Page 1





details the recent success of the band program

explores the special education program at AHS

discusses the many holidays that are celebrated this time of year

provides readers with a holiday playlist for the winter season



New Girl’s rating in its time slot as the show continues to grow in popularity at AHS See page 19


Ahmed Bile’s finish in the cross country national championship See page 16


The number of cappies nominations the AHS production of Arsenic and Old Lace receieved See page 8


The number of bowls that college football programs compete in each year See page 15


The percentage of students who passed their history SOLs last year See page 4


The approximate number of special education students at AHS See page 10

Parent group PROTECT to speak at PTSA meeting Tonight, the PTSA will host the parent group PROTECT at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium. The event is open to all parents and students. The group will speak about the signs of drug abuse and what parents can do if they suspect their child is using drugs.

4700 Medford Dr. Annandale, VA 22003

Informiing the Atoms siince 1954 4


(703) 642-4229

Sexting, racy photos in decline among teens BY CJ AFTERGUT Co-Editor in Chief


By the numbers



the VOLUME #57 ISSUE 6


Students can be tormented if a lewd photograph of them is circulated among the student body, just one negative consequence of sexting. According to a recent study, only one percent of those between the ages of 10 and 17 reported taking a naked photo or video of themselves.

Sexting, which deals with the sending of sexually explicit messages or photographs via an electronic device, is an issue of great concern among parents and is often discussed in relation to its prominence among teenagers. However, according to Kimberly Mitchell, the lead author of a study released in the journal Pediatric, sexting is not as common as many people believe, is not as drastic in terms of the content of teenagers’ messages and is not a reason for panic among parents. Based on the study, which involved phone interviews with 1,560 Internet users between the ages of 10 and 17, slightly less than ten percent of teenagers reported creating, appearing in or receiving “sexually suggestive” images. This includes images of kids and teenagers in underwear, swimsuits or clothed “sexy poses.” Meanwhile, only one percent of those interviewed reported taking a photo or video of themselves that depicted sexual activity or naked “Sexting” continues on page 5

New school board All-American again Bile finishes 12th in national competition

McLaughlin takes Wilson’s seat BY ANNIE CURRAN Co-Editor in Chief

BY SAMIR SHAH Sports Editor

In light of the recent school board elections, incumbent Sandy Evans on the Mason District and first time member Megan McLaughlin of the Braddock District will now be representing AHS. Ryan McElveen, Ted Velkoff and incumbent Ilyrong Moon will serve as At-Large School Board members. McLaughlin has a long résumé of activist work. She served as the President and Co-Founder of FAIRGRADE, an organization that worked to change the harsh grading policies in FCPS. She has also worked on the Fairfax Zero Tolerance Reform and served as Co-Chair for the Woodson Parking Lot Coalition. Evans, who considers herself to be an activist member of the board, was encouraged by the fact that

others were elected who also seem themselves as activists. “I was very pleased to see Meghan McLaughlin elected. She certainly is an activist voice and is very energetic,” Evans said. “I was pleased to see that we elected a fresh and dynamic voice in Ryan McElveen.” As for some of the issues the new

AHS senior Ahmed Bile went from a sophomore in his first season of track that unexpectedly placed second in the state, to a junior with three AllAmerican titles under his belt. Bile is now a senior, and the time has come for him to say good-bye to his high school cross country career. All-American senior Ahmed Bile placed 12th at the Foot Locker National Championship Race in San Diego on Dec. 10, finishing with a time of 15:30. “I was running really well in the beginning of the race, keeping up with the top competitors and with the top ten. And then, I started getting tired,” Bile said. “ And once we reached the biggest hill of the course, I was dead.”

“Elections” continues on page 5

“Bile” continues on page 16

Meghan McLaughlin, the Braddock District representative, speaks at a meeting.


explains what can be learned from viewing a Facebook profile





Ahmed Bile runs alongside two other competitors in the Foot Locker event.

‘Love’s Labor Lost’ debuts this week Theatre Without Borders takes on Shakespearian play

IB Diploma candidates attend cultural party On your smartphone, scan the code above using the application “QR Code” to view a story about how the 36 remaining IB candidates celebrated their hard work thus far this school year.

What’s it like to be a student who is barely fluent in the English language and tackle a play by its best playwright? ESOL students will find out when they take the stage to perform Love’s Labor Lost by William Shakespeare on Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Theatre Without Borders, a program that was started in 2003, gives ESOL students the opportunity to perform in Shakespearean plays. It was made in an effort to have the students pursue theater interests despite the language barrier between them and native English speakers. “We started it because we felt there was an interest in theatre among ESOL,” co-sponsor Leslie Chekin said. “We felt that were was a sort of language barrier. We have all sorts of people now.” ESOL is comprised of students who have been in the U.S. anywhere from one year to five years. Obviously, the language level varies, and roles have to be assigned accordingly.



Sophomore Muhammad Malik practices his lines in preparation for the Dec. 15 ESOL production.

“We use the script we’re going to perform, we select the scenes and monologues from the scripts,” co-sponsor Nick Liacopoulos said. “Quite often they’ll surprise us.” Junior Sheiny Concepcion de la Cruz was one of those surprises. She’s only been in the U.S. for a year, yet she has managed to get one of the lead roles of the princess of France from 37 other students. The roles were chosen through an audition process involving co-sponsors Chekin and Liacopoulus. “She’s a really talented girl,” Chekin said. “She gets up there and she is the character. She’s just been here a year.” As for the play, Love’s Labor Lost is not a wellknown Shakespearean play. It is about four men who swear off women in order to focus on their studies, right as four beautiful women show up which is where the story begins. The four leading roles are Lord Byron, Rosaline, the Princess of France and King Ferdinand. Though the play isn’t Shakespeare’s most popular work, co-sponsor Leslie Chekin believes the play will be received well. “What’s not to like [about the play]? I think they’ll enjoy it,” Chekin said. “Theatre” continues on page 5



Dec. 13, 2011

Cannabis is misunderstood Pro-maurijuana advocacy is not completely unfounded

US Rights are under fire On your smartphone, scan the above code using the application “QR Code” to view a story about a recent law that was passed that gives the government the right to bypass due process.


Schools need to implement healthier changes.


NPR gives more truth and less bias, compared to other radio stations.

QUOTE COLLECTION The A-Blast wants to hear your opinion. Your response to the following question might be featured in our Quote Collection:

What do you think about the legalization of marijuana and how it would affect high school students? E-mail your response to:

Questions, comments, or ideas for the editors? E-mail the editors at:

What do you think about the introduction of the Student Congress? “The idea of a trial legislature is great for those who wish to go into politics.”

—Amelie Trieu sophomore

• The term “marijuana” comes from a tpredujiced period of time.

BY K.L. HOANG Academics Editor

• In 1619, You could be jailed for not growing it

Cannabis has long been misunderstood because of all the misinformation that has been presented to the public. According to the Gallup poll taken in mid-October, 50 percent of America wants cannabis to be legal. Why is this? Surely, not half of America are “burnout stoners”. History Since the beginning of recorded history, and the history of America, cannabis has been used legally in numerous ways for medicine and paper. A law in Jamestown was passed in 1619 that required farmers to grow cannabis, or hemp, and a farmer could actually be put in jail for not growing hemp. Taxes could even be paid with hemp back then. Hemp was the cash crop that was omitted from our textbooks. So when did the plant fall from grace? It seems impossible that such a widely recognized substance would be demonized and ostracized. Yet, the expulsion of the plant and its wide usages began in the beginning of the 20th century. A newspaper in 1934 published, “Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.” The commonly used word, “marijuana”, comes from a time of racism and yellow journalism. At the head of the movement was racist Harry J. Anslinger, the newly appointed director of the Bureau of Narcoticswhosaidboth,“Marihuanaisthemostviolencecausingdruginthehistoryofmankind”and“marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.” Although people have died with amounts of cannabis in their bodies, it is vital to note here that no one has ever died from the sole use of cannabis, according to the Center of Disease Control. AnslingerhadhelpfromracistWilliamRandolfHearst (who owned stock in major newspaper and timber companies) and the Dupont company (who had recently patented the inferior nylon fabric). Eventually, the plant became illegal for usage through legislation based on propaganda and lies, but even the government still encouraged its usage during World War II. Our current view of marijuana comes from former president Richard Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’ which has

• No evidence supports that it kills brain cells • Up to $40 billion could be saved annually if legalized • It has 25,000 uses

• •

• $500 per second was spent on the drug war in 2010 • No one has ever died solely from use of Cannabis.

• No physical compound that directly causes addiction cost America over a trillion dollars. In 2010, the federal government spent over 15 billion dollars, or $500 per second (Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy). Why waste this much money fighting a plant? Why fill our courts and jails with harmless “users” which distract from the real problems? Oh right, it’s a “drug” and “bad.” Science The most common myth recognized by the publicisthatcannabiskillsbraincells,whichcomesfrom a study in 1976 where rhesus monkeys were suffocated by carbon monoxide while being forced to smoke 30 joints a day. According to a study on rats published in Nature Medicine, it enhances brain cell growth and prevents the growth of cancer. Compounds acting at thebrain’snaturalcannabinoidreceptorseradicatebrain tumors. What does kills cells is the burning of paper that cannabis is associated with. It is listed as a Schedule I drug with no potential for medical use even with common pharmaceuticals being more toxic. Concerning addiction and psychiatric disorders,thereisnophysicalcompoundincannabisthat causes a physical addiction. People can become addicted to using cannabis, just as they can become addicted to drinking coffee or eating food. Correlation between disorders is not causation. Still, putting cannabis inside your body does alter one’s perception. It will slow the body and mind down andencouragetheusertoberelaxedandstill.Theeffects of ingesting cannabis could be compared to the effects of entering meditation or doing yoga. Hemp, or cannabis with trace amounts of THC, is illegal to farm in the United States even with its widely noted nutritional benefits. Hemp is also the easiest and http://patients4medicalmarijuana.

most efficient plant to grow. Hemp can virtually be turned into anything from fuel to cheap housing around the world. Why let other nations like Canada profit from hemp’s25,000uses,itsabilitytomakejobsandstimulate the economy? AHS Community The reason “marijuana” is so ostracized by some is because of the stereotypes of its users. According to a poll conducted by TheA-Blast last month, 54 percent of the community does not want the plant legalized. The US could save over $40 billion annually if cannabis was legalized. Gangs and drug cartels would lose power to businesses that grow and sell cannabis legally. The public would be safer. The War on Drugs is failing and creates more harm than good. Criminal gangs currently seek to control the illegal monopoly over cannabis for profit and harm the people in their way. The legalizationofcannabiswouldtakeawaythisdestructive battle for control and spread out the profit to the local businessman. The gateway theory would fail because people are only introduced to harder drugs because they go to drug dealers. The plant should never have been illegal in the first place; it was not for thousands of years. Public health education should gradually show the other side of cannabis and its numerous benefits. Why should new generations be held back from learning the history of cannabis’prohibitionandgrowingstudiesofitsbenefits? There is no logical justification behind persecuting cannabis and its users besides that it is “bad”, which is no justification at all. The only reason that people still distrust cannabis is because they do not know what it is. People tend to fear what they do not know, but the haze is being removed.

Student congress aims for progress Efforts to coordinate clubs and events BY CHLOE LOVING Staff Writer Between homework, sports and even extra- curricular activities, club officers are swamped enough these days. Miscommunication between other organizations simply clouds their overwhelming schedules. This year, the SGA created the Student Congress in order to facilitate correspondence throughout the many clubs. The Student Congress is an affiliation that includes one officer from each club or sport. The representatives will meet to lead discussions and work with one another. Carrie Schaefer and Jan Austin are both of the sponsors who help conduct meetings. At meetings, the representatives discuss matters that pertain to fundraising dates and locations, spirit wear for the rest of their class and also how to get donations. The students come to discuss any financial troubles or important dates they feel they need to share with the other programs. The groups aid each other areas such as advertisement tactics or simply getting the word out about their particular association. One student who runs the Student Congress is SGA executive board member, senior Kelly Goodison. “The Student Congress is helpful because it is easier to spread the world about what is going on in the club or sport so they can go back and


For additional online content, such as the stories listed below, visit

Cannabis Facts

tell everyone. It is beneficial for the SGA and Leadership because they can promote events,” Goodison said. With a such broad and diverse school, it is important that all the

clubs and sports consult with one another so that they can incorporate ideas and different cultural festivals. Hopefully the Student Congress will prevent double scheduling on

a certain date so that students can attend all of the events. Surely the amount of fundraising the school receives as a whole will increase because potential donors will see how effective and useful their money will be. In the long run, the Student Congress will create partnerships amongst different groups as well. While the the members’ will need to take time out of their very busy schedules it will be worth it for the general well fare of the school. Not only does this program encourage open communication between AHS associations but it also encourages leadership skills. “The Student Congress is a way for administrators to be more involved with the studnets of AHS and vice-versa. It allows the clubs to interact with one another and support each other. I am glad it was thought of and put into motion. The Student Congress will create many opportunities for the students of AHS,” junior Jalen Barcenilla said. The Student Congress creates a society in which students can collaborate with other clubs and use each others ideas to benefit the school as a whole. The school will benefit as a community instead of each group taking what they need. With all the clubs sharing information and important dates, the school will have a better communication system and students will be able to participate in more activities. The SGA will help lead the students and help them achieve their goals as an organization.

Staff ff “I think it is a good idea because not as popular clubs will get more support.”

—Claire Lazar junior

“The idea of a trial legislature is great for those who wish to go into politics.”

—Katie Mock junior Annandale High School Vol. 57 No.6 4700 Medford Dr. September 21, 2011 Annandale, Virginia 22003 phone: (703) 642-4229 email: fax: (703) 642-4299

The A-Blast is an award winning newspaper that strives to inform, educate and entertain the student body and community. Published every three weeks, The A-Blast will not print any material that is obscene or libelous; or that which substantially disrupts the school day, or invades an individual’s right to privacy. The A-Blast is an independent, open forum for discussion that is printed at the Springfield Plant of The Washington Post. Signed letters to the editor of 250 words or less may be submitted to room 262 or mailed to the school. The A-Blast reserves the right to refuse advertisements. All submissions become property of The A-Blast, Copyright, 2011.


Dec. 13, 2011

weet as you would like Students should be allowed to post content online as they please BY THE A-BLAST EDITORIAL STAFF Emma Sullivan’s Nov. 21 tweet recounting that she told Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas that “he sucked” has revealed why students should be allowed to post updates on to social networking sites as they please. While Sullivan’s comment was inappropriate, it brought the issue of school discipline in relation to social networking sites to the country’s attention. As The A-Blast has written before, one of the many missions of an education is to emulate the basic functions of American society in order to teach its students how to navigate it. Among many things, this means that students must be able to exercise their right of freedom of speech, as long as it does not take away from the educational process, regardless of the popularity of the opinions they express. Sullivan’s comment was certainly distasteful, but since when was an ‘unfavorable opinion’ grounds to punish a student? Apparently to Sullivan’s principal, who demanded the student write a letter of apology to the governor, it was grounds enough. Writing an apology should have been up to Sullivan herself, or to her parents, but certainly not to a school official.

3 Trending Topics

3 reasons students should not have restraints on their social networking accounts: 1. Students should be able to exercise the same freedom of speech that adults can exercise. 2. Schools are supposed to teach their students how to navigate the American political system. Students, therefore, should be allowed to voice their opinion as they will be able to when they become older.

Extended Essay, Historical Investigation, and TOK Essay due in the same week

3. If school officials are allowed to view and take action upon students’ social networking updates, they will crossing a border of privacy that is increasingly diminishing in today’s world. Sullivan might have been on a school trip, and thereby representing her high school, but the tweets that she posted did not embody the opinion of the school. Sullivan’s plight can easily be applied to AHS. Many students use social networking sites to express their frustration with teachers, and classes or anger regarding other subjects related to school. If the principal of Sullivan’s high school, or Governor Brownback had not recanted their demands, any actions dictated by these officials might have reduced students freedom of expression. This event would have provided FCPS with a precedent of sorts to expand administrators’ scope into the lives of students. Currently, and rightly so, administrators can only take action against a student using his or her social network account

if he or she directly implicates his or her respective school in order to intimidate another child. It seems unlikely that Gov. Brownback, similar to any other public official, has not received his fair share of negative comments from his constituents. As history has demonstrated, American adults have the right to freedom of speech, and often exercise it, in order to share their frustrations with the government with the world. Why should students not be able to do the same thing? If it is a school’s mission to facilitate balanced, political discourse among students, instead of using Sullivan’s tweet as an opportunity to admonish a student, the principal could have utilized the opportunity to relate to students how to enter a political discussion in a civil manner. Preventing students from

tweeting, posting Facebook updates or blogging as they please will only reduce the likeliness of them understanding how to take action to discuss their frustration with certain political issues, as was done by Emma Sullivan. But more importantly, whether discussing politics or not, students have an unalienable right, no matter how informed (as long as it is not impeding upon another student’s agency or peace of mind), to post content online as they so wish. Without students having such a right, school officials will have the potential to send the wrong message to the future leaders of America. The government’s job is not to censor language that is simply distasteful. As was demonstrated in Emma Sullivan’s case, the marketplace did its job, and was the determinant of what was distasteful.

Join clubs for the right reasons N


Do you think that students should be able to post whatever they want to their social networking accounts?

Editorials Column

By Noah Noa N oah h Fitzgerel Fitz Fi tzge gere rell


“Yes, as long as they are not spreading rumors.” — Deanna Gowland


More students should be like sophomores Chelsea Barrett and Suzy Laime, who are members of the Green Atoms due to their interest in making the environment a better place.

ones I participated in for reasons other than my own interest. So why might people continue to submit themselves to this process of accumulating “laundry lists” of activities in order to establish themselves as qualified candidates for the school of their dreams? Simply, it is how those “qualified candidates” are rewarded. Seemingly, those who can do “a lot of a little” are lauded for their multi-faceted “talent.” However, this is because it is simply easier to embody this social image. Does it truly take much involvement to emulate such a form of talent?

Ask Annandale Why did you join extracurricular activities? PARENTAL PRESSURE 9%




These statistics and feedback are based on Dec. 6 survey of 130 AHS students. Surveys were distributed and returned during white day A-lunch.

Instead, I believe that those who are more admirable are those who are deeply committed to meaningful activities and are willing to deepen their proficiency of such activities. These students are able to commit valuable time and energy to those things they are most passionate about. You might now be able to see how Kurt’s election on Glee is a reflection of the backwards thinking of many high school students. In order to satisfy an end (for Kurt, it was his desire for acceptance into acting school), students often engage in activities that are counter-intuitive to the end they wish to reach in the first place. Instead of running for class office, something that Kurt was truly never interested in, he might have done himself and the world a favor by initiating an acting workshop for kids who lack the means to participate in acting on a regular basis. However, as Kurt’s character believed, it was necessary to run for class office in order to satisfy an end that might not have been appreciated by such an occupation anyway. Unfortunately, we have been taught to and seem to witness that those who are class presidents, athletes, interns, club officers, and actors all with the same face (and have time to sleep as well) are destined to succeed. Understand that if you believe such a person embodies success, you are under a false impression. So, president of club X, or writer for the Y literary publication, understand that your passion is your largest investment in your future. Or, in other words, if you wanted to submit to our tendency to quantify all experiences with an end, know that your passion, not your laundry list, will serve you better in achieving your goal.

do you think video QUOTE COLLECTION RESPONSE: How games affect teens? Video games are an enticing form of entertainment for most high school students to occupy their leisure time with. However, what happens when the enjoyment of video games transcends educational boundaries? The majority of high school video gamers confess their addiction to popular video games such as Halo and Call of Duty. Unfortunately, the effects of spending extended periods of time with eyes glued to a screen and fingers relentlessly dawdling at a controller have proven to be detrimental in many cases. Video games negatively affect cognitive skills and work ethics in high school students, thereby resulting in reduced academic performance, they also serve as prime sources of hindering social interaction. It’s one thing to find a compelling source

Trent Williams and Fred Davis of the Redskins suspended for substance abuse

“Arsenic and Old Lace” receives 16 Cappies Critics’ Choice Nominations

oah’s otes

On one of the latest episodes of Glee, the plot line, which I was able to ascertain in a short five minutes, followed the plight of Kurt Hummel (one of the main characters) running for class office in order to ensure his admission into the college of his dreams. How many of us are guilty of doing this? While karma ended up striking Kurt from class office in the end, it reminded me of a train of thought I had started a few months ago. Simply, too many students at schools around the nation, are joining extra-curricular activities for the wrong reasons. They are inundated with the notion that universities are seeking the perfect, well-rounded student, a belief that is fueled by misinformed parents and false assumptions. First off, universities are searching for the perfect, well-rounded class, and thus students who might possess a particular strength in one or two areas of their choice. No student has any business leading or founding a club with the intent of gussying up their college applications. Please, for the sake of your members (one of whom might be myself), step down. If you do not, I promise that fate will see to you a similar destiny that begot Kurt. Instead, do things for the experience; you never know what might come of it. My own schooling has taught me that. In fact, the reason I am writing for this paper is because I did not make the cut for the high school sport of my dreams. However, after much thought, I have come to conclude that I wouldn’t want any different. This column is not for college advice, however. What I saw, symbolized by Kurt’s frenetic attempt to “make it” was revealing of what society has taught myself, and my peers to value above all else – an end. We have come to value the end of a process over the process itself. In school, this end manifests itself in grades, college admissions and test scores. Is it not sad that students remember the ecstasy of receiving a high mark on a project, but not the knowledge gleaned from the project itself? I know that I have done such a thing myself. For me, the most valuable experiences I have gleaned from school were the ones I partcipated in due simply to my interest in partaking in them. The most invaluable ones, conversely, were the

25 students were just inducted into the inaugural year of the AHS chapter of NEHS

of procrastination to distract you from the unwelcoming reality of homework, but when reminiscing on high school experiences, it is pitiful to have predominant memories of being cooped up in a room playing a nonsensical video game that you probably can’t even remember the name or relative importance of any longer. If you plan on chucking your school ambitions out the window, might as well do so while engaging in dynamic recreations with a group of friends, creating genuine, lasting friendships. This is especially considering the fact that popular video games have evolved to revolve around violent combat, as opposed to the harmless classics of my childhood, such as Pac-Man and Mario Brothers. In my opinion, the cons of video games

including development of aggressive behavior, damage to cerebral functions, isolation and more, greatly overshadow pros such as improved handeye coordination and quick decision-making skills. I personally condemn video games as adverse and a form of teenage brainwash, not speaking from the perspective of a gamer, but rather from experiences beholding the effects of video games on many close friends. So, do me and yourself a favor: put down the joystick and seize the countless opportunities available to make your high school experience a little more endurable. And hey you might even learn something along the way. - Marwa Eltahir junior

“Yes, because students have a right to their freedom of speech.” —Jennifer Le


“Yes, because kids should be able to express themselves like adults can.”

--- Billal Farooq junior

“Yes, they should be able to say whatever they want because it’s their social networking sites.”

— Lauren Brown senior

“No, to protect their own reputation they need to have limits as to what they post.” — Audrey Dunnell

ESOL teacher —Compiled by Noah Fitzgerel

4 News Briefs Varsity Math Meet Tomorrow This year’s third Varsity Math Meet will be held on Dec. 14 at 2:15 p.m. in the cafeteria. Students who take Algebra 2 Honors or a higher level of math can participate. The meet will last approximately 40 minutes and refreshments will be served.

BCAA to collect socks The Black Culture Awareness Association will finally be collecting the socks for their winter sock drive on Dec. 15 during W4. All who wish to donate socks to the BCAA’s cause should do so by Thursday morning.

TWB performs Thursday The Theater Without Boarders group will perform their production of Tartuffe, a comedy by Molière, on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. This play selection is different than the usual Shakespeare plays that TWB acts out every year.

For further online content, such as the stories listed below, visit:

NEWS Social studies SOL scores decline

Dec. 13, 2011

New test has some teachers frustrated BY ANNIE CURRAN Co-Editor in Chief L a s t s c h o o l y e a r, Vi r g i n i a introduced new history SOL tests, causing the history SOL scores to fall from a 96 percent passing rate in 2010-2011 to a 89 percent passing rate in 2011-2012. The changes included changes to the actual standards, which are made every five years. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) also added more higher level thinking questions and made the wording of the test more difficult. For the Virginia and United States history SOL, 16 percent of the students failed, while nine percent of students failed the World history 1 test and 14 percent of students failed the World History II test. This provided a stark contrast to the prior school year, where those three tests saw overall passing rates between 94 and 96 percent. Brian Dunnell, the social studies department chair, believes that since the test was new, the 2010-2011 scores cannot really be compared with the scores of years passed, and that saying they dropped it too simple. He thinks that last year’s scores served for the base and this year’s scores will give a better indicator of how the department is fairing on SOLs. Also, compared to many other schools county and state-wide, the drop was not as extreme. “It’s a new test,” Dunnell said. “It’s hard to explain to those who don’t understand standardized testing that it is a complete reset.” He is now working with his

students on test-taking strategies for this coming year. The demographics for the test that were hardest hit were students that struggle with reading, like many of the ESOL students. Dunnell says that when some of those students see a question that is worded difficultly, they tend to “shut down.” He says that he now puts specific questions on his tests in class and if a student gets them wrong, he’ll walk them through that question. “I’m coaching my kids on how to approach those questions,” Dunnell said. VDOE informed the teachers about the change to the actual standards, but the addition of the questions with a higher level of difficultly were a surprise. He says it is a challenge for the teachers to know exactly what needs to be taught. World History 1 teachers need to teach their students about Christianity and Jesus, but if a teacher focuses on one aspect of Jesus’s life instead of another, the students could be unprepared for the test. In addition, the last time a full history SOL test was released was 2007. “We have always felt that we’re shooting in the dark,” Dunnell said. Many students were surprised with their lower scores. “I thought that there were some questions were a little too specific for a test that looks at general knowledge. It did average, I expected to do better,” senior Richard Maku said. World history teacher Katie Gould has taken a creative method to inspire students. Once a year, she dresses up like Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and does a lesson specifically on test taking strategies. “That’s how I get my kids to listen to me for an hour and half,” Gould said. Gould believes that it’s not that the

Social Studies SOL Passing Rates (2010-2011) Black Students: 85 percent

Hispanic Students: 79 percent

Limited English Proficiency: 78 percent

Students with disabilities: 78 percent

students don’t know the material, it’s the fact that the test was designed to “confuse” them. “It’s a poor test and is designed with confusing vocab that puts minority students at an unfair disadvantage,” Gould said. Gould uses examples from the New York Regents exam, which is one of the more difficult standardized tests available. She was also not pleased with how the history teachers were treated by the county and the state following the test. “They said that they teachers were not teaching the content and that they were teaching to the previous test,” Gould said. “But they won’t release an example test until January 2013, it’s absurd.” She says that her students know the material, it’s just the fact that the test is tricky and the teachers were not informed about what the changes are going to be. “It’s penalizing the students,” Gould said. Other teachers have taken

White Students: 95 percent

Economically disadvantaged: 81 percent

another method by using Atom Time for remediation and giving more practice tests. History teacher Jonathan York and Joel Jepson both give their students E-Cart practice tests in class. Last year, their students had to take four tests. This year, they have to take eight E-Cart tests. “What I do is what a lot of teachers do, give extra credit questions on tests,” Jepson said. “At the end of the year, I have a fourth quarter mega packet that is due the day before the test.” Jepson believes that students are prepared for the test everyday in class. “Everything we do is based on the test, since it’s the backbone of the course,” Jepson said. York, on the other hand, shares Gould’s frustrations about the lack of information for the teachers about the change of the test, and said that it is like a “guessing game.” “The teachers are blind going into the test,” York said.

Character Committee to be implemented By Danika Saxon of Teens and Theatre Homeschool

A Cappie representative gives a positive review on the AHS fall play.

Harper steps down from coaching position By Parker Gillcash and CJ Aftergut

Varsity boys basketball coach resigns after team’s first game of the season.

BY NASIHA RASHID News Editor The Character Committee, a new reward system that compensates students for having good character, is currently being designed and finalized by SAM Advisor Hassan Mims, Psychology teacher Katie Gould and Guidance Counselor Ilana Reyes. The committee will be working with the Student Government Association (SGA) to reward students who exhibit a good work ethic and good behavior. Leadership teacher Stephanie Harmony and the SGA are providing valuable input on the different activities that the committee is implementing. Every year there are rewards such as Student of the Quarter, AB Honor Roll or other sports-based awards. However, the Character Committee is an extension of that and is hoping to offer more rewards and recognition of students throughout the course of the year. The committee is still in the process of creating lessons and activities that acknowledge students who exhibit good character. The plan still has not been run past the administration, however they have created a logo to go along with the program. The program will focus primarily on the four pillars of character which are caring, respect, honesty and responsibility. “We narrowed it down to five definitions per word, and then everyone will vote on them in W4 and decide the definition for each word. Than we will create a mural in the school, and we’ll hold a


First Cappies review of fall play released

Students to be rewarded for showing good character

Mims and Reyes review the character definition sheets that students and their W4 teachers filled out on Dec. 5.

t-shirt contest for a t-shirt on character, things like that,” Reyes said. The committee is still brainstorming ideas for when the committee will start up and when the ideas will be implemented. “We’re not sure how we’re going to work it out, there are a laundry list of ideas,” Principal Vincent Randazzo said. What the committee has started doing is creating Character lessons during W4. The first lesson was about sexual harassment which included videos and a follow up discussion. “When we do a Character lesson, such as the Sexual Harrassment lesson, we solicit feedback from teachers and students. We send teachers a mini survey about whether or not students were

engaged in the lesson, were they asking questions and should we continue this,” Mims said. Last year, the committee put out a survey on Family Connection where students and teachers were asked questions about different areas of character in order to establish a baseline of where they should take the character education program this year. The ideas include having teacher recognition, Character Recognition apparel and generally just improving the way students are receiving recognition by offering smaller prizes and awards. At the end of the year in May there is an award ceremony for “Students with Exemplary Character” put on by Mims, Reyes, and Gould. This year will be the 3rd annual ceremony. The committee is thinking of creating a reward system such as prizes. “I’ve always wanted to do something like that for high school, like maybe tickets to cash in for a cookie or a free lunch pass to school activities and athletics,” Assistant Principal Jamie Carayiannis said. The goal is to not to instill the characters mentioned in the 4 pillars above at school but at home. The committee puts emphasis on the four pillars so that it can resonate throughout the student body. Students who have been hearing about the committee have already provided insight into what type of prizes they would want. “[I would want to win] candy, homework passes and extra credit,” sophomore Kiwon Sue said. “As a school, we do a lot to focus on making you guys the best possible young adults you can be and putting you into the world and with the IB program,” Reyes said. “This is just one additional part of that. That’s the goal of the character committee.”

Seniors begin to get college admission results Fall play earns Cappies’ “critics choice” nominations By Gwen Levey

“Arsenic and Old Lace” play earns 16 critics choice nominations from the Cappies including the category of “Best Play.”

HLC hosts first event of the year By Andrea Melendez

The Hispanic Leadership Club holds its annual banquet on Dec 2.

More college acceptances mean less stress and worry BY MARWA ABDELAZIZ News Editor After much dedication and hard work on their applications, many seniors are already receiving acceptances from the colleges they applied to. The early action and early decision applications, which were generally due in early November, allowed students to get a head start on the admissions process. Senior Carolyn Hartley was recently accepted into the College of William and Mary after she applied for early decision. Early decision applications mean that if the applicant is accepted into the institution, they are bound to it and may not accept admission from any other university. While its binding nature may seem intimidating to some, it is usually used by students who know what their top pick is. “I only actually submitted an application to William and Mary,” Hartley said. “I prepared an application for Virginia Tech, UVA and South Carolina but I didn’t submit them because I wanted to hear back from William and Mary before doing that.”

Hartley plans on going to William and Mary and minoring in Spanish, although she is unsure about what she wants to major in. Not all seniors applied for early decision. Many found it much easier for them to apply for early action to multiple universities. The difference between early decision and early action is that early action applications are simply for students who want to submit their applications earlier than others and receive a reply much earlier as well. However, it is not binding and the student can always choose to attend a different university even if they are accepted. Colleen Salpini was accepted into Tulane University as an early action applicant. “I was accepted and got a $17,000 scholarship,” Salpini said. “It’s not my first choice, I just applied there because my sister goes there.” Unlike Hartley, who is fully committed to William and Mary, Salpini is keeping her options open. “I’m still anticipating admission from UVA, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech,” Salpini said. Another senior who has been accepted as an early action applicant is Rachael Qualley. “I have already been accepted into two colleges,” she said. “Roanoke College, with a $18,500 scholarship each year, totalling $74,000; and Bridgewater College with a $24,000 scholarship each year, totalling $96,000.” While Qualley and Salpini said

BREAKING THE NEWS ON FACEBOOK “Got accepted to Tulane University!! :) getting this first acceptance letter is the best feeling ever!!!! :D oh and the $17,000 of academic scholarship money isn’t so bad either!” —Colleen Salpini “WILLIAM AND MARY CLASS OF 2016!!!!!!!!” —Carolyn Hartley the colleges they have applied to aren’t their first choices, they are still somewhat relieved. “I was elated and excited to know I was going to college at least somewhere,” Salpini said. On the other hand, Hartley is completely content with her admissions status and had anticipated William and Mary since it was her first choice. “On Nov. 30 they sent out an email,” Hartley said. “It was kind of vague because it didn’t exactly say ‘you’re in.” It said to watch for your mail because a good thing is coming and later on I got the physical letter.” Seniors usually apply to universities that they have the most interest in by early action or early decision to gain an advantage, just as Hartley did. “The William and Mary Facebook page announced that they were going to send out the results and I was expecting something,” she said. “I checked my e-mail and there was

nothing there, then five hours later I checked my spam box just in case and it was there.” Although Hartley said she was really happy after she found the e-mail, she said she “was still in panic mode.” Now that the admissions are in, those seniors who have heard replies are feeling a lot less stressed. “I never have to take the SAT again and even if I fail a math quiz or something, I know I’m already in college,” Hartley said. She said she is preparing for college by visiting friends she has at William and Mary throughout the year and just trying to “finish up with high school.” Not all colleges and universities who offered early action and early decision applications have sent their responses yet. “[I’m] still waiting to hear from Virginia Teach and James Madison on Dec. 15,” Qualley said.

Racy photos not as common One student shares personal nightmare


“Sexting” continued from page 1

breasts, genitals or backsides. In addition, six percent reported receiving such an image, a percentage much lower than the 20 percent of teenagers that reported sending or posting sexual photos of themselves as part of a 2008 survey. This conclusion is at odds with the beliefs of many AHS students, some of which have experienced the effects of sexting firsthand. An anonymous student, who will be referred to under the pseudonym Mary, discovered the consequences of sexting after choosing to sext because she “wanted to feel sexy” and thought she “could trust the individual” to whom she sent her photo. “A lot of the teenagers participate in sexting because it’s hormones and teenagers don’t really think about the long-term consequences, they think about the short term,” Mary said. “They think they can trust whoever they’re sending it to, but they really can’t.” “I think most teens have witnessed sexting or have done it themselves,” sophomore Steven Schwartz said. “I think they mostly do it for attention or popularity.” Although the results of the study show a decline in sexting among kids and teenagers, one must consider that those interviewed could have downplayed their sexual activity or provided incorrect information. Furthermore, the drastic decrease in sexting cases could be attributed to the fact that the new study included younger participants than the 2008 survey. This could partly account for the drop, as teenagers are

—10 percent of images end up being distributed by students. —3 percent of the images which have been sent to kids and teenagers are forward or posted online. —6 percent of students reported receiving explicit images, which is one percent lower than the 20 percent of teenagers that reported sending or posting sexual images in 2008. generally acknowledged to sext more often than tweens. “I don’t think kids [sext] because they’re scared that everybody will end up getting it because everyone is so connected these days,” senior Steven Lose said. According to the study, however, only ten percent of images ended up being distributed and just three percent of kids and teenagers who received a nude or nearly nude image forwarded it to others or posted it online. This was the case with Mary, whose photo was circulated among students at AHS after she made the decision to sext. “I learned the second that I sent it that it was a bad idea,” Mary said. Grounded for months and enrolled in an oral counseling session with School Resource Officer Warren McGee, Mary avoided arrest “because I didn’t do it in school, I did it at home.” This was a relatively light punishment, as Mary could

have been tried for a felony under Virginia law. According to the law, the production, possession and distribution of child pornography, as well as the use of communications systems to facilitate the production of child pornography, are all classified as major offenses. Although Mary avoided arrest, she could do nothing to escape the social consequences of sexting, which she was forced to face day after day at school. “I got really depressed and I thought that everyone was out to get me,” Mary said. “I lost a lot of friends, but I also gained a few; I learned who the real friends were. I felt like I had a lot of support, but it was really hard because I got harassed like a million times a day.” The harassment did not stop at school, however, as Mary was also targeted online and via cell phone, the device that began her problems. “I got random texts about it saying ‘you’re a whore, you’re a slut, everyone hates you, you’re really easy,’” she said. “And then I got things on Facebook about it and people were calling me off in the hallways about it.” Whether or not the results of the study are entirely accurate, it is evident that sexting effects the lives of at least a small percentage of high school students. Without fully recognizing the consequences of his or her actions, one can always succumb to the pressures of sexting, a circumstance that has forever changed Mary’s outlook on the practice. “It’s really bad and you should never do it, not even a pic of you in booty shorts and a tank top, just don’t ever send a pic of yourself,” Mary said. “When you’re thinking of sending a pic, just don’t.” Additional reporting by Marwa Abdelaziz and Nasiha Rashid

ESOL students prepare for play Students overcome language barriers


“Theater” continued from page 1

Language is not a barrier for the students, as the constant rehearsing and practicing of lines familiarizes them with English. “Since you’re practicing it every day it becomes really easy. Their English is getting better because of this play,” AHS alumnus Fabiola Alba said. Theatre without Borders’ members aren’t limited to current AHS students; Alba is serving as the art consultant for the play. She was a student director for the 2010-2011 school year, and helps out with this year’s cast. “They’re doing a really good job,” Alba said. “This play is their first

ESOL students say their lines at the after school practice for the play “Loves Labor Lost”

one.”Theatre Without Borders has been working on Love’s Labor Lost since October. Their rehearsals are held after school from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Dec. 12-14, and consist of actors running lines while others paint the set in the background, or work on other parts of the set. Not only are there actors for the play, there are students who operate soundboards, choose music for the play and operate lights. Junior Ayman Alhamdali is one of the students that is responsible for sound. He chooses the background music for the play. “I found it a little bit harder to find some music that fits with the play because the play happened in the Elizabethan Era,” Alhamdali said. Fellow students, teachers and parents are expected to attend, but everyone is welcome. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.

School board plans for next term Plans are in place to appoint a new superintendent


“Elections” continued from page 1

board will be faced with, one is the process of finding a new superintendent. Jack Dale announced that he would be retiring when his contract ends in 2013. He has served as superintendent for seven years, and it is the job of the school board to officially hire his replacement. Some of the other issues discussed by the candidates during the election season were high school start times, incorporating mid-level classes into the school system and closing the achievement gap. “I think I’d like to see them be advocates for needs-based staffing. We have a lot of systems in place and that’s why our kids are successful, so that’s important to us because we have a couple of

Ryan McElveen speaks at the PTSA meeting

extra positions that we use for our students,” Principal Vince Randazzo said. McElveen is no stranger to the FCPS system himself. He graduated from Marshall HS in 2004 and received the IB diploma. He has said that his time spent at Marshall made him who he is today and that he will be a “voice for diversity.” Incumbents and Sully District Member Kathy Smith, Providence District Member Patricia Reed, Mount Vernon District Member Dan Storck, and Dranesville District Member Jane Strauss will all be returning to their seats. Strauss in particular, narrowly won the election, winning by less than 100 votes. Other than McLaughlin, McElveen and Velkoff, there are three more new faces on the school board. Elizabeth Schultz will represent Springfield District, Tamara Kaufax will represent Lee District and Pat Hynes will represent the Hunter Mill District.

5 News Briefs Model U.N. Meeting A Model U.N. meeting will be held on Wednesday at 2:10 p.m. in room 210 to discuss upcoming conferences and select committees. New members are always welcome to join.

Heritage Night Meeting A Heritage Night interest meeting will be held Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. in room 271-A. Students who will like to perform or be a part of the program need to speak with Ms. Tomisato.

Just World Fundraiser The Just World Interact club will be selling 100% organic and Fair Trade goods to raise funds for the Just World Festival coming in February. There will be affordable items on sale such as chocolate, coffee, jewelry and more.

The winter pep rally On Dec. 9, AHS held its winter pep rally, where different sports teams introduce their players for the coming season. The event also featured performances from the AHS step team and dance team. Many students believed the highlight of the event was when the senior boys from the swim team ran around in speedos on scooters.


Dec. 13, 2011

Aisha Kamara a member of the AHS step team performs in front of the school during the pep rally



Iman Nahim of the AHS Atomic Dance jumps while performing.

New organization to target school issues AJ MCCAFFERTY

News Editor In the past month student leaders from all the clubs and sports in AHS were selected to become members of the Student Congress which is an organization where the student leaders can come together and collaborate on ways to benefit the AHS community. The November 25th meeting during Atom Time was held in the upstairs gym. The Student Congress is led solely by students, however Leadership teacher Stephanie Harmony sits in and takes notes. “Our first meeting went really well, I could see the clubs and sports working and depending on each other,“ Student Body President Lena Nour said. At the start of the meeting the objective of the Student Congress was explained followed by each representative from clubs and sports introducing themselves to the group of 45 students. The students were

Name: Lena Nour Grade: 12 Position: Student Body President “It’s an honor to represent the student body at AHS, it’s different but rewarding to work with the school.”

The swim team does a chant while the senior males run around in their speedos.

Name: Sally Ablimona Grade: 12 Position: Science National Honor Society Secretary “Student Congress will really help the clubs and sports in the school to interact with each other and make their events widely known to the student body.” senior James Bui said. In addition Green Atoms president Sarah Knenlein also a senior doesn’t think the Student Congress will be effective. “ That is not going to be successful because AHS doesn’t have as many problems to take up a full hour of

student’s time. If you want to fix the problems create another club or committee to take care of it,” Knenlein said. Student Congress will meet once a month to discuss new strategies and updates in clubs and sports.



then broken up into groups of three and discussed ways to benefit the AHS student body. They were then called to meet as a large group to discuss the problems and concerns regarding the clubs and sports at AHS. For example, several clubs and sports felt as thought they had no support and during the meeting they were figuring out ways to get the students at AHS involved and encourage support for their peers. At the end of the meeting the SGA did shout outs of their upcoming events such as the Pep Rally and the Blood Drive. Individual clubs were given the opportunity to give their own shout outs of upcoming bake sales or events that they would be hosting in the next coming month. Although the first meeting was just held, some students have already expressed their opinions regarding the Student Government Association. “To be honest, I don’t think the majority of the student body cares. I think it’s going to be like the Versailles Conference where nobody agrees on anything. Certain boundaries will be set in favor of a club or sport and in the end there will be no solution,” Math Honor Society secretary and


Club and sport leaders to meet once a month

Senior Fiona East performs with the AHS step team during the pep rally.


What’s your favorite holiday song? “I like ‘Under the Mistletoe’ because I love Justin Bieber.”

—Renatta Solorzano freshman

“My favorite is ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ because it’s upbeat and fun.”


Quezada sophomore “I’d choose ‘Under the Mistletoe’ by Justin Bieber because it’s beautiful.”

—Kyle Peich sophomore

“I really like Michael Buble’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’ because it’s a remix and it’s really jazzy.”

Band succeeds in perfomance Musicians’ talent makes for promising year BY ABBY CONVERSE AND DANA FILIPCYZK Staff Writers Success has been an avid part of the band this year, and only more great things are expected to come. Some of the events that are coming up include All-District Band in the beginning of February, and the Concert Band Performance Assessment in the second week of March. The Symphonic Band was chosen as one of the three clinic bands to participate in the National Band Association Symposium and the National Symphonic Band Camp at Lake Braddock Secondary School on Feb. 17th and 18th. “We always strive for high standards here with the bands,” Band Director Andrew Loft said. “It’s always exciting, but involves many challenges.” The Marching Band season has recently wrapped up, and the Winter Pops Concert took place on Dec. 6th in the cafeteria. The programs were printed on paper bags and filled with popcorn. The bands played an array of holiday music, including performances by the Percussion Ensemble, the Concert Band and the Symphonic Band. “I think we were amazing, and the popcorn in the program bag was cute,” sophomore Marissa Reynolds said. “It was fun,” freshman Robyn Strong said. “I thought the idea of the event was funny.” The band has won many honors, such as being a 14-time Virginia Honor Band. This year, the Marching band has also won first place in Outstanding Music, General Effect, Marching, Drum Major, and others. In the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association (VBODA) State Marching Assessment, the Marching band has been awarded a rating of Superior,



Dec. 13, 2011

Trumpet players rehearse their songs during a typical band practice. They will go on to compete in the state festival.

the highest possible rating. The VBODA is an organization that helps to promote music education opportunities. “Our goals are always to make great music and learn from each other,” Loft said. “Awards are really a nice by-product of this process.” The band program includes many different sections, such as the Marching Atoms, the Percussion Ensemble, the Jazz Ensemble, the Gold and Red bands and the Symphonic Band. Also included is Color Guard, which performs with the Marching Atoms and Indoor Winter Guard. This year, the band is planning a spring trip to Atlanta, Georgia, where they will be in the Southern Star Music Festival. It is a musical competition for school bands and choirs, held yearly in Georgia. On the trip, the students will visit The Georgia Aquarium, The World of Coca Cola, and Six Flags Over Georgia.

“The band event I am most looking forward to is spring trip,” Strong said. “It’s going to be great.” The band has had much success so far this year, and is looking forward to accomplishing more in the future. “Probably what makes us so successful is Mr. Loft, the band director, because he’s really good and he knows what he’s doing,” sophomore James Barker said. “And we have really good musicians.” “Our students have wonderful talent and a solid work ethic,” Loft said. “We strive to maintain high standards in all aspects of instrumental performance. Members of the bands at Annandale are disciplined and dedicated. This combined with our great parent and administrative support creates a true atmosphere of success.”

Fall play earns possibility for major nominations

—Jenny Ha


It seems that “Arsenic and Old Lace” earned more than a few good laughs when over 80 Cappies came to view the show on Dec. 3. Already, the play has earned 16 critics choice nominations, including nomination for “Best Play,” from the Cappies that viewed the show. These critics choice nominations will go on the ballot to be voted on in May for the actual awards ceremony held annually at the Kennedy Center in early June. The top five selected from each category will go onto the awards show. Below are the Cappies’ choices for possible nomination in the spring.

“I like ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch’ because I like the voice of the guy who sings it.”


Sound: Khalid Mohammad

Vargas junior

Lighting: Kelly Dwyer, Jaime Gallo

“I like ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ because it’s cute.”

Sets: Sam Dores, Jaime Gallo, Jin Lin, Chuan Shen

—Kevin Moya

“My favorite is ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ because I like red noses.”



Costumes: Debbie Aderton, Jessica Fredericksen, Paulina Stehr Make-up: Betsy Cohan-Lawson

Freshman Steven Aderton plays Dr. Herman Einstein, portraying a mad scientist.

Stage Crew: Jin Lin, Elizabeth Staley


Kamara senior

Play: Arsenic & Old Lace Featured Actress: Bonne Clark

Comic Actress in a Play: Laura Hackfeld Comic Actor in a Play: Steve Aderton Supporting Actress in a Play: Gwen Levey Supporting Actor in a Play: Steve Aderton Lead Actress in a Play: Laura Hackfeld Lead Actor in a Play: Max Talley Ensemble in a Play: The Aunts (Laura Hackfeld and Gwen Levey)


Juniors Laura Hackfeld (left) and Gwen Levey (right) depict the crazed aunts in the play. Both Hackfeld and Levey have the chance to be nominated for an official Cappie in the spring for “Best Ensemble.”


Featured Actor: Andy Riddle

Junior Laura Hackfeld (left) and senior Max Talley (right) portray the classic dysfunctional family as Aunt Abby Brewster and her nephew, Mortimer Brewster.

A little “Arsenic and Old Lace,” anyone?



On your smartphone, scan the code above using the application “QR Code” to view an inside look at the most recent AHS play.

Junior Andy Riddle (left) and freshman Steven Aderton (right) perform one of the most comical scenes of the play.

The Aunts, played by juniors Laura Hackfeld (left) and Gwen Levey (center), prepare to “poison” Mr. Witherspoon, played by Alex Lash (right), during the final scene of the play.


Dec. 13, 2011

Are holiday drinks healthy? As Starbucks seasonal coffees reappear on the menu, students disregard nutritional facts

What is your favorite Starbucks drink?

BY BETSY KRUSE Health Editor


—Minh Quan Do freshman

“My favorite at the moment is the Pepermint Mocha.” —Katherine Ross sophomore


It is a rarity to travel anywhere in the U.S. and not be able to find a Starbucks coffee shop close by, and as the holiday season approaches, the menu has grown to incorporate festive drinks that can contribute to the dreaded annual weight gain. It is no secret that Starbucks drinks have little nutritional value and contain a high number of empty calories, but they are still widely popular and regularly consumed. Many Starbucks goers ignore the fact that the drinks are unhealthy or simply do not how bad the drinks are for them. “I don’t think about how many calories are in [Starbucks drinks] because I don’t get them too often and they’re really good,” junior Tina Uglietta said. Uglietta typically gets a tall Hot Chocolate, which has 290 calories, although she guessed that it only contains 150 calories. This was a common trend among AHS students, for those who avidly go to Starbucks usually only have a vague idea of the nutritional content of the drinks. Most of the Starbucks drinks, excluding plain coffee, average around 250 to 300 calories for a grande, or 16 ounce, cup. However, the holiday drinks, which reappeared on the menu in mid-November, contain even more calories and grams of sugar. Students at AHS realize that Starbucks drinks are unhealthy, but when asked how many calories they believed their favorite drinks contain, the majority of students guessed that the drinks had a significantly lower amount of calories and sugar than they actually do. Students often thought that the drinks had half or even up to a fourth of the actual number of calories. “I get a tall Soy Chai Latte because it’s a healthier option,” junior Luke Lundy said. In reality, however, the drink has 43 grams of sugar, more than the amount in a 12 ounce coke can. Starbucks coffee drinkers often think that some drinks are healthier than others because of their names or how they are prepared. However, the only way to know for sure is to conduct research, as Starbucks

“Moca Cappuccino is the best at Starbucks I guess.”

posts the nutritional information online for all of the drinks that it sells. “Smoothies are probably one of the healthiest drinks at Starbucks,” senior Alli Foster said. One would think that because the main ingredient of the smoothies is fruit, they would be a good choice, but smoothies still contain a high amount of sugar. Avoiding Starbucks all the time is not necessary, but it should be treated as an indulgence and one should take note that it should not be consumed every day or even once a week. When ordering a drink, ask for no whipped cream. Also, switching from whole milk to nonfat milk can cut the calorie count significantly. It may be tempting to order a large size, but most of the time a tall will suffice. If the reason that you go to Starbucks is for the caffeine, then opt for plain coffee and add in the sugar and milk yourself in order to limit the amount of calories in the drink and control how many grams of sugar you intake.

“It’d be the Vanilla Bean frap for me.” —Kurtis Neal junior

“Strawberries and Cream frap was the first drink I had at Starbucks and only drink I will ever have there. It’s a very manly drink.” —Maxwell Talley senior

—Compiled by Gaby Camilli

Holiday health tips Holidays come with many health hazards, but you can use these tips to stay healthy over the break.


Portion control: If you are concerned with overeating, use a smaller plate to limit the portion size. It is also important to stop eating when you are full, not when your plate is clear.

Pre-party snack: Eat a small snack before going to a party or big outing. You are more likely to overeat if you arrive hungry.



Exercise: Try to exercise at least three times a week to burn off extra calories and fat consumed over the holidays. Exercise before a big meal so you can eat guilt-free.

Driving: Never drive drunk, and try not to be on the road late at night. Drunk driving accidents are shown to increase significantly over the holidays. Don’t skip meals: Some people think that they should skip meals to save room for later. However, studies show that you are more likely to gain weight by skipping meals.



Work out this winter

Garlic and herb pita chips

Try this healthy chip and dip combination to satisfy your mid-day hunger

Ingredients Needed: Four 6 inch whole wheat pitas, 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt Makes eight servings.

By Betsy Kruse and Esra Gokturk

Creamy spinach dip


Ingredients Needed: one small peeled shallot, 1 5 oz. can of water chestnuts, 1/2 cup reduced fat cream cheese, 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese, 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt, 1 tbs lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, freshly ground pepper, 6oz. baby spinach, 2 tbs of chopped fresh chives Makes 10 servings.

Serving Size: 1/4 cup Average Calories: 54 per serving Nutritional Grade: A+

—Diana Quezada sophomore

Sophomore Lizzie Manthos drinks a Starubucks seasonal beverage. Many students are unaware of the drink’s lack of nutritional value.

5meals 1.) Add shallot and water chestnuts into a food processor and run until they are coarsely chopped. 2.) Then add cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice and pepper into the processor and let the ingredients combine. 3.) Add the spinach and chives and allow the ingredients to combine. 4.) Place in a bowl with home-made pita chips and enjoy with friends and family!

“My favorite is the Caramel Frappuccino.”


1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 2.) Use non stick cooking spray on two large baking sheets or use two large non-stick baking sheets. 3.) Cut the pita into eight wedges and separate them at the fold. 4.) Place the wedges rough side up onto the baking sheets. 5.) Brush the wedges with olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt. 6.) Bake the pita wedges until they are crispy and have a golden appearance. 7.) Let them cool on a plate and add the creamy spinach dip to complete the healthy snack. 8.) Place on a plate and enjoy! Serving Size: 8 chips Average Calories: 117 per serving Nutritional Grade: A-

Accordion Crunches: Start laying down on the ground with your knees bent and arms at your sides. Raise your legs off the ground, keeping your knees bent. Then use your abs to lift your chest off the ground, like a normal crunch. Repeat 25 times.

Alternating plank: Lie on your stomach with your arms out in front of you. Then raise your body up into the push-up position. Lift your right arm and left leg off the ground, extending them out. Hold for five seconds and then switch sides. Repeat 15 times.

Diamond push-ups: Start laying flat on your stomach with your arms at your sides. Go up into the push-up position, bringing your hands together to form a diamond. Complete ten repetitions, rest for ten seconds, and do ten more push-ups.

Sodas at AHS On your smartphone, scan the code above using the application “QR Code” to veiw a video about student and teacher perspectives on soda.



Do you think you can learn things about people by looking at Facebook?

Dec. 13, 2011

found on facebook:

the lives behind the profiles

Zareen Samey

“I can learn what type of music they like, how they feel (statuses) and who they’re dating.”

— Areej Ennasr freshman

Is a junior at AHS “Yes, because people put sensitive information on Facebook and now we’ve got to be extra careful because all the creepers are running around.”

— Mouse Abutaa junior “People post too many revealing things that someone can use to stalk them.”

Celebrated her 16th birthday with 150 family members Went to South Africa to visit family for a week in the summer Stayed at a family lake house with about ten family members for Thanksgiving

Brody El-Achi “If you really knew Zareen you would know her family means more to her than anything and she has many close friends she considers family. Also, whenever I ask her to go to McDonald’s she’s always at her cousin’s house.”

Zareen Samey is a typical junior who is interested in fashion and is unique. Aside from her interesting name, which means gold and jewelry, most people do not know that Zareen’s life centers around her family. She has 15 cousins, more than 20 second/third cousins and many aunts and uncles. Her family lives in many locations, including Virginia, Connecticut, Lebanon,

— Zach Rodemer senior ––Compiled by Dili Aklilu

Celebrity Birthdays

People you may know Micaela Filsoof

Medhane Berihun

December 13 Taylor Swift 14 Vanessa Hudgens 15 Adam Brody 16 Benjamin Bratt 17 Manny Pacquiao 18 Christina Aguilera 19 Jake Gyllenhaal 20 David Cook 21 Kiefer Sutherland 22 Jordin Sparks 23 Eddie Vedder 24 Ryan Seacrest 25 Jimmy Buffett 26 Jared Leto 27 Hayley Williams 28 Denzel Washington 29 Jude Law 30 LeBron James 31 Anthony Hopkins

22 23 32 48 33 31 31 29 45 22 47 37 65 40 23 57 39 27 74

69 28 31 47 36 55 48 45 30 63 41 58 46 44 33 32 48

Is a sophomore at AHS

Is a senior at AHS

Moved into a new house

Committed to Radford University on a soccer scholarship

Went to Virginia Beach

Went to Denver, CO to play in the ECNL National Championship

Ran track and field for AHS in the 2010-2011 school year

Received an Advanced Open Water Diving Certification over the summer

Sergio Moya

Evelyn Jaramillo

“If you really knew Medhane, you would know he has a good sense of humor and he is a better version of his brother.”

“If you really knew Micaela, you would know she’s crazy in a fun way, a boss at soccer and just straight up fresh.”

D’Andre Villa

January 1 Don Novello 2 Kate Bosworth 3 Eli Manning 4 Julia Ormond 5 Bradley Cooper 6 Nancy Lopez 7 Nicholas Cage 8 R. Kelly 9 Kate Middleton 10 George Foreman 11 Mary J. Blige 12 Howard Stern 13 Patrick Dempsey 14 LL Cool J 15 Drew Brees 16 Albert Pujols 17 Michelle Obama

Pheben Muche

Is a freshman at AHS

Is a junior at AHS

Played freshman football for AHS

Went to the Outer Banks with her church youth group

Went to the Dominican Republic with his father two years ago

Went to Canada with her family

Leah Turner

Nardos Assefa

“If you really knew D’Andre, you would know that he likes Justin Bieber.”

“If you really knew Pheben, you would know that when she came to this country in 5th grade she lived with Amish people in Pennsylvania.”

Who am I? • I attended James Madison University. • I majored in history and political science. • In my spare time, I hang with my dogs, get together with my friends and plan my wedding! • I like to listen to everything and I’ve gotten a lot more into hip-hop since teaching at AHS. • I have traveled to Australia, London, Paris, Italy and many others. • My favorite part of working in a school is my kids! I adore my students and love watching them grow up!

On your smartphone, scan the code above using the application “QR Code” to see a video of an AHS student.

Moved from Alexandria to Annandale

Currently wrestles for AHS

• This is my fifth year teaching at AHS.

Artist Spotlight: Eazy-D

HS, whom she considers more like sisters than cousins. Zareen’s parents came to Virginia in 1981 and have lived in the area since. Her dad passed away in 2008 due to a heart attack, which brought her already close family even closer. Zareen lives in Springfield with her mom and brother, and frequently attends large family parties and gatherings. — By Megan Flynn

Australia, France, Jerusalem and more. Seventy five percent of her cousins are boys, but she has many girl cousins that she is very close to. Zareen refers to her older brother as, “practically my best friend.” Her brother Yousef graduated from AHS in 2010. Zareen frequently hangs out and spends time with girl cousins Sarah Samee, a sophomore at AHS, and Henna Afendy, a student at Lee

• This is my third year teaching at AHS. • I attended Tulane University. • I majored in English and history. • In my spare time, I play with my dogs and hang out with family and friends. • I like to listen to everything except country. • I have travelled all over Europe, the United States and the Caribbean. • My favorite part of working in a school is being able to watch students grow up and getting the summers off! • My motto is: “Do what makes you happy.”

• My motto is: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

• My birthday is Oct. 17.

• My birthday is July 9.

• An interesting fact about me is I have three cowlicks in my hair.

• An interesting fact about me is that I had a horse when I was younger that I trained and competed with.

• I played basketball.

• I played basketball, softball, swimming and tennis.

• My favorite TV shows are Lost, South Park and Mad Men.

• My favorite TV shows are Glee and Law and Order SVU.

• My favorite store is –Compiled by Megan Flynn

To find out who these teachers are, visit


Dec. 13, 2011

AHS brings play to school

What is the most memorable learning experience you have had in class?

Play-Doh and other creative activities are often used to enhance the learning of students taking psychology and history classes

“Last year we made moon phases with oreos. That was really fun because we got to eat them after that.”

—Brianna Puryear freshman “Doing cool experiments in chemistry class. ”

— Giacomo Modica sophomore


BY K.L. HOANG Academics Editor Walking into psychology class at AHS might make you wonder if you are in an elementary school classroom. There, students might be playing with Play-Doh and sometimes even dancing to understand the lesson of the day. Most teachers are continually striving to find creative methods to help their students learn; Brian Dunnell uses Play-Doh in his history classes during lessons on Greek art and architecture and in his psychology classes for art therapy. “Art and Play-Doh have very therapeutic values,” Dunnell said. “I use Play-Doh as an example of art therapy to illustrate how a trained psychologist might draw out a patient who is reluctant to talk or has difficult expressing complex emotions.” Dunnell noted the prominence of artwork in classical societies such as mandalas, which means circle in Sanskrit. Mandalas were introduced into Western society by the psychiatrist Carl Jung and are used today to therapeutically examine oneself. Psychology teacher Katie Gould uses Play-Doh to display various theories in psychology and to help students understand and explore the material. She had students create their families with Play-Doh during one class. Gould pointed out that students who had made themselves far away from the rest of the Play-Doh family were not close to their immediate family in real life. “[Play-Doh] helps me learn because it allows me to be more creative. It makes it easier for me to remember the material and it keeps me awake in class,” junior Nisha Sarath said. In another lesson, Gould taught the workings of a neuron through a “dance party.” Students were split into two groups: one potassium and one sodium and acted out the process of a firing neuron. “Everybody has different preferences on how they want to learn. I’m a guy who falls asleep in lectures, but if I sit down with a book, I would retain the information from it easily. Not every kid enjoys taking notes or looking at a PowerPoint,” Dunnell said. The use of alternative teaching methods like Play-Doh and acting has been noted by various teachers and studies to enhance education and help students retain information. “The human mind craves experience and loses interest with repetition,” Dunnell said. “If a kid enjoys a lesson, they’ll think your class is fun and you can convince them it’s easy.” Dunnell elaborated with an example of an athlete and an avid reader. The athlete might find making lay-ups in gym class enjoyable, and in turn, excel at them through enjoyable practice. Conversely, the avid reader might find making lay-ups difficult because he does not find it enjoyable, but would excel at reading in English class because he enjoys reading books often. “Usually in class teachers just talk to students about the subject and what they are going to learn. Most students will be bored, inattentive and sometimes even fall asleep,” junior Laila Sayed said. “Giving students PlayDoh in class helps spark their interest. They could get creative and actually participate in class, so that the next time they will look forward to coming.” In most classes where large amounts of information have to be given to students during a single class period, many students become tired and fall asleep easily. In Gould’s classroom, students are free to play with “fidgets,” or small toys including balls and the odd foam nose, along with Play-Doh. Having something to interact with elevates students’ attention and allows them to retain what they are being told in class. After an all-nighter, a class


“We made up a song and started singing it , which really helped me.”

Senior Josh Quezada sculpts with Play-Doh during a lesson in his psychology class.

period with Gould and her fidgets would be welcome as relaxing stimulants. If using creative learning activities like Play-Doh is beneficial to education, how come all teachers don’t use them? “Most people repeat their learning experiences as a kid. [Additionally] SOLs force [teachers] to cover material quickly. Creative stuff takes time,” Dunnell said. “Although having standards is good, the amount of information that the SOLs require is impediment to good teaching.” Standardized tests like the SOLs require information to be given to students objectively and teachers can struggle in trying to make lessons more creative. Gould dresses up as a robed wizard with a hat and long white beard on SOL review days to help maintain her students’ attention. “I firmly believe education is an art, not a science. As a society we want every child to be educated. We are always struggling to find the best ways to teach people. No two students are the same, no two teachers are the same,” Dunnell said. “Standards are created to find the ‘right’ way to teach everybody; there really is no right way.” Play-Doh allows students to experience and recreate what the people they learn about created and thought. “[Play-Doh] puts you closer to the experience,” Dunnell said. “Education is a complicated thing. Teaching is an exceptionally challenging job. At the end of the day, most teachers want to do right by their students.”

— Farzana Ismail junior

“We learned about nuclear physics with skittles.”

— Anthony Young senior

—Compiled by Shamaim Syed



What is the arithmetic mean (average) of all the multiples of ten from 10 to 190 inclusive?


A cubical block of metal weighs six pounds. How much will another cube of the same metal weigh if its sides are twice as long?


In a class of 78 students 41 are taking French, 22 are taking German and 9 students are taking both French and German. How many students are not enrolled in either course?

Science 4. What is the acceleration of a 10 ton meteor in free fall?

5. Which organelle acts as a storage to the cell?

6. What part of an atom contains protons and neutrons?

verb To strengthen, as proof or conviction.

EINDICT verb To find and declare chargeable with crime.

LUXURIANCE noun Excessive or superfluous growth or quantity.

MAGNANIMOUS adjective Generous in treating or judging others.

PEDANTIC adjective Over-insistent on matters of book-learning. Use all of these words in a brief paragraph and e-mail it to us at The first person to use all of these words in the correct context in a paragraph will be featured in the next issue of The A-Blast. You must e-mail us your name and grade as well.

English 7. What is a circumlocution? 8. I saw him over (there/their)

by the roller coaster an hour ago.

9. Dolphins laugh, but not

giraffes. What kind of rhyme is this?

History 10. What amendment

allowed women to vote?

11. “A house divided cannot

stand . . .” Who said this?

Group IV Project 12. What U.S. president was never elected president or vice president?

1) 100 2) 48 3) 24 4) About 9.8 m/s^2 5) Vacuole 6) Nucleus 7) the use of a longer phrasing in place of a possible shorter form of expression; a roundabout or indirect manner of writing or speaking 8) There 9) Internal rhyme 10) 19th 11) Abraham Lincoln 12) Gerald R. Ford QUESTIONS COMPLIED FROM VARIOUS INTERNET SOURCES

On your smartphone, scan the code above using the application “QR Code” to view a slide show about group IV Presentations.



Dec. 13, 2011


Communication through symbols:

of the


A student shares her story of growing up with a mentally disabled brother and the effect on her life


he day my younger brother, Matt, was born holds mixed emotions for me, as it was also the day he had a stroke that caused significant brain damage, leaving the left side of his brain weaker and making speech more difficult for him. It was Sept. 18,1995, and it was the day that changed my family’s life. While most would view Matt’s experience as a tragedy, I cannot help but see it as just another of life’s obstacles just waiting to be overcome by the both of us. My friends have always asked me how I cope with it, and although it has taken me a long time to realize it, my experience with Matt is one of the best things that could have happened to me. It’s what made me who I am today, and that is something I can be proud of and carry with me for the rest of my life. Growing up with a brother like Matt was not always easy; we fought just like everyone else, but I never once felt like I missed out on anything. Matt is what I know, and I cannot see life from the perspective of anyone else. Matt is home-schooled by my mother, who teaches him algebra and vocabulary. Living with a mentally challenged brother didn’t mean I had any less of a childhood, it just meant it was different from that of everyone else. The therapist encouraged my presence at almost every session, hoping to tap into his admiration for me as a big sister and the encouragement I could provide for him. Other times, when my dad was at work, I was dragged along simply because I had nowhere else to go. For the most part I did not mind this, as it gave me the chance to play with all the gadgets and

Special Education Classroom Melissa Ainsworth, and other teachers in the Special Education Department at AHS have adopted symbols as a way to communicate with many of their students. The use of the symbols is two sided and helps students to associate a word with something familiar to them. In addition to symbolic communication, students may communicate by grabbing the teacher’s hand or through the use of facial expressions.

gizmos they gave him to improve his speech and angry I would get when, instead of sitting next to my friends on the bus, I had to sit with Matt to motor skills. When we were younger we were together make sure he got off at the right stop. But, even every minute of every day, but it’s hard for me to with my mom’s perpetual reminders about how recall how I felt about him. Our household was Matt will never be able to repay me for all the entirely typical, with our mom and dad having to sacrifices I have made for him, I can’t help but step in and break up the fights over the remote. think I am the one in debt. Everything he does, He also plays on a baseball team, and like most whether right or wrong, affects me. Every value I other boys his age, loves to play Xbox in his spare acquire, every life skill and lesson I learn, I learn time. My parents have always relied on me to play just by being with him. His speech problems with Matt and include him tteach me patience, as do in everything tthe fits that sometimes I do. I often follow if we cannot Our household understand him or ignore have to take u was entirely on the role of him; his sensitivity “translator” tteaches me to love even typical, with our when I am red with between w mom and dad Matt and ffrustration. His carefree having to step in way of living has taught my parents, w me to live in the moment, as I am, for m and break up the but also to plan ahead some reason, b fights over the and look to the future. better able to a remote. His dependence, which I understand H him. Everyone ssometimes interpret as —Alli Foster, senior neediness, teaches me to wonders n whether I ccare and always be there resent Matt ffor others. I know I will be for consuming my parents’ attention, but I never do. In fact, I leaving for college soon, and this fact haunts me constantly find myself feeling guilty over the every day. I don’t know what I will do without praise and attention my involvement in sports my crazy obnoxious 16-year-old little brother hanging around me constantly, and I still don’t has afforded me. Now that I am older and better understand know how he will cope without me there. But I the situation, I see things from a completely do know one thing for sure: that one day, when different perspective. I don’t think about all the my parents no longer can, I will be the one taking time I spent going to therapy sessions every other care of Matt. He will be my responsibility. Sure, day or all the roller coasters I did not get to ride there are moments when I can’t help but resent because Matt couldn’t. I don’t think about how him for that, but even still, I can’t help but

BY ALLI FOSTER Special to the A-Blast

Freshman Ihsanullah Tafwiz completes a puzzle that matches sounds with the help of one of his teachers.

Junior Jill Soloman listens as teacher Melissa Ainsworth talks about the progress she has made using her communication device and interacting with her classmates.

Sophomore Pammy Suesa-Nguan often communicates through her facial expressions .

Junior Clara Horne’s progress in communication has led her nickname as the chatterbox.

Students Clara Horne and Jill Soloman express their mutual dislike of computer activities with Ainsworth. Activities may include working on typing skills.

Special Education students in action On your smartphone, scan the code above using the application “QR Code” to view a slideshow of the students in the special education program.

Ainsworth’s students work on various activities before switching classes .

Junior Jean-Paul Pino Lopez spends his morning “Coffee Talk” reading and chatting with friends.


Dec. 13, 2011

Between 2008 and 2009, the U.S. Department of Education collected data about the prevalence of different disabilities in the school system. The National Center for Education Statistics data included the number of disabled students being served under federally funded programs. Ages of the students enrolled in the public school systems varied between ages three to 21, or prekindergarten to grade 12.

Specific Learning Disabilities 5%

Speech/Language Impairment 2.9%

Other Health impairments (OHI) 1.3%

Intellectual Disability (MR) 1%

Emotional Disturbance 0.9% Austism 0.7% Hearing impairments 0.2%

11 What is your favorite part of AHS? “My favorite thing is getting to see my friends. I like my teachers a lot too.” — Ihsanullah Tafwiz


“I like seeing all the cute boys here.” — Pammy Suesa-Nguan


Orthopedic Impairments 0.1% O

AHS caters to students’ needs While many students may be aware of the special education program, having seen its students collecting the school’s recycling or folding newspapers, many might not realize the breadth of the program and the diversity of the conditions of the students enrolled. With approximately 330 students, the program currently provides for 13 types of disabilities, including specific learning disabilities, autism, emotional disabilities and orthopedic impairments. As the largest special education program in the county, its staff works to accommodate the varying abilities of all the students. “Every student (in the special education program) has an Individualized Education Program (IEP),” social worker Gail Grinstaff said. “At least once a year the parents, students, case manager and teacher discuss the students’ progress and needs.” The program works carefully to ensure that students receive the attention and assistance they need in the least restrictive environment possible. There are 38 teachers in the special education program who work with the students in two class styles: self-contained and teamtaught classrooms. The self-contained classes are smaller in size and are for students who benefit from a more structured learning environment. They get direct feedback from the teacher, in addition to one-onone attention if they need it. Team-taught classes are larger in size and are not restricted to special education students. For each subject, two different teachers will be present so that students can benefit from the access to an additional teacher. The idea that special education students have

May be caused by Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, birth defects, genetic disorders or result of severe brain injuries or strokes Symptoms can include difficulty speaking, remembering things, understanding social rules or consequences of their actions

When people talk about the diversity at Annandale, they should also recognize the diversity of abilities in addition to race, which is what makes this a highly unique school. —Gale Grinstaff, social worker

they would like. “The goal is for the students to have success with a limited amount of support,” said Grinstaff. If necessary, the program also works with the teachers of these students to help them understand their students’ IEPs and how best to help the students succeed. The re-evaluation at the end of each year also allows students to test out of the program. “It is not a life sentence,” Shannon Perkins, the department chair of the program, said.


Intellectual Disabilities •

separate classes or create a “school within the school” is a common misunderstanding. “In the team-taught classes, no one knows who’s in the special education program and who’s not,” Grinstaff said. Grinstaff believes that the class style can benefit general education students as well. Students can also be in the special education program, but only take general education classes. These students get access to the school psychologist and social workers to cope with emotional or organizational disabilities, but have the ability to take whatever classes and electives

BY LIZ WILSON In-Depth Editor

Cause is unknown but brain chemistry and genetics may play a major role Affects boys nearly four times as often as girls may lead to difficulty in social interactions Symtoms include communication problems, heightened or lowered senses, short attention span, perseveration

Q& A :

Students with a desire to work in the special education program can join the peer helpers program. Created three years ago, the program places general education students inside a special education classroom, having them work with a different class each quarter. “They get experience serving students with a variety of needs to the benefit of both the student and themselves,” Grinstaff said. The peer helpers, who sign up for the program through their guidance counselor, are required to keep a journal throughout the year, eventually teaching a lesson part way through the second semester. “Students who are peer helpers need responsibility, initiative, and empathy,” Grinstaff said. ““Not everyone is able to do this.” Like their mentors, students enrolled in the special education program are normal teenagers who work to receive a standard education while w maintaining a social life. While the level of difficulty might be modified depending on the class, students are exposed to all subject areas, including developmental readiing, science, music and history. “These guys are teenagers, and they pull all tthe same things that [general education] students do,” Melissa Ainsworth, a special education tteacher, said. “They have their friends, their girlfriends and boyfriends and their fights too.” Special education students also have a prom at the end of year. It is because of all of these strengths that the program has such a positive reputation and serves as a cluster site for low incident students. “When people talk about the diversity at AHS, they should also recognize the diversity of abilities in addition to race, which is what makes this a highly unique school,” Grinstaff said.

Orthopedic Disabilities •

• • •

Three main areas: neuromotor impairments, degenerative diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders Impairments can be acquired at or before birth Affect multiple body systems Often result in motor problems Many have no cognitive, learning, perceptual,

About nine years now.

Why did you decide to pursue a career as a special-education teacher? I started out my career as a high school English teacher, and did that for a few years before I had a child with disabilities. That is what really got me the most interested, so I went back to school.

— Jean-Paul Pino Lopez junior

“I love the pep rallies. Science is my favorite class.” — Claira Horne


Celebrities with Disabilities Justin Timberlake: Suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Jay Leno: Jay Leno opened up about his struggle with dyslexia that led his high school guidance counselor to suggest he drop out.

Emotional Disabilities •

• •

Symptoms include an inability to learn that is not explained by intellectual, sensor of other health factors, inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships, inappropriate behavior or feelings under normal circumstances, pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression, tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems

Special-Education teacher Melissa Ainsworth reflects on her work with mentally disabled students

How long have you been at AHS?

“ My friends. I like all my classes and my teachers.”

Is there any one particular student whose progress you are particularly proud of? I am so proud of all of them, they have all made amazing progress, but in their own different ways. Jill Solomon, for example, has made progress nobody ever thought she would make. For some of them, like Jean Paul, he is learning to read and he is doing really well with that. Clara Horne’s language is exploding; she is the most chatty student we have in here now. Pammy, is so smart; it is difficult for her to figure out how to say things, but she is doing much much better at that.

Jennifer Love Hewitt: Hewitt has been open about her battle with OCD, saying she can’t sleep if cabinet and closet doors are open David Beckham: Beckham openly admits to have OCD and has attributed his growing collection of tattoos to the disorder.

Kiera Knightley: Because of her dyslexia, she couldn’t read or write until she was six years old.

Muhammad Ali After his own battle with Parkinson’s Disease, Ali co-founded the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in 1997.

Cher: Cher suffers from dyscalculia, a disorder that makes learning and comprehending basic arithmetic difficult

Santa Claus Worldwide The iconic image of Santa Claus with his red suit and his “snow” white hair is an everlasting image for every U.S. kid during Christmas. But for others around the world Santa Claus takes on a completely different look.

St. Nicholas Eastern Europe

The season of celebration Students participate in traditional holidays from around the world BY OMNIA SAED AND SHAMAIM SYED International Editor and Photographer When the weather suddenly seems to drop 50 degrees, the trees become bare, Thanksgiving leftovers are at their ends and lights seem to outline every house on the street, it is clear that the holiday season has arrived. For the AHS community, the season is marked by holidays and traditions from around the world. Many will celebrate Christmas, which is arguably the most anticipated holiday of the year, on Dec. 25. “My parents are Catholic so we celebrate Christmas; I’m excited to get presents!” sophomore Gabi Montes De Oca said. The holiday spirit is as gift lists are being checked off, and Christmas trees lit and decorated. Due to the diversity, many students celebrate Christmas through their own traditions and cultures.

“In SouthAsia, Christian women put henna on their hands in celebration of Christmas,” sophomore Elisha Musih said. “I’m excited to cook great Spanish food with my parents,” sophomore Herson Palma, who is originally from El-Salvador, said. But Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated by students. For the Jewish population of AHS, Hanukkah is just as anticipated. Known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight day Jewish holiday commemorating the creation of the Second Temple, also known as “The Holy Temple,” in Jerusalem. “It’s [Hanukkah] around Christmas time, and I get to spend time with my family,” health teacher Gabe Romano said. For many Muslims, the holiday season ended last month with Eid Al-Adha; however, the holiday spirit is still alive. A very important Muslim holiday, Eid AlAdha, is celebrated by Muslims worldwide in honor of Abraham’s obedience and willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, before God intervened by sending down a sheep to be sacrificed instead. “I personally don’t like EidAl-Adha because it’s about killing a sheep, but I can understand what it’s about and why people celebrate it,” sophomore Mariam Hassan


St. Nicholas celebrated on Dec. 6th by many in Eastern Europe, accompanies the same ideas ofAmerican Christmas. Kids put an empty boot by a window or door and it’s is thought to be filled by Saint Nicholas, and those who were naughty get coal and onions in their boot instead.

Dun Che Lao Ren China Also known as “Christmas Old Man,” Dun Che Lao Ren, comes baring gift to children and fills their stockings with treats and gifts.

Juletomten Sweden In Sweden Jultomten, a mischievous elf, was bribed to do favors and give gifts to Swedish children. Recognizable by his long white beard, and trademark sleigh pulled by “Julbock,” the “Christmas Goat.”

Students views on new Nigerian law On your smartphone, scan the above code using the application “QR code” to view an exclusive story about the new law making homosexuality illegal in Nigeria and the views that AHS students have on this new regulation.


“I’m most excited about lighting the menorah because that’s my favorite part. You’re at night and you’re relaxed, when you do it you don’t feel any stress, and you’re with your family. It’s really fun. A big part of Hanukkah is tradition...It’s become a big holiday.”

“[We] have a big feast and put up the traditional lights. I celebrate Kwanzaa for just everything, and the African tradition.It’s great.”

Harris Fitzgerel, junior

What is Christmas?: Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Many Christmas festivities include putting up a Christmas Evergreen tree, giving and receiving gifts, and counting down the days with an advent calendar.

Chinese New Year

Goh Neway, sophomore

Celebrated on: December 20-December 28

Celebrated on: December 26- January 1

What is Hanukkah?: Hanukkah is also known as the “Festival of Lights celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This holiday lasts eight days and eight nights while incorporating a menorah that is light each night

What is Kwanzaa?: Kwanzaa celebrates African heritage and tradition. This seven- day holiday consists of lighting a candle holder with seven candles, feasts, and gift-giving.

Eid Al-Adha

“I’m really excited to wear my traditional Chinese dress because it’s hot pink. We also eat a special type of cake that is only reserved for breakfast on Chinese New Year. Married couples give red envelopes filled with money to each other also.”

Diwali “I get to spend time with my family and friends, and eat a lot of food. I also get to go and pray, and then watch fireworks that take my breath away and light a candle that’s like wishing on a first star.”

“I personally don’t like Eid Al-Adha because it’s about killing a sheep, but the idea I can understand. There was this little fair at a community center, for kids with disabilities so that they can celebrate it also.” Ranjit Bhangu, sophomore

Mariam Hassan, sophomore

Ashley Lok, junior Celebrated on: January 23

Celebrated on: November 6- November 7

Celebrated on: November 13

What is Chinese New Year?: Chinese New Year is based off of ancient Chinese myths and tradition. Also known the Lunar New Year, this holiday ends on the Lantern Festival.

What is Eid Al- Adha?: Eid Al- Adha is the “festival of sacrifice” and is celebrated by Muslims around the world to commemorate the prophet Abraham willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God.

What is Diwali?: Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is celebrated in many countries, specifically India. This holiday celebrates various parts of Indian culture and each day is based around a different value.

Vietnam and the U.S. Bolivia and the U.S. HUYEN NGUYEN Special the The A-Blast

FRANCIS HURTADO Special to The A-Blast

Did you know Vietnam has a very unique culture? Vietnam is nothing like the U.S. There are three big differences between the Vietnam and the U.S. such as the food, weather and education. The food in the U.S. is different from the food in my country. Food in the U.S. makes people fat and the taste of U.S. food is boring. Some foods taste good but some do not. Moving to another country is very hard because you have to try new food. The U.S. and Vietnam have different weather. In the U.S. there are four seasons but in Vietnam there are only two. If you had just came to the U.S. one or two months ago you probably couldn’t adapt to the weather. The most important difference between the U.S. and Vietnam is education. In my country, studying is very hard. If we get low grades the teacher will hit us. In the U.S. teachers are really nice to students, studying is not really hard and teachers care a lot about their students. In Vietnam every student in school has to pay for every all month of school, in U.S. we get a free education. In my country I don’t like the education because I don’t like teachers hitting students. In my country, they

What do you know about Bolivia? There are a lot of things people need to know about Bolivia. Families leave and get on airplanes and learn a new language. It was hard to say goodbye to my friends and to my family. When I said goodbye to my grandmother she started crying which that was hard for me. The last day that I was in Bolivia all of my friends came to my house to say goodbye. They surprised me with a party. This was just the beginning of a new story. The next part was the airplane. It was really scary because it was my first time on a plane. When I was on the plane I met so many people that were really nice to me. It took 12 hours to get here. When I got here everything was different. There were so many cultures and so many people from other countries. My mom took me home. They were people from my


Translated as “ Grandfather Frost,” is usually seen in over-decorated, with fur lining clothes, colors and an assortment of coats, as well as tall leather boots, and a staff. Three horses pull his sleigh, and perhaps the largest difference from the U.S. is that Moroz delivers gifts on New Years Day instead of Christmas.

said. “[I went to this] little fair at a community center for kids with disabilities so they can celebrate it too.” In mid-January, juniorAshley Lok and many others will celebrate the much-anticipated Chinese New Year, which marks the beginning of the year and is China’s most important holiday. Families spend time with one another to celebrate the holiday, which also marks the end of the winter season and the transition into the spring season. “The house is usually already decorated with different signs. My parents, aunts and uncles give me envelopes on Chinese New Y ear,” Lok said. For many Hindus, mid-September to mid-December is the time for Diwali. Also known as the festival of lights, Diwali is celebrated by thousands of people in southern Asia to commemorate Mahavira attaining nirvana. “I am excited, because I get to spend time with my family and friends, and eat a lot of food.” sophomore Ranjit Bhangu said As the season progresses, many are finding themselves highly anticipating the upcoming holidays. Whether Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, New Years, or any other holiday lights are being lit up, houses decorated, and celebrations beginning. From all over the world AHS is truly experiencing the holiday season.


“My grandparents are Jewish and they celebrate Hanukkah, but my parents are Catholic so we also celebrate Christmas. I’m really excited about getting presents this year!”

Gabi Montes De Oca, sophomore Celebrated on: December 25. Ded Moroz Russia

Dec. 13, 2011

Huyen Nguyen moved to the U.S. and finds there to be both positives and negatives about her new home.

didn’t care about us but in the U.S. things are different, teachers love students and are nice to them. I really miss my country and I want to go back and visit. The things that make my country special are the food and the holidays. Moving to another country is not easy because everything is different. The first difference is food,the second is a weather and the third is the education. In the U.S., we don’t need to wear uniforms but in Vietnam we have to. The education in Vietnam is really hard, not easy like U.S. I really miss my country and one day I will go back and visit.




family that I saw from Bolivia. My mom put me in school. So I went and met so many different kids from different countries. And that was when I met my friends Bolivia is special. Getting here was really hard, but I am glad I am here. I really miss my country. Bolivia will always be my country.

Bolivian Fun Facts -Capital of Bolivia is Sucre -The largest city in Bolivia is LA PAZ with 1.642 million people -The official language is Spanish -Bolivia is home to 40% of all the animal and plant life in the world. - Bolivia is named after the independence fighter Simon Bolivar who helped Bolivia break off from Spanish rule in 1825.


Dec. 13, 2011

Take a trip to ICE at The National Harbor


What’s on your holiday wish-list? “I want to get more pairs of low-top socks.”

—Andres Hurtado senior

“I’m asking for a new basketball and some new socks.”

—David Croghan senior

“I want a new North Face, an iPod and Hello Kitty headphones.”

—Kelly Nguyen junior

“I need new Under Armour for winter sports and a new pair of Sperrys.”

After viewing many sculptures, junior Brody El Achi takes a break from the attraction by riding an ice slide. The slides have different speeds to accomodate younger children.

—Jonathan Pratt junior

Visit the Gaylord Hotel in D.C. for a DreamWorks Merry Madagascar adventure. This anual holiday attraction opened on Nov. 19 and will remain open until Jan. 8. The interactive world is carved entirely of two-million pounds of ice. When entering the attraction, individuals will recieve a parka that accomodates the 9 degree weather inside of ICE.

“For Christmas I’m asking for another North Face.”

—Nick Torrico sophomore

“I really want to get a tiny adorable kitten!”

—Amanda Villafana sophomore

Cost of Tickets * Adults (ages 13+) $25-35 * Child (ages 4-12) $20-30 * Seniors (ages 62+) $19-24 * Military Adults (ages 13+) $22 - $32 * Military Child (ages 4-12) $17 - $27 * Kids ages 3 and under are free * Group pricing for 20+ people

“I want a go-cart and a paintball gun.”

—Richie Fruchterman freshman

“I want the TOMS that have calculus written along the sides.”

—Jessica Klein Math Teacher

Located at the exit of ICE is a Nativity scene, which is a Christian depiction of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Visible are Madagascar characters Alex, Melman and Marty.

Scenes from the Merry Madagascar film come to life through thousands of pounds of ice within the attraction.

The ICE adventure comes from Harbin, China. The city is world famous for its International Snow and Ice Festival.

Sophomore Michelle Burnett takes a ride on the hand carved one-of-a-kind ice slide. “I never thought I’d ride on a slide made of ice,” Burnett said.

­­­—Photos by Sarah Bergen

—Compiled by Priya Adhikary & Olivia Lafferty

Swim season kicks off with a splash Leaderhip students Ashlyn Nisker, Kelly Goodison, Nikki Contrino, Becca Hendrickson and Tatiana Niang stand in front of Magagascar carved ice while sporting parkas in the nine degree weather.

On your smartphone, scan the code above using the application “QR Code” to view pictures of the swim team during practice.



Dec. 13, 2011

Battle of the smartphones

10 holiday gifts under $10

Students share their perspectives on the debate over the pros and cons of popular phones iPhone






Bath and Body Works lotion set- $10

9 Sephora eyeshadow- $9

8 Old Navy hat and scarf set- $8

7 Old Navy men’s boxers- $6

6 Dick’s Sporting Goods waterbottle- $6


BY ROWAN SHARTEL Lifestyles Editor

BY JONATHAN PRATT Special to The A-Blast

BY COLLEEN ADENAN Sports X-tra Editor

Sleek, but functional, professional, but entertaining and detailed yet simple to use: while these may seem like contradictions, they are actually facts concerning the iPhone. The iPhone has long been the face of phones of the future, with its ever-evolving software and features, but that does not mean that it is only for technology gurus and business professionals. The beauty of the iPhone is its versatility. Students can store their music, use Facebook, Twitter and Voxer, upload photos to Instagram and surf the web. Adults can do these things too, in addition to having access to their email, stocks, reminders, maps and calendars.Any other smart phone leans too much in one direction: it either does not support the needs of its users or contains excessive tools and abilities that only serve to confuse the user. The touch screen is the simplest and most responsive of all touch screen phones because it responds to heat, meaning that fingertips will easily be able to control it. The ease with which people can type on the phone is one of its best qualities as well. The keyboard can be turned sideways, has full access to international keyboards and symbols, and is spaced enough to make typing simple. Contrary to BlackBerry and Android phones, with their crammed keyboards and confusing sharing of symbols on the keys, the iPhone makes typing as easy as it is on a computer keyboard, just faster. I love my iPhone because of all this and more. I feel like it not only helps me stay organized, but also helps me stay on top of the latest developments and trends. Everything is integrated, I can access my music from iTunes directly on my phone and as a bonus it is sleek and unobtrusive. Only with an iPhone can all of this be achieved, which is why it clearly tops all other smart phones.

I believe that Androids/Droids are better phones because they can do almost everything an iPhone or a BlackBerry can do. They also have some other unique features. Androids have a variety of styles, while an iPhone has only one style with different hardware and programming. I prefer Androids because most of the Droid power phones have a bigger screen than iPhones and some BlackBerry phones. Also, Androids have Adobe Flash built into their programming. The Droid market also has a great variety of apps. The market provides almost the same apps and games as the iTunes market, which makes it fairly equal. Some of the apps are free on the Droid market, unlike on the iTunes market where you have to pay for the same app. The software for the iPhone had a lot of perks, but can be a hassle when trying to get it on the iPhone. The software is very similar too. Both include a status bar, a voice search engine, internet, backgrounds, etc. Androids can update the system software from the phone, rather than having to go on iTunes. Also, it sometimes takes hours to download and install the software onto the phone, while the android only takes about ten to 20 minutes. Overall, I have been very happy with my Androidpowered Fascinate and have recommended it to friends. It is effective and fast, just like a smartphone should be.

When someone mentions the phone “Blackberry”, one often thinks of organization. In movies and TV shows, the crazy-busy soccer moms who rush from work to pick up their kids to book club keep sane with the use of their cellular devices. The fact that the majority of the phones depicted are Blackberries is no coincidence. In today’s busy world, high school students juggle everything from IB classes to sports to band; the list almost never ends. The perfect phone to help students through all this? A Blackberry. The phone comes with simple, essential apps that rarely malfunction. Teenagers in our generation are criticized for being too into technology and too distracted from school work. Therefore the iPhone and the Android, which are credited for their numerous apps and ability to play music, are obvious bad choices; easy access to Angry Birds and Mac Miller on a phone is just another excuse to stop doing homework. But, then, what makes a Blackberry the better choice? The Blackberry has always been available to everyone, no matter what the cellular service company is. At first, the iPhone could only be purchased if you used AT&T, but Apple finally extended to Verizon and Sprint recently. The keypad of a Blackberry is easier to type on than the the touch screen of, say, anAndroid, and makes for a smudge-free screen that stays cleaner longer. The Blackberry is a classic and simple phone. It has all the essentials of a phone for today’s generation, but has the capacity to go above and beyond in upgrades. Personally, I am able to stay grounded and avoid obsession with my phone’s many ‘extras’.

Stylish phone cases This hardshell case for the iPhone contains two snap together pieces, which protect against side and back scratches and provide full access to all exterior phone controls.

Barnes and Noble little gift book- $8.99

This rubber case for BlackBerry protects the corners and sides of the phone from scratches as well as providing a secure grip.



The rubber case for BlackBerry protects the corners and sides of the phone from scratches as well as providing a secure grip.


The OtterBox case for iPhone provides allaround protection. The durable silicone skin and protective screen cover help prevent scratches and damages from everyday use.

American Eagle mini playing cards- $9.50

3 makeup bag- $10 KYLEE NISKER

2 Bath and Body Works lip gloss -$8

1 American Eagle bracelet - $9.50

Elements of style: Shopping for a cause On your smartphone, scan the above code using the application “QR Code” to read Liz Zernik’s latest fashion column.

OtterBox cases The risk when dropping a device is reduced for Otterbox case users BY KYLEE NISKER AND ROWAN SHARTEL Lifestyles Editors A sturdy OtterBox case prevents students from the earsplitting crack that everyone dreads; a dropped phone. OtterBox, a company that has recently emerged in popularity on the market and in AHS, designs and sells a wide range of phone and device cases that are both protective and functional. “I’ve dropped [my phone] once while I was working out, but I wasn’t worried because I knew my case protected it from any cracks,” junior Shaima Najim said. OtterBox also has a wide range of cases that highlight different features. The “Defender Series” of cases is the strongest and most durable, the “Reflex Series” is able to separate for use with docking systems, the “Commuter Series” is part silicone and part hard shell and the “Impact Series” is fully silicone. The cases range from $20 to $50, according to “My whole family has [OtterBoxes], I think they’re reliable and provide protection. But they’re too big and fat to carry around in my wallet, so I chose not to use it,” sophomore Carly Potts said. A wide assortment of case colors are available for brands including Apple, Motorola, BlackBerry, Dell, Samsung, HTC, HP, Sony, Nokia and LG, as well as eReaders and tablets. The company also markets a series of waterproof boxes which vary in size and protect anything from small GPSs and sunglasses to large hunting ammo and tools. These boxes are airtight and range from $12 to $30, according to “I chose the Defender Series because it seemed like it had a good warranty and was a quality case,” senior Ashlyn Nisker said.


Dec. 13, 2011

The NCAA needs to fix its system Football’s postseason should be based on the success of teams


Who do you think will win the National Championship?

BY COLLEEN ADENAN Sports X-tra Editor As the college football postseason begins, the issue of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system is once again debated among fans. A longstanding complaint about college football has been which teams are chosen to play in bowl games. The current system is too commercial and should be about the most successful teams rather than which teams can bring in the most revenue. “I don’t think the [postseason selection process] is fair because it doesn’t reflect anything that postseason stands for,” senior Dylan Shuey said. The huge, unnecessary list of bowls is evidence enough of how commercial the postseason has become. The postseason is supposed to be about the best teams in the league playing each other. A list of the top 25 teams are featured in several newspapers that is updated each week. So, why are there 35 different bowls, meaning 70 teams are playing against each other? Out of all of these bowls, the only bowl that features some sort of championship title is the BCS National Championship. Although this structure does give college football fans plenty of opportunities to watch a game, it is completely nonessential. Postseason sports are supposed to highlight the best of the best, yet some of the teams that didn’t make a bowl had higher records than those that did. The reason for not being picked? Lack of a fan base. Teams are selected based on how big their fan base is, although their success is also a factor The problem is that consideration of fan base makes these bowls selfish, caring about potential profit rather than success. The majority of the teams featured in bowls are from big leagues such as the Southeastern Conference (SEC) or the Big 12, even though teams in other leagues are just as—or even more—successful. This is because the featured schools tend to be bigger in student size and fan base, meaning more revenue will come in from the games because of larger ticket sales. However, the size of a school shouldn’t determine who gets a bowl berth, it should be about the team’s record. It is true that teams that are more successful will often have a large fan base, making this a win-win for some fans. But the problem with this is that it does not attract as much attention as it could if the system were different. In fact, it makes those that choose the teams seem unfair. “[The team selection process] is not fair because a select few choose what a majority wants,” special education teacher Jeremiah Davis said. “Six teams should be chosen to play in the championship and

“Alabama will win because its running back is going to run all over LSU since he’s number one.”

“I think Alabama will win because it can change its plays based on what it has seen from LSU.”

“Alabama because it wants to win more since it has already lost once.”

“Alabama since it’s difficult to beat a team the second time around and LSU didn’t do well the first time.”

—Bryan Harrod senior

—Faith Paletti sophomore

—Shannon Casey junior

—Karl Kerns Director of Student Services

“LSU will win because it doesn’t have as many gaps in its defensive lineup.”

“I think LSU will win because it has just been so dominant throughout the whole season.”

“LSU because of Honey Badger (Tyrann Mathieu). He’s the best defensive cornerback in the league.”

“LSU because it already beat Alabama in its season game.”

—Megan Ryan sophomore

—Holly Miller history teacher

—Paul Helfgott junior

“Alabama will win because it have really good players and a great season in the past.” —Sofia Jorgenson freshman

“LSU because it has a great offensive line.” —Daniel Turcios junior

—Joe Rolen junior

the rest should be put in bowl games.” Davis played for Penn State football from 2000-2004 and traveled to Orlando, FL to play in the Capital One Bowl against Auburn University in 2003. A simple solution to the system isn’t hard to find; BCS officials should just look at how the college basketball season works. The top teams participate in a playoff bracket that narrows by process of elimination until two compete for the win. Fans select which teams they think will win at different stages in the tournament with a prize for being completely correct of one million dollars. Needless to say, this prize has never been won, although many have come close. Because of the format, each person theoretically has an equal chance of guessing correctly, so lots of people pay attention to the tournament regardless of whether or not they are fans. If college football had the same system for their postseason, it would probably attract an even higher fan base than it does now. A team can come out of the basketball

tournament with the ability to say it made it to the Sweet Sixteen. A college football team can come out of a postseason match up saying it won the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Businesses sponsor college football bowls in order to make a profit and get their names out to possible customers; companies would rather have teams with more fans than teams that will make for an interesting game in order to get more revenue. Because there are only two teams playing for the National Championship, there is also less of a chance that the other bowls will ever get watched as much as the BCS does annually. If the BCS were to change its system, a profit could still be made from all of its games. More people are likely to buy tickets or watch a game on TV it features the top teams in the country rather than teams chosen by a committee (that identifies the teams with the largest number of fans). These teams could still have a large fan base and still be successful. The NCAA needs to realize this and make its bowl games again about fairness, not profit.

Join our contest! The A-blast will be having a contest to see who can guess the most college football bowl wins correctly. The contest will run from Dec. 13-17. Directions: Scan the barcode on your smartphone or print it from the website at Forms are also available at all lunches on Dec. 14 and 16. Circle the team you think will win each bowl game. Bring the form to the back table in the cafeteria with your name, grade and e-mail filled in. Each correct prediction counts for two points. Whoever has the most points wins. The top three winners will receive gift cards. Predictions are due by Friday, Dec. 17. Winners will be notified by email and results will be posted on the website on Thursday, Jan. 12. Note: Winners will be photographed for the website.


Davis (number 86) looks to make a tackle in a game against UVA when at PSU.

Special education teacher Jeremiah Davis plays in bowl game Q. What was playing in the Capital One Bowl like? A. It was neat, playing after the season and going to Orlando and Tampa. We could go to any park with free, all day passes, we were in a parade and could go on rides before anyone else. The drawback was being in Orlando on Christmas; my mom couldn’t come down so I had Christmas dinner at Denny’s. That’s the one thing I remember, the tough thing was not being with family for the holidays. Q. How did you balance school with football? A. Freshman year, there was a mandatory study hall period. You’d have class until like 2:45 p.m., then practice from 3-6 p.m., then dinner from 6-7 p.m., then study hall from 7-9:30 p.m. You were basically locked in so it became a habit of making time for school. Q. What was the Penn State program like when you played? A. When I was playing there, I guess it was the same as it was now. It’s very traditional, everyone in the state of Pennsylvania follows what’s going on. They know your name, they know who you are when you walk in the restaurant, it’s a small city but on a state level everyone supports Penn State. There are lots of high expectations. Q. Did any other schools offer a spot for you? If so,why did you choose Penn State? A. I had offers from all the Big 10 schools, Texas A&M, UCLA, University of Washington and all of the ACC schools. I think I had 50-60 offers. I chose Penn State for the educational value and to play for the legendary Joe Paterno and I couldn’t get that anywhere else, the balance of those two, so I think it worked out well. Q. How has playing for Penn State affected your life today? A. Even with the Joe Paterno scandal, people still look at PennState as one of the top programs, and it has been for 60 years, and so people just have a reverence for it playing for Paterno. It’s kind of like what we have at AHS with tradition and things are done a certain way so they know , you’re a good, solid person. I also met my wife at Penn State so that was really great.

The history of the BCS 1902: The first Rose Bowl game was played between Stanford and Michigan. Michigan wins 49-0. 1935: The Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl are created. 1992: The Orange, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Gator and the Hancock Bowls combine to form the Bowl Coalition with the ACC, Big East, Big 8, Southwest Conference, Southeastern Conference and Notre Dame. 1995: The Bowl Coalition evolves into the Bowl Alliance. 1997: The Big Ten, Pac-10 and Rose Bowl join the Bowl Alliance. 1998: The first BCS Championship is played between Tennessee and Florida State, with Tennessee winning 23-16. 2012: The sixth BCS Championship game will be played between Alabama and LSU. —Compiled

For the rest of the interview, scan the barcode on your smartphone


Boys Indoor Track

Junior Hung Truong finishes a hard workout on the track at AHS.

Dec. 13, 2011

Bile finishes his cross country career with a time of 15:30 on the 5k course, looks to begin training for indoor track season

”Bile” continued from page 1 Last year, Bile also qualified for the Foot Locker National Championship race, and placed 14th with a time of 15:33. While most were expecting Bile to finish in the top ten, Bile still ran an amazing time and ended his season well in this race. His 12th place finish means that he is the 12th fastest cross country runner in the entire nation, and also granted him his fourth All-American status to date. “They were fast, and it wasn’t what I expected; but I’m happy with the finish and ready for indoor,” Bile said. The Foot Locker National race is composed of 10 of the fastest runners from four different regions of the U.S., South, Midwest, Northeast, and West.



SPORTS Bile earns 4th All-American title

Senior Ahmed Bile sprints his last few meters at the Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego. Bile finished in 12th, earning him his fourth All-American status.

Bile placed second at the Foot Locker South race in North Carolina on Nov.26, with Texas State Champion Daniel Vertiz beating him out for the win in the last few meters of the race. Bile also contributed to the Foot Locker South Region team winning the team title with fifth, eighth, ninth, tenth, 12th, 14th, and 19th place finishes for a combined score of 44. An indication of Bile’s fatigue during this race is the fact that Bile’s closest competitor all season, Chantilly’s Sean McGorty, was able to pull out a win between the two for only the second time this season. At the Northern Region Championships, the State Championships, and the Foot Locker South Regional race, Bile was able to beat McGorty. McGorty placed tenth at the race with a close time of 15:28. Bile’s cross country season is now officially over, and the returning 3rd place finisher in the New Balance Indoor Track National competition will return to practice with the indoor track team on Nov. 26.

Boys begin the season well with strong overall performances in meets

Freshman Samuel Qualley competes with other indoor track athletes during a recent practice.

-Photos by AJ McCafferty

Varsity girls basketball schedule Dec. 12 @ Westfield Dec. 16 vs Woodson Dec. 20 vs West Springfield Dec 27 @ Oakton Jan. 3 @ West Potomac Jan. 6 @ Lee Jan. 10 vs Lake Braddock Jan. 13 @ South County Jan. 17 vs TC Williams Jan. 20 @ Woodson Jan. 24 @ West Springfield Jan 27 vs West Potomac Jan. 30 vs Lee

BY GABY CAMILI AND PRIYA ADHIKARY Staff Writers The grappling Atoms are off to an amazing start to this season with a 2nd place finish in the Northern Virginia classic on Dec. 9 and 10 and a 6th place finish in the Forest Park Invitational on Dec. 2nd and 3rd. After hours and hours of long, strenuous practices and workouts, the wrestling team is finally putting their talents to the test, and passing with flying colors. “They are doing well because they are listening to their coach,” Head Coach Keith Sholders said. “I always preach to them about listening to me and doing what I tell them and this past weekend they did that.” The results were extraordinary for the team, with most of the boys taking home medals and top finishes across the weight classes. Senior Dane Harlowe won for the 126 pound weight class and also

Junior Archie Elba and Senior Rawand Shamdin practice grappling moves during a recent practice. Elba and Shamdin are both returning varsity wrestlers and key to team success.

doing well, we should be successful,” sophomore Noah Green said. The next tournament for the team will be on Dec. 17 at Tallwood HS in Virginia Beach. Schools from

across Virginia will be there, and will present a challenge to the grappling atoms.

Indoor track prepares for season Varsity boys and girls track work hard to prepare for the upcoming season and meets BY SAMIR SHAH Sports Editor The Northern Region Championship track team began their year on Nov. 16, and has been working hard to get in shape for the upcoming meets. The track, jock lobby and weight room has been full of dozens of indoor track athletes performing various workouts to help them quickly get in shape. The season began on Dec. 9 with the first meet at Episcopal HS. The team performed well with multiple new athletes stepping up and performing for the team, including the 4 X 200 meter relay placing first overall. However, its results were not definitive of the team’s strength because a portion of the varsity runners were not in attendance. The team began practicing on Nov. 28, and has jumped into intense workouts despite the cold and heavy rain. “We started doing workouts right away, and the strength training after has been tough,” senior Paul Singh said. On the first day the team divided into groups based on their performances after tryouts and


Senior and returning varsity runner Dylan Van Balen sprints through the finish during a recent practice.

took home the most outstanding wrestler award. Other outstanding performances include senior John McCollom placed 2nd for the 195 pound weight class, Senior Ali Musa took 2nd at the 220 pound weight class, and junior Bryan Jefferson placed 5th at 285 pounds. “Well, the team definitely has what it takes to be patriot district champs,” junior Bryan Jefferson said. “I can see quite a few of us being regional qualifiers and even winners, but few take the cake for state qualifications.” The wrestling team is relying on several essential players to perform well throughout the season and to carry their team to the Patriot District Championship. “We have some good competition in the lower weights 138 and 126, but I am confident our guys will be dominant, and it shows when we go up against highly ranked state teams,” Jefferson said. Harlowe, who is the reigning Virginia state champion for his weight class in 2011, is expected to perform well this season. “Our team should do very well, but needs several players to step up to be great. If Dane, Musa, and John keep


Wrestling starts off strong

Senior James Bui pushes through an 800 meter run during a recent track workout under coach Harris.

by choice. The team separated into four groups: varsity sprints and mid-distance under head coach Sean Miller, long distance headed by Dave O’Hara, junior varsity sprints led by Phil Harris and throwers coached by Bob Sykes. Field events such as hurdling, jumping and pole vaulting were later open to participation from athletes. Many of the key varsity field athletes have graduated, such as Joel Hoisington and Josh JeanJacques, leaving it to the staff to find new talent and the remaining varsity athletes to step up. The reigning Northern Region Championship track team’s goal this season is the same as it is every season with Miller, to win a Patriot District Championship. “We’re looking good this season, found a few new young guys and working on getting the others in shape in time for districts,” O’Hara said. Senior and reigning state champion Ahmed Bile will not be joining the team for these first few meets. Instead, he will be on a short break after the culmination of his season at the Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego. In order to ensure that Bile does not get injured from overworking his body, he will join the team for practice starting Dec. 26, after a two week break. The next meet on Dec. 17 will be held at Thomas Jefferson MS, and will be the first indication of the team’s ability this season, as most varsity runners will be in attendance.

Girls basketball makes a comeback Team off to a rough start, but come back with a blowout win

Girls Basketball vs Westfield On your smartphone, scan the code above using the application “QR Code” to view a story about the girls basketball team’s game against Westfield HS.

The varsity girls basketball team has begun their season on a good note this year with a record of 1-2. With early losses to Centreville and Robinson, the girls knew that they had to perform well in their third game against Washington-Lee. “We knew we had to get a win after our double losses, so I believe everyone was more focused this game,” junior Diana Hurtado said. While these early losses were disappointing for the team, they were both close games with a score of 54-64 against Robinson and a close 54-55 loss against Centreville. These close losses indicated that the girls had the potential to overcome the competition, and simply needed to work on a few key points to bring home the win. “We didn’t play up to our potential and we knew that we could perform a lot better than we did these first games,” senior Hailey Brown said.


BY SAMIR SHAH Sports Editor

Sophomore Carly Klima looks for a pass to a teammate during a recent practice; the team has been working hard to improve their turnovers and shooting percentages.

“The first game we could have won, the second game we should have won,” Head Coach Patrick Hughes said. “[During] one of the games we just had too many turnovers and the other our shooting

percentage was really low.” After the losses, the girls were able to rally together and turn their season around with a 64-36 point win over Washington Lee on Dec. 9. The team has been practicing together and working to correct their errors for a month now, and the players are optimistic about the season despite the early losses. With numerous returning varsity players, including senior Hailey Brown, senior Jackie Beathea, Hurtado and junior Gaby Ripani, they are hoping to go far this season. The team’s next game will be at Westfield HS today at 7:30 p.m. The girls have yet to play another team in the Patriot District, and thus these first few games do not affect the team’s goal of advancing in the district. The following game will be on Dec. 16 at AHS against Woodson, the first game against a team in the Patriot District this season. Their performances in these games will set the stage for the rest of their season. “We’re still very optimistic [about] what we can do, and these games will help us prepare for the district,” Hughes said.


Dec. 13, 2011

Atoms struggle amid turmoil Despite the loss of head coach and three seniors, basketball uses adversity to unify as team The 0-3 Atoms, who fell to Washington and Lee 46-50 on Dec. 9, will face off against Westfield tonight. The Bulldogs feature a towering 6’10 player, who the Atoms plan to counter with 6’8 senior Amiel Terry. “This will be a rematch from the first round of last year’s regional tournament,” senior Monte McCarthy said. “We were able to beat them last year so we hope to do the same.” Although Westfield defeated Washington and Lee by 13 points in a recent game, the Atoms remain confident on the road to their first win. However, even a win cannot diminish the turmoil that has marked the Atoms’ season thus far. Before the team had an opportunity to rebound from its first loss of the season, Head Coach Anthony Harper resigned from his coaching position. The announcement came on Dec. 5, just one day after Harper was arrested for profane swearing or intoxication in public and carrying a concealed weapon, according to the Fairfax County Weekly Arrest List. He is now facing misdemeanor charges for his crimes, according to the Annandale Patch. Although Harper has resigned from his coaching position, he will remain a safety and security specialist. According to FCPS Public Information Specialist and News Liason Mary Shaw, unless an FCPS employee is charged with a felony, the situation will be dealt with on a “case-by-case” basis. Therefore, there is no specific criteria for dealing with Harper’s retention as an FCPS employee.


BY PARKER GILLCASH AND CJ AFTERGUT Sports Editor and Co-Editor in Chief

Senior David Croghan jumps in the air to make a lay-up. Croghan recently returned from a concussion.

Harper and the administrative staff, including Principal Vince Randazzo, declined to comment on the situation. Assistant coach Robert Terry of six years has stepped in to lead the Atoms and is already familiar with the team and its players. “Coach Terry was the assistant coach before coach Harper stepped down, so we’re very comfortable with him taking over,” junior Michael Hennessey said. Other players are also very comfortable with the shift, as they recognize Terry’s familiarity with

the program. “Coach Terry is a good coach and knows the game very well,” senior Eddy Cutrera said. Terry plans on keeping most things the same in order to establish a smooth transition for both himself and the team. “I’m not really doing anything different,” Terry said. Still, Terry plans on implementing some of his own personal philosophies as he adjusts to the head coaching position. Terry will not be the only one making adjustments, however, as the Atoms will have to get used to the changes that come with a new head coach. This will only add to the team’s rough start this year. After falling to Robinson in their first game of the season, the Atoms were blown out by Herndon 64-86 the night following the coaching change. “The team showed some resilience by cutting down [Herndon’s] lead to four points, but we turned the ball over too much and were beat in transition,” McCarthy said. Amidst the turmoil and confusion of the team’s coaching situation, the Atoms have also suffered the loss of two players, seniors Reggie Scott and Andrew Courtney. Additionally, senior David Kim moved to Korea last week, leaving the squad further depleted. “Reggie, Andrew and David were all good players, but the players we have now are the ones that are going to win games, so we can’t dwell on the past,” Hennessey said. “The team could always use good players, but if they don’t care or get in trouble we move on,” McCarthy said. The Atoms are using the challenges they have faced as an opportunity to grow closer as a team and establish a sense of unity. “We still have the same motives and want to get better everyday. We have people on the team stepping up,” Cutrera said. “We just need to stay focused on getting better at basketball and playing well together as a team,” senior David Croghan said.

Boys swim continues success BY WILLIAM BENNETT Staff Writer After yet another week of grueling hour-long practices and a dry land workout, the AHS boys swim and dive team secured another victory, improving its record to 2-0 with an impressive 189-126 victory over South County on Dec. 9. The girls team fell to 0-2 in the meet, losing by a score of 117-198. However, it showed tremendous improvement in the loss, besting its score from last year’s match-up. “I think the girls did really well against South County,” junior Jenny Jessen said. “We weren’t really expected to win, nor end with a score anywhere near South County’s because of our performance against them last year and the amount of our swimmers who graduated, so we really exceeded expectations”. The Atoms held their first meet on Dec. 2, when the boys team was able to squeak out a five-point victory over the Lake Braddock Bruins to defeat their long-time rival. “We had some clutch races and amazing relays, which provided for

Boys varsity basketball schedule Dec. 13 vs Westfield

Dec. 16 @ W.T. Woodson Dec. 17 @ Granby Dec. 20 @ West Springfield Jan. 3 vs West Potomac Jan. 6 vs Lee Jan 10 @ Lake Braddock Jan. 11 @ Montrose Christian Jan. 17 @ T.C. Williams Jan. 20 vs W.T. Woodson Jan. 24 vs West Springfield Jan. 27 @ West Potomac Jan. 30 @ Lee Feb. 2 vs Lake Braddock Feb. 7 @ South County Feb. 10 vs T.C. Williams

Varsity swim and dive schedule Dec. 16 vs West Springfield @ Audrey Moore Rec Center Dec. 17 vs W.T. Woodson @ Providence Rec Center Jan. 13 vs Lee @ Audrey Moore Rec Center Jan. 20 vs T.C. Williams @ Mount Vernon Pool

Basketball preps for Westfield match-up COURTESY OF BETH OLIVER

Win against Stallions improves record to 2-0

a thrilling victory,” junior Stephen Oakes said. “I was ecstatic, I almost erupted with joy,” senior Bernard Chalhub said. “We looked at this meet sheet and compared our sophomores, juniors and seniors with theirs,” Head Coach Neal Jarvis said. “We could tell it was going to be a close meet based on that, but it came down to key swims by our B-team in the 400-yard freestyle relay [sophomores Juan Carlos Clark and Michael Sgrecci, junior Dylan Gore and senior Robert Scheible], as well as the 200-yard freestyle relay [sophomore Travis Swann, juniors Andrew Boyd, Stephen Oakes, and senior William Bennett].” “I cut seven seconds off of my 100-yard freestyle time,” senior Alec Montes de Oca said. “I cut a lot of time in all of my events,” Gore said. The stellar performance of the dive team was also influential in the victory. Atoms divers finished first, second and fourth out of the eight total divers from both teams. “I feel that the dive team’s effort was very influential in the boys team’s defeat of Lake Braddock,” junior Clark Girardin said. However, the girls team suffered a crushing loss at the hands of the Bruins by a score of 104-211. Despite


Sophomore Michael Sgrecci swims the 100 butterfly against Lake Braddock. The boys started out the season strong with district wins over Lake Braddock and South County.

the loss, there were some improved individual performances. “I dropped four seconds in the 100yard breaststroke and swam against Sophie Chase who is a [NCSA Junior] national champion,” sophomore Tricia Liller said. The performance of the girls dive team left room for improvement heading into upcoming meets. “We’ve improved a lot since the beginning of the year but we still need to improve more,” senior dive captain Jazmine Bounds said. As the team prepares for their

next two meets on Dec. 16 and 17 against perennial Patriot District contenders West Springfield and W.T. Woodson, it aims to maintain its steady improvement. “I bet our practices will be pretty hard the week before the West Springfield and Woodson meets,” junior Harris Fitzgerel said. “But I think we stand a decent chance of beating them.” “They’re the two best teams in the district,” Jarvis said. “You always want to see how you stack up against the best.”

The varsity basketball team works out in the weightroom before practice.

Caps poor play prompts new coach

The Washington Capitals may be one of the most talented teams in the NHL with high paid stars like Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Niklas Backstrom and Mike Green; the list goes on and on. However, their inability to perform in the playoffs and lackluster start to this season is extremely frustrating. Their feeble attempt and lack of energy in games is pathetic, as they skate around like they don’t even care. You know something is wrong when third liner Jason Chimera, a grinder, leads the team in goals with 11 and “superstar” Alex Ovechkin goes on a 7-game drought without lighting the lamp. After multiple extraordinarily embarrassing losses, General Manager George McPhee decided it was time for a coaching change and fired Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau took over the team mid-season in 2007 during what looked like another dismal year and put the Caps in the playoffs for the first time in five years. From there, he led the Caps to three straight Southeast Division Championships and the Presidents Cup, won coach of the year in 2008 and became the fastest coach to record 200 wins. However, while all these accomplishments are nice, what really matters is the postseason play. The Caps were unable to make a competitive run for the Stanley Cup each year, and were even eliminated

in the first round against the last seeded Montreal Canadians in 2010. I’m not arguing with McPhee’s decision; Boudreau just simply had to go. None of his players responded to him anymore and it seemed that his leadership was ineffective. As McPhee put it, when your players stop responding to their coach, it’s time for a change. The turning point for me was when the Caps were absolutely out-worked, out-hustled, outplayed and completely manhandled in a crushing 7-1 defeat to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 19. That despicable display was embarrassing, even as a fan watching. Boudreau then scratched Alexander Semin for a game, claiming he was taking bad penalties and lacked effort. Semin is targeted by refs throughout the league and has a reputation of being a faker and embellishing hits to try and draw the penalty. However, the diving calls on him have been completely unnecessary and even if he is legitimately tripped, he ends up going to the box as well. Instead of sticking up for Semin and trying to boost his confidence, Boudreau decided to throw him under the bus and benched him for a game under the excuse that he was taking bad penalties. While his back-checking and defensive effort are not up to par, he puts the puck in the net, and since Ovechkin doesn’t seem able to do that this year, someone has to. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Boudreau. He was a good coach, turned the Caps around and helped get them on the winning track. After coaching for various minor league teams, including the Hershey Bears, his knowledge of the up and coming developing players was extremely valuable. But when the players on the team stopped hustling and respecting him, and video evidence of captain Alex Ovechkin calling him a “fat (expletive)” during a game is circulating on the internet, you know it’s time for a change.

The new coach is Caps legend Dale Hunter, who played 20 seasons in the NHL and is the only player to ever get over 1,000 points and 3,000 penalty minutes in his career. The Caps retired his number and his banner hangs from the ceiling of the Verizon Center. Hunter was known for his ferocity and intensity that he brought to every game, every shift; no matter what the score. He fought quite a bit during his career and liked to play rough. He is a very tough coach and I look forward to his new tenure with the Caps. Since he has taken over, the Caps have skated hard and hustled on both ends of the ice. Of course it is natural to come out strong the first few games to try and show the new coach what you can do, but I think it will have a lasting effect on the overall performance throughout the year. I have also seen some of the old Ovechkin which is a promising sign. He came out hard and physical against their bitter rival the Pittsburgh Penguins and his end-to-end goal against the Senators was a thing of beauty. However, they are still struggling to win games and the abysmal start to the season has put them tied for 8th in the Eastern Conference and second in the Southeast Division. That’s unacceptable with the roster and talent they posess. However, they are lacking the grit and desire to dump the puck in deep, get shots on goal and crash the net. They are too focused on being a flashy and skilled team. Pretty passing plays and skating end to end doesn’t win championships. Look at the Boston Bruins. They went up against a much more talented and skilled Vancouver Canucks team on paper, but they worked harder and ran their systems dumpin the puck deep and crashing the net. I hope Dale Hunter can bring his gritty style of play to the Caps because as of now, they are barely in contention to make the playoffs.

Freshman Austin Hall works on his free throws during practice. Hall is the only freshman on the varsity squad.

-Photos by AJ McCafferty

Swim and dive team On your smartphone, scan the code above using the application “QR Code” to view a slideshow of the swim and dive team at practice.


Upcoming concerts


Dec. 13, 2010

Have yourself a merry little playlist It’s time to update your festive holiday playlist with suggestions from AHS students and staff

Holiday Playlist CHELSEA LEE Wed., Dec. 14 Jammin Java

Shuffle Mistletoe

“I like Justin Bieber’s holiday album with the song ‘Mistletoe’ because it’s romantic.”

“I love ‘Greatest Time of the Year’ by Aly and AJ because it’s catchy.”

Justin Bieber

Greatest Time of the Year

—Arman Padilla

Aly & AJ


—Keyri Quinteros

Carol of the Bells


Trans-Siberian Orchestra

All I Want For Christmas is You Mariah Carey

MATISYAHU Wed., December 28 The 9:30 Club

Where Are You Christmas? Faith Hill

Jingle Bells Michael Buble

Last Christmas Glee Cast “I like ‘Carol of the Bells’ by the Trans Siberian Orchestra because it has got holiday spirit with the heaviness of the music I listen to.”

WALE Sun., Jan. 1 The Fillmore

This Christmas

“I love Mariah Carey, and her song ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’; it’s a soulful Christmas song and has balance.

Chris Brown

Jingle Bell Rock Billy Holiday

—Christian Groshon


—Hassan Mims

FEED GOD CABBAGE Sat., Jan. 7 Jammin Java

What is your favorite holiday movie?


head of SAM program

“I love ‘Jingle Bells’ by Michael Buble because it’s jazzy and it sounds so retro.”

“I really like ‘Where Are You Christmas?’ by Faith Hill because it gives me chills when she sings.”

—Paula Naanou


—Angel Garrish

freshman “I love Elf! It is really funny and shows the real meaning of Christmas.”

“I like Glee’s version of ‘Last Christmas’ because it talks about love and Christmas and what could be better than that?”

— Rahel Tecle freshman

“I like The Grinch because Jim Carrey plays the Grinch.”

Scan the code above on your smartphone for more holiday playlist suggestions.

— Nico Clavel junior

“I love ‘This Christmas’ by Chris Brown because his voice is so sexy and it gets me in the holiday spirit.” —Alexis Gunther

—Andre Connor

“I like The Nightmare Before Christmas because it’s so classic.”

— Dylan Grandon senior ““I love Home Alone 2 because all the Home Alone movies are hilarious and it gets me in the Christmas spirit.””

—Jessica Campanilla senior “I like The Santa Clause with Tim Allen because it’s just so funny and gets me in the Christmas mood. I watch it every year.”

— Becca Sponga senior -Compiled by Allison Illagan

1. Miracles – the Holiday Album by Kenny G (7.23 million copies sold) 2. Noel by Josh Groban (5.28 million copies sold) 3. These Are Special Times by Celine Dion (5.17 million copies sold) 4. Merry Christmas by Mariah Carey (5.12 million copies sold) 5. Christmas in the Aire by Mannheim Steamroller (3.73 million copies sold) 6. A Fresh Aire Christmas by Mannheim Steamroller (3.61 million copies sold) 7. Christmas by Mannheim Steamroller (3.48 million copies sold) 8. Now That’s What I Call Christmas! by various artists (3.39 million copies sold) 9. Christmas Eve and Other Stories by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (3.19 million copies sold) 10. When My Heart Finds Christmas Harry Connick, Jr. (3.08 million copies sold) -Compiled by Marissa Uriarte from

12 Dates of Christmas

Available on Verizon Fios OnDemand

Arthur Christmas

Scan the code above on your smartphone to read a review of The Maine’s new album Pioneer.


AHS’s all time favorite holiday movies 89 72 58 52


d -This survey was conducted during Atom Time and D lunch on Friday, Dec. 3. Out of 300 surveys, 289 were returned, and counted.

Editor’s pick: must see holiday movies Just Friends’Amy Smart and Saved by the Bell’s Mark-Paul Gosselaar star in this romantic comedy as part of ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. Smart, who plays Kate, goes on a blind date with Miles, played by Gosselaar, and after ruining the date with awkward moments and mishaps, returns home deflated. Initially giving up, she finds herself repeatedly reliving her Christmas Eve date. With so many chances to make it up, Kate must find the strength to overcome past relationship issues and forge new ones.

Pioneer album review

—Jonathan Hoang



Top 10 most sold holiday albums

“I like Billy Holiday’s ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ because it sounds awesome and it has a really cool guitar solo.”

This recently released animated holiday film in 3D is directed by Sarah Smith and features the famous voices of Wanted’s James McAvoy and House’s Hugh Laurie. Set in the North Pole, Arthur Christmas is the youngest son of Santa Claus. He is tasked with an important and urgent mission to be completed before Christmas morning. With the fate of the most popular winter holiday, Christmas hanging in the balance, Arthur struggles to complete his assignment.

In theatres now

Elf on a Shelf

Once a children’s book, this story comes to life on the TV screen this holiday season. The story focuses on Santa’s little helpers, who are given the task of watching over children from Thanksgiving day until Christmas Eve. The elves shuffle back and forth day in and day out from the North Pole to their kids’ homes in order to keep track of which kids are naughty and which kids are nice while simultaneously bringing joy to all throughout the winter holiday season.

Available on DVD and BluRay

Harold & Kumar A Very 3D Christmas

Nearly six years after Harold & Kumar’s Guantanamo Bay adventure, longtime friends Harold Lee and Kumar Patel wreak havoc on this holiday season. After accidentally burning down Harold’s father-in-law’s beloved Christmas tree, the friends embark on the ultimate journey to replace the tree with the help of Neil Patrick Harris who portrays himself in the movie.

In Theatres Now


Dec. 13, 2011

New actors, old movies Are entertainment’s classic movies best kept in the past? BY HELINA DANIEL & MARISSA URIARTE Entertainment Editor & Staff Writer Bigger, better and bolder seem to be the goal of all famous Hollywood movies or shows today. Many classics such as Scarface, Titanic and Cleopatra, set high standards for their genre of film. More specifically, all of these films are in the process of being remade in the upcoming years. The majority of these films being remade in 3D. Spiderman, which may have gone through enough remakes, is being redone once again with an all-new cast. Set to be released on July 3, 2012 Peter Parker will be played by The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield and his romantic interest Gwen Stacy will be portrayed by Easy A’s Emma Stone. “Emma Stone is one of my favorite actresses. But the cast in a movie, especially in a remake does not determine the quality of the movie;” said

Leonardo DiCaprio is confirmed to be starring as Jay Gatsby in 2012 remake of The Great Gatsby.

junior Omar Abdularahim. Many can agree that an all-star cast does not equal an all-star movie. With quality and cost put into consideration, Spiderman, which will also be made in 3D, raises concerns for AHS’ frequent moviegoers. “They’re just going to kill the classics. 3D might be fun to watch, but it just makes movies more expensive, and we’re broke people,” senior Anna Dinh said With the current economy, many people may not be inclined to spend on average of $15 for a 3D movie ticket. “I really don’t see any remake, especially a superhero action film like Spiderman breaking any records,” Dinh said. Big time studio MGM is taking remakes to a whole new level. They recently took on four new movies to be remade. For the purpose of the remakes, MGM has secured a deal with Paramount Pictures to co-finance Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters, Robocop, Mr. Mom and The Idolmaker. David Aronofsky who also produced The Wrestler and The Fighter, and directed Black Swan will produce Robocop. It seems like today we may not want remakes but other films such as Batman, Iron Man, Friday the 13th and Clash of the Titans were all successes in box office. The Joker played by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight of 2008 replaced Cesar Romero of the 1966’s Batman. Ledger’s performance earned him countless nominations too. “A lot of these remade movies have been really good and people obviously like them. As long as they stay true to the original story, it’s fine,” freshman Hiwot Daniel said. Some prefer the concept of remastered movies over remakes. James Cameron, director of Titanic and other Blockbuster hits, such as Avatar, The Terminator and Aliens, recently confirmed that the iconic film is in the process of being re-mastered to be viewed in 3D. Still students debate the purpose of the release, “I hate when they re-release movies, I don’t


Upcoming DVD releases

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES; An experiment gone horribly wrong, chimpanzees threaten the lives of humans in this 1968 remake. Dec. 13

British actor Andrew Garfield is cast as the new Spiderman in the upcoming remake set to be released in July 2012

see why anyone would go watch it in theaters when they have probably seen it already,” said senior Brandon Marwah. With a tentative release date in April of 2012, close to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the movie’s namesake ship, some are still excited at the news of it’s re-release. “Titanic is my all-time favorite movie and I don’t care the cost, I want to see it again in 3D!” said senior Alice Jones. Though the movie made over a billion dollars worldwide, can it top its already monumental record? As the worth of the ticket and the quality of the remake being considered and the influx of movies being remade, the decision remains up to the viewers whether or not it’s worth the hassle to reinvent the classics.

CONTAGION; Disease plagues the country in this new drama with starring Matt Damon. Dec. 15

COLOMBIANA; Zoe Saladana of Takers, stars as an emotionally damaged woman on a mission of revenge. Dec. 20

New Girl dominates Tuesday’s time slot Awkward is ‘in’ as AHS students praise FOX’s new hit show starring Zooey Deschanel

FINAL DESTINATION 5; This intense horror flick, will have you on the edge of your seats as the characters learn there’s no way you can cheat death . Dec. 27

BY HELINA DANIEL Entertainment Editor Despite its title, FOX’s New Girl has taken TV by storm snatching the lead in viewers 18-34 for its Tuesday 9 p.m. time slot. With it’s difficult competition such as ABC’s The Middle and CBS’s NCIS: Los Angeles, New Girl is quickly becoming a topic of discussion for AHS students. The show is centered on Jess (Zooey Deschanel), who after a bad break up with her longtime boyfriend, moves in with three guys, Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Nick (Jake Johnson) and Winston (Lamorne Morris). Each male roommate has contrasting personas making for a humorous show. The guys, unsure how to deal with their new female roommate integrate her in their lives and quickly become a happy yet dysfunctional family. Don’t let the title fool you; it is not a romantic comedy show or even a show exclusive for females or teenagers. “I thought it was going to be a girl show, but it is incredibly funny and is my new favorite show,” sophomore Dominic Maier said. It’s humor appeals to all ages and genders, specifically ages 18-49, which is what the show’s target age range is. Even with the majority of the cast being up and coming actors the show is still very successful, in fact it contributes to the show’s uniqueness. “The guys are funny, nice and supportive of Jess (Deschanel) despite her extreme awkwardness,” said senior Sarah Knenlein. With all the praise it is receiving, the writers have high expectations for the rest of the season, With striking similarities to TBS’My Boys, viewers appreciate the differences between the main female characters, especially Jess’(Deschanel) overtly awkward characteristics. “It’s classic concept; guy/girl roommates going about their lives, has a funny, modern twist

“#clear eyes full heart can’t lose!! .”

—Tiana Grizzle freshman Despite the new comers in the show, New Girl is quickly taking the lead in its Tuesday night time slot according to

making it very entertaining,” said Laelle Mekkonen. With the arrival of the holiday season, New Girl already has a stellar guest star lined up. True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten was officially cast for the Valentine’s Day episode. This episode will feature Jess unsure of how to spend her Valentine’s Day single. The guys eager to help, especially Schmidt (Greenfield), known as a womanizer, the roommates will surely get into some trouble. If you haven’t had the chance to watch New Girl, you can go to iTunes and download the pilot episode for free, or if you missed any episodes, Hulu makes full episodes one week after it airs.

“I refuse to remember”

— Michael Wendimu sophomore

“There is always that one kid who always takes things one. step. too. far..”

— Sophia Shrestha junior

S u d o k u

Student tweets:

“#YouShouldNot keep texting somebody if they haven’t replied to you. Maybe just once to make sure but please stop after that #itsjustannoying”

— Addy Bramson junior ““#theawkwardmoment when you’re going in for a kiss and the other person doesn’t meet you half way.. *okayyy, back it up, back it up*.””

—Michelle Quiroga senior -Compiled by Dili Akilu

New artist: The Weeknd

On your smartphone scan the above code using the application “QR code” to read about up and coming R&B artist, The Weeknd.

Where do you like to go for the holidays? “I like to go on a cruise. We went the year before, but I want to go again.”

—Diva Chowdhary freshman

Dec. 13, 2011

Home for the h lidays

Twirl into the holiday spirit by checking out these local holiday hot spots THE NUTCRACKER SHOW Take a magical journey through a dream of love and fierce battles, all performed with pointed toes and proper pliès. The story of The Nutcracker is a holiday treat that’s practically guaranteed to be entertaining for the whole family. The tradition of performing The Nutcracker began over 50 years ago for The Washington Ballet, and will continue this year from Dec. 25-27. The company will take a historical approach to the original ballet, starring George Washington as the Nutcracker and King George III as the Rat King The performance will be held at two different times to suit your preference, 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online beforehand, and range from $20-$30. Instead of spending the days leading up to holidays watching an old Christmas movie on the couch, go to the The Nutcracker for a different holiday experience.




Website: “I stay at home and hang out with family.”

Location: 1901 Mississippi Avenue Southeast, Washington D.C., DC 20020-6117

—Ryan Fitzgibbon sophomore

Above: Several female ballet dancers in a forest make up part of the dream sequence in The Nutcracker. Below: Senior Sarah Holmlund and friend hold on to each other in an attempt to keep their balance on the slippery ice at Pentagon Row’s outdoor ice rink.


—Jalen Barcenilla junior


“I like to go to California because it’s where I’m from and my family’s there.”

The brisk air and snow-covered ground are what makes winter special in Northern Virginia. Unlike ice skating indoors, skating outdoors captures the essence of the season by allowing you to enjoy the winter wonderland atmosphere. Pentagon Row is a local outdoor plaza in Arlington with an ice rink in the center. It is open from noon until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends up until Mar. 14, including holidays and days with warm weather. Admission for use of the rink for two hours is $8 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under. Skate rentals are $3 for all, but you can also bring your own skates. However, the fun does not have to stop at the rink, because Pentagon Mall is within walking distance and there are many places to eat as well, including Noodles & Co., Baja Fresh and Starbucks. Website: Location: 1201 South Joyce Street Arlington, VA 22202



Order your new class merchandise from Annette Janwatin

Senior Wicksie Tu (photographed to the right) is a former competitive ice skater. She began her professional ice skating career when she was only six years old, and stopped just last year. She uses the ice rink at Pentagon Row to casually continue her passion for skating.


2012 class bulletin

This time of year, Santa seems to be everywhere, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. His face appears in every store window, songs about him fill a whole radio station, he appears in movies on many TV channels and, of course, he can be seen sitting in his big green chair at malls throughout the month of December. It is not often, however, that you get a chance to see him and his helpers on the water. On Christmas Eve, at 1 p.m., the National Harbor will host the water skiing Santa. Not only will Santa be water skiing, but other classic Christmas characters, like Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch, will be showing off their own tricks on water skis and jet skis as well. Santa will be accompanied by two kneeboarding reindeer and elves steering the wheel of the boat. The best viewing spot from the National Harbor is located in Maryland, next to the Wilson Bridge. The show will go on whether it’s raining, snowing, or sunny outside. After all, Santa is a very busy man this time of year. Be sure to mention to Santa that you’re from AHS, because Santa is also an Annandale local.


––Compiled by Rebecca Malzahn and Carola Rojas



—Catherine Gibson English teacher

Santa maintains a steady grip on the handle while waving to the crowd and skiing over waves.


“[I go] to my sister’s house in Maryland. I hang out with nieces and nephews and the rest of my family.”


—Taylor Swann senior


“In my family, we celebrate Christmas three times: once with my dad’s parents in Florida, once with my mom’s parents in Michigan and once in D.C.”

Location: 137 National Plaza National Harbor, MD 20745


estaurant eviews

Little Italy Sports Bar & Grill Restaurant


Graduation countdown: 185 days

On your smartphone, scan the above code using the application “QR code” to view an exclusive story about other events that the National Harbor offers throughout December.


A night at the National Harbor

One of the most unique things about Annandale is that it’s compromised of several cultures. Not only are these cultures widely represented by the general resident population, but they can also be seen by all of the restaurants lining the streets. To get Italian-styled food, Bradlick Shopping Center offers Little Italy Sports Bar & Grill. Upon walking into the restaurant, it is clear that this is a sports bar. Signed jerseys, flags and posters hang over all of the booths, including an abundance of support for the Maryland Terps, Washington Redskins and Boston Celtics. On top of the sports décor, a poker table, swarmed by men, stands in a corner across from the large bar. And dart boards can also be found in the back of the restaurant. Although this restaurant seems as though it is themed towards a more mature crowd, it is also family friendly. There is even a video game for children to play in the front of the restaurant. Having barely glanced over the menu, it is easy to figure out that Little Italy is only somewhat Italian. The menu ranges from classic Italian pastas, soups and salads to classic American burgers and chicken tenders.



Above: The steaming hot lasagna is served in a bowl. Middle: The spaghetti bolognese, a classic Italian entree, looks as appealing as it tastes with its spicy kick. Bottom: Although the canollis and vanilla ice cream are the only desert options served, they sure are delectable.

For an authentic Italian meal, the Pasta Bolognese, for $11, is an excellent choice. Grounded sausage atop thick noodles is covered in a chunky tomato and creamy cheese sauce with a slightly spicy kick. The lasagna, for $10, is also an authentic Italian option. Just by the looks of it, it is not hard to tell that this is not American. But looks can be deceiving, as it tastes just any lasagna you can find in the frozen section of a local grocery store. The lasagna, served in a bowl, consists of gooey, melted cheese over grounded beef, marina sauce and lasagna noodles. For dessert, there are only two options: a cannoli or ice cream. Both are fair choices, but neither is to-die-for good. After ordering, the meals arrived at our table within about ten minutes, along with a basket of garlic bread. However, that was the only time the service was quick. Even though the restaurant wasn’t even close to being packed, the service in between meals was slow, taking about 30 minutes after our meal was finished before the waitress came back to the table. All in all, Little Italy provides authentic Italian entrées, a homey place to sit down with one’s family and a great environment to gather for a sports game with friends.



6920J Bradlick Shopping Center Annandale, VA 22003


the 6th issue of the 2011-2012 year


the 6th issue of the 2011-2012 year