Volunteers coordinate relief efforts

Teenagers are always in transition, from this fad to that, from one exploration of personality to another. But teenagers are less often in transition physically—without a place that most people would call home. For the past three months, freshman Kaylee Orchuk has lived in between homes, inhabiting just one motel room with four other family members and a dog.

“We came here in the middle of August because my dad got a new job,” Orchuk said. “We thought that we had an apartment here set up, but something mixed up, and we had to find a long-term room at a hotel. We didn’t think we’d be in it this long.”

Although her family’s room is well equipped, containing a kitchenette, bedroom, living room, and bathroom, the pressures of living and working in one room can be oppressive.

“It’s still really small for how many people we have,” Orchuk said. “It took a toll on me for a while. At different times, it’s really stressful and I feel I can’t take it any more. If one person’s in a bad mood, it offsets the whole thing and something bad happens.”

Orchuk and her family were caught in the disruption caused by the economy as her father changed jobs, similar to many of the families and individuals struggling in Fauquier County, according to Lynn Ward.

“The thing that strikes me is how many people have fallen out of the middle class,” Ward said. “I think the bottom line is, there’s a lot of people that need a hand up, and sometimes it’s hard to get that hand up. Sometimes they’re just stuck.”

Ward spends considerable time volunteering and working to support the homeless and transient in Fauquier County. According to Ward, poverty has increased by half in the years since the recession began in 2007. Having lost significant amounts of federal aid, agencies from the Free Clinic to Social Services have found it increasingly difficult to provide help for the struggling.

“I know the federal monies have been cut off to the food bank and Vint Hill Housing, and the latter have had to cut back from four support staff to two,” Ward said. “We went to Vint Hill and said, ‘What do you need?’ and they gave us two pages of just needs, like 150 hours of painting and repair work.”

Ward believe this approach to volunteering—simply traveling to various agencies and asking for what the Haven Homeless Shelter or the Free Clinic requires—with be the “paradigm shift” in addressing the county’s lack of unified institutions to give aid.

“We’re working on a website where needs would come up, and outreach people across churches could look at that and see if they can help,” Ward said. There are some thigns going on, and I think there are a lot of people out there who care, but I think we need to see the picture better, and get a lot more organized.”

Families in transition are eligible for transitional housing if at least one member has a job and a vehicle. Orchuk and her family were able to acquire their room without county aid, but she experienced many of the same emotional effects as teens in transition housing, including pressure when doing schoolwork.

“I couldn’t really get away to do homework or study,” Orchuk said. “I’m surrounded by kids running around, and it’s really hard to concentrate. It’s not as much room to play in. I do have to walk the dog a lot because we can’t just let her out in the backyard.”

Guidance counselor Warren Hackney, a major proponent of giving aid to the community (he organizes food collection for the homeless in Fauquier and Rappahannock Counties), emphasizes the importance of education, because hard times can hit without warning.

“We just tell kids all the time that education is so important,” Hackney said. “You have to be marketable, you have to have skills. You have to be a lifelong learner.”

When the guidance department becomes aware of a student’s [plight?], the county’s social worker and a local shelter are contacted, and staff members generally pitch in to give the student short term financial aid. Hackney has seen an increase in pressure on students since the 2007 economic decline.

“I think what I’ve seen since the recession is more stress in students,” Hackney said. “[Financial struggle] is trickling down to the students, and more have to work to help the family.”

Orchuk has moved out of the motel and into a house, a change she was more than looking forward to.

“I’ve grown accustomed to being so crowded,” Orchuk said. “I think it’s going to be really awesome—I can invite friends over, and I don’t always have to go elsewhere. I always feel bad about invading their space.”

These three months have been a period of personal growth for Orchuk; the experience has given her a much broader perspective on hardship since before she came to Warrenton.

“When I lived in a house, I took for granted,” Orchuk said. “I think that’s what my problem was back in Iowa—I always wanted things even though I knew my parents were tight on money. Now I realize I might not have everything I wanted.”

~Sophie Byvik, editor-in-chief

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Superintendent Lewis named Fauquier Times-Democrat’s “2012 Person Of The Year”

“Red”: Fourth album sells Swiftly

“YES!! FINALLY!!” I screamed, when Taylor Swift’s new album, Red, hit stores on Oct 22. And, yes, the album is spectacular. T-Swift maintains the “I hate you, you loser!” aspect to her break-up songs, and it’s perfectly displayed in her hit single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” If you’ve been in a toxic relationship you just couldn’t escape, it’s the perfect song to blast from the radio with the windows down while screaming lyrics at the top of your lungs… but I digress.

However, the majority of the break-up songs on Red to posses a new quality that has not been seen before in T-Swift’s music: maturity. There is an element of somber acceptance in the tunes, including my personal favorite, “All Too Well,” which recounts particularly pleasant memories of a past relationship and how she remembers them… all too well. Yes, I was brought to tears.

Although the album has plenty of break-up anthems that will leave listeners crying and laughing (but mostly crying), there are also quite happy tunes to jam to. “Starlight,” was inspired by Ethel and Bobby Kennedy and describes a night back in ’45 when they snuck into a yacht party and had a blast. Dancing with the ones you love is a popular theme in Red; “22” is about a night Swift and friends went out for a night on the town.

Red is good because it displays a wide range of topics, which isn’t always seen in T-Swift’s albums. Usually her lyrics are about how she loves a boy or how she hates a boy- black and white. This time, however, Swift expresses the fragile vulnerability that comes with the pain of heartbreak in her lyrics, and in her vocals.

Swift writes her own music and often hides messages about other celebrities in her lyrics. When I listened to the album for the first time, I kept wondering who the songs were about.  Well, luckily Swift leaves a code in the album guide that helps fans make educated guesses as to who the songs are about. Speculation says some songs are about Love and Other Drugs actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who reportedly dated the singer for a few months. Others may be about Connor Kennedy, which makes sense considering she wrote a song for his grandmother. But unfortunately Swift keeps her songs on a “you know who you are” basis and leaves the rest of us wondering.

What is important, however, is that T-Swift’s songs are easy for teens to relate to. It feels good to hear a song that expresses a feeling you didn’t know how to put into words or that captures a situation you’ve experienced perfectly. Does Swift play it a little middle school when she calls out all of her exes in song? Sure. But that doesn’t make blasting her anthems in your room, or car, or headphones any less fun. I loved this album, and you should too.

~Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director

Playoff predictions pick Patriots

Heading into week 14 the playoff picture is beginning to take form. The Texans, Falcons, and Ravens are pulling ahead of the pack, while the Chiefs, Jets, and Panthers are competing to be the worst teams in the league.

In the wacky world of football the key for success is consistency, which has been lacking this season. Major blowouts in headline games such as the 49ers manhandling of the Bears or the Giants beating of the Packers, caused critics to question the power of the best teams in the NFL. At one point, the Belichick/Brady-led Patriots had a losing record, which is unheard of since the early 2000s. But all is falling back together now, right?

Wrong. The end of this season should prove to be explosive with emerging talent and playoff spoilers. The NFC, specifically, is so boggled up that six or more teams may fight for the last two playoff spots. Easy playoffs picks, such as the Falcons and Bears are obvious contenders, but what about Seattle and New Orleans? Those teams will be a thorn in the side of top contenders looking for home field advantage.

The Green Bay Packers are likely to have as hot a run into the playoffs as they did in their 2010 Super Bowl season. Aaron Rodgers returned to MVP form when he threw for six touchdowns and 342 yards against the Texans. Their huge test will come week 15 in Chicago. The Colts could end up being a surprising wild card team. Andrew Luck put up record setting rookie numbers while bringing the Colts from a two win team to a playoff contender. If the Colts make the playoffs as a wildcard, they may be destined for a matchup against Peyton Manning’s Broncos in the first round. If Luck, who replaced Manning, gets a shot at taking down the master, the television ratings would be huge.

In the end, the best team wins the big game. The New England Patriots will face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. Why, you ask? Because these teams are the best. The Patriots have the best offense in the league, averaging over 400 yards and 33 points per game. The 49ers have the best defense, ranking first in the NFL and giving up only 14 points per game. They are also top five against the pass and run. This is a matchup of superstars. Linebacker Patrick Willis against quarterback Tom Brady, it would be the most balanced clash of teams since the Colts and Bears matchup in 2007. Sophmore QB Colin Kaepernick will have his time to shine against the Patriots, but the pure firepower of the Patriots offense combined with a probable slip up from the 49ers young QB will turn into a 28-20 Patriots victory.

~Josh Henry, design editor

Hockey places fourth at states

 

courtesy of denise barrett
Freshman Micensie Barrett controls the ball during the state semi-final on Nov. 9 against Tabb High School. The Falcons fell, 8-0. The varsity team, also district champions, made an appearance in the state tournament for the third time in four years.

After a 0-4 start, the varsity field hockey team turned their season around, winning the title of district champions after defeating Kettle Run 2-1 on Oct. 17. Following a Nov. 1 loss to Charlottesville, the team was named the regional runner-up for a second season, earning a trip to the state quarterfinals in Virginia Beach. In the first round of state play, the Falcons defeated Northhampton, 3-0 on Nov. 6. In the Nov. 9 semi-finals against three-time champion Tabb, Fauquier was eliminated from the state tournament, falling with a score of 8-0.

“It’s an unreal feeling to know that we were losing at first and still were able to make it that far,” sophomore Allie White said. “This year, we really got to see what it was like to be the underdog. We defied all predictions. We showed the other teams we weren’t about to give up, which shot us to the final four.”

The team’s accomplishments continued to pile up even after the season was over. The Falcons had 11 players named to the all-district team, as well as seven players named to the all-region team. White was named Evergreen District offensive player of the year, while senior Hailey Miller was named overall player of the year.

“When I found out I was [offensive player of the year], I was speechless,” White said. “Coach Settle told me that in her hockey experience, she has never heard of a sophomore being named player of the year, and I was most likely the first. I screamed a little bit.”

With a roster of only four seniors, White says the team will be ready to compete again next year.

“If this group of girls were all beginners and new to the game, I can’t wait to see what the next two years will be like,” White said.

~Abby Seitz, sports director

Students see Newseum

The Newseum includes the largest display of the Berlin Wall of any museum. Each of the eight graffitied slabs are 12 feet high and weigh almost three tons. The guard tower, known as Checkpoint Charlie, is also on display. The tower is a symbol of the defeat of tyranny.
The Newseum includes the largest display of the Berlin Wall of any museum. Each of the eight graffitied slabs are 12 feet high and weigh almost three tons. The guard tower, known as Checkpoint Charlie, is also on display. The tower is a symbol of the defeat of tyranny.

Journalism, photojournalism, and Voices and Visions staff attended a field trip to the Newseum in Washington, D.C, on Nov. 20. More than 45 students participated, and the trip was chaperoned by English teachers Nicole Schiffhauer, Lindell Palmer, and Marie Miller.

Palmer is a personal fan of the Newseum and hopes his student’s gain as much from the experience as he does.

“It’s the best of all worlds,” Palmer said. “Each time I go I find new things to see. It’s such a massive place you can never see it all at once. Every time I go I tend to see some of the same things over again, just to reconsider them. It’s a museum that documents history and at the same time how media has changed throughout the years. You not only learn about media and journalism, but you also learn about history.”

Schiffhauer shares Palmer’s admiration and is confident her students learn a lot from the experience.

“Students are exposed to all areas of journalism at the Newseum,” Shiffhauer said. “For photojournalism students, the hall of photographs really puts into perspective the realness of the job; the monument to those who have lost their lives in the field reinforces the gravity of their work, and seeing the history of journalism evolve into modern-day journalism affords students the opportunity to appreciate how far we’ve come in the field. In my opinion, any student aspiring to go into some sort of communications field should visit the Newseum.”

Junior Jackie Nungesser felt the trip was worthwhile.

“It was cool to be able to go there and learn new things,” Nungesser said. “My favorite exhibit was probably the Pulitzer Prize winning pictures. They were so intense. I got really emotional looking at them.”

Junior Kerian McDonald found a newfound respect for journalists in the 9/11 documentary, produced and screened by the Newseum.

“The 9/11 movie with the reporters talking about their first hand experience was pretty crazy,” McDonald said. “It was really moving to see how they risked their lives like that.”

Both Palmer and Schiffhauer received glowing feedback from their students, and feel the trip was a day well spent.

“Students love the Newseum,” Schiffhauer said. “They get to see and experience things there that wouldn’t be possible elsewhere. Most of my students end up taking their friends and family back to the Newseum. In my experience, students walk away from their time at the Newseum enlightened; they find that they have a new-found respect for the happenings of the world and how the media covers it. In some cases, they come away with the drive to make their dreams of being a photojournalist a true reality.”

~Patrick Duggan, news director

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