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Jeremy Alexander projects incredibly talented voice

Junior Jeremy Alexander, the second place runner up for Fauquier Idol and a member of all state chorus, was recently admitted to summer Governor’s School for Performing Arts.

On April 30, Alexander sang in All State Chorus at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach. After auditioning to become a member, participants must rehearse the music on their own time.  He received the highest score of all the tenors from District 14 who auditioned for the All-Virginia Choir. According to chorus director Joan Bacot, the members worked with an outstanding director who brought out the best musicianship in all of the students. The director spent an hour giving the students advice on what to do if they wanted to get a degree in music and study it professionally.

“All-States was an unforgettable experience,” Alexander said. “Its amazing singing with other kids my age [who hold] the same experiences and caliber as me.”

Alexander’s third grade teacher got him involved into acting after she noticed him doing an excellent job in a Reader’s Theatre run through. Alexander first started singing in his elementary school choir. He primarily joined to learn how to sing when he was acting in a musical.

“In both fourth and fifth grade, I didn’t have [a major singing part],” Alexander said. “I played Edgar in the Aristocrats and even though it was a major part, I only sang one line.”

Alexander continued his choir career into middle school. He only acted in a few plays, and realized that there was much more to his singing ability. In the 6th grade, Alexander played Chin Ho in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.

“[Chin Ho] is one of the main characters that has a big number in the second act,” Alexander said. “I nervously [sang it] in front of the class and when I was finished the entire class stood up and gave me a standing ovation.”

The standing ovation gave Alexander the confidence he needed to perfect his singing ability. Since middle school, Alexander has been active in the choral departments of Fauquier. Choir director, Joan Bacot believes that Alexander has a worth ethic that matches his talent and in turn, acts like a model for the rest of the students.

“Jeremy is an intense person. He uses that intensity in the best possible way to bring all of his energy and intelligence to the art of singing.” Bacot said.

Since Alexander started chorus in freshman year, Bacot believes that he has improved in many ways since his freshman year.

“His pitch is much more accurate. He is learning to use the full range of dynamics and expressive subtleties available to him,” Bacot said. “He understands how to work with an ensemble, listening and adjust as needed.”

Another aspect to Alexander’s budding singing career is his collaborations with other artists. Senior Cameron Scott, worked alongside Alexander at the Earth Day Festival to says that he is an amazing singer with an opera like voice. Scott also believes that Alexander is quick to understand music.

“[When collaborating] it was easy to get on the same page with him music wise, because I was playing music for him and he was singing,” Scott said. “He’s quick to understand what key I’m in. He’s just really good with music.”

Another person who collaborated with Alexander is Fauquier alum Daneel Patal who graduated in 2014.  The final chorus concert was quickly arriving and Ms. Bacot had opened up an opportunity for Patal and Alexander to sing together. Since Patal had met Alexander, he had admired Alexander’s passion, determination and natural talent for singing. The two agreed to sing an acoustic version of Pompeii by Bastille in the concert.

“I immediately turned to Jeremy, he had basically been my prodigy all year, as I knew that once I left he would be there to carry on what I was leaving,” Patal said. “It was honestly one of my favorite performances of my life, it wasn’t rehearsed or with the whole chorus, it was just two guys sitting down doing what they love.”

When Alexander practices on his own he prefers to sing choral music however, he likes to sing alternative rock like Panic and the Disco! and Queen whenever he performs at the Coffeehouse or other school singing related events. A go to song for Alexander is, The Man who Can’t Be Moved by The Script. Alexander likes the song because it flows well, is easy to remember and goes really well in his range.

Although Alexander prefers to sing choral music when practicing, he likes to sing alternative rock.

Panic at the Disco!  is now one of my favorite music acts, but I love Queen,” Alexander said. “Generally, the favorite [song] I like to do for quite a few of auditions and the coffeehouse is, The Man Who Can’t be Moved.”

At Fauquier Idol on March 11, Alexander sang All of Me by John Legend. He participated only to have fun performing and not an intention to win. He believed that it was a great experience for him and his singing career.

“I was just doing it for fun because I had nothing else to do,” Alexander said. “It was definitely a fun experience and I think I’ll do it again next year.”

In the future, Alexander plans to at least minor in musical performance but hopes to major in something that centers on geography and computer technology, however, he is still searching for back up plans if majoring in music is not an option. Alexander continues to pursue music as best as he can to his ability.

“I love how I’ve been able to use my voice in different places,” Alexander said. “Here’s the thing with music, you’re never done practicing.”

~gretchen deitrich, staff reporter




Vaping becomes popular trend among teenagers

Junior Jewelea Shubert uses her vape to help curb her cravings for cigarettes. “I quit smoking, so it’s a better alternative. The juice I have in here has no nicotine at all,” Shubert said. “It just makes me feel like I’m smoking, even though I’m not.”

One of the newest trends for teenagers is vaping—a form of inhaling vapors through an electronic device called a vape pen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, use of e-cigarettes by middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014.

The pens heat up, and with the press of a button, release a vapor that contains nicotine, propylene glycol, solvents and flavorings. Vaping doesn’t involve tobacco or the over 400 chemicals that analog cigarettes contain, leading to a perception among teens that it is a healthier alternative to smoking. While the “juice” for these pens usually contains nicotine, which can produce a slight buzz, some types just contain water and flavoring. These pens can also be used to inhale other drugs, such as marijuana.

Of the 4,450 students that responded to the 2015 Pride Survey, administered to students in grades 7-12 in Fauquier County, 50 percent perceive vaping to have moderate to great risk of harm. However, many teenagers believe vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Of the 270 high school students who responded to a survey on Twitter, 42 percent said that they vape while 33 percent said that they don’t vape, but do not object to people doing it. Twenty-five percent said that they don’t vape and are opposed to it.

“I don’t vape myself, but I do believe that vaping is a better social action than smoking a cigarette. While smoking cigarettes can lead to various types of cancer and lung failure, vaping doesn’t do these things,” senior Richard Opper said. “I think people should definitely vape instead of smoke cigarettes.”

Recently, teenagers have started vaping for the fun of producing thick clouds of vapor that can be used to do smoke tricks. Teens are also attracted to vaping because of the assortment of pens and flavorings to choose from. These pens and flavored juices are easy to purchase on-line.

“I like vaping; it’s smooth and produces a lot of smoke which is fun to play with,” junior Justus Gilmore said.

Many teenagers who vape say it gives off a cool image. Though you must be at least 18 to purchase a vape, teenagers have found them easy to acquire on the internet.

“I vape regularly. I actually think vaping is one of the coolest things on the entire planet because it’s very entertaining and helps me make friends,” said sophomore Ryan Berlin, whose name has been changed. “I don’t think vaping is that harmful, especially compared to cigarettes.”

Most vape pens contain nicotine, and school rules treat vape pens as a Tier 1 offense of the tobacco policy. If a student is found with a vape pen on school grounds, the pen will be confiscated and the student will receive a punishment anywhere from multiple days of detention to suspension.

“I have seen an increase in the possession of vaping devices and their use at school, especially from last school year to this school year. I believe the increase is a result of the products being more accessible,” assistant principal Kraig Kellican said. “I would estimate the number of vape violations that I have processed this term to be around four to five, and probably a total of eight to 10 for the school year thus far.”

Many teens perceive vaping to be much healthier than smoking cigarettes because it eliminates the toxins that are released when tobacco is burned. However, people can still become hooked because most vape juice contains nicotine, which has addictive qualities. Nicotine can cause inflammation of lung tissue, which can weaken the tissue’s ability to block out foreign substances, leading to infection, according to The Student Science Resource Society. Studies on the long term effects of vaping on humans are not available because it is such a new trend.

“I have vaped before. I personally don’t think vaping is that ‘cool’, but it can be fun to mess around with sometimes,” senior Elizabeth McCarty said. “I definitely see more teenagers vaping than adults nowadays, but I don’t think it matters how old you are to blow some dank clouds. Obviously anything you put into your lungs, other than air, will have some effect, but I don’t think vaping is that dangerous or harmful. I think it is a good thing that people are putting down cigarettes and picking up vapes because it seems to be a far safer option.”

~emily armstrong, staff reporter

Legal, dangerous, potentially lethal: Abuse of prescription drugs raises alarms

You hear about illegal drug abuse all of the time—on the news, at school, from the media. However, the misuse of legal drugs isn’t as widely covered, despite the fact that teenagers are one of the most at-risk groups for prescription drug abuse.

The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that recreational prescription drug use among adolescents 12 to 18 and young adults 18 to 25 is the most prevalent form of drug abuse, after alcohol and marijuana. In addition, a study by Dr. Jennifer R. Havens of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research shows that prescription drug abuse among those under age 18 increased 212 percent between 1992 and 2003; the abuse of these drugs is also more prevalent among rural adolescents.

The PRIDE Survey, which asked students in Fauquier County grades 7-12 multiple questions about drug use, found that, after alcohol and marijuana, prescription drugs are the most popular drug among 12th graders; 175 students reported abusing prescription drugs in the last 30 days. The use of these substances often takes place way from school grounds; nonetheless, many students use these drugs, both recreationally and in order to deal with the course load they’re given at school.

According to sophomore Sam Lader*, the most commonly abused prescription drug in the area is Adderall because of its availability.

“I would say the one that’s most enjoyed, however, is definitely painkillers,” Lader said. “Painkillers are much harder to get a hold of, specifically because they are opiates, and so they don’t want you to have them—especially kids our age.”

Lader first used opiates for non-medical purposes in September, 2015, as a way to relax, and has since used Oxycodone, Vicodin, Percocet and Hydrocodone, as well as other non-opiate medications, like Adderall and Xanax. One of the main reasons opiates are so ‘relaxing’ is because they slow down one’s heartbeat and breathing and can cause drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and even unrousable unconsciousness.

“Opiates can make you forget entire days,” junior Tom Jasso* said. “You lose control of yourself when you’re on them, and it’s just not fun. They’re easy to develop a dependency for and very, very easy to kill yourself with.”

Jasso first tried prescription drugs his freshman year but didn’t experiment with downers until six or seven months ago when he tried Xanax at a party simply because he was interested.

“It was pleasurable the first time, but I prefer stimulants more often,” Jasso said. “Xanax is a downer, like opiates, so my opinion on them is the same. All other benzos are essentially the same, if not worse for you, than Xanax, and with more extreme side effects.”

For many years doctors and pharmaceutical companies gave out prescriptions for narcotic painkillers without much consideration for the drugs’ potential for abuse. In 2014, the DEA started restricting these drugs more heavily—and as a result many people addicted to painkillers turned to heroin as a cheap, more accessible opioid alternative.

“If you do get addicted to them, it usually leads to a heroin addiction because opiates and heroin are one and the same,” Lader said. “That’s a huge problem in Warrenton because you have all of these kids that start out as pillheads in high school, and then they turn into full-blown heroin addicts the minute they get out.”

In addition to opiates, other prescription drugs, like amphetamines and muscle relaxers, are popular among high school students. Some students use the stimulating effects of amphetamines (usually ADD medicine) as a way to handle their workload.

“I got some Adderall from someone at the end of my freshman year,” senior Joe Fluke* said. “I took it then intending to use it as a study aid, but it didn’t really work as I expected it to in the ‘speed’ sense. It allowed me just to be more focused and actually get stuff done.”

After that, Fluke began experimenting with other ADD/ADHD medications and continued to do so throughout his sophomore and junior years. After trying several different types of medicine, he began to question whether he might actually have ADHD and benefit from a prescription.

“Vyvanse is what I’m now prescribed for ADHD, which I was finally diagnosed with back in October,” Fluke said. “Now that I have my prescription, all of my grades have significantly risen, and I’ve improved in all academic areas.”

According to Fluke, the most popular amphetamines that are used recreationally in the area are Adderall and Vyvanse.

“A lot of people will take them recreationally just to get the euphoric feeling, the energy, and the focus—you know, stay up all night and study for midterms,” Fluke said. “But there’s also some people who definitely exhibit symptoms of ADHD who I think are self-medicating without a prescription, which is what I sort of accidentally did before it led me to realize I might actually have ADHD.”

Taking amphetamines without a prescription (or even with one, if the prescription isn’t used appropriately) can be dangerous. Short term side effects of amphetamine use include an increased heart rate and possibly abnormal palpitations; they increase blood pressure and body temperature and can cause jitteriness, dizziness, stomach cramps, irritability and aggression. Coming down from an amphetamine high often causes one to “crash,” which can lead to temporary mood swings and depression. In addition, taking any type of speed reduces one’s need to sleep, which can lead to disrupted sleeping patterns.

Jasso, who often takes amphetamines recreationally, enjoys them but said that the underlying anxiety that he usually feels while on them is occasionally overwhelming.

“Sometimes I get jittery and uncomfortable,” Jasso said. “They help stimulate me, help me create things and concentrate, but they can make me feel sort of anxious, and that can make the experience less positive sometimes.”

School Resource Officer Lieutenant Sal Torelli said that, although some students abuse prescription drugs, it isn’t as much of a problem in high school as in colleges. Still, he maintains that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

“It’s dangerous to take a prescription that doesn’t belong to you,” Torelli said. “You’ve got to think about it—these drugs are given to a certain person to treat a specific illness. If it’s not prescribed to you, then you don’t need it.”

*student sources’ names have been changed to  protect their identities.

~jacqueline smith, co-features director

Folkers cope with loss, strive to help other addicts and their families

Above: Senior Lauren Folker and her sister Kathrine share a happy moment. “My [family] went to Mexico- we went to Cancun. Kathrine and I just hung out the whole time, and I think that’s my favorite memory of her,” Folker said. “We went out, and we would dance, and we just made a bunch of friends.

When senior Lauren Folker’s sister Kathrine, died of a heroin overdose in August, 2015, she and her mother decided to help others who are battling heroin addictions.

One of 10 people who died in Fauquier County of a heroin overdose in 2015, Kathrine began experimenting with alcohol and pills, like Molly, in high school. After graduation she went into a 30-day sober living facility.

“In March of 2015 Kathrine felt that she was ready to go out on her own, but she quickly relapsed with alcohol, pills, and then heroin, which she never had before,” Kathrine’s mother Caroline Folker said. “Then she voluntarily went into rehab for two weeks in July, then relapsed. She knew she had a big problem. In her words, she was in hell. By August, she was dead; it was a very quick battle.”

Alumnus Ryan Perry spoke at Kathrine’s funeral; he said that her smile and friendliness had a big impact.

“Every time I saw her, she treated me like we had been best friends for years,” Perry said. “She was one of those rare people who was constantly positive. We an keep her with us by being like that to others.”

Since her sister lived in Winchester during the addiction process, Lauren didn’t witness Kathrine’s struggle first hand.

“It was hard hearing about it; we would usually keep the conversation light and easy,” Lauren said. “Kathrine loved everybody; that was really admirable. If you needed anything, she was there, and she was so genuinely nice to people.”

Caroline created a group to educate and give support to addicts and their families. The group meets on the first and third Thursday of every month at the Fauquier Hospital. It has helped give Caroline closure on her daughter’s death.

“We discovered there was a huge [number] of people who needed to get information quickly and couldn’t,” Caroline said. “I decided to create a support group called Families Overcoming Drug Addiction, so families who were going through what we were have a place to go to.”

Recovering addicts attend the meetings to tell their stories and speak to addicts and their families about the choices they’ve made, the recovery program and what recovery could look like.

“We have a total of 30 people who come,” Lauren said. “We get into a big circle and just discuss what we’ve been through; a lot of people there are where we were a few years ago. We give emotional support and have all become very close.”

Caroline and Lauren are certified in giving Narcan, an opiate antidote, to those who have overdosed on heroin and prescription opiates.

“It’s really important for families with drug addicts in their home to have the ability to save a life very quickly,” Caroline said. “Also, at the end of April I’m going to try to get certified to become a recovery coach and to help families on making decisions [for their loved ones].”

According to Lauren, the best way to support someone going through an addiction is to be there for them.

“You can see them at their worst moments, and you just need to love them through it and do whatever they need you to do. It’s definitely made me a stronger person. I’ve learned more about addiction, heroin in particular,” Lauren said. “I’ve gotten close to some people who are struggling and have learned what to say and how to help them.”

The use of heroin has doubled since 2007 and heroin-related deaths have tripled between 2010 to 2013, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The heroin epidemic affects people of all ages, races and backgrounds. School Resource Officer Lieutenant Sal Torelli said that being educated is the best way for students and parents to be aware of the dangers of heroin and its addictive qualities.

“We’re doing everything we can to combat this problem. We know that locking [users] up isn’t going to solve this [epidemic]. We can’t arrest our way out of this; we need treatments,” Torelli said. “Enforcement has stepped up quite a bit, and there are numerous different programs out there that are helping addicts. If we save one life, I’m happy; one life lost from heroin is too much.”

Lauren says that outsiders watching someone go through the addiction process should be empathetic to addicts and realize that addiction is a disease.

“It’s not [the addict’s] fault, and it doesn’t make them a bad person. If you’re going through it, there is hope,” Lauren said. “[The whole situation] definitely brought us all close together and made us realize that family is most important.”

~erica gudino, viewpoint director

Students learn by doing in ecology class

From studying dwarf galaxies to mating fruit flies, students have many options to study science at FHS, but one class, ecology taught by Deborah Fisher, is growing increasingly popular among students.

“This class is very hands-on. We look at ecosystems, how they function, and human impact on those systems,” Fisher said. “It’s all about studying how greatly the environment can impact us, and in turn, how greatly we can impact the environment.”

Fisher believes in the importance of bringing students out from behind desks and into the ecosystems they are studying. With trips to the school pond and local streams to take water sample tests and studying plant and animal life, students are able to learn by seeing how the various components of an ecosystem interact. Fisher suspects that nutrient levels are too high in the school pond for certain animal life, and she plans to continue testing these levels with her classes.

Fisher hopes that once the class determines the nutrient levels, her students will find a way of lowering them. For example, adding plants to the pond will help remove nutrients.

“My favorite part of ecology class is being able to go outside and actually observe the environment,” senior Catie Story said. “It raises awareness to what’s going on around us that we don’t often pay any attention to.”

In ecology, students study the reasons for species extinction and the causes of pollution and what needs to be done to stop it. The preservation of the environment is up to humans, and this class draws attention to the importance of this preservation. Students study a range of topics from little things, like micro-bacteria found in the stream water of Fauquier County, to huge events like the killing of thousands of dolphins off the coast of Taiji, Japan.

“I want students to understand that one person can make a difference. I am one person, and I’m hopefully opening other people’s eyes to the impacts that we have,” Fisher said. “I want them to understand how ecology is tied to economics and political decisions. They are the people that are going to be making those economic and political decisions, and I want them to have a background in natural resources so that they can make good educated decisions and have the resources to make those educated decisions.”

Fisher’s goal is to prepare students to make decisions that will impact the environment beneficially.

“I have definitely become more aware of my ‘ecological footprint’ because of this class,” Story said. “Ecology class has affected my daily life in that I constantly find myself stopping and re-thinking decisions that would’ve been potentially harmful to the environment.”

Students also study how people can improve the environment. The ecology classes are in charge of the school’s recycling program, and students collect all recyclables within the school, sort them depending on material, and prepare them to be sent to a recycling plant. The recycling program is thriving, and Fisher hopes that it’s raising awareness of the importance of reusing materials.

“It was a cool experience to be able to help with school recycling,” senior Lindsay Schmidtmann said. “It was nice to be able to feel like I was making a difference, not only for our school, but also for the environment. I had never really done anything with recycling previously, but once I got involved with it in ecology, it inspired me to recycle at home, as well.”

Fisher’s ecology class is rooted in awareness; she wants her students to know what’s going on in the world around them and to love the environment as much as she does.

“I’m a tree hugger; really that’s what it is,” Fisher said. “We must learn how to sustain, and there’s a science to that. Ecology class shows these kids the importance of needing to learn that science, because ultimately they are our future.”

~emily armstrong, staff reporter

‘Fighting Nerds’ dominate on road to states

The undefeated Academic Team, also known as The Fighting Nerds, competed in 12 regular season matches and won at conference against five teams from the district and at regionals against nine other teams, only having to compete against four due to eliminations. After winning every match, they are going on to the states competition at William and Mary on Feb. 27.

“I think the progress this year has been amazing,” said history teacher Liz Monseur, who sponsors the team. “We have such a well-rounded team. My only issue this year is that four of our kids are graduating, so we have to recruit or we won’t have a team next year.”
Returning seniors Niles Ribeiro, Chris Parios and Mark Wiedenfeld share leadership roles and help to prepare the team for competition.

“Each of us on the team have our specialties, and so we’ll each be reading up more on our specific fields, as well as reviewing questions we’ve missed in the past,” Ribeiro said. “We’re going to be having more rigorous practices, too, and more practices per week.”

The competitions include questions on a wide range of topics, from literature, chemistry, biology, statistics and calculus, to foreign languages, current events, and even sports.

“Chris and Jeremy are masters of sports statistics,” Monseur said. “With most teams, and it’s funny, but when those questions come up, a lot of times there’s total silence.”

Each competition has two matches, and each match has three rounds. There’s a toss-up round with 15 questions where each team puts up four players, and any member can answer. In the directed round, the questions go back and forth between the two teams.

Junior Joel McGuire thinks the reason for the team’s success is due to the members’ diverse range of knowledge.

“We do all have our specialties,” McGuire said. “But we’re all sort of a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-some.”

Losing only one round during the regular season, the team has indeed been practically unstoppable. According to senior Angelle Martin, they generally won by a decisive amount of points. Some matches, however, were won by a narrow margin. Although correct answers count for 10 points, a team suffers a five point loss if they interrupt the question to give an incorrect answer.

“Culpeper and Manassas Park were very competent teams,” McGuire said. “They’ve been our most challenging competitors [during the regular season].”

Although Ribeiro, Parios, McGuire and Wiedenfeld are the starters, Monseur tries to play newer members. In addition to Martin, junior Jeremy Alexander, sophomore Shelby Bush, and freshman Joe Barrett comprise the rest of the team.

“I try to play everyone unless it’s a really tight match,” Monseur said. “The newer kids, they might know a lot of things, but they’re hesitant about buzzing in. It’s kind of something that you just develop confidence with experience.”

This year The Fighting Nerds faced new teams due to a change in districting.

“Definitely playing unfamiliar teams is higher tension,” Ribeiro said. “As with anything, you’re stepping into an unknown situation, but in some ways I think that forces us to play our best.”

The team’s undefeated record did not help them with brackets at conference because teams simply drew straws this year to see who would compete first.

“It was a little intimidating,” Monseur said. “You usually go in and have a by, but we went in and played right away.”

Regional brackets, however, were based on the teams’ performance.

“We were all paired up based on our seatings in our districts, depending on how many matches we’ve won or lost,” Ribeiro said. “It was kind of nice to have our win-loss record have an effect.”

This is only the second time that Academic Team has ever made it to the state competition, and the first time since Monseur has been sponsor of the team.

“Our kids were outstanding at regionals, and they’re really, really excited to go to states,” Monseur said. “At first we just wanted to make it to states, but now that we have, we really want to do well at states.”

The Fighting Nerds, who had already increased the frequency and depth of their practices, are ramping it up even more to place well at states.

“The margin by which we won and went to states was encouraging for our chances at states,” Parios said. “Actually winning is kind of a long shot, but if we could beat some teams there, I would be happy.”

Despite the team’s success, Monseur worries about the future of Academic Team. With half of the team graduating, including three of the four starters.

“We need academic junkies: Students who are well-read, or don’t mind doing the research,” Monseur said. “The thing is, not all of these kids come in knowing all of this stuff; there are resources where they can memorize and look up things.”

Members of the team agree that the main qualification is to be enthusiastic about learning and willing to expand one’s knowledge.

“Academic team is full of people who are very passionate about their subject areas,” Ribeiro said. “We love to learn new things. And so, if anyone relates to that, maybe they should look into joining next year.”

~jacqueline smith, co-features director

Teachers build on cheer bonds

Left to right: Mathis, Landsdowne, Craig

For two seasons, from 1999-2001, faculty members Genell Craig, Kristen Mathis, and Ian Lansdowne spent time together on the cheer team, where the three became good friends. Now, they have returned to teach together at the same high school from which they graduated.

Mathis and Lansdowne share a favorite memory from their cheer career: the night of the team sleepover in the gym.

“We practiced really late, sat around, watched movies, ran the halls, just having a great time,” Mathis said. “At some point through the night, we set off the school alarm because a couple of police officers showed up. All of us girls thought someone was breaking into the school to come get us, so we sent the guys out to handle it.”

Lansdowne also recalls that evening.

“All of a sudden this light comes from around the corner in the dark gym, and it was two policemen because the school alarm had gone off,” Lansdowne said. “No one knew what was going on, but all the girls pushed the guys at what they thought were intruders. We still laugh about it because they used [the] males as sacrificial lambs.”

Besides cheerleading, all three played another sport. Craig played basketball, Mathis played softball, and Lansdowne ran track and field.

“We were all really involved in athletics,” Mathis said. “So, most everything we did outside of cheerleading still involved sports games in some way.”

After high school, Mathis attended Radford University and majored in social science with secondary education.

“I never thought I would be teaching where I went to high school,” Mathis said. “Like most students in high school, I couldn’t wait to get out of Fauquier County and have new experiences.”

Lansdowne attended George Mason University where he ran track and field; he received his master’s degree in Education Leadership with a focus in administration from George Washington University. Lansdowne began teaching as an instructional assistant and then became a teacher. He and Craig are cousins, and have known each other for years.

“[We] have been best friends for a long time, so we talked and visited each other in [college],” Lansdowne said. “I would never [have] thought that I would teach with Ms. Craig. People think we are attached at the hip because they usually see us together. I wouldn’t [have] seen myself teaching with Mrs. Mathis, either, just because we were all so pumped to get out of here and move on.”

After graduating from FHS, Craig studied sociology, biology, and psychology before she became a psychiatric nurse one year after graduating from college. Craig was also an EMT and received her CNA and EMT license while attending FHS.

“Mr. Lansdowne had asked me if I was interested in doing a long-term substitute job last year, and it kind of just fell into my lap,” Craig said. “This year, I contracted and signed on as a full time teacher.”
The three love working with each other.

“It’s great. We still have that cheer bond,” Craig said. “I’ll go to Ms. Mathis room or Mr. Lansdowne’s room, and it seems like we’ll have moments when we’re back in it again.”
Mathis enjoys working with her cheer mates.

“It has always been a perk coming back to Fauquier to see all of the familiar faces, theirs included,” Mathis said. “We have a bond and experiences that will always unite us.”

Lansdowne said that teaching has strengthened the bond between them.

“We always speak to each other and are always laughing,” Lansdowne said. “Even when things around school get stressful or tough, we have someone else to talk to. We still have one another’s backs here at Fauquier.”

Cheering taught the three teachers valuable life skills.

“Our squad taught me that everyone is different and that it is important for people from different backgrounds to work together,” Lansdowne said. “We had guys that were wrestlers or football players along with a bunch of girls. We all had to work towards one purpose, and we had to learn how to communicate, which is something I still have to do to this day.”

~emma dixon, photography director