disorder. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, half of all lifetime cases of mental illness are developed by age 14; however, only one-third of diagnosed teenagers receive professional help. Americans seem surprised when a tragedy due to a lack of proper treatment occurs, yet there has not been a serious initiative to improve the mental health system since Nellie Bly exposed the dirty secrets of mental institutions in 1887.

The most common mental disorders among adolescents are mood, anxiety, personality, and eating disorders. Schizophrenia, ADHD, and autism are also prevalent. According to Fauquier County Public Schools psychologist Alan Cameron, younger children are more commonly diagnosed with autism or behavioral and developmental problems, while depression and anxiety often manifest in middle and high school students. The school system’s involvement in a student’s mental health can vary from case to case.

“The counseling department is the first line of defense,” Cameron said. “Sometimes the school psychologist is called in for a second opinion, especially if there are questions about risk of harm to self or others.  In extreme cases, as with a student who is actively suicidal, we work collaboratively with Regional Behavioral Health to facilitate admission to the nearest adolescent mental health facility. For both legal and pragmatic reasons, schools often have difficulty maintaining communication with the child’s psychiatrist and/or out-of-school counselor.”

Treating a student with mental health issues extends beyond the jurisdiction of the school, as responsibilities for treatment are often turned over to the parents. However, Cameron says receiving effective treatment through medication and/or therapy can be challenging.

“It can be very difficult for parents to find counselors and psychiatrists who specialize in children and adolescents,” Cameron said. “The wait time for an appointment is typically weeks and sometimes months.  There is still a lot of trial-and-error involved in finding the right medication, and insurance companies are quite spotty in what they will cover.”

The mental health system is a topic for debate in the media nearly every month, whether a school shooting occurs or a new study is released about teenagers and eating disorders. Statistics support a constant spotlight on mental health – suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents in America, yet only 37 percent of those diagnosed receive treatment for depression. Somehow, the issue is on America’s mind, however, little is being done to help those suffering. The stigma surrounding mental health is as alive as ever, which does not help in any way. At all.

It’s considered out of line to tell a diabetic kid to go eat a cupcake, yet terms such as “schizophrenia,” “bipolar,” and “suicidal” are easily associated by the general public with “violent” and “crazy.” Teenagers suffering from mood and personality disorders are told their condition is just a phase, while those with an eating disorder are told to go eat a cheeseburger. The stigma pushes those who need help into a world of silence and shame. Teens often worry that if they seek help, they could lose friends, college admission, or social status. Mental disorders are often the result of a genetic disposition or a biological imbalance – two factors that are just as out of a patient’s control as asthma or cancer. Until there is a general understanding that mental health is equivalent to physical health, the advancement of proper treatment will be stunted, especially among reputation-conscious teenagers.

The media and Hollywood are partially to blame for society’s perception of mental illness. Every time a tragedy happens, news outlets are quick to ask what was wrong with the perpetrator. The media immediately labels the perpetrator as crazy because they are schizophrenic or autistic, while the tragedy likely occurred because the perpetrator received low quality treatment for their disorder, if they received any help at all. Hollywood has a similar problem – television shows such as Law & Order portray mentally ill criminals in a stereotypical and negative light. A connection between jail, dangerous, and mental illness is forged in viewers minds. However, in Breaking Bad, Hollywood tells America it’s okay to make meth in an RV and murder anyone who gets in your way if you’re dying of cancer. You know, because physical health is tragic and not your fault, while mental health is something you really need to get over.

One way to help eliminate social stigma is a mainstream, national campaign. Through advertisements and publicity, a campaign that puts a face on the issue could be extremely effective. Demi Lovato, for example, has been a wonderful pioneer in eliminating eating disorder stigma – she has admitted her own past problem, given hope to those struggling, and even called out Disney Channel for making a joke in a movie. If more celebrities would stand up like Lovato, many minds could be changed, especially those of the teenagers who are doing the bullying.

Sadly, even if the stigma surrounding mental illness was eliminated completely, the flaws of the health system still exist. A teenage source who wishes to remain anonymous described his stay in a mental hospital as “degrading” and “cruel.”

“I tried to kill myself, and I had anxiety problems, too,” the source said. “We weren’t allowed to even have pencils, because the staff thought we would hurt ourselves. We weren’t allowed outside, and I barely even talked to any real doctors while I was there. I wasn’t even allowed to call home. It was basically like jail, except in jail, you at least get a call.”

When asked if his stay was beneficial to his recovery, the source said the negative effects still linger nearly a year later.

“I still have nightmares about that place,” the source said. “If anything, my entire stay made me want to succeed if I ever tried to kill myself again, so I wouldn’t end up back there. All they cared about was labeling me as crazy, getting me on drugs, and getting the money that comes with the entire corrupted psychiatry industry.”

The filthy profit-driven corruption manifests through the 49 million Americans taking a psychiatric drug. Insurance companies have psychiatrists wrapped around their finger, pressuring unnecessary prescriptions and labeling patients with disorders they may not ever have. Everyone is bound to experience a symptom of depression or anxiety in their lifetime, however, not everyone needs to be on Prozac. When it comes to teens, psychological treatment should only resort to medication in extreme cases. By drugging up vulnerable teens, the symptoms of the disorder are being treated, yet the original problem remains. It’s a lot like when your shoe falls apart and you cover the hole with duct tape. No matter how much duct tape you put on, the shoe still has a hole in it, and the duct tape doesn’t do anything except hide that.

Corruption in the psychiatric system can be addressed with legislation. To avoid inappropriate prescribing, the FDA needs to enact tighter requirements for prescriptions drugs – currently, any FDA approved drug may be prescribed by a licensed doctor for anything.

Americans need to face the raw facts. Psychiatry is corrupted. Depression is not a phase, eating disorders aren’t joke material, and schizophrenia does not make someone crazy. Bad things will happen. There will be another school shooting. Kids are going to keep killing themselves. Someone you know might develop a disorder, whether it’s your brother or your own child. There is no pretty way to put it. However, as a country, we need to start working to at least improve statistics surrounding mental health. If adolescents with mental health issues were treated more effectively, America would see fewer headlines about mental illness gone wrong. We can keep pointing fingers at the parents who must have raised them wrong, the doctors who over-drug the nut cases, or the children who need to act more normal, but in reality, voting and pushing for legislation and eliminating the social stigma are what we can do on a day-to-day basis to keep adolescents from falling through the system’s cracks.

~Abby Seitz, sports director

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