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Athelte-scholar, Oravec commits to Cornell

Senior Sam Oravec, who has been a prominent force on the school track team for all four years of his high school career, recently committed to Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York.

“It was definitely a goal that I’ve really wanted to meet for a while,” Oravec said. “I achieved one of my goals of being a D1 athlete, and continuing my dream on for four years, which is [continuing] jumping [events] and getting better.”

Oravec knew that Cornell’s close community was a good fit for him when he visited.

“The team up there was a lot like our high school team: very family-oriented and very close. The coaching staff is a lot like the coaching staff here at the high school: very skilled and dedicated coaches and athletes,” Oravec said. “What it really came down to was the academics. That’s what set it apart from other schools.”

At his parents urging, Oravec began track as part of a club in elementary school, but he never anticipated getting to his current level. Oravec was a member of the 4×8 relay team, which won the 2016 Outdoor State meet and secured the top time in Virginia. Oravec received all state honors in four events in the 2016 Outdoor State meet: 4×4, 4×8, 500, and triple jump.

“I started out with cross country, and I knew I wasn’t going to be a very good endurance runner because I’ve always been more of a speed, power guy,” Oravec said. “Then, I got to winter track and started doing some more of the shorter [events], and found out I excelled more at those than the distance events.”

Oravec has been a member of six championship relay teams: 2015 Indoor 4×4, 2015 Outdoor 4×4, 2015 Outdoor 4×8, 2016 Indoor 4×4, 2016 Indoor 4×8, 2016 Outdoor 4×8. After coaches got him involved in sprinting and jumping, Oravec was driven to excel.

“I started looking at college standards when I was a freshman, just to see what I should meet. That really got me motivated to be a jumper and middle-distance runner here,” Oravec said. “I [wanted] to get to the college level.”

After years of taking advantage of the science curriculum, including biology and anatomy classes, Oravec is considering majoring in biology with a focus in physiology.

“I would like to take more of a research approach, not a pre-med approach,” Oravec said. “I really like the whole idea of science. I’m really interested in the field of physiology and how the human body works, and the applications of that on the world around us. I like to figure things out for myself.”

In addition to track, Oravec has been a member of a local shooting club since sixth grade, where he shoots three-position air rifles. Oravec received the CMP Gold Standard, which is the highest honor earned through competition.

“Other than that, I don’t really have any other hobbies,” Oravec said. “It’s either track, training for track, getting ready for the next day of school, and track.”

Oravec is determined to accomplish his goals for this season.

“I would like to get into the 22.6 range for long jump. I’d also like to get 45 ft for triple jump. Those are my two goals for jumping,” Oravec said. “My 500m, I’d like to bring down to 1:06, which I’m pretty close to. The 4×4 and 4×8 relay teams, I really want to push them, and get everybody to place well in states this year, like we have in years past.”

Coach Mark Scott has known Oravec since his freshman year, and he said that Oravec is a good teammate and leader with big goals and a plan to accomplish them.

“He came in as a freshman, and we could tell he was capable of performing in a lot of different areas. He is very competitive and multi-talented; we can put him in a lot of places,” Scott said. “He has a big vision of where he wants to be. He has little and small goals of where he wants to be in track. I’m super proud of him, and he means the world to me.”

~emma dixon, copy production editor


Pledge inspires debate

In the state of Virginia all public school students begin the school day with Pledge of Allegiance, facing the flag, hand over heart or saluting if in uniform. If a student or his parent or guardian objects, the student may sit or stand quietly.

Some teachers and students at FHS think students should stand out of respect. Others feel the pledge isn’t an accurate representation of what the country stands for.When students don’t stand for the pledge, history teacher Liz Monseur is conflicted between respecting their views and honoring the sacrifices made by veterans.

“To me, standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, not even saying but standing, is a mark of respect,” Monseur said. “It’s not for the flag so much as for the sacrifices made by all people in the history of the nation. When I talk about sacrifice, I think largely of veterans. They were called to duty; they did it regardless of how they felt.”

Senior Anthony Campos sits during the recitation of the pledge every morning. His main reason is that it feels too compulsory. He says that by sitting, he is exercising his rights of freedom of speech.

“Everyone must show some sort of evidence that they have some patriotism for the country. I really don’t like that,” Campos said. “Another thing is that if you don’t stand then you seem unpatriotic, but I don’t agree with that.”

Campos says that another reason he doesn’t stand is because of the words “under God” which were added to the pledge in 1954.

“I don’t think people should pledge to that if they don’t believe in God or if they aren’t religious,” Campos said.
Campos started not saying or standing during the pledge in protest of laws against gay marriage.

“I feel like it’s lying to me when it says ‘freedom and justice for all,’” Campos said. “I just think, ‘It is a lie; I can’t stand for this.’”

Campos says the nation is getting better and improving but that many still do not have the equal protection of rights on which America was originally founded.

“I do love this country, and the amount of rights we have in comparison to other countries is what I really love,” Campos said. “But, I feel like if it really was worth standing up and pledging, our country would have everything accomplished, or at least a lot of things fixed.”

Senior Robert Morrison acknowleges that people can’t be required to say the pledge, but it makes him angry when they don´t stand.

“To not at least stand just seems disrespectful,” Morrison said. “Thinking about all the people that have protected our rights,

I just think it’s disrespectful for everyone serving in the military, sacrificing their lives for what they believe in, like our safety.”
Although the pledge may seem outdated to some, Morrison still thinks students honor the country’s founding principles.
“It’s what the country was founded onñ it’s what they believed back then,” Morrison said. “It’s just like the constitution – obviously some of the stuff isn’t applicable anymore, and I think people take it too literally; but a lot of it has to do with paying respect to the history behind it.”

Transgender comes to forefront; Students share stories, advocate for chosen gender identities

Check one box: male or female. Gender is ingrained very early on; however, not everyone feels as if they belong exclusively on one side of the traditional male-female spectrum, nor do they necessarily conform to the gender they were assigned at birth.

2014 alumna Gabi Arvelo is genderqueer – a catch-all term for people who identify as both genders, or none at all, or who generally fall in between on the spectrum of male and female.

“Being genderqueer means that you pretty much don’t identify as one gender,” Arvelo said. “It falls under the huge transgender umbrella, and there’s different types of genderqueer. Some predominantly dress in a masculine or feminine way, but others try to look as androgynous as possible and avoid using any gender-specific pronouns.”
Arvelo believes that society does not accept transgenderism in part because of a staunch opposition to attempting to understand it.

“Being genderqueer is mostly met with confusion because it’s like it isn’t even a thing – it’s just such a small amount of the population who identify as [being genderqueer],” Arvelo said. “Sexuality is more easily accepted and understood, but the matter of gender is completely different. I went to a gender therapist for a while, and I liked it because you figured things out about yourself. It was kind of weird because gender is something you’re born with and should understand, but for people like me, it isn’t as easy. Some people can’t or simply don’t want to understand genderqueers.”

Sophomore Darcy Fitz (whose name has been changed to protect privacy) was born a girl but identifies as male.
“As a female, I noticed very early on that I never gained any respect, but that males did. I was neglected and rejected just because of my gender,” Fitz said. “I realized that I didn’t hate myself, or how I looked, but that I hated my gender. Even the feminine pronouns annoyed me. For a time I even asked people to call me by my given name, because it’s more traditionally masculine.”

Fitz is hesitant to fully come out to his peers because of fear that they’ll reject him. Fitz believes that society harbors many misconceptions about transgenderism.

“I’m reluctant to tell people because they can be very judgmental. There’s the big fear of being rejected for my preferences. If I told people, they’d probably know me as ‘Darcy, the girl who is very confused,’”  Fitz said. “A lot of the time when people think ‘transgender,’ they think of weird guys with breasts, or drag queens, or that they’re just doing it to become pornstars or something. But what they don’t realize is that when people do this, they just aren’t comfortable with who they’re being perceived as. You can’t make judgments on someone based on stereotypes.”

Sophomore Morgan Fayette (whose name has been changed to protect privacy) identifies as being non-binary, which refers to gender identities that don’t fit within the accepted binary of male and female. Fayette prefers gender neutral pronouns such as “them” or “their.” However, other non-binaries and genderqueers prefer alternative pronouns, such as “ze” or “hir.”

“For  a while I was mostly just really confused and uncomfortable about it until I discovered that things outside of male and female actually existed,” Fayette said. “It was around puberty when I first started freaking out about my body, and that was tolerable for a while until I started becoming uncomfortable socially, too. I would get irritable whenever people would call me a girl, or if we were divided up into groups of girls and boys during gym. I always felt uncomfortable.”

Overall, Fayette says that they’ve been warmly received by those they’ve come out to.

“I’ve already told a lot of my close friends and all of them have reacted really well,” Fayette said. “There are certain people I’m avoiding saying anything to because I’m not sure about how they would react, but so far everyone I’ve talked to about it has been really great and supportive, and they’re all making an effort to use my preferred pronouns.”

Transgenders often experience dysphoria, a state of extreme unease or dissatisfaction with the gender assigned at birth.

“[Dysphoria] is when people don’t recognize you as the gender you identify as, or you don’t feel as if your appearance corresponds with your gender,” Fayette said. “It’s a terrible feeling, and really lonely in a way.”

Fitz plans to eventually undergo sex reassignment therapy.

“I want to do it the moment I turn 18,” Fitz said. “Being referred to as a gender you aren’t is a psychological trigger – imagine feeling uncomfortable every moment of every day. As a female, people don’t know who I really am – it’s a sense of wrongness, both internally and externally.”

International attention was brought to the subject of transgenderism following the suicide of transgender girl Leelah Alcorn, who was raised in a conservative Christian household in Ohio with disapproving parents. Alcorn left a suicide note to her Tumblr blog, on December 28, 2014, highlighting societal standards that affect transgender people in the hope that her death would highlight the treatment and perception of transgender people.

“It’s sad that it took the suicide of a beautiful girl for [transgenderism] to gain awareness,” Fitz said. “But it was a spark. There was a whole war based upon slaves getting their freedom, and things have to change for [transgenders], as well. I know how it feels to have your identity put down, and when people have their identity, their gender shunned, it’s an injustice.”

According to the Williams Institute, approximately 41 percent of transgender people attempt suicide, which dramatically exceeds the U.S. overall average of less than 4 percent. Additionally, 69 percent have been homeless at one point, and approximately 70 percent report experiencing sexual or physical abuse at school.

“I don’t know why it was this suicide that’s been brought to international attention,” Fayette said. “It’s certainly not the first. I’m just sad that somebody had to die.”

Fitz believes part of the opposition to transgenderism stems from religion.

“Some religious practices are against transgenderism because they state that God gave us our bodies, and that it would be blasphemous to change it,” Fitz said. “But God also gave us freewill, and the ability to do with our bodies what we’d like.”

Fitz hopes for eventual transgender acceptance.

“I think [transgenderism] will become normal, in time,” Fitz said. “I feel like gayness is more easily accepted because with transgenderism, you’re actually altering the body; it can be hard for other people to accept.”
And statistics look promising. Sixty-seven percent of Americans aged 18-29 support making it illegal for a workplace to discriminate against a person due to their sexuality, including transgender people, as opposed to only 42 percent among seniors.

“We’re all still just people,” Fitz said.

~lana heltzel, online/associate editor

Freshmen shoot for success

2014 Post 72 State Team-Rifle Comp.-Hardy & OravecFreshmen Sam Oravec and Sean Hardy have an interest in a unique sport-competitive shooting. They participate in the American Junior Shooting Program which is a gun safety education and marksmanship program that includes the elements of safety, education, competition, and enjoyment in the sport. These competitive shooters use a .177 caliber air rifle to practice and compete with. On May 3, both boys placed in the American Region Air Rifle state match in Charlottesville, Virginia; Oravec placed 13th and Hardy 7th.

“I was excited because it was my and also my team’s first time on that level,” Oravec said. “I had to shoot a single shot pellet rifle a distance of 10 meters into a target. I loaded, fired it and the judges score on how close to the center of the target I hit.”

Oravec also competes in track and field and the concentration he learns in shooting helps him prepare for races and deal with nerves.

“It relaxes me and makes me calm,” Oravec said. “It also helps me with other sports to improve and keep my cool.”

Hardy, who started the sport when he was 11, has been to a state competition before.

“I went to a state’s competition by myself when I was 12 and I won a $5,000 grant,” Hardy said. “My favorite part about this recent competition was the cool facility, it was soundproofed.”

Hardy is dedicated to the sport, and loves the relaxing atmosphere of it.

“With the sport, there’s absolutely no pressure, and I can just show up and shoot,” Hardy said.

Hardy’s mom, guidance office assistant Karen Cerra, believes her son is hard work has paid off.

“He worked really hard to be in the competition and he took responsibility for himself,” Cerra said.” “He put a lot of time and effort into it and for him to qualify, and the team as well. It’s nice to see his improvement from week to week as he goes into practice. It’s absolutely a good thing to be involved in; it’s a great team and a great group of people.”

Coach Claude Davenport, who has been involved with Post 72 for four years, has a competitive shooting history with his 40 year military and law enforcement background. Davenport enjoys educating shooters required by the sport, such as concentration, focus, and shooting skills.

“To keep motivation up, we focus on reinforcing personal positive accomplishments and providing constructive support on any aspects that may need improvement,” Davenport said. “We tell the shooters they are really in competition with himself/herself when they start out, allowing them to put their attention and focus on getting a little better each time they shoot.”

As for the future in the sport for the two boys, Davenport believes that it could be extremely bright.

“Their accomplishments this year in practice, regional, and state matches have brought notice to themselves and the team by some national-level coaches.  I can see both Sam and Sean being part of a college rifle team, maybe even with partial scholarship,” Davenport said.  “What I would really like to see, is both of them continuing to learn and fine tune their skills throughout their school and college experience, but then return as coaches to pass on their knowledge and skill sets to the next generation of shooters.”

Oravec and Hardy are dedicated to practicing on their own, mentoring the newer shooters, and developing personal confidence.

“As coaches, we have seen the dedication of both Sean and Sam develop along very parallel paths.  Both were very quick starters, eager to learn.  They continue to be very open to coaching,” Davenport said. “Both of them are excellent examples of what the American Legion Junior Shooting Sports Program is all about.”

~erin conolly, staff reporter

Hayden-Pless overcomes, advocates for change

pic-5Greta Hayden-Pless has had more things to focus on than college applications and acceptance letters during her senior year. For Hayden-Pless, a bleeding disorder, called von Willebrand Disorder (VWD) has put the everyday challenges that plague others into perspective. The blood of people with VWD does not clot properly, and symptoms include nose bleeds and gastro-intestinal bleeding.

Following her diagnosis at age 16, Hayden-Pless joined the Hemophilia Association of the Capital Area and the Virginia Hemophilia Foundation where she found support.

“When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know what to think. I had never heard of this disease and I didn’t know what to expect,” Hayden-Pless said. “It was from the support of the bleeding disorder community that I have changed when it comes to my disorder.”

Hayden-Pless has learned the importance of advocacy on both the state and federal levels and of educating people about bleeding disorders.

“Through bleeding support groups and programs, I have been able to attend advocacy training, which I put to use to lobby for bleeding disorders and speak up for legislation that can help with the availability of medications,” Hayden-Pless said. “The bleeding community has educated me about various aspects of bleeding disorders through educational dinners, seminars, and teen retreats.”

At a recent retreat Hayden-Pless was a teen leader, and participated in the making and filming of a public service announcement. Another girl held a “girls’ discussion” with the younger girls to help them transition to adulthood.

“These retreats have had such a positive influence in my life. I have applied to be a volunteer this summer at Camp Holiday Trails in Charlottesville, Virginia, a camp for kids with special medical conditions. It provides an atmosphere that I love,” Hayden-Pless said. “I met a lot of teenagers there that have the same condition as me and I want to help others with their bleeding disorders just like my community helped me.”

Hayden-Pless’ interest in lobbying started when she attended Virginia Hemophilia Foundation Richmond Day, where families gather to share their stories with their representatives. Her advocacy activities include going to Capitol Hill to talk with congressmen and senators, and she presented an award to a congressman as a person with lifelong VWD and also presented a speech at a congressional reception. That day she developed bleeds in both of her feet and was not able to walk due to the pain.

“I had school the next day and instead of miss that day, I came to school in a wheelchair; it was one of the most difficult days I have ever experienced,” Hayden-Pless said. “While the school may say its wheelchair accessible, it’s really not. My disease has caused me to miss a lot of school and as a result I have had to teach myself a number of different subjects. I missed out on a lot, but because of it all, I now know how to adapt to different situations.”

Senior Mya Payne, one of Hayden-Pless’ good friends, describes her as positive and inspiring through her persistence with challenges, including symptoms like painful swelling in the joints.

“She is strong because she never lets anything get to her. Her outlook on life is probably one of the best,” Payne said. “She has her goals set, and she normally succeeds in getting them. She’s ambitious and actually very silly; she has a genuinely sweet personality.”

Hayden-Pless’ goals include attending Juniata College in Pennsylvania in the fall and helping those who have medical problems.

“I want to be there for them,” Hayden-Pless said. “I’m going to start a group for those, not only with bleeding disorders, but medical conditions- or anyone who just needs a little support.”

She will be able to create her own major through a program called A Point of Emphasis; she can focus on what she wants to learn and add to it as it grows. She plans to major in marine biology and study sharks, an interest she has had since she was six.

“I want to be a marine biologist because I love the ocean. I want to find things that no one ever expected to find,” Hayden-Pless said. “Sharks have always intrigued me and I have always known that I want to pursue science in my future, so it is only natural that my favorite subjects in school are anything to do with science.”

Family has been a big support for Hayden-Pless and helps her maintain her positivity.

“No one in my family has ever let their medical conditions get in the way of their lives or stop them from doing anything, I have learned from their examples,” Hayden-Pless said. “Watching my mom fight through pain some days and still work to support her family has placed a drive in me; to be more than a disease, to do what I have to and to do what I love no matter what.”

~erin conolly, staff reporter

Abeel involved in extra-curriculars

Hannah lightenedSenior Hannah Abeel has been a member of the FHS/Liberty Destination Imagination team since sixth grade. One of approximately 1,500 teams from around the world, Abeel traveled with her team for the third and last time to the Global Finals competition held May 21-24 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The team placed 10th out of the 73 teams that competed in the Pandemonium improvisational category, which involved researching 10 historical professions. At each level of competition, contestants were tasked with creating an improvisational 5 minute skit to act out for the judges.

“It’s a lot of fun to solve the problems they give you,” Abeel said. “At competition it’s pretty cool to see how other kids solve the same problem that you have.”

Abeel will attend James Madison University in the fall and wants to major in journalism.

“I want to use the skills I’ve learned in theater, but not necessarily for theater,” Abeel said. “So I want to major in broadcast journalism and maybe be a TV news anchor or something like that.”

Abeel starred in the school production Once Upon A Mattress as Princess Winnifred despite having taken a two year break from theater.

“I didn’t want to do sports in the spring this year,” Abeel said. “I had been to a few productions over the past year and it made me miss theater, so I decided to try out for the musical.”
Abeel impressed director Emmett Bales.

“It was obvious that she had studied for the part extensively beforehand,” Bales said. “If she had studied that hard before she even got the part, not knowing that she would get the part, then I couldn’t wait to see how she did with the part. Even with missing a week for the Bahamas, she was so far ahead that she barely missed a step.”

Bales also credited her singing ability as a reason for selecting her for the lead.

“She sings really loud and obnoxiously, but with grace,” Bales said. “Not many people can pull that off.”

Abeel also played left forward on the field hockey team in the fall.

“It’s unlike any sport I’ve ever done,” Abeel said. “Playing the games are a lot of fun and I really loved all of the girls on the team.”

Beating Western Albemarle in overtime 1-0 her junior year in the regional tournament ranks as one of Abeel’s favorite memories.

“We weren’t supposed to beat them,” Abeel said. “We went in as the underdogs and won. Beating them and going to states was one of the best feelings ever.”

Abeel’s favorite class was photography with Tom Falkowski.

“We got to learn how to develop photos,” Abeel said. “I also learned how to use a camera in different ways. I like taking pictures of interesting things. I especially like taking action shots, so I take pictures at a lot of sports games.”

Abeel joined the yearbook staff to help out with the delays caused by snow, despite only being in photojournalism 1.

“I really enjoyed being on staff,” Abeel said. “It was really hard though; we were so far behind and really had to get stuff done.”

~Brady Burr, staff reporter

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