Page 1

Fun things to do when you’re stuck in the ‘Burg I BACK PAGE



Volume XX

Issue 3


Fredericksburg, Virginia



Fredericksburg Academy





Falcon Flier




December 2011

FA families become Santa’s local helpers ts presen ta, y n a m S Dear o open would like wait t t ’ n g. I a ld I c mornin I wou s . a s l l m o t d is Hello on Chr use for my ks of o o o b h l ] ks l a do me bo o s [and o y o s t e e ik l me also lik ould also make o t w I toys Kitty. tional a oat. c u d ed a c e n and e o s l er. I a smart ta, u San o y k n Tha h Taliya

e 700

e of th om on fr is r the tte This le served by . n m e childr oss progra r Red C

Volunteers Cheryl Lamb and John Jeter arrange and tag two bikes out of hundreds that the Rappahannock chapter of the American Red Cross received this winter.



the falcon flier

aliyah is a typical 3-year-old girl; she loves dolls, dressing up, Hello Kitty, and believes in Santa Claus. The only difference is that her family cannot afford to buy her Christ-

mas presents. It’s girls like Taliyah who the Red Cross strives to help with their Letters to Santa program. For 23 years, they have invited the children of low-income families from Spotsylvania, Stafford, Caroline, and King George counties to write letters to “Santa” with their wish-lists. Each letter is placed in a binder, where local charity organizations and individual people can look through and choose to sponsor as many children as they want by buying them what is on their wish-list. This year, SOFA has brought the Letters to Santa program to the FA community. On Mon-

day, November 14th, SOFA chair Courtney Hoffman, along with co-sponsor Mrs. Hoppel, and members Imani Jones and Rachael Hoffman, visited the Letters to Santa headquarters at the Red Cross. There, they picked out eight children for FA to sponsor. Through December 2, Christmas trees were placed in the upper, middle, and lower schools, each holding numerous paper ornaments stating a child’s age and an item from their wishlist. FA students were able to pick an ornament and buy the child a toy, coat, or whatever else they needed. Also on the tree were ornaments for senior Blair Frazier’s coat drive. With SOFA’s help, she collected 19 coats for children in need. Christy Ellis, a Letters to Santa volunteer coordinator, hopes that more people will take advantage of giving to these children. Last year, 723 children were placed in the program, and 100 never got a sponsor. Ellis volunteered with the program last year, but

this year she decided to take on a bigger role as a coordinator. She says working with the program comes with many rewarding experiences, such as a year ago, when a man who had once been registered with them as a low-income family came back to their headquarters. He had gotten back on his feet, was doing well, and had come to sponsor a child and help them the way his children were helped so many times. “It’s just the idea of paying it forward,” Ellis said. “He wanted it to be anonymous, because he didn’t think he should get credit. Those kinds of actions made me want to volunteer.” The Letters to Santa program’s only mission is to bring Christmas to children whose parents aren’t able to buy them gifts. “I always cry on pick up day,” said Ellis, tearing up. “It’s heartwarming to see the parents come in, crying and saying thank you over and over. These children wouldn’t have a Christmas otherwise.”

Community cautious after recent abduction attempts by ALLEGRA MASSEY-ELIM on her way to get a ride the falcon flier

Multiple abduction attempts have occurred in Spotsylvania County in the past few weeks. There are many concerns about the attempts, so Lt. Col. Michael Timm of the Spotsylvania Sheriff ’s office presented a speech announcing what the police department has done to ensure safety. “We will continue to have additional manpower and staffing out from 6:30 AM until 4:30PM, specifically patrolling the residential communities and associated bus stops every day,” said Timm on Nov. 7, addressing these abduction attempts. The first attempt happened on Oct. 13, when a 15-year-old girl was walking on Pullen Drive in Ashleigh Park subdivision to a friend’s house. She was

to school when a man tried to get her into his car. The second attempt happened on Oct. 21, when a man got out of a parked car and chased an eight year old girl down Polaris Court. On Oct. 25 a 17-yearold girl was walking near the Garrison Woods apartment complex when a man in a car began to follow her. The driver told her to get in the car, and when she refused, he yelled and threatened to return. Most recently, on Nov. 7, an 8-year-old girl was walking on Statterfield Court when three men in a car shouted, “Hey babe come closer to the van” and one of the men came out of the car and walked toward her. That is when she ran back to her home. These attempts happened in Spotsylvania, not too far from FA.

FALCONS FLY Wednesday, January 11 7 p.m. Vocal Concert Tuesday, January 17 Kicking off Pride Week





FA’s Administration decided that the safety policies and procedures that are in place are adequate. Students must notify the front desk when going to their cars. When walking to WaWa after school, students must be with groups of three or more. Also, visitors are required to sign in at the receptionist’s desk. Even though most feel that FA is a genuinely safe place, there have been a few extra precautions to ensure this. During the cross country meet, there were extra monitors on the course for safety. For the junior field trip into the woods for transcendentalism, the students were paired with partners. During morning meetings, Head of Upper School Tony Durso lets students know that the school has safety rules for their protection. Head of School

Karen Moschetto has made announcements about the importance of these policies too. So far, there have been only two cases in which people had to be asked to leave campus. According to Director of Facilities and Operations Mathew Dawson, there was a man walking on the FA sports fields that was kindly asked to leave. According to Athletic Director Brett Carroll, a man in a car tried to park in the FA parking lot, so he was asked to leave as well. Durso said that the last thing the administration wants is for there to be an overreaction and to go about the usual routine. Parents stay involved by receiving emails from the administration, and concerned parents have brought safety ideas to Moschetto, which she is very open to. “FA is a safe place when the policies that are in place are followed,” Durso said.

NATIONALLY 800,000 children under 18 are missing or abducted each year

200,000 children were

abducted by family members

58,000 children were abducted by nonfamily members

The largest number of missing children (from most frequent to least frequent) are: Runaways Family abductions Lost, injured or otherwise missing children Nonfamily abductions (in these cases, the child is at greatest risk of injury or death).


1416 total abductions 897 instances occured at home SOURCES: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Virginia State Police

around town

TOP 3 Movies to see

Words With Friends

Head to Downtown Fredericksburg on New Year’s Eve for music, food and locally made apparel and crafts!


New Year’s Eve (Dec. 9)

Meet your match! Challenge:


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Dec. 16)

Meghan Norair


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Dec. 25)

Michael Covington

Best word: qi (97 points)

Best word: jane (102 points)

2news page two

Vandalism issues damage FA image

Field hockey places second in 2011 state championship by Lauren Falkenberg the falcon flier


On the tables in the senior section of the commons, students jokingly write love notes about their friends. Writing on tables is just one of the acts of vandalism that Discipline Chair Blair Frazier and the rest of the committee are working to end in the upper school.

by Wyatt Falcone the falcon flier


here is a vandalism problem at FA. Students have been drawing on tables, defacing other student’s pictures, and committing many other individual acts of vandalism. “It’s a more serious problem this year than it’s been in the past,” said Head of Upper School Tony Durso. One of the problems is that some students at FA don’t even realize it. “I never noticed there was [a vandalism problem at FA],” said sophomore Drew Adrian. Sophomore Wyatt Henke, though he was aware that there was a problem, said he “didn’t

realize it was serious.” Apparently, this holds true for most of the student body. According to Durso, vandalism is “anything that is a defacement of another person’s property, whether it’s an individual student’s or the school’s.” This defacement can be anything from the pencils stuck into the wall in the freshman area of the commons to the beanie babies stuck to the ceiling to the pencil and eraser drawings on the tables. However, there is one defining characteristic. “The definition of vandalism includes intent,” said Durso. “You have to know at some level that you are doing something disrespectful to the school.”

News of the vandalism is often upsetting to faculty as well as students. “I would like to believe that students at FA have a greater respect for each other and for their school,”

You have to know at some level that you are doing something disrespectful to the school.

—Head of US Tony Durso

said Durso. “So any time I see vandalism it connotes a level of disrespect that is fundamentally disappointing.” The student government is also working to solve the problem. “Right now we

talked to Mr. Durso and we have a couple of ideas in place,” said Discipline Committee Chair Blair Frazier. However, Durso hopes that no measures will need to be taken. “I hold fast to my belief that students can see that it is reasonable not to deface other students’ property and the property of this school, and simply not vandalize the school,” he said. “That goes back to the very core of why this place is in existence. We shouldn’t need to enact a policy or create a rule that says to treat people with respect. Vandalism shouldn’t be done because it’s fundamentally disrespectful.”

The FA varsity field hockey team (FAVFH) traveled to the US National Training Center in Virginia Beach on Friday, Nov. 11. They entered the VISAA Division II state semifinal and final games undefeated, and left with a 15-1 record. Upon arrival that Friday afternoon, junior centerback defender Catherine Estes said, “I was intimidated. It was a huge place and there were so many teams. I doubted our team at first.” Under stadium lights, FAVFH outshined their opponent Carlisle during the 5 p.m. semifinal game with a 3-0 win. “They were a very good team, but it made us realize just how good we were,” said senior center-midfielder and captain Mary Rose Hazel. FA did not score their first goal until the second half, and the two other goals were scored in the last four minutes. Carlisle was close to scoring only once. “Our team defense was absolutely amazing. There was only one shot on goal and they hardly let the ball into the circle or the 25,” said junior goal-keeper Isabel Steven. “I can count on all of my defense, but [especially] Courtney as a senior. She is a leader on the field and she always remains composed.”

According to The Martinsville Bulletin, Carlisle coach Meade Seiy said that her team should have had a stroke, a free shot on the goalie, for what she thought to be a penalty. Regardless, Seiy credits the FA team for their skill and speed. While the team was thrilled to win semi-finals, they did not let it get to their heads when they played Cape Henry Collegiate during the state finals. “Even though we were the number one ranked team, we still went into Saturday with some doubt about winning,” said Hazel. Steven agreed with Hazel, adding that she knew her team had the skill to win. “It would just come down to the game that we played and how we worked as a team. I believed we had a very good shot to win,” said Steven. Cape Henry’s Erin Scherrer scored their first goal in the end of the first half. This put FAVFH in a tough position, since they were not used to being down. However, no one gave in. “We played as hard as we could and left it all out [on the field],” explained Estes. “It’s not as bad losing when you play a hard game and gave it your all.” Cape Henry’s second goal was scored in the second half, but FA pursued, making shot after

Continued on page 5

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3News page three

Let it snow, let it snow by Meggie Roche

the falcon flier



photo courtesy of bill evans

photo courtesy of karen moschetto

Clockwise from left: The view from Susanne Nobles’s house (February 2010); Prekindergartener Jackson Hunley (December 2010); Head of School Karen Moschetto shoveling snow (February 2010); Fourth-grade teacher Bill Evans after a snowy bike ride (January 2010).



No school: January 8, February 1, February 5, February 8, February 9-12, February 16

No school: December 16, December 17, January 18, January 27, February 10

Two hour delay: February 3

Two hour delay: January 12, February 1

Total: 9 days off, 1 delay

Total: 5 days off, 2 delays

For a lot of students, snow is the only thing that gets them through the winter. Winter can seem like endless days of school without a break in between. Snow days are the only saving grace, so it is understandable that our society is slightly obsessed with how much snow we will get. No one knows for sure how much snow will come, but there are ways for people to make educated guesses. ABC7’s Doug Hill predicted we would get around ten to fifteen inches of snow for the entire winter season. Accuweather predicts that snowfall levels will be above average. The Farmers Almanac is even more specific, stating actual dates for when snow is supposed to hit. The Almanac predicts that there will be a blizzard on Jan. 30 and 31, 2012. It also guesses that the majority of this school year’s snow will come in mid December, mid to late January, and mid February. The latter half of December will be a mixture of snow and rain. If these predictions are correct, we could expect to see a lot of snow days this year.

How much will we get this year? 1


“Well it’s gonna be really cold, and hopefully we’ll get some snow. ” – Freshman Matt Vance


“Enough to get us out of school for a few weeks.” – Sophomore Sara Eadie


“I think there’s not gonna be that much snow, but I hope there is.” – Freshman Spencer Marshall

“I think we’re going to get 30 inches of snow with a lot of ice.” – Junior Erin Garay

Rose Mount Farm IEA High School and Middle School Riding Team

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3 All Weather, Large, Indoor Rings Close to University of Mary Washington Quality Horses and Ponies for Sale

9601 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania, Virginia 22551

4feature p a g e

f o u r

Students spend on slices, sweets and snacks amount of money students spend weekly on fA café and vending varies by Wyatt Davies the falcon flier


very day people walk back from the middle school cafeteria with plates of pizza, cups full of iced tea, and growling stomachs. They also emerge from the vending machine room with drinks and snacks to fuel them throughout the day. Seeing so much food makes you wonder, “How much is being spent on this?” A survey completed

by 42 upper school students found that the upper school spends about $1280 a week on food at FA. Most only spend about $12 a week, but some spend up to $50, with most of the money going to the FA Café. One of the café’s high rollers is sophomore Marshall Steven. Steven spends about $5 a day on two slices of pizza, an iced tea, and two cookies. Steven once spent $15 in the course of two periods. This purchase included

four slices of pizza, two iced teas, two cookies, a Milky Way, and a soda. The FA Café provides students with food catered by the Italian restaurant Castiglias. Monday through Thursday, lunch is served in the middle school cafeteria. On Fridays, Castiglias moves their operations over to the upper school kitchen located in the freshman/sophomore hallway. This change in location creates a massive

line in the small threeclassroom hallway that can sometimes wrap into the commons. It can take up to 15 minutes to get a slice of pizza if you step in line at 12:35. This line is mammoth compared to the usual 12:30 p.m. lunch break rush experienced Monday through Thursday. However, the wait in line is not stopping students from spending their dough on a slice of pizza, as it is the most popular lunch

choice for students. The vending machines do not bring in as much money as the café; upper school students spend about $200 a week on snacks and sodas from the machines, according to the poll. The amount of money spent on the vending machines is less than one-sixth of the amount students spend total. Most seniors, with or without privileges, still eat at FA regularly.

Student Spending

$1280 a week total on food

$200 a week

on snacks/sodas

Santa won’t be bringing the iPhone 4S this Christmas despite the new features and slick design, apple’s latest iphone does not spark interest by Courtney Hoffman

the falcon flier

On Oct. 14, 2011, people lined up in front of electronic and phone stores, having been camped there for hours. Excitement filled the air. Finally, doors opened to anxious technology fans. This was the day the new iPhone 4S was released. Many students disregarded the excitement of this new device. Junior Greer Stewart, who owns an iPhone 3G, let the new iPhone arrival date pass her by without a blink of an eye. She didn’t feel the new features outshined the annoyance of having to set up a new phone. “You have to download everything. I don’t feel like doing it,” Stewart said. The new iPhone 4S is loaded with new features. You are able to record

video in HD, and the camera has a custom lens with 8-megapixel resolution. The iPhone 4S has the capabilities of Facetime as well. One of the newest and most unique features is the Airplay feature. With Airplay, you can wirelessly connect to an apple television. Once connected, the television will show what’s on your phone. You can watch videos, or listen to music through stereos. Sophomore Meghan Norair also owns an iPhone 3G. Norair differs from Stewart since she would love an iPhone 4S. However, she also sees many negatives surrounding the new generation of the iPhone. “I don’t like that it’s square. I like the round shape a little better,” Norair said. The iPhone 4S also has a new feature called Siri. Apple describes Siri as

an intelligent personal assistant. Using Siri is as simple as talking to yourself. You hold down the home button, or simply hold the phone up to your ear, and Siri will pop up waiting to help you. You can tell Siri to do anything like “Find a Taco Bell nearby” or “Let mom know I’m running late” by simply speaking into the phone. Even with these new features, the iPhone 4S is not a gift you will see on many Christmas lists this year. The excitement over the new technology seems to have faded. Currently, the iPhone 4S is available for $199.99 if you are already under a contract. The price escalates quickly depending on the storage capacity. A 64 GB iPhone 4S is 399.99. The iPhone is now available under three different wireless contracts: Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint.


Planning a roadtrip to UVA or Charlottesville soon? Visit Mudhouse on the downtown mall! 213 W. Main St. Charlottesville, VA, 22902 Hours: Mon-Thu: 7a-10p Fri-Sat: 7a-11p Sun: 7a-7p Charlottesville’s home of the super fine espresso drink and coffee, roasted with care and brewed with love for

maximum happiness.

805 Caroline Street Come by! Either shop and browse or take a look at our very incomplete inventory on ABEbooks. com. Paul’s keeping busy in our Fredericksburg bindery, open for repairs and custom work. We’re on Facebook but we don’t blog or tweet like some of our friends. Feel free to send us an email if you’d like to get in touch:


5sports page five

F.A.S.T. stronger than ever

Six winter teams fight for gym space by SAMANTHA KING the falcon flier



Sophomore Jase Davis swims breast stroke in practice. Davis went to states with the team last year and hopes to return.

by MATT KIRCHNER the falcon flier

With tough practices and a growing roster, the FA swim team looks to challenge some of their rivals this season Last season, the team felt that they had they had the talent to compete with the bigger schools, but they lacked the large number of swimmers that were allowed to compete. With no seniors on the team last year, the team has lost very few swimmers this year and has gained several more. With the new swimmers, the team is able to enter more events, which means they are able to score more points. With three more swimmers on the boy’s team and several new additions on the girl’s side, both teams were able to add more relay groups, which have the

potential to score the most points. According to Head Coach Sheila Wimble, another element that the team has is chemistry. “Our team has continuity because [most of] our swimmers have been on the team since seventh grade,” she said. With their first meet on Dec. 2 and states in February, the swim team has had no time to waste. Within the first week of practice, swimmers were already swimming close to a mile and a half every practice, which is around 90 to 100 lengths of the pool. Wimble believes that when it comes to swimming, “you get what you put into it.” “I don’t want to give them an easy work out, and then ask them to

perform at a meet, and then them not do it. So the practices are for the swimmers,” she added Even as practices get harder toward the end of the season, some of the swimmers don’t mind, “I prefer the harder practices, actually,” said senior Graham Schattgen. Senior Daniel Conway had similar views on the practices, saying that, “For the entire meet, you’re probably only in the pool for a total of like, two minutes, unless you have a really long-distance event. It’s good to have [swum] a lot before the meet so you aren’t tired during the meet.” Schattgen added on saying that practicing hard ensures “that you’re not swimming on adrenaline the whole time. You still

get that rush, but you don’t wear out halfway through.” The swimmers have been putting in the hard work so they will be prepared for the upcoming meets. The swimmers said their hardest competition will come from Fredericksburg Christian School, RandolphMacon Academy, and the seemingly unbeatable Seton School. With FA and FCS trading wins and losses last season, the team looks forward to another close year with their greatest rivals. According to Schattgen, Seton operates like a “corporation” with one of the largest teams in the area. With RMA similar to FA as far as growth, it looks like the boy’s team will have some extra competition during their meets.

he question of whether varsity sports teams should get priority over middle school and JV teams is debated within many schools, and FA is no exception. Currently, all middle school, JV and varsity basketball teams practice in the same sports facility, which means six teams practice in one gym every night. Middle school teams practice from 3:30 to 4:30, while JV and varsity teams practice from 4:30 to 6:15 or 6:30. Many varsity players are concerned about getting home after 6:30 every night. There are worries about not having enough time to do homework and not getting an adequate amount of sleep. Not only is this a concern for the players, but this also affects the coaches. Jeff Eckerson, coach of girls varsity basketball won’t get home until around 6:45, an hour later than he got home from basketball practice last year. This

is cutting into his family time. “I have two kids and getting home at 6:45 instead of 5:45 definitely affects my personal life,” said Eckerson. Many propose having middle school teams go off campus in a rented space for practice. This was how the large numbers were accommodated last year. “Middle school should go off campus. It worked last year, so we should continue with it,” said junior Simone Roberts, a returning girls varsity basketball player. But having the middle school team go off campus for practice cuts down on playing time and costs the school money to rent space and pay for transportation. “I think each solution has positives and negatives, it’s difficult for the middle school team to go off site, but it’s also difficult for us if they stay here,” said Eckerson. Currently, all basketball teams are trying their best to work with the space they have.

Field hockey second in state championships Continued from page 2 shot against the all-tournament goalkeeper. Finally, with 55 seconds left in the game, eighth-grader Carolyn Topps assisted Hazel as she hit a hard shot off the corner. While her teammates knew they would not have enough time to tie the game, they were still elated. The final score was 2-1 Cape Henry. “Even though we didn’t win, we still wanted to play our best game,” said Steven. The loss was a shock to the fans, but everyone was pleased with the performance. “At first it was hard to comprehend that they lost. It was kind of sad,” explained senior Matt O’Donnell. “There wasn’t a girl on that team that wasn’t crying. It wasn’t that they played poorly, they played really well.” In O’Donnell’s opinion, if FA

and Cape Henry played each other ten times, FA would win five of the games and Cape Henry would win the other five. Regardless of the outcome, FAVFH brought something amazing to the FA community. “I could never be more proud of FAVFH. Everyone constantly looked at us as the underdogs, and to make it that far undefeated is such an accomplishment. We lost five seniors last year and were able to come out on top this year,” said Hazel. The season brought excitement to both the team and the fans, and has become a vital part of FA. “I think [FAVFH] kind of defines FA sports. They’re exciting to watch, there is so much energy in the team and everyone that watches them is so excited,” said O’Donnell.


STATS 9th —16 goals, 25 assists 10th — 9 goals, 14 assists 11th — 8 goals, 14 assists 12th — 7 goals, 12 assists


Position: Center-midfield Playing since: age 7 Club Team: High Voltage (3 years)

AWARDS 9th–Coaches’ Award, All-LIS First Team, All-DAC Honorable Mention, Undefeated State Champion 10th–All-DAC First Team, All-LIS First Team, VISAA All-State Division II First Team 11th–Team MVP, All-DAC First Team, VISAA All-State Division II First Team 12th–Team MVP, All-DAC First Team, VISAA All-State Division II First Team, VISAA Division II All-Tournament Team

6Opinion p a g e

s i x

Students appreciate teachers’ empathy in busy semester

Stop Online Piracy Act might be able to block social networking sites

The Staff’s Stand


t’s not unusual for FA students to have a laundry list of activities on top of a rigorous academic schedule. This fall seemed especially hectic in the realm of extracurricular activities. Students have missed classes for a variety of reasons: away sports games, final college visits, Senior Exhibit commitments, and field trips among them. Not only have students missed class, but also valuable homework time as a result of their many commitments. Late night rehearsals for the fall musical “Bye Bye Birdie” made it sometimes impossible for students to finish homework. This particularly chaotic year, teachers couldn’t have been more accommodating. We’d like to thank the upper school faculty for working with students and sometimes even rearranging their own schedules to satisfy our needs. Teachers have given extensions, moved back large assignments, organized meeting times with students in their free times, and have been overwhelmingly empathetic about students’ heavy workloads. After a week-long trip to California as a part of his Senior Exhibit, Daniel Conway was given extra time to catch up on work, and met with upper and middle school Latin teacher Christine Vellenga to go over the work he had missed when he finished. Instances like this are no rare occurrence. All upper school teachers make themselves available for help outside of class, and many post their schedules either on Veracross or on their door for student reference. When sophomore Kendra Nedell’s academic workload on top of missed classes for varsity tennis matches prevented her from finishing her daily homework assignments, she was given an extension until the weekend by world history teacher Keith Wamsley. Not only are teachers understanding of students’ situations, in many cases they have the same commitments. With roughly eight upper school faculty members involved in “Bye Bye Birdie,” many teachers felt the same pressure for time as their students. These measures haven’t been taken with a detriment to the classes’ progress, however. Upper school math teachers Alpana Wilson and Kris Hoppel continue to teach new material when a test or quiz is pushed back, simply allowing students more time to study for larger assignments. “I think they’re definitely staying on top of things and keep teaching, but it definitely doesn’t slow down the … class. It’s just helpful,” said senior Sydney Hawkins. At larger schools, it’s more complicated for teachers to grant extensions and provide extra help outside of class. We’re lucky to have teachers who are able and willing to work with students on a case by case basis.

I think they’re definitely staying on top of things and keep teaching . . .


FALCON FLIER Mary Gray Johnson editor

Simone Wicker managing editor

Lauren Falkenberg design editor

Liz Benavides copy editor

Courtney Hoffman business manager

Staff 11-12

Allegra Massey-Elim Isabel Steven Matt Kirchner Meggie Roche Roosa Berg Samantha King Wyatt Davies Wyatt Falcone reporters

Beth Hunley adviser

The Falcon Flier is produced by the Fredericksburg Academy upper school newspaper staff to inform and entertain FA’s 216 middle and upper school students. The publication is a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the National Scholastic Press Association. Students or faculty who wish to express their views in The Falcon Flier are encouraged to submit letters to the editor to: 540.898.0020 December 2011 Issue 3, Volume XX 10800 Academy Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22408


Letter to the Editor

trees and paying for Santa?!


Admins. reply to Nov. Staff’s EXCHANGE STUDENT SHOCKED BY CHRISTMAS COMMERCIALISM by Roosa Berg Stand editorial the falcon flier

We would like to comment on the Staff ’s Stand in the latest issue of The Falcon Flier. We could not agree more that mid- and end-of-year faculty departures are disruptive to the students. Last year was particularly difficult as we dealt with the equivalent of four mid-year replacements. We would also like to note that these departures are both upsetting and unsettling for the entire school community, but that the concerns of the students are the number-one priority. Sudden departures require many helping hands and great patience and understanding while a solution, either temporary or permanent, is sought. One of the most important responsibilities the administration is charged with is the hiring of faculty members. Our hiring process is very thorough and quite extensive – many candidates are surprised that we ask them to spend an entire day on campus, teach classes, and meet with students. Our top priority is to have candidates meet with as many people as possible during a visit. Student feedback is particularly important and is the reason we ask for comments from those who sat in class during a lesson and those who had more casual conversations during lunch. Our sole goal is to hire and keep teachers who are passionate about the subject they teach and who want to be a part of everything FA has to offer beyond the work they do in the classroom. Unfortunately, life offers no guarantees and people leave our community for various reasons. We cannot write contracts that state teachers can’t have children during the year, move because a spouse gets relocated, continued on page 7

It’s Christmas Eve. Everybody has already eaten the Christmas meal, which includes ham, lutefisk, carrot casserole, swede purée, scalloped potatoes, Karelian hot pot, blueberry quark and a lot of other traditional foods and drinks, also Coca Cola. Then you can hear someone knocking at the door. It is Santa Claus! That’s how families celebrate Christmas in Finland, although there are a lot of different ways to celebrate it, of course. For example some people go to the forest to get an evergreen tree. Some travel countryside or abroad, and some go to the mall to buy presents a little bit too late. However, most people and families go to the Christmas church service in the morning. Some people go there by sleigh, which the horses are leading. In the church they listen to the pastor and sing beautiful Christmas songs. That is one example why Christmas is a very traditional feast day in Finland. Also, it is usually time for relaxing and enjoying time with the family. My Christmas is usually very different from everyone else’s. When I was little, I wanted to experience the oldstyle Christmas from the 1940s with my grandparents. I liked that experience so much that we have kept it; on December 23 we travel to my grandmother’s house and celebrate an old-style Christmas. We do not have a lot of presents, but we eat well and then we have a Christmas sauna. I think it is the best part; candle lights are all around and it’s snowing slowly outside and it’s dark. Afterward, we bake something like cinnamon rolls and listen to Christmas music. Usually the night between December 23 and Christmas Eve, I make some handicraft for my family and friends and listen to beautiful Christmas songs from a radio. Then, when it is 3 a.m. I usually go to sleep and wake up at 8 a.m. There is a reason for it: We always watch a specific TV-show with my sister. It’s about Santa Claus talking with children and telling about his Christmas Eve, which I think is very cute. After we go home with some of our relatives. We eat the meal together and after we share the presents. Here in America, I have noticed that you start celebrating Christmas very early. Christmas songs are already on the radio. You can also see all Christmas ornaments in stores already. I actually bought my Christmas calendar already, it is a chocolate one. Then,


Roosa Berg celebrates with a traditional Christmas Eve dessert in Finland.

last weekend I saw some exhibition of Christmas trees. I think it was very nice experience, but then I saw Santa Claus. It would have been okay, but they asked money to take a picture with him. I think Santa Claus is not the way to earn money; he is the one who should do everything for free and teach that money is not the thing that makes you happy. Well of course, the actor needs to get his money, but I still don’t think earning money that way is a good thing. That’s why I see Christmas is a lot more commercial here than in Finland. There is also another fact about Santa Claus: He is originally a Finnish invention, but his red clothes are an American invention. In Finland, the story about Santa Claus is based on a story of St. Nicholas, who brought gold to three girls. Nowadays Santa Claus usually goes from house to house and gives the presents. He usually goes to homes where the little children still have imagination. Of course, Santa Claus can also visit everywhere else too. I think it is the same here in America. You also have a tradition about the Christmas stockings, which I am excited about. I hope I get something nice! I have also noticed that here, a lot of people have a fake Christmas tree, which feels weird to me. For example our neighbors have a Christmas tree already. I should take a picture of it and send it to my friends, because it is funny. In Finland a lot of people get the Christmas tree during December, usually around Christmas Eve. Even if the Christmas feels more focused on advertising here, I am still looking forward it. I believe that there still is the same feeling, which I always have on Christmas Eve. It is a feeling that everything is fine and everybody loves each other. Still, I hope my Christmas is going to be even a little bit like what I have seen in the movies. Have a happy Christmas to everyone - Hyvää Joulua kaikille!

7opinion page seven

Each year, the senior AP English class submits editorials to The Falcon Flier staff. Non-senior members of the staff choose the best editorials to be featured in the paper. This year, the staff chose the editorials of Joseph Garay, Jonathan Gibson and Mary Gray Johnson.



Standardization causes loss of identity for high school students






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because they have been bullied by a clique to the point where they see taking their life as the better option to going to school. As a human being I have the same problem as Bernard Marx; of wanting to fit in, but as an individual I wish to strive to make my own decisions, to think my own thoughts, and to live my own life, and to not let the “cool” group decide my future for me. So the next time you are standing in the lunch room, you should decide whether it is better to sit in the cool group, or to sit with a group of individuals.



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picked on and laughed at because they exist “above the whole.” Being different in high school, unfortunately, is not a good thing, because it means that one must suffer four years of mocking, four years of bullying; one endures the loss of four years of their life they will never get back. It saddens me to see how our society is slowly forming into that of Brave New World, where the group is celebrated at the expense of the individual. These individuals are the ones we see on television, portrayed as victims,

Volunteering focuses on global aid, not local aid



Our world has become standardized. With the current system, your life can be defined by a few simple numbers. SAT’s, ACT’s, AP’s, and even SOL’s now control the system of learning. Starting at a young age, many schools now strive to prepare students for these tests, even focusing more on the test than on the actual learning. While schools seek to make these numbers as high as they can, colleges seek to increase their own acceptance grades. It is all about numbers these days. But where does this leave the students? All standardization does is increase stress, inhibit learning, and restrict creativity. Standardization causes our lives to become big deadlines. All that matters is the test day. This is how colleges differentiate between people. Everybody takes the standardized tests, and colleges can see how you rank up against everybody else. Students are divided into rooms, with seats specifically reserved for them. After the same speech is preached to students all over the world, they begin their scribbling, filling bubbles in what would appear to be a random fashion. And these bubbles will determine the student’s numbers. The answers put down on a single day result in a number that will play a large part in the student’s academic career. And with standardization of tests comes standardization of curriculum. In order to do well on the test, students obviously need to know the material. But anything else is not needed on the test. This is the problem with standardization. As most AP classes have a specific curriculum, they simply become a rush to cover that material. There is little room to explore other areas, which may be just as important, even if they aren’t seen as important to the test makers. In many other schools, the curriculum is dictated by the SOL’s. All that matters is doing well on the test. Anything else is superfluous. Surely there is more than just the numbers though? There is creativity; there are extracurricular activities. But even those can be standardized. People often take part in extracurricular activities because it looks good on a college application. Of course, some people do take on subjects because they enjoy them. But there are just as many people who do things in order to make themselves look more appealing to colleges. These days, everyone plays a sport, everyone does community service, and every one participates in some extracurricular activity. The work you do in school is not enough. Everyone has to do something that makes them “individual”, or rather, just like everyone else. I find the current state of affairs to be just like the World State of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The individual only matters as a part of the community. Everyone is expected to have their own little uniqueness; it is just a requirement of the community. If you don’t, you will suffer for it when trying to apply to college. Standardization has removed the individual. Now, everybody must learn the same subjects, in order to take the same test. And after you have taken it, you are simply a single number in a sea of numbers. You aren’t yourself. You are your number. What could be worse than losing your very identity? This great crime is what standardization not only does, but encourages. It is all too easy to see the value of standardization, because it compares everyone to everyone else. But in the end, what is there to compare? Just your number.



Every day at twelve o’clock a bell rings to announce the beginning of a tradition that has been a part of high school culture for a long time: lunch. Lunch, long seen as a well earned break from learning, is an opportunity for students to socialize and nourish

who is “cool” who is “un-cool”; and who gets picked on. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World painted a picture of the future where individuality is a joke, where the norm was conforming to the community. This future, with each passing year, seems like one of the possible avenues that our country’s society could take. It all begins in high school where the cliques control everything. In high school, the leaders of these groups are the ones that decide who is cool and who isn’t. They decide who is

by MARY GRAY JOHNSON the falcon flier

My generation is charged with a plethora of faults. Poor communication skills, excessive busyness, heavy procrastination—the list goes on. Something we are rarely commended for is our dedication to service. I am grateful to be surrounded by such proactive, able members of society. This is a preface to my complaint because I don’t wish to undermine the intentions of my peers—all of which are good. However, young people today lose sight of the problems in their own communities, associating “community service” with work on the other side of the world. Ironic, isn’t it? The root of the problem lies in the media, which depicts service as an external, isolated act. I was once a middle schooler on a quest to save the world. I felt like an invincible Samaritan, and announced to my mother that I wanted

to go to Africa to save the children like Audrey Hepburn had done as a spokeswoman for UNICEF. She swiftly dismissed my plan, deflating my dreams for change when she offered to take me to the downtown soup kitchen instead. I had never seen homeless people on the corner, nor had I heard of someone who couldn’t put food on the table in Fredericksburg. My ignorance mixed with the glamour of helping elsewhere made helping in my own community seem useless. It’s unfortunate that there’s little emphasis on helping the people closest to us. Many people are unaware that problems in our own communities even exist. When I joined Youth in Philanthropy, the term “community service” evolved to mean something different for me. In YIP, we read grants from local organizations that outline initiatives to solve problems in the community. My first year, fellow YIP members and I were overwhelmed by our introduction to local problems in such great volume. Instead of thinking of TV ads with starving children

whose only request was money, I thought of the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank’s project this year to make hygiene baskets. We have the chance to talk to people representing the grant who don’t have the resources to feed their families or pay for basic hygiene products. Suddenly, I could see the tangible problems facing my community and had the means to help them. The purpose of service, we must remind ourselves, is to use our means to fix or improve something. This means identifying faults and using what we have to make them better for our communities. Helping elsewhere isn’t a bad thing, but I hope that my generation doesn’t neglect the issues closest to us for what seem to be more sensational ones.

Hunger facts In District 16 (Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline, King George, & Fredericksburg):


of households suffer from hunger 

guest reporter

the same time, I don’t have much of an urge to be in that group, because in order to do that I would have to lose myself. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about that in my school. Unfortunately, in some schools, these cliques are like a tumor that slowly, soundlessly, and effortlessly wraps its gnarled roots around the high school society, making it impossible for people to ignore. From the stories that I have heard over the years, these groups seemingly control social structure of the public schools they infect, deciding


their bodies. A downside to this enduring high school ritual is the formation of cliques. The conception of some groups in high school is like the development of a debilitating disease forcing kids to conform and making them join groups where it is all about one person and not about the individual. The “popular” kid group is like a growing cancer, causing numerous problems in high school. As a high school student I understand what it feels like to want to be a part of ‘that cool people group,’ but at

33% increase from 2006

Admins. address November Staff’s Stand continued from page 6

or decide to go to med school. Students need to trust that we make every effort to retain teachers, and moreover that we have a process and your voice in that process is crucial to its success. We want to commend you

for discussing issues like this and for using The Falcon Flier to share your opinions. Know that we are always willing to engage in a dialogue with students and seek to find solutions to these issues together. Sincerely, Mr. Durso and Ms. Moschetto




For good music right here in the ‘burg, stop by a Fredericksburg All Ages show at Read All Over Books Dec. 9 and 17 at 7 p.m.



Tickets $60 and up.

Tickets $5.

Prices vary.


Try something new at Sushi Bistro at Cosner’s Corner, or Miso Asian Grill on Rte. 1. Perfect for large groups!


by Isabel Steven


The Washington Capitals’ season is in full swing. Hop in the car with friends, or take the train to a home game.

Looking for fun outings to cure winter boredom? Here you’ll find easy options. the falcon flier

With the official winter season and two weeks of holiday break right around the corner, many students will be desperate for ways to beat the cabin fever that comes with being cooped up in the house with wind and sleet beating on the windows. Whether you’re more into sports or the arts, there are plenty of fun things to do in Fredericksburg and the surrounding areas that will keep you warm and dry. While Major League Baseball is over, the National Football and Hockey Leagues are still in full swing. Going to see Redskins or Capitals games in D.C. over the weekend with friends is one way to get rid of pent-up energy. Paragon Gym, located in Central Park, offers “Open Gym” time where people can come on weekend evenings to jump on the trampolines, foam pit, and climb the rock wall.

The Field House is another way students can spend time with friends doing something active. Organize a team and register to play on Saturdays or during afternoon weekdays. Music venues are great to hang out with friends or just get out of the house. Fredericksburg All Ages (FAA) puts on shows frequently downtown for local bands to play. To watch professional orchestras and musicals, the Kennedy Center and the National Theater in Washington D.C. are close places to get dressed up for and go to on a weekend. Riverside Dinner Theater in Fredericksburg is a more casual, closer option as well. White Christmas and Beauty and the Beast will be playing until Dec. 31 and Jan. 21, respectively. Spotsylvania Towne Centre is always expanding, so check out the shops and restaurants for a day out with friends. Tyson’s Corner

in Fairfax is another option for shopping. Movies are always an option as well at Muvico Movie Theater, Regal Cinemas 15, and the Marquee in Southpoint. People can get groups together to go bowling and play arcade games at Liberty Lanes. There are also plenty of fun places to eat around Fredericksburg. Hyperion Espresso on William St. downtown is a great hangout place to have a warm drink and talk with friends. Colonial Cupcakes, also located downtown, would be great for a group of friends to pool their money and try different types of cupcakes. Sushi Bistro, located in Cosner’s Corner, has a rotating conveyor belt where chefs place small dishes of sushi all between $2-5, allowing the customers to choose whatever they want. Sakura Japanese Steak, Seafood, and Sushi Bar is a hibachi-style restaurant that would be fun for groups.

Breaking Dawn a pleasant surprise for Harry Potter fan by Simone Wicker the falcon flier


an ardent Harry Potter fan, it’s no secret that I love the series above all others. When I first began reading the “Twilight” series by Stephanie Meyer, I thought I had found a replacement for my fantastical thirst. However, I was sorely mistaken when my interest died down after reading all of the “Twilight” novels and seeing the first 3 movies, “Twilight,” “New Moon” and “Eclipse.” I felt so beyond all that “Twilight” had to offer and frankly, I was getting sick of vampires due to the bloodsucking overload on television as well. But at the midnight showing of “Breaking Dawn: Part 1,” I gained my respect back for the dark romance of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. I was a little shocked by the crowd at Regal 15. Having to park in one of the last spots available across the street from the theater, I couldn’t help but ask myself why I was even there. The license plate of the car parked in front of me was a condensed version of “twilight fan” and I realized just how serious it all was. The movie made $72 million in

the box office opening day, which was third-best in first day box office – just after “New Moon” and of course, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two” as number one. Finally taking my seat in the front row of one out of twelve within the whole cinema, I spent the next two hours gasping, cringing and squirming. As gruesome as the movie is, it represents the story quite well. There are moments where the movie does not match up with the book, but I honestly didn’t expect it to. The wedding, honeymoon, pregnancy, and birth were just slightly more awkward than I anticipated. Those scenes are particularly obscure, but more than likely deliberate and intentional. It is much more of an artsy film than the previous ones, which added a great deal of grandeur to it that the other films lacked. I did, however, find all four films to be very action packed, yet slightly cheesy with forced humor. The acting continues to be mediocre and actress Kristen Stewart somehow still manages to look uneasy at all times, but something special about the intensity of this film helps to cover all of that up. In hindsight, the movie is brilliant. The score is great, and the film would have lost so much if not for the variety of climactic melodies and sentimental tones.

Many series have a way of triggering your emotions because the further you get into the storyline, the more you feel like you know the characters. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve seen the images in my head from reading the “Twilight” books actually come to life in film, but I really felt that I’ve watched these characters grow. Any “Twilight” fan would say that the once forbidden romance is what makes the story, but I feel that the crew making “Breaking Dawn” found a great way to wrap up this series. My expectations are extremely high for “Breaking Dawn: Part 2,” which will be released one year from now.

Students weigh in... Students judged “Breaking Dawn: Part One” against “Harry Potter” movies, some more forgiving than others. “Twilight is my all-time favorite series. I have read all the books at least seven times. I could never really get into the Harry Potter books... I have seen all the movies so far and I am hoping to see Breaking Dawn ASAP.” —Sophomore Tara Doggett

“I literally would never spend any time on watching a single [Harry Potter] film or reading the books. Same with Twilight, also stupid and not real.” —Senior Ryan Hudson

Breaking Dawn was released Nov. 18, and grossed $138 million the opening weekend.

“Harry Potter was the first book that got me into reading and it’s been there since I was in third grade, then all of a sudden, a couple years ago, this weird storyline about vampires doing nasty things emerged. They are weird, I saw the first movie with my sister and the movie quality was extremely horrible [compared to Harry Potter movies].” —Senior Joe Garay

35% off one item & free earrings if you spend $50 or more!

The Falcon Flier, December 2011  

The December 2011 issue of Fredericksburg Academy's student newspaper, The Falcon Flier