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the VOLUME #59 ISSUE 1

Hottest Headlines

4700 Medford Dr. Annandale, VA 22003 470

Informiing the Atoms siince 1954 4


(703) 642-4229

Enrollment decreases Teacher and student populations affect AHS

EDITORIALS gives you an inside look on The A-Blast. See page 2.

BY JOE SEHRER Managing Editor

ENTERTAINMENT digs into athletes and their biographical movies. See page 11.

SPORTS looks ahead for the varsity football season. See page 6.

INTERNATIONAL tells the story of a student from Syria. See page 8.

Starting, the 2013-2014 school year, The A-Blast is attempting to further the role of technology in The A-Blast. With the help of our readers, though following us on Instagram and Twitter and “liking” our page on Facebook, our goal is to become the number one source of news for all of our viewers through the use of social media.

Due to redistricting and the new school board initiative, elective Gourmet Foods has been canceled leaving only Culinary Arts.

Seniors Drop Electives

“Enrollment” continues on page 3

New initiative allows students to drop R1 and W2 next year BY DESTINY GAMMON Co-Editor in Chief

Last year, the School Board proposed later start times for high school students but after this proposal fell through, a new option has been created in which seniors can opt out of their R1 or W2 classes in order to allow for more time to sleep in. This opportunity, however, is only offered for students who have an elective as their first period class and those who are on track for graduation. Also, this option will only be available starting the 2014-2015 school year, as schedules are final this year. “One of the reasons I think it was implemented was to give students who are well on track to graduation different opportunities to expand themselves. They could take the first period off, and could do even do dual enrollment at Northern Virginia Community College, or NVCC,” Principal Vincent Randazzo said. “I think it gives more flexibility to those students who are well on their way towards graduation, whether it be a standard diploma or advanced diploma, and really get started on the next phase of their life.” Although this option could ease the stresses that come along with senior year, most notably college searching, this drop in classes could result in some athletes being unable to play during their winter or spring seasons.


ENTERTAINMENT talks about country concerts. See page 10.


PHOTO reminises many students’ summer vacations. See page 9.

Seniors that have chosen to opt out of their R1 or W2 classes can come to school later.

“The major impact could be eligibility for those students. If you’re one of those students that has the opportunity to drop R1 and W2, you’re now down to five classes. The VHSL states that you have to pass five classes. So if you are only taking five classes and you fail one, you are ineligible,” Director of Student Services Karl Kerns said. “So for seniors, that could affect whether or not they can play a spring sport, or even a winter sport if they don’t pass all their classes. It could have a huge impact on those seniors and seniors need to be aware that they have to pass all five classes.” Another concern related to the dropping of first period elective courses is the drop of enrollment that could result in these electives, resulting in their withdrawal from the curriculum. “Next year, if students drop their first period classes in advance, then there will

be a lack of student enrollment in electives, which is already a problem,” Randazzo said. “Electives are important. Electives are the courses that make us well-rounded. There are things that students take that they are really passionate about, like band or chorus. Those courses are directly related to the core courses. They are a great gateway to knowing and we would be missing those if students didn’t take those courses due to this opportunity to drop them.” When deciding whether or not it be a good idea to drop your R1 or W2 classes, Kerns suggests that parents of athletes, as well as the athletes themselves, should look at the pros and cons and be sure that they really think about the decision before making it final. Like Kerns, Randazzo believes that each student should take this decision seriously. “The situation has to fit the student,”

Randazzo said. “You don’t want to put students in bad situations, you want to put them in situations where they can succeed. “ Another concern related to the dropping of first period elective courses is the drop of enrollment that could result in these electives, resulting in their withdrawal from the curriculum. “Next year, if students drop their first period classes in advance, then there will be a lack of student enrollment in electives, which is already a problem,” Randazzo said. “Electives are important. Electives are the courses that make us well-rounded. There are things that students take that they are really passionate about, like band or chorus. Those courses are directly related to the core courses. They are a great gateway to knowledge and we would be missing those if students didn’t take those courses due to this opportunity to drop them.” Students also have to remember that if they drop their first period elective, they need to have a ride to school. When deciding whether or not it be a good idea to drop your R1 or W2 classes, Kerns suggests that parents of athletes, as well as the athletes themselves, should look at the pros and cons and be sure that they really think about the decision before making it final. Like Kerns, Randazzo believes that each student should take this decision seriously. “The situation has to fit the student,” Randazzo said. “You don’t want to put students in bad situations, you want to put them in situations where they can succeed.”

Collaboration Schedule Transition program moved to afternoon BY JAROD GOLUB News Editor There have been many changes made to the Collaboration system, one of the main ones being the timing. “It will occur in the afternoons on the third Thursday of every month,” Principal Vincent Randazzo said. “Classes will end at 1:30 and the buses will depart at 2:10.” This change gives teachers an opportunity to be more active during the Collaboration time period. “I like the idea of collaborating in the afternoon, in the morning the first part of the process was just everyone waking up, but in the afternoon, it will be easier to get to work,” English teacher Sean Hardy said.

There are many reasons that these changes were made, including more time to collaborate, and less tardies and absences in the mornings. “We were looking for a different time to collaborate where teachers do not feel hemmed in to an ending time,” Randazzo said. Randazzo thinks that this new method of Collaboration will provide good changes for AHS. The faculty hopes to add more instructional time to the year by adding these changes. “This new method will reduce the unused instructional time, last year we wasted 17 hours of time that could have been spent teaching, this year it will only be five and a half,” Randazzo said. While Randazzo does have positive outlook, there has been a mixed reaction from students. “Students need that one day of sleeping in,” junior Richard Manahl said. “I know for me, it helped me focus a lot more.”

Top stories On your smartphone, scan this code using the application “QR Code” to view the uploaded online content for the first issue of The A-Blast .

Due to the redistricting of Wakefield Chapel and Bren Mar, or Edsall Park, neighborhoods by the School Board three years school year, the 20132014schoolyearhasseenadramaticdeclineinboth student enrollment and hired staff. According to PTSA member Emily Slough, due to the drastic decline in student enrollment, 11 positionswerede-staffedbetweenAprilandMay,in additiontoanothersixteacherswhoretiredwithout replacement, totaling 17 positions. “At one time, we were at 2,700 students, and changes in the boundaries have now reduced us to about 2,200 students,”Principal Vincent Randazzo said.“You don’t need as many teachers, so we adjust staff proportionately to the students that you have.” While these staff decreases are made to cater to the student body, certain departments will experience rises, or falls, in teachers based on the fluctuations in this student population. According to Randazzo, when student enrollment is reduced by 100 students, there is a subsequent loss of about four to

A-BLAST TV On your smartphone, scan this code using the application “QR Code” to view the uploaded video content created by our staff.

SUMMER VACATION PICTURES On your smartphone, scan this code using the application “ QR Code” to view user generated photos of students’ summer vacations.

Some students see this as taking away their day of sleeping in, while others see it as a chance to finish the day on a good note. “I think it will be better for students because they can end the day with something easy,” sophomore Julie Swenton said. Despite students apathy towards the changes, Randazzo thinks that the changes will provide more opportunities for students to learn and achieve in school. “Our teachers have more time to reflect and plan things, which helps our students achieve more, be more effective, and have a good learning process,” Randazzo said. The schedule for the Collaboration days will be W2, W8, W6, and Atom Time. After Atom time, students with a way home will be allowed to leave school. Everyone else will be required to wait in a designated location for the buses to arrive.

A-BLAST UPDATES On your smartphone, scan this code using the application “ QR Code” to follow The A-Blast in order to keep in tough with the latest local and school related news.


How to survive your freshman year of high school


Don’t procrastinate; try to finish all your work early


Figure out which one of your friends have the same lunch break as you.


Make new friends; be open and talk to everyone


Don’t lose touch with your old friends


Remember to prioritize - academic work comes before anything else. Most social events happen every week.



A: The A-Blast is a student-run newspaper that serves as the hub for the Annandale community since 1954. Our main objective is to provide our readers with news that is timely, accurate and significant. We provide factual bases to dispel rumors that may circulate among the community. We strive to tell the untold stories that you can only get from a unique student persepective; in essence, give voice to the voiceless.

A: The A-Blast aims to interact with its audience, so we welcome any article submissions. In the past, we’ve published travel accounts, photos, cartoons and opinion pieces. Feel free to talk to any staff member to have your writing or photos published. If you’d like to submit an editorial, email For any other picture or article submissions, email Ultimately, the editors decide what to feature on their pages.


A: The A-Blast is distributed every three weeks during W4, but you can have it mailed to your house, by filling out the form online at To get more connected with The A-Blast, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter to get daily news updates.

We strive to tell the untold stories that you can only get from a unique student perspective; in essence, give voice to the voiceless.

Q: WHAT DOES THE A-BLAST COVER? A: The A-Blast covers news and human interest stories around the school and the surrounding community. We report stories ranging from an athlete reaching AllAmerican and a teacher appearing on Wheel of Fortune. We have 10 sections of The A-Blast, including a variety of aspects of school life like arts, sports and academics. We provide coverage of sports games and scores, concerts, special speakers - basically all aspects of student life besides gossip and disciplinary actions. The only things we don’t cover are disciplinary actions and gossip.

Q: WHAT IS THE PAPER’S POLICY ON PROFANITY? A: At The A-Blast, we strive to be a model of language. However, if an adult uses profanity, we will report it in context. We do not protect students who use profanity when they give us quotes, but we do ask that they rephrase.


On your smartphone, scan the above code to like the Facebook page or the bottom code to follow us on Twitter.

A: While we strive to provide our reader with coverage with current events, we don’t report matters of student discipline because of the sensitive information that is involved and the fact that those involved are generally minors.



Always keep your agenda on hand and actually use it.


Be yourself, this is the time to show the real you.


Don’t be that freshman that gets tricked about the 3rd floor or the swimming pool


Sept. 3, 2013

Avoid the crowded downstairs science hallway in between classes.


Ask questions: the answers are worth your temporary embarrassment.


Join new clubs and try out for different sports

QUOTE COLLECTION The A-Blast wants to hear your opinion. Your response to the following question might be features in our quote collection:

What is your opinion of the U.S invading Syria? E-mail your responses to

A: The A-Blast reports news that is both timely and impacts the community. We cover human interest stories, important student and teacher accomplishments and odd happenings that are of note.

Q: HOW DO STUDENTS BECOME MEMBERS OF THE A-BLAST? A: Everyone who is on the staff of The A-Blast is also enrolled in Journalism. So, if you’d like to join the staff of the paper, you should talk to your counselor to be switched into one of the classes.

Let’s not jump the gun...again The U.S. should not launch a strike in response to Syria’s alleged use of chemical warfare BY CHRISTINE TAMIR Editorials Editor Following the August chemical warfare attack in Damascus, Syria, the U.S. now plans to intervene through the use of a limited military strike. But we shouldn’t. It doesn’t make sense to intervene now, especially when we have much more to lose from invading than we have to gain. Even our closest ally, Great Britain, isn’t on board with invading Syria. On Aug. 28, Prime Minister David Cameron proposed conducting a strike in Syria to Parliament and got shot down. In addition to that, where were we during the two previous years of the government’s genocide? Syrians have been being killed, just this time by chemical weapons. According to, 1,300 Syrians have died due to chemical warfare. And yes, whoever used the chemical warfare did violate international treaties, but lives were being violently taken with bullets and clubs before the strike too. Shouldn’t that warrant an intervention rather than the violation of a law? We might have initially refrained from intervening in Syria’s affairs because we didn’t want to lose a potential stronghold in the Middle East, but Syria is not of any strategic value to the U.S. Its two strongest allies - Russia and Iran - already aren’t fans of the U.S. Besides, if we were to stage an intervention now, we would further sour our relations with those countries. In fact, the threat of a potential military strike has further

united the Syrian allies against the U.S. Russia has provided warships and pledged to work in “extensive cooperation” to prevent military action against Syria. According to The Washington Post, the United Nations (U.N.) sent in weapons investigators during the past week to determine whether chemical weapons were actually put in use by either the rebel group or the government (Ostensibly, only the government has access to such warfare allude to strong evidence pointing toward the government having access to such weapons). Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledges the importance of information gathered by U.N. inspectors but asserts that it won’t be necessary to prove what is “grounded in facts, informed by conscience and guided by common sense.” The truth of the matter is, we don’t have all the

facts about Syria. While it is overwhelmingly likely that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack on rebels on citizens with poison gas, we don’t have evidence that clearly portrays the government as the perpetrators. At the very least, we should wait for U.N. inspectors to come back with a complete report. Even if the inspectors come back with solid evidence that points to the government as the culprit, we shouldn’t intervene. Just think of Iraq; we spent 10 years in the country because of allegations that the country held nuclear weapons. We found out that they actually didn’t hold the weapons a decade later, and that we had wasted our time, countless lives and millions of dollars on a war that didn’t need to be fought. Let’s not repeat that same mistake.



Make a good first impression not only on other students, but also on your teachers



Slacktivism in full swing Annandale High School 4700 Medford Dr. Annandale, Virginia 22003 email:

On your smartphone, scan the above code using the application “QR Code” to read a story about today’s lack of authentic activism.

Vol. 59 No.1 Sept. 3 2013 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, 2010.



“Enrollment” continued from Page 1

six core teachers in addition to elective teachers. Student population also plays a factor in class sizes, limiting certain electives to fewer classes. One elective affected is the Journalism department, headed by Alan Weintraut. Journalism classes were reduced from three classes to two, incorporating Journalism 1 into the same period as the Journalism 2 class. Another elective affected is the Gourmet Foods course. This course has been taken out of the curriculum because not enough students enrolled in the course. 80-100 students were lost from the Cullinary Arts program. The reduced student enrollment combined with the necessity to take a required economics and personal finance class has many worried about the future of many electives. However, there are some areas that have grown despite fewer students, such as marching band, which has witnessed growth in membership. “Sometimes you will lose sections, and we’re down to half a teacher in our electives in some cases,” Randazzo said. “Every department is impacted by the reduction of population, because teachers have to go to different buildings where the population increases.” With the decrease in both teaching staff and student enrollment, there is also a concern for the future of clubs and there is much uncertainty about the future of AHS athletics.

The graph above depicts the drop in student enrollment at AHS in the past five years. Information for the 2013-2014 school year has not yet been confirmed, so data is estimated.

“The biggest impact would be on the clubs. If you’re down 500 students there may be clubs that no longer exist,” Karl Kerns, Director of Student Activities said. “I think we are going to see a significant drop off of the number of students in the clubs.” With fewer teachers on staff, there is concern that clubs will lose membership as well as sponsorship. For example, a reduced number of teachers means a

smaller group of volunteers for tickettakers and concession stand workers at the football games, as well as less hands to help with homecoming and other school events. “With teachers gone, there are less teachers who can work in activities, clubs, sponsors, those who can help at games. Teachers who may have been here last year but aren’t this year due to lower enrollment may have been a club sponsor,

and if we can not find a new sponsor, there can not be a club. We are hoping that does not happen,” Kerns said. PTSA president Kathy Ryan noted however that shifting numbers in students and teachers have not affected the PTSA’s ability to stay involved in the Annandale community. According to Ryan, several departments have become involved in the PTSA, including leadership, the Biology team, and culinary, headed by Chef G. “ We have great interest and participation in the PTSA from not only our teachers, but also the administrative team,” Ryan said. “What counts is not the number faculty or staff PTSA members we have, but how active these members are within the PTSA.” Although fall sports have not seen an alarming decrease in participation due to student population, future athletic seasons have yet to see how they will be affected. However, Kerns reveals that he is still optimistic for the seasons to come. “The good thing about Annandale is that teachers here step up and fill the needs because they understand that this is what is good for the kids,” Kerns said. “I always say this: The best way to get involved in the community is to get involved with the school. Teaching, coaching, club sponsorship, helping out at games, attending homecoming or prom. You get to see the kids outside of the classroom and the students get to see you [their teachers] outside the classroom at their events. That was the best advice I ever received as a teacher.”




PUBLIC DESTINY GAMMON Co-Editor in Chief Over the past few years, the so-called “Atoms Girls,” a hand-chosen group of senior girls, would paint themselves before football games, spelling out a phrase of some sort. In the past, this group was private, but as of this year it has been determined that anyone can be one of the infamous Atoms Girls. Created by Senior Tricia Liller, who is also the part of the Class of 2014 Executive Board, the new Facebook group “Lets show some spirit” was created as part of her efforts to get more than just a select few involved at football games. “Everyone deserves a chance to have fun their senior year, so I’m going to give it to them,” Liller said. In the bigger picture, the purpose of the new group was to not only give more senior girls the opportunity to be a part of this new tradition, but to also increase student participation at the games by adding more spirited individuals to the student section. “Being an Atoms Girl is something that most girls look up to and I am glad that I get to be a part of this “leadership” role for underclassmen girls,” senior Carly Potts said. “I’m excited that I am finally a senior and I can not wait for Friday night football games!” If anyone is still interested in being an Atoms Girl, join the group on Facebook or contact Tricia Liller.


Class of 2017 prepares for new school year, gets acquainted with school, meets teachers With wide eyes and red shirts, the class of 2017 walked the halls of AHS for the first time on Thursday during their freshmen orientation program. “It’s really exciting, getting to see the school and walk around,” freshman Alicia Pearson said. The program serves as an opportunity for freshmen to go through each of their classes and get a feel for AHS. “It lets them pick up their schedules, meet the staff and learn about Annandale,” Principal Vincent Randazzo said. There was a pep rally held in the gym at the end of the day for the freshmen where they were given a class of 2017 shirt. “We really want to use this as a chance to make them feel a part of the AHS community, because they are now, and for the next four years and forever, an Annandale Atom,” Randazzo said. It also gives the freshmen a chance to see what high school will be like. “I am looking forward to all of the new experiences, such as meeting new people and going to football games,” freshman Diego Loving said. Other ways that students become accustomed to



The beginning of the Freshmen Orientation program was spent in the auditorium participating in a welcome assembly.

AHS is by playing a fall sport that practices here over the summer, or talking to older siblings that have gone here in the past. “Playing a fall sport helps, because everything is not as new and you already know people,” freshman Jacob Filsoof said. “I’m happy that my sister went here, because if I have trouble with work, or a teacher, then she can help me through it, because she went through it too,” Pearson said. The program also serves as a way for students to get excited for the things that AHS has to offer.

“I’m really excited for all the electives,” Pearson said. “It’s not like in middle school where there are very few electives to choose from.” One problem with having a large influx of new students each year is that teachers and counselors have to adjust from working with students that have been here and know their way around, to working with students that have just switched schools. “It is different when you’re working with two different groups of kids,” Counselor Stacie Shaffer said. “You have to remember that freshmen aren’t familiar with

Synthetic Turf to Be Installed Football and practiec field to be turf by 2017 OMNIA SAED & JAROD GOLU Co-Editor in Chief and News Editor The Fairfax County School board has voted in favor of funding the installation of synthetic turf for a total of eight schools

In previous years the Atoms Girls has been a private group. Above is the group of girls and boys from the class of 2013.

in the Patriot District. The project will see to it that synthetic turf fields will be installed in various FCPS fields, including Thomas A. Edison HS, J.E.B Stuart HS, Thomas Jefferson HS, Mount Vernon HS, South County SS, West Potomac HS, Hayfield SS and AHS. In the past, plans for a project similar to this have been considered, but this is the first time that anything has been approved. At AHS, the turf will be applied to both the practice field and the game field.

According to DIrector of Student Services, Karl Kerns, the turf is set to cost 125 thousand dollars. Kerns plans to pay for this through a fundraiser, in which each student brings in a set amount of money by grade. Seniors would bring in 14 dollars, juniors 15, sophomores 16, and freshmen 17. The turf will facilitate to the growing demands from Fairfax County’s athletic departments. According to Kerns, the synthetic material provides even playing

surfaces, without the need for watering/ mowing and can be used year-round. Kerns also stated that the field will benefit the community by providing a field with lights that is accessible to all. It adds another field that is usable by local sports teams and clubs. Kerns’ goal is to have the field complete before the class of 2017 graduates from AHS.

N EWS B RIEFS On Tuesday September 3 Freshmen and JV football teams will play at Falls Church at 5:45 pm and 7:30 pm.

There will be a meeting in Clausen Hall from 6:30-8:30 pm on Tuesday September 3 for ESOL students.

The Band Boosters will be meeting at 7:00 pm on Wednesday September 3 in the Band room.

On Thursday September 5 there will be a presentation of the SR&R to any Academy students. It will take place in Clausen Hall.

On Wednesday, September 4 the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah will begin at sundown. It will last until sundown on Friday.

Senior portraits will be taken on Monday, September 9 in Clausen Hall from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm.

The band’s Tag Day will take place on Saturday, September 7 all day.

AHS holds Pyramid Resource Fair On your smartphone, scan the above code using the application “QR Code” to read about the first ever Pyramid Resource fair.

4 Photos from Golub’s trip

The group of 113 teens poses for a picture in front of the Chadar Ochel (mess hall) at Degania Bet.

A view of the Bahai Gardens. The garden is holy to the people of the Bahai religion.


Sept. 4, 2013

Student Travels to Israel Student visits Israel, the holy land of the Jewish religion, to reconnect to his beliefs and culture

BY JAROD GOLUB News Editor As the sun rose from the top of Masada, a mountain in Israel, it painted the Dead Sea in an array of colors. This was one of the most beautiful sights I saw on my trip, and this was only on the fourth day. This summer, I spent six weeks in Israel, from July 30th to August 5th, as a member of a Jewish youth movement called Habonim Dror North America. Habonim Dror is a worldwide youth movement that gives Jewish teens a chance to grow up in an environment that promotes growth and learning, while also having fun and creating lifelong friendships. Habonim Dror was created in 1982, however the two movements it is a combination of have been around since the early 1920’s. It is based around the Jewish religion, along with other values of social justice and actualization (acting on your own beliefs). I have been a member of this movement and have attended its North The rafts were constructed by the student travellers and carried to the water. They set mast the next day. American summer camps since I was 10 years old, so it was only natural for when we walked in, the air around us moment for us, and it was a time when had provided a pensive atmosphere me to take my first trip to Israel with got colder, the light got darker and the all of us really became closer as a group. for many of us, including myself, to this group of 113 rising 11th graders only real daylight we could see was With this incredible success behind question our own Judaism and our who make up my national kvutsa (age the light all the way at the other end us, we then went back to touring. We connection to Israel. group), and who are all a part of the of the museum. The floor also turned travelled from the Kinneret to Tel Aviv The next leg of my trip took up a same movement. from carpet to cement, to symbolize the (a large city in Israel), where we spent very relaxing week on the banks of During my summer I rode a camel, transition from before WWII to during, it the afternoon in a shuk, an Israeli the Kineret, Israel’s largest body of crawled through caves, rafted across the is an attempt to let the people entering marketplace, bargaining for things freshwater. Kinneret (the largest body of freshwater feel a recreation of how quickly the and eating local food such as falafel My small group of 18 spent a week in Israel) and much more, along with Holocaust was thrust upon the world. and shawarma. In the Israeli shuk it is at Degania Bet. Degania was one doing general touristy things that one The next few days were more lightacceptable to bargain for your goods of the first kibbutzim (labor based can do in Israel, and other not so normal hearted and fun. We spent time at the because it is a large part of their culture. settlements in Israel) ever established. things. beach, and hung out with our friends. At the end of our time in the It was established by members of the We did many things that related to After this, we went to another Kibbutz shuk, we visited Independence Hall, second Aliyah (mass exodus of a group our movement specifically, and were set and spent the weekend with members which is the building where Israel’s of Jews to the land around finding our of our sister movement learning about independence was officially instated. of Israel), some “Jewish identity” and their culture and the way they run their The next day, we visited Yad Vashem, of which, were learning more about movement. the Israeli Holocaust Museum, and Har members of my We did many things that ourselves and each It was very interesting to learn Herzl, the grave of Theodor Herzl. Herzl youth movement. related to our movement other. about the differences between our two is credited as the founder of modern During this specifically, and were set At the start of my movements, however, it was somewhat political Zionism (the belief that Jews week, we visited around finding our ‘Jewish trip I spent a week strange being rushed into this situation have a right of a homeland in the Land identity’ and learning more about another kibbutz, in the desert getting where they expected us to interact well Kibbutz Ravid, that of Israel), which is one of the five pillars ourselves and eachother accustomed to the with these people that we had never that my movement is based on. was established heat of a country met before. Yad Vashem was the first Holocaust by our Israeli sister —Jarod Golub in the Middle East, movement HaNoar junior learning about the HaOved, and we geography and rafted down the history of the country, and getting to Jordan River. know the other 112 people that I would After our time at Degania, we visited be spending my summer with. Tzfat, another holy Jewish city, and We traveled to a Bedouin tent, where Tel Hai, a settlement in Northern Israel we rode camels and donkeys; and got where an early battle in the Arabto experience a culture that is entirely Israeli conflict took place. At Tel Hai, we different than ours. The very next day, learned about the role that members of we climbed the Masada mountain and our movement played in this battle, and swam in the lowest point in the world, the outcome of the fighting. which happens to be the Dead Sea. The next part of the trip, Rafsodia After our time in the desert, we (Hebrew for “raft”), was by far the most museum ever, and it is also one of To read the rest of “Student traveled to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, fun. Over the course of the next two the most informative and emotional and a holy city for the jewish religion, Travels to Israel” use your days, we built multiple rafts out of museums that I have been to. It is set and others. While in Jerusalem, we smartphone to activate the bamboo, barrells, and rope. up in a way that moves you through the visited the Western Wall of the Old These rafts, once equipped with a museum in a chronological order from Temple, and discussed the Arab-Israeli mast, a sail and a rudder, then carried us before the Holocaust to its aftereffects. conflict. across the Kinneret. This was a very big The museum is also designed so that The different conversations that we all day, hang out with eachother and

At the Bedouin tents there were camels that were ridden by the group in the Israeli desert.

Summers with a purpose “I went to a church camp. This was a fun experience to learn and to grow in my church, it helped grow my faith.”

— Katie Garrish freshman

Fun Facts about Israel

“I went to help restore a womna’s house. We went to strengthen our relationsiop with each other, our world, and God. It was very rewarding and I feel like a better person because of it. ”

— Jack Curtin junior “I went to a pre-med camp at Washington University in St. Louis. I hope to become a pediatric oncologist or a neurologist. It helped me to be completely sure that I want to be in the medical field.'

• Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East • Israel is the only Jewish dominated state in the world. • Postage stamps in Israel have kosher glue. • Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world. • Israel’s population is half the size of Metro New York City

• The cell phone was developed in Israel at Motorola’s largest development center. • Swimmers float in the Dead Sea because of its high salt content. • Israel is the Holy Place to Christianity, Judiasm, and Islam. • Jews are not allowed to touch the Dome Of The Rock, a sacried place for the islamic religion.

— Jasmine Pringle senior

On your smartphone, scan the above code using the application “QR Code” to see more pictures from Golub’s trip.

The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic mosque located in Jerusalem city. The temple was initially a Christian church in pre-islamic times, then taken over.

Golub is overlooking Haifa, the largest city in northern Israel. This was one of the last places he visited.

The blue shirts are the shirts given to members of the movementwho are old enough to participate in the governing process. The writing is the Hebrew translation of the name of the movement.



HEALTH Yoga Positions to Help Stress

Sept. 3, 2013


Child Pose: This is a simple yoga position that does not require too much straining. Have a mat placed on the ground and lay in a fetal position facing the ground. You can place your forehead on the ground or extend your arms out to hold yourself up. This can help relieve tension in your back and help you sleep better.

Half Moon Pose: This is an ideal pose for those who have anxiety or are feeling anxious about anything. Have your right leg straight and touch the ground with your right hand. Bring your left leg up and have your left hand directly in the air. Doing this position will enhance leg strength.

Quarter Dog Pose: This is similar to a downward dog pose but your forearms are used to hold you up. First stand up straight and bend down with your hands touching the ground. Switch from your hands to your forearms and hold. This is a good stretch to do to help ease shoulder pain.

Corpse Pose: When you are feeling overly stressed from school, work or personal life then this pose is for you. Lay down on a mat facing upwards. Start to breathe deeply and forget about everything. This a calming form and can help relieve any anxieties or help increase

Jansport Big Student


This is a common backpack that many high school students use because it is simple and holds a large capacity of items. The padded straps will help you feel a lighter feeling on your back. Price: $45

Case Logic 15.6 Inch Laptop Backpack This backpack is the best choice for students who carry around a lot of electronics. The back has padded area so anything in the backpack should not be able to poke through. Price: $69

Breakfast Idea to Wake you Up Pineapples and apples will help get you on your feet for a long day of school BY BERTA TARQUI Health Editor Ingredients needed: - Half of an apple - Two slices of pineapple or one cup of pineapple juice - Four ice cubes - Blender Optional: Half a banana Directions: - Slice the apple and pineapple into small pieces - Place ice cubes, pineapple and apple

Billion dollars is wasted on yoga products each year.


Million Americans practice yoga.

BY BERTA TARQUI Health Editor Ingredients needed: - One whole wheat mini bagel or full bagel - Peanut butter


Percent of people who practice yoga are women.

You can add chunks of pineapple for apple in the smoothie to create a thicker texture.

After School Snack to Fulfill Hunger

Natural peanut By the numbers butter contains a good amount of protein to give you energy


pieces in blender - Blend until desired consistency - Place in fridge Helpful Tip: Make this the night before to have a chilled drink in the morning. Preparation Time: Five minutes Fact: Pineapples is filled with vitamin c and contains Manganese, which is needed to help regulate metabolism. Pineapples are also great for your digestive system because it is not too harsh on your stomach. Drinking this every once in a while can support your vision aswell.

- Take the mini bagel or full bagel and toast it. - Add peanut butter on the toasted bagel. - Slice the banana and sprinkle them on top of the peanut butter. - Add a little nutella on top. Helpful Tip: Do not add too much nutella because it does contain a lot of sugar if taken in high quantities. Preparation Time: Five minutes Fact: This meal will contain a lot of potassium becausebananasandpeanutbutterarefilledwith it. Bananas can aid to bone growth because and keepyourkidneyshealthy.Peanutcontainssome fatbutitisthegoodkindthatwillaidhearhealth.


This backpack is a more expensive option, but it will last for years because it was built for durability. This does not hold as much as the Jansport but it does have more support for your back and shoulders. Price: $89


North Face Borealis

- One banana - Toaster Optional: Nutella Directions: This bagel breakfast is a sweet treat but still is nutritious because it contains fruit and protein.


Percent of people who practice yoga live in the Northeast.

Back to School Health Essentials





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Even though students will be inside for the most part of the day, freshmen and sophomores take P.E. In the warmer months, they will be required to be outside for a class. For those who burn easily, having some sunscreen around is the best choice to avoid sun damage. Anyone who plays a sport should always have sunscreen with them. Summer is not over; the UV index is still high when most sports start after school. Keep it in your sports locker or gym locker so you will not lose it.

Lip protection Bringing any form of lip protection will save you when the weather starts to get colder and dryer. You may not need it right now because the season is not over but soon, the weather can interchange from cold to warm for a while. Chapped lips can be a chronic problem for many and it gets annoying after awhile. It is an easy fix if you have lip protection with you. Keep this in a pencil case or a private pouch in your backpack for easy access.

Snack Transitioning from summer vacation to a school schedule can mean students may feel hungry. This can make students unfocused and irritated. Bring along a snack everyday just in case you feel any hunger throughout the day. Make sure the snack is something that is portable and has some nutritional value. Some examples are: a cereal bar, a bag of cereal or any fruit of vegetable cut up into pieces. The best place to keep your snack is in a pencil pouch or backpack so you have it with you at all times.

Hand sanitizer One of the most important item every student needs is some hand sanitizer. Flu season will be starting soon and you can try to prevent catching it by using hand wipes or sanitizer gel before you eat or have been around someone who is sick. Don’t however, use this instead of washing your hands, but this can be used when you are unable to access a bathroom. Buy a hand sanitizer holder so you can clip this on your backpack or keep it in your pencil case.

6 Coach’s Corner Varsity Football Coach: Mike Scott

Based on your team this year, how is it looking so far? “Very good. They’re a really good group. We have about 90+ kids, and we have a strong senior class and a lot of young guys, and they’re doing a great job and will play a lot. It’s been a really good first four weeks, we’ve had a few injuries but overall they’re not bad, and the team is doing really well.” How would you describe your overall coaching style when you’re on the field? “Coaching is teaching. We try to teach them, first and foremost, and we also try to challenge them.” Based on the district, how do you think the team will perform? “I think we’re going to be right up there with any other team. Like I said, we do have young guys, so some are going to take a little time to be ready to go at that level, because we have an extremely difficult conference now, but it’s just as tough as in state. We think we’re ready to go.”


Sept. 3, 2013

A Closer Look Into Football 9/6/13

Falls Church High School (H) @ 7:30 p.m.


J.E.B. Stuart High School (A) @ 7 p.m.


Oakton High School (H) @ 7:30 p.m.


Lake Braddock Secondary (A) @ 7:30 p.m.


T.C. Williams High School (H) @ 7:30 p.m.


Lee High School (A) @ 7:30 p.m.


W.T. Woodson (Homecoming) (H) @ 7:30 p.m.


West Springfield High School (A) @ 7:30 p.m.


West Potomac High School (A) @ 7:30 p.m.


South County High School (Senior Night) (H) @ 7:30 p.m.


Region 6A North Tournament (Time and Place TBD)

Annandale football team is confident they will rank well in the conference this year with the held of new coaches.

AHS football looks forward to first game against Falls Church BY MELANIE BENNETT Sports Editor

Whistle blows, the play starts, and the Atoms are off ! Football season is when every school gets to show their spirit. From the Atoms girls and guys, to the marching band, and to the actual football game, all of the festivities are anticipated by students and community alike.

Because the football program lost Coach Dick Adams to retirement last year, they have had to compensate by bringing in a few new co practices a day for almost three weeks straight. But practicing this extensively also has its setbacks. Injuries occur quite often, but are taken care of as soon as possible. “We try to rehabilitate them.” head coach Mike Scott said. “then they take a test so we know they’re ready to go.” With a game against Falls Church rapidly approaching, the team is doing their best to prepare for their season opening game.

Field Hockey

Field Hockey captains Lizzie Manthos and Katie McCann hope to have a succesfull season by bringing their A-game

Field hockey is confident for their season BY MELANIE BENNETT Sports Editor After extensive summer training, the AHS girls Field Hockey team is starting to see the results of their hard work. The team’s training started August fifth and is continuing into the school year. Head coach Cindy Hook is confident that the team will perform well this season. “Based on the group of girls on the team this year, I expect that it’s going to get nothing but better as the season goes on. The improvement and teamwork that they’ve already developed, as they played a 4 game tournament the last two days, from the first game to the fourth game; is just amazing. So they’re very team oriented, they’re very high achievers, and they love to have fun,” Hook said. “It just looks really, really good.” With a 4 game tournament under their belts, the team

now has the experience of playing together before the actual season starts. This just one of the many techniques Hook uses as a coach. “I like to set some expectations, and then help them achieve it. I’m more of a helping kind of coach rather than a demanding, talk-down kind of coach,” Hook said. With an extensive schedule ahead, the team feels well prepared for their upcoming games. Team captains Lizzie Manthos and Katie McCann have set some goals to lead the team. “As a captain, I think some team goals are to keep improving throughout the season and to approach each game with a lot of intensity but also with a sense of fun,” Senior captain Katie McCann said. “My goal as a captain is to be a positive confidence builder,” Senior captain Lizzie Manthos said. “I want to be someone the team can look to for advice.” “We’re in a really tough districts.” Hook said. “But I know we’re doing all the right things to be the best we can be this season.”


Falls Church High School (A) @ 7:30 p.m.


Chantilly High School (H) @ 7 p.m.


Washington and Lee High School (H) @ 7:30 p.m.


Oakton High School (H) @ 7:30 p.m.


Lake Braddock Secondary (A) @ 7:30 p.m.


West Springfiels High School (A) @ 7:30 p.m.


West Patomac High School (H) @ 7:30 p.m.


Lee High School (A) @ 7:30 p.m.


W.T. Woodson High School (H) @ 7:30 p.m.


T.C. Williams High School (H) @ 7:30 p.m.


South County High School (A) @ 7:30 p.m.

Cheerleading 10/16/13

1st Rnd Patriot Conference Competition (LBSS) @ TBD


Finals, Patriot Conference Competition (LBSS) @ TBD


1st Rnd Region 6A North Competition (LBSS) @ TBD


Region 6A North Championships (LBSS) @ TBD

Cheerleading team goes from cheering at football games to cheering at competitions by having determination and drive

Cheer Captains:

Melissa Pratt & Amanda Filsoof

On your smartphone, scan the above code using the application “QR Code” to visit the Red and White Golf Classic website to sign up.

What are you goals for the season? “Our biggest goal is to make regionals this season”. What is your motto as captains? “Put as much in as you want to get out.” As a team, what are your biggest weaknesses? “Tumbling, other schools have girls who have been cheering (tumbling) for years.” How will you improve as a team? “By having lots of practices until competitions.” As a team, what are your biggest strengths? “Our ability to work together compared to years past.”

AHS cheerleading team works vigorously to earn region title BY MELANIE BENNETT Sports Editor You may only think of Cheerleading as a group of girls who get the crowd pumped at a football game, but they have competitions just like every other sports team at AHS. The Cheerleading team has held tryouts earlier in August and has been practicing ever since. Head coach Cragin Winkler, who became coach last school year, is confident that the team will perform well at their competitions. “We do have a strong teams in the conference but I believe we can stay competitive with them.

I am very excited for this season. We have been working hard since the summer and it’s going to be a great year,” Winkler said. “Great things are going to come from this team!” Coach Winkler has been working hard to prepare her team for their upcoming competitions. “We are having practice daily and pushing ourselves with harder tumbling and stunts. We also have been doing team bonding to make sure we stay together and grow and develop as a team,” Winkler said. Hoping for team progression Winkler has also made higher goals for her team. “As a team. Once they hit our goal we need to aim higher and continue to get better as the season progresses.” Winkler said. “These girls are pushing themselves in every aspect of the sport. We are doing stunts that I have never seen done at AHS since I’ve been here. We are also growing our numbers in tumbling and working on more advance tumbling, which is also a big factor to cheerleading. I am excited for this season.”


Sept. 3, 2013

Annandale Fall Sports

Coach’s Corner Girls Cross Country: Phillip Harris

Golf 9/12/13

Patriot High School (Laurel Hill GC) @ 4 p.m.


T.C. Williams High School (TBD) @ 4 p.m.


Patriot Conference Tournament (Grendale GC) @ TBA


6A North Region Tournament (Chantilly CC) @ TBA



VHSL State Tournament (TBD) @ TBA

Golf Captain: Richie Fruchterman What are you goals for the season? “Win district matches and help younger players because they are the future of the team”.

What is your motto as a captain? “Focus on every shot because every shot counts.” As a team, what are your biggest weaknesses? “Inexperience.” How will you improve? “Spend more time on short game and practice year round.” As a team, what are your biggest strengths?

Annandale golf’s team looks to build team up by training hard, and recruting many underclassmen future years.

AHS golf team looks forward to competing for a spot in the top five in conference BY CYNTHIA WEINER Staff Writer With challenging practices already in top gear for the AHS Golf Team, Coach Brian Aldenderfer looks to improve his team for their upcoming tournaments. Aldenderfer looks towards this season with high hopes, with improvements already being seen on the team. “We’ve made drastic improvements in gold competitions this year.” Aldenderfer said. “We’ve finished in the middle of the field so far.”

With more tournaments rapidly approaching, Coach Aldenderfer looks ahead to preparing his team for the rest of the season. “For the conference, we’ve been practicing at various venues such as Pinecrest, Fort Belvoir, Army Navy Country in Fairfax, and Laurel Hill.” Aldenderfer said. “My goal for this season is to develop good rising golfers, like freshmen, to compete in the future.” Aldenderfer said. There is one main setback to being on golf: the team does not have a set practicing space. Aldenderfer realizes this and tries not to see it as a hinderance. “Our strengths override our weaknesses I think.” Aldenderfer said. “We are very dedicated to getting better everyday.” “We are hoping for strong performances from our key guys.” Aldenderfer said. “But finishing in the top five will be a big step forward in the right direction for the team.

Cross Country 9/7/13 9/10/13

LBSS, SoCo, T.C.Williams High (Occoquan Park) @ 5 p.m.


Braddock Relays (LBSS) @ 3:00 p.m.


LBSS, T.C. Williams High School (Franconia Park) @ 5 p.m.


Great American XC Festival (Cary, NC) @ 8:00 a.m.


Burke Lake All Comers Meet (Burke Lake Park) @ 5 p.m.

The boys cross country team prepares for their first meet, the Monroe Parker Invitational at Burke Lake Park on Sept. 7.

Boys cross country prepares for a tough conference BY CYNTHIA WEINER Staff Writer After many hot practices occurring in the latter parts of summer, the AHS Boys Cross Country Team starts preparation for their first race at Monroe Parker on September 7. Head Coach David O’Hara has high hopes for the upcoming season, preparing his team for tough races with extensive practices. “The good thing about distance running is that it’s not really rocket science. What you need to do to get better at it is train really, really hard.”

O’Hara said. With their first meet coming up, O’Hara looks to his key runners to pull the team along. “My key runners are Aviad Gebrehiwot, Salvattore Ames, Robert Lamb, Kidus Yared, Mohammad Fidail, Omar Ghoramah, and Gabe Lajnef.” O’Hara said.“We have all been working really hard during practice to improve our times and do well in the conference this year, with our eye on regionals.” Senior Gabe Lajnef said. The team as a whole has a lot of strength, but has a lot of hard practices to get through to reach Coach O’Hara’s goals for the season. “Our goal is to make it to regionals, which is top four at the conference.” O’Hara said. With the rest of the season to improve and reach their goals, the team is ready to take on the challenge. “I know that we can all improve and work hard to plow down the other teams.” Senior Eric Lien said. “We’re all prepared to work hard and finish strong this year.”

Monroe Parker Invitational (Burke Lake Park) @ 8 a.m.

What is your goal this season? “My goal this season is to come out of the conference.” How does your team compare to previous years? “This could be one of the best teams out of Annandale in a while. We might have a few girls under 21 minutes.” What are you doing to prepare the team for this season? “We are working harder by covering 10 percent more milage than in previous years and doing more interval workouts.” As a team, What are your strengths?


Glory Days Invitational (Bull Run Park) @ 8 a.m.


Patriot Festival (Occoquan Park) @ 5 p.m.


MileStat Invitational (Mechanicsville) @ 8 a.m.

“We have many girls who are continueing to improve this year.”


Patriot Confrence 7 Championships (Burke Lake Park) @ 3:15 p.m.


11/6/13 11/15/13

Northern Region Championships (Burke Lake Park) @ 3:15 p.m. State Championships (Great Meadows) @ TBD

“We have not gotten a strong commitment from seniors this season.” How do you stack up againt the district this season? “We will not know until the first meet but I am confident in my girls.”

Volleyball 9/9/13 Lee High School (A) @ 7:15 p.m. 9/11/13 Marshall High School (A) @ 7:15 p.m. 9/16/13 Wakefield High School (H) @ 7:15 p.m. 9/23/13 Centreville High School (A) @ 7:15 p.m.

Compiled By:

9/25/13 Robinson Secondary School (H) @ 7:15 p.m.

Melanie Bennett Sports Editor

9/28/13 Raider Rumble Invitational (J.E.B. Stuart ) @ 9:00 a.m. 9/30/13 Madison High School (H) @ 7:15 p.m. 10/3/13 Herndon High School (A) @ 7:15 p.m. 10/8/13 W.T. Woodson High School (H) @ 7:15 p.m. 10/10/13 Mt. Verson High School (A) @ 7:15 p.m. 10/16/13 T.C. Williams High School (H) @ 7:15 p.m. 10/21/13 West Springfield High School (A) @ 7:15 p.m. 10/24/13 South County High School (H) @ 7:15 p.m. 10/28/13 West Potomac High School (A) @7:15 p.m. 10/30/13 Lake Braddock Secondary School (H) @ 7:15 p.m.

Volleyball team is looking forward to their first game against Lee High School on September ninth.

Coach looks to make up for loss of graduated seniors this season BY MARK SLOUGH Copy Editor As the sports teams ready up for the regular school year, the AHS Volleyball teams are working harder than ever to prepare, under the direction of Coach Nick Petrov. “Last year, the team was very good, but this year we want to get to regionals level,” Coach Petrov said. “I want to help create a competitive team, and build the program up to its high potential.” Coach Petrov has been leading practices all month,

preparing for Volleyball’s difficult season ahead. “I’m focusing on conditioning, basic skills, and serving and receiving. The team’s fully dedicated, and they’re practicing hard,” Coach Petrov said. Captains Erin Johnson and Kaitlyn Cook on Varsity are also leading their girls through practices and up to their season of games. “We’ve been practicing a lot recently, and our captains are good at getting us ready and motivated,” senior Amy Reynolds said. Volleyball’s players are improving from their practices, from their captains, and from their coach as they ready their season to regionals. “I’ve been working on my game, and everyone’s helped me be the best I can in order to get to where we want to be at the end of the season,” sophomore Brooke Thadeus said. “I want my team to be fully dedicated and follow all of my directions, and if they do that, we can definitely go far,” Coach Petrov said.

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Sept. 3,2013

Firsthand Account of Asia AHS student gives insight on her exotic journey in far east

Overview on Egypt

Once we had landed in Malaysia, we met up with my sister and decided to take a look around the heart of Kuala Lumpur, the capital. We visited one of Malaysia’s most recognized sites, the Petronas Twin Towers. The towers were once considered the tallest buildings in the world up until 2004 and remain as the tallest standing twin towers ever created. At the foot of the towers lies the Suria KLCC Mall and KLCC Park, which holds a fountain light show every night.

BY OMNIA SAED Co-Editor In Chief


On July 3, the Egyptian military conducted a coup d’état (political overthrow) to replace President Mohamed Morsi.

Egyptian Flag

On August 14, Egyptian militants raided two Muslim Brotherhood camps and sparked further violence that has polarized the country. Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in dozens of clashes between anti-Morsi and proMorsi supporters.

DAY 1: TURKEY The first day of my trip wasn’t necessarily my first day in Malaysia, but the transfer stop in Turkey. With an 8-hour intermission between flights, my family and I decided to take a quick look around the country. As we made our way through tourist spots for a quick tour, I was in


President Mohamed Morsi

This year, instead of watching countless shows on Netflix and sleeping in all day, I visited my sister in Malaysia for the last month of summer break. To be entirely honest, the trip was not one I was exceedingly enthusiastic for, in part of ignorant preconceptions (which I’m ashamed to admit) and having to sacrifice my last month before senior year. The flight itself, from the Washington, D.C. to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia didn’t aid to my anticipation either, a total of 9,537 miles, took over 16 hours. However, as the trip came to an end, I learned about the rich Malay history, met countless people, and visited remarkable places around the small Eastern-Asian country, I created an everlasting experience I would end up never forgetting.

two days. The flight from Malaysia, only an hour, was nothing compared to the grueling original flight. Singapore, which I learned from the friendliest taxi driver in existence, prides itself in its tourism – especially through its’ pristine innovations and cleanliness. Fun fact, when a teenage boy placed his freshly chewed gum on a LRT (the equivalent of the metro here) door sensor, shutting down the train for hours, gum was banned from the ENTIRE country – something I learned the hard way. The best sight had to go to the artificially synthesized solar panel trees that take in Carbon Dioxide and expel Oxygen like natural trees.


Senior Omnia Saed strikes a pose in front of the Batuu Caves.

awe at the fusion between the past and the modern that was evident through Turkish streets as eroded buildings and aqueducts took home next to towering commercialized buildings. As we made our way to Istanbul, we visited one of Turkey’s most iconic attractions, the Blue Mosque (named after its blue tiles) and of course go to eat some amazing food. Word to the wise: driving in Turkey is not fun.

For the third day, we were searching for a little adventure and decided to check out the Batuu Caves after being recommended to it by a few people we had met at the KLCC fountains. A limestone hill encompassing a series of caves, the site is the most popular Hindu shrine outside of India, dedicated to Murugan, the god of war and victory as visitors, they are greeted by a huge golden statue of him. Visitors of the cave must climb up over 400 steps to reach the inside the caves – steps that are home to number of monkeys…. which I didn’t really appreciate. But the grueling walk and over-hyper monkeys were worth it, as the interior was breathtaking.

DAY 5: LANGKAWI Malaysia’ most productive tourist spot, Langkawi, is a cluster of island off the northern tip of Malaysia. One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen; the uncommercialized islands that thrived on heir simplicity. Surrounded by palm trees, mountains, small food vendors, people from all over the world, and the beach – number of beaches actually, all of which border the Indian Ocean, it was by far my favorite stop. One evening, we all decided to ride the infamous cable cars, known as Sky Cab, to the top of a neighboring mountain to get an aerial view of the island and coming from someone who hates height, it was worth it.

DAY 4: SINGAPORE After a few days, we all decided to pack our bags and visit Singapore for

Student’s Perspective of Syria Senior provides her insight on conflict in the middle east

Over the summer, tensions have been escalating between Syria and the United States. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been accused by numerous countries of using chemical weapons against the civilians. With thousands of Syrians dead, the United States has decided to retaliate against the oppressive Syrian regime by conducting air strikes. Senior Jasmine Haitalani moved from Syria last year. With family and friends still in Syria, she gives us an insider perspective on the conflicts in Syria. In the beginning of all this, many stories on the news were over exaggerated. Faking deaths or places where things were actually occurring. It started out in Homs, a city a bit far from my hometown, Aleppo, then it slowly spread. At first, my family and I weren’t as concerned because, like the rest of the

President al-Assad


In early August, the Syrian military is accused of using sarin gas against opposers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Nations across the world are debating whether to take action against the regime.

Syrian Flag

Between August 21 to 29, Syrian militants once again used sarin gas against civilians, killing approximately 350. The U.S announced that it could potentially retaliate by conducting missile strikes against al-Assad as soon as August 29.

–Compiled by Phuong Nguyen

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Jasmine Haitalani moved from Syria over a year ago and enjoys being an Annandale Atom.

people in our city, we thought that it would all end soon. Day by day things started changing. Prices went up, places were closing and criminals were on the

streets to the point where my father had to keep us from going out and seeing our friends. Kids were getting kidnapped each day and returned only when the people were given a fortune of money.

Questionable State in Egypt Student reflection on the Muslim Brotherhood and the situation of Egypt BY NADIA ELGENDY Head Videographer Despite the first democratic elections in Egypt taking place in June of 2012, newly elected president Mohamed Morsi faced a military coup overthrowing him due to protests in Cairo and other cities such as Alexandria and Mansoura that started on June 30th. Although the protests against Morsi may seem sudden, many of the issues promised to be fixed by the Brotherhood have gotten significantly worse. Within a year, unemployment has risen up to 13 percent, a severe gas and diesel shortage has come about, only 80% of the needed electricity is provided, which causes constant power outages in homes all over the country, and the crime rate has gone up drastically due to lack of police enforcement. Also, more women are being sexually harassed on the street, and 80% of women said that they didn’t even feel safe going out. Those against the Muslim Brotherhood ask themselves: if all of this happened within a year, what could’ve happened if we waited? They believe the initial mistake sprouted during the primary elections. With 11 parties being represented, only two would continue to the general election. The two candidates that were later in the general elections in June of 2012 were Mohamed Morsi, representing the Muslim Brotherhood, and Ahmed Chefik, former president Hosni Mubarak’s prime minister. “With these limited options, no one wanted to participate [in the election],” Eman Elsalakawy, a 29-year-old accountant living in Mansoura said. “It’s either promote a Muslim government, or go back to the old regime.” With a low turnout rate, Morsi was elected president, along with each parliamentary member being from the Muslim Brotherhood, and the new constitution was written only by the members of the Muslim Brotherhood. “The Muslim Brotherhood is almost our entire government,” Gehad Kamel, a rising high school senior in Mansoura, said. “They created false promises in their campaign and wrote vague statements in the constitution that are creating loopholes in the law.” However, many citizens are rioting in Tahrir Square and other parts of Cairo and Alexandria in support of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. “I voted for Morsi because he wasn’t the worse of two [candidates],” Elsalakawy said. “Although I’m not a supporter of the


Overview on Syria


BY NUHAMI MANDEFRO AND JASMINE HAITALANI International Editor and Special to The A-Blast

It started out in poor villages and slowly sunk into the city. The people from those villages ended up having to move into public schools which were closed during the summer and settle into classrooms. We had one near my house and it was crazy seeing families with 6-8 kids settling into a classroom that was the size of my bedroom. I remember a huge bombing about five blocks away that woke up the entire house and it was terrifying. We went out in the morning to see loads of smoke and everyone from the area had houses that were burned to the ground. It was horrifying to witness all of this. Families were spread out and lost loved one each and everyday. Everyone struggled financially because jobs basically stopped and people were starving. Electricity is inconsistently cut off several hours a day when it is most needed. Tanks occasionally roamed the streets and cars became almost rare to see. Because of all this, my family had to be separated. It’s very difficult having everyone back home not knowing if they would be dead the next day but I try to stay optimistic. I pray for everyone, especially my friends and family, that this will all end soon.

Tensions with the Muslim Brotherhood and the government continue to escalate causing worry within it’s citizins.

Muslim Brotherhood, I am upset that the democratic process is not being followed through. Morsi could easily end his term [in three years] and someone else could be elected.” The military has now intervened in the riots supporting Morsi, and is continuing to kill and throw gas bombs at civilians who are participating. The massacres started on August 14th, where approximately 2,800 people were killed. With the army continuing to massacre civilians participating in protests, those who originally supported the army have decided to participate along with the Muslim Brotherhood. “I originally supported the army and the coup because I believed that the Brotherhood would worsen our situation in Egypt,” Mohamed Said Ghallab, a 26-yearold engineer from Cairo said. “In hindsight, the army has given themselves the authority that was not given to them constitutionally. They had the power to enact a coup against the president, and now, because of this power, they decided to label the Muslim Brotherhood supporters as terrorists as a justification of the gas bombs and semi-automatics.” Ahmed Hosny, a 27-year-old neurologist from Mansoura, has been participating in riots since August 14th. On August 16th, he and his cousins participated in a protest in Mansoura, and they were attacked by a gas bomb.

“After the bomb went off, I got into my car to drive away,” Hosny said. “I was blinded by the gas and couldn’t see anything. I got out of my car and Mohamed [Ghallab] told me that someone was chasing me. I kept running, even though I couldn’t see anything. The army eventually caught someone who behind me.” Those who have supported the Muslim Brotherhood since the election are at greater risk than the average civilian, even if they do not participate in riots. “My father, [Adel Salakawy], was arrested in 2004 because of his political beliefs,” Mona Salakawy, a 27-yearold import manager and Eman Salakawy’s sister said. “His financial status made him a political influence even if his participation was limited.” Adel Salakawy has recently received calls from an anonymous person who has threatened to arrest him again. Salakawy is now in Saudi Arabia in order to avoid another sentencing and/or harm to his family. Despite the gas bombs, the semi-automatic rifles and the chance that they will lose their lives, Egyptians will not stop. “We participate in the protests, even if it’s risky,” Hosny said. “Yes, we are only individuals, but we are not doing any justice sitting at home because we fear for our lives. All Egyptians must stand up against the army and not resort to violence the way the army does. We will not go down to their level.”



Sept. 3, 2013

Summer Adventures

Hot dogs or legs?

Most students stayed inside the U.S. over break, but these few visited exotic destinations overseas

The popular internet phenomenon “hot dogs or legs” is a game where people guess if a picture is of legs or hot dogs resembling legs. Here we have given you four photos, so you can take your pick- hot dogs... or legs? Answers will be on The A-Blast

ENGLISH PHONE BOOTH During her time in London, Doreen got to experience some of England’s culture. Even though she did do the cliche tourist things, like take a picture with the iconic red telephone box (shown to the left), she was enveloped in the London culture without even trying. “Whilst I was in London, I drank tea with almost every meal, which is normal in the U.K.,” said Doreen “and I also enjoyed crepes, a dessert that looks like pancake but is ten times better.”




Senior Doreen Tetteh took a family trip to London, England, this past summer. “I got the experience of a lifetime,” said Doreen when asked about her trip, “it was almost hard to keep up with all of the amazing sights.” She would recommend everyone to visit London if they get the chance.



Doreen Tetteh, England

Doreen was able to sightsee around the city and got to see some amazing places like Chrystal Palace Park, Hyde Park, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square. Another cool sight she got to see was Westminster Abbey, which is pictured to the right. Westminster Abbey is where the famous royal couple, William and Kate, were married in April of 2011.


UNDERSEA DISCOVERIES Over the break, Amir was able to swim in the clear blue ocean on his visit over seas. He went snorkeling and found a starfish on the ocean floor. “[He] saw a lot of colorful fish, some dolphins, and coral reefs.” He said it was extremely cool to see underwater, “It was like a different world.”



D. – Compiled by Alexandra Zernik and AMIR SAJANIE

Amir Sajanie, Honduras AMIR SAJANIE

Amir visited an exotic zoo where animals were let out of their cage to play with the visitors. Amir talked about his experience playing with a real monkey, “He was jumping on me and was making weird noises.” He also saw iguanas and birds, but his favorite part was the zipline. “I could see everything when I was on the zipline. I was so high up. It was pretty scary.”

Cayley Byrne

Sophomore Amir Sajanie traveled to Roaton, Honduras this summer to visit his family. He said “getting to see them was [his] favorite part,” but he also went snorkeling, ziplining,and visited the local zoo.


SISTERLY LOVE The beach that Amanda’s hotel was on was actually in a bay, so the water was calm and “crystal clear.” At the beach you could go sailing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving. You were able to see tons of sea creatures like huge starfish, sting rays, rainbow fish, and other exotic fish. One of her favorite moments was when her and her family went snorkeling in the 3rd biggest reef in the world.

The A-Blast on Instagram From now on we will be featuring a “Photo of the Issue” on this page. If you would like to be entered into the contest just tag @TheAblast in your picture. Whoever wins the contest will be announced on our Twitter page and will recieve a gift card or prize.

Amanda Adenan, Turks & Caicos Sophomore Amanda Adenan took a tropical vacation to the islands of Turks and Caicos with her family this past summer break. Turks and Caicos is made up of 40 islands and to get from island to island you have to travel by boat, plane, and sometimes by car. The weather was in the 80s to low 90s with a “nice ocean breeze that was really just hot air because of the sun.”

In the Turks and Caicos the food is similar to ours in the U.S. but their culture’s main food is the meat from a conch shell. When Amanda and her family went snorkeling their boat’s captain cooked them some conch to try and she said that “the flavor was like scallops but sweeter.”

Turks and Caicos AMANDA ADENAN



On your smartphone, scan the code to the left using the application “QR Code” to view a slideshow of more pictures from Amanda Adenan’s trip to Turks and Caicos.

This Summer’s Concerts


Ariana Grande

Criticism: The floral print and white heels are perfect for the VMAs. Cute but not childish. Grade: A

LEFT TO RIGHT: Seniors Hayat Yusuf, Amanda Villafana and Amanda Filsoof carpool to see multiple artists perform in the WMZQ fest this summer.

Senior Sureyya Gokturk and alumni Sarah Bergen pose for pictures before going to see Miranda Lambert perform at the outdoor venue, Jiffy Lube Live.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Sophomores Lee Hayes, Meg Hua, Erin Johnson, and Kaitlyn Cook take a quick photo break before seeing Luke Byan perform.

Sophomores Amanda Adenan (left) and Maddie Little (right) join their Woodson friend to see the Jonas Brothers perform after their two year hiatus.


Junior Gabby Payne and alumni Britanni Gonzalez meet up at the first concert this summer, WMZQ fest.


2 Chainz

Criticism: There’s way too much gold in this outfit. His name may be 2 Chainz but he is taking it a little too literally. Grade: C


Outdoor venue Jiffy Lube Live offers musical performances from every genre


VMA Fashion Report Card

Sept. 3, 2013




Hua and Cook run into previous teacher, Stephanie Harmony, when going to see Toby Keith perform.

New Drama Surprises Viewers Devious Maids brings twists and turns with each new episode


Criticism: Drake’s known for having emotional lyrics but is it really necessary to wear it? Grade: D

Ed Sheeran

Criticism: Cutest British man hands down. Sheeran not only has the voice of an angel but also the fashion sense of a model. Grade: A

BY AYAH OWEIS Entertainment Editor When a major character dies within the first three minutes of new show Devious Maids, you know it is going to be good. The new dramatic series follows the lives of five maids working in Los Angeles. Each maid is assigned to a family with a number of dirty secrets, are all somehow intertwined with one another. After the murder of Flora Hernandez, the maid who was killed at the beginning of the show, a young butler Eddie, is charged with her murder. Eddie’s mother Marisol, who was previously an award winning English professor must pretend to be a maid in order to find out the truth Suarez threatens fellow maid, Rosie Falta when Falta discovers that Suarez is not a maid but instead an English professor. about Flora’s murder and clear her son’s name. In order are easy to follow. Whether it is an affair or a new husband The show’s success can’t be overlooked without giving to figure out who the murderer is, Marisol for the three-time divorcee that one of the maids credit to the actresses. Judy Reyes who plays Zoila Diaz must become friends with Adrian and Evelyn Devious cleans up after. is most commonly known for her role as Carla on the Powell, who were Hernandez’s employers. Devious Maids keeps viewers enthralled by comedy Scrubs. Reyes plays Carla perfectly, nailing the Maids Out of the four families the show focuses on, cleverly adding new pieces of evidence that get spunky attitude that her character had but in Devious the Powell’s are the most secretive. Marisol one step closer to figuring out who the Maids. She adds even more edge to her character while Despite their pretentiousness, one can’t real murderer is. also keeping her sass. help but feel bad for the Powells after it is Unlike many other dramas, the writers of The only character who seems to be lacking is Zoila’s revealed that they had a son named Barrett Devious Maids never let the main conflict, the daughter, Valentina, played by Edy Ganem. This could be who was hit by a car and killed instantly. As murder, get hidden under the piles of secrets on in part to her lack of experience as an actress, therefore it Marisol finds out more of the family’s secrets the show. is easy to see that she still is not 100% comfortable in front the show gets more and more in depth. Even though the show has been on air for only six weeks of the camera. Even with many surprises in each episode, conflicts there is always a new conflict brought up.


VMAs Gets a Little Too Rowdy Miley Cyrus’ inappropriate performance disgusts viewers and celebrities BY AYAH OWEIS Entertainment Editor

Katy Perry

Criticism: The slit and skin tight material leaves little to imagination but somehow Perry seems to pull of the wacky yet classy look. Grade: B

On your smart phone, scan the above code using the application “QR Code” to read the review of Luigi’s Mansion.

After this years MTV Video Music Awards, it is official, Miley Cyrus has lost her marbles. As if showing up dressed in a teddy bear leotard surrounded by women holding giant teddy bears was not enough, she went on to take off the leotard revealing a latex, nude-colored bikini. “The first word that came to mind when I saw Miley Cyrus onstage was disgusting,” sophomore Jeanine Barakat said. “Her make-up, hair and outfit were all just too weird.” After performing her catchy yet wildly inappropriate song, We Can’t Stop, she joined Robin Thicke in singing his provocative song, Blurred Lines. Even Cyrus’s most devoted fans were completely horrified. “After seeing the performance, I want Hannah Montana back,” senior Amy Reynolds said. Many other celebrities such as Will Smith were photographed with a horrified look on their faces.

Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s VMA performance was too raunchy for viewers and celebrities

No one had seen anything this wild since Britney Spears brought a snake onstage with her at the 2001 Video Music Awards. Cyrus’ mother, Tish was shown giving her daughter a standing ovation at the end of the songs only further confusing viewers. However, even before the Cyrus drama, Lady Gaga made her appearance after what has seemed like an eternity in hiding. Gaga came on stage in a odd-looking square shaped headpiece and a nun inspired dress. Within the four minute song, Gaga changed outfits four times going from a square headed nun to a disco diva to a flashy dancer to a mermaid.

Despite the crazy outfits, Gaga came onstage looking healthier and in some ways normal. Many are used to Gaga’s wild fashion sense, but compared to her past outfits, these four outfits could be considered tame. Unlike Cyrus, even Gaga’s haters were excited to see the “queen” back on her throne. Ask any girl who watched the VMA’s what her favorite part of the awards ceremony was and they will all tell you the same thing; Justin Timberlake’s performance before receiving the Michael Jackson Vanguard Music Award. For his performance, Timberlake

brought out all the old yet still iconic songs of his past and surprised everyone by bringing back the other members of the 90’s boy band NSYNC. It is easy to say that not even the girls who were born at the time of Timberlake’s fame were swooning. To add to his appeal, Timberlake was extremely humble and gracious when receiving his award from Jimmy Fallon. Timberlake also received video of the year for his song, Mirrors. One of the smaller yet still popular stories of the night was to due with Taylor Swift. In her acceptance speech for Best Female Video for I Knew You Were Trouble, Swift pointedly thanked one special guy for inspiring her song. At that moment all cameras were pointed at One Direction’s Harry Styles who is Swift’s most recent ex-boyfriend. In other words, she had officially confirmed that I Knew You Were Trouble was about the Directioner. It is hard to believe that innocent Taylor Swift, who had been rudely interrupted by Kanye West at the 2009 VMA’s would call out Styles in front of a full audience and on national television. “I thought it was hilarious when Taylor Swift called Harry Styles out,” Barakat said. “I never liked One Direction anyway.” Throughout MTV’s Video Music Awards history, there have been many iconic moments that will never be forgot but it is safe to say theis year’s awards show is one for the books.

ENTERTAINMENT From the field to the screen Sep. 3, 2013

Redskins quarterback RGIII’s success has landed him an ESPN film


BY MEGAN RYAN Entertainment Editor From sport to sport, there are always those inspirational stories that get people a little teary- eyed, like the clique yet classic underdog story or a player’s major recovery from a severe injury. But what is the line between a good movie showcasing an inspiring story or another pointless sports film Hollywood can cash in on? Most generic sports films contain an underdog that somehow rises to the occasion and proves everyone that doubted them wrong, while also getting fame and much recognition. This common scenario ends up getting boring and repetitive, to the point that you already know the outcome before even seeing the previews. But one of the most recent documentaries that came out is about the Washington Redskins starting quarterback, Robert Griffin III. This movie premiered on ESPN last Tuesday, titled “The Will to Win”. It is about RG3’s recovery while also dealing with personal struggles in life. It showcased Griffin’s perseverance and how hard he worked to get to where he is today from his injury. RGIII [as people commonly call him for short] had major success from being an incredible rookie quarterback, and then also earning rookie of the year award in the NFL in the 2012 season. After winning the NFC East Champion Title and going into the playoffs, RGIII made a risky play and ended up hurting himself. Griffin later went back in trying to walk off the injury but after taking one wrong step he went down. “Its not a comeback if you’re never gone” Griffin said in his documentary. This being one of the many positive quotes coming out of that documentary gives his entire

Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III shakes hands after one practice getting ready for the 2013 football season.

outlook on his injury a positive and uplifting view. Inspiring other people in similar or hard situations to do the same; look at it with a positive outlook. Considering that Griffin is a big star and gave hope to the Redskins team, this documentary was a snippet of what he went through to continue changing the path for the Redskins and giving the fans hope that risky and tough quarterback will be playing again. Coming from someone who had a very similar knee injury, its hard to look at this from a positive point of view. Especially when you know that there is going to be an extremely long road ahead of them, but RGIII makes you want to try as hard as you can in order to get to your best, or to where you once were. “The documentary was okay, I’m not a huge redskins fan but I thought that the movie really accurate and made me think about how much the people that get hurt have to go through.” Freshman Andrew Somoza

said. “It did make me really excited to see RGIII in action this season though.” Griffin was a breath of fresh air to the Redskins when he got drafted. A rookie quarterback that all of the fans immediately fell in love with him, on and off the field. Coming from a good background he was a nice and extremely modest football player that everyone enjoyed meeting and watching him play. He turned the Redskins from a self hating group of fans to a tight-knit family that had more spirit than a lot of football teams in the nation. Griffin deserved his spot of fame on the big screen because of all of the things he has accomplished for the Washington D.C. Area and the hope he has spread. From what I can tell on the documentary, he has been preparing hard for this upcoming regular season and is ready to face one of his biggest comebacks personally.



Atomic“Everything we did before doesn’t really matter anymore #np” —Kristina Marintcheva @literallykay

“I seriously don’t know what I’m going to do when school starts”

“I got my eyes on you, you’re everything I see”

—Christina Le @christinaaale

“The greatest athletes are the men and women serving our country.” ––Philip Blystone @solo_hazlo14

Dirt Road Diary Review On your smartphone, scan the above code using the application “QR Code” to view a review on the Luke Bryan Concert.



Sept. 3, 2013

Expand your horizons and your waist bands with these fun and fattening food challenges in the DMV

Student attempts challenges OUTRAGEOUS SPLIT

Senior Nick Torrico took on the Outrageous Split Challenge with 5 scoops of chocolate ice cream and four scoops of vanilla ice cream. The 6 pound banana split also contained three bananas and nine toppings of Torrico’s choice.

The only way to win the challenge is to eat the bucket of ice cream by yourself under 30 minutes.


d r a H

BGR THE BURGER JOINT With locations in Bethesda, Maryland, Alexandria, Virginia, and downtown D.C. BGR The Burger Joint has built its reputation in the DMV for its infamous, mouth watering and unique burgers and yummy sweet potato fries. If you’re up for the challenge the menu features a burger called The 9 pounder. This burger has been featured on Food Network, The Travel Channel and in official competitive eating contests. The weight of the burger is 9 pounds alone, but including the condiments and buns it is 15.4 pounds. If one person can finish the burger in one sitting it’s free. You must give 24 hour advance notice to take on the challenge.

Take the Flatliner Challenge. There is a $10 entry fee but it will be refunded if the contestant can complete the challenge. Eat ten intensely hot wings without drinking anything or dipping the wings in sauce. The prize is free wings, your name on the wall of flame, and free tee shirts. There are several locations in Northern Virginia including Chantilly, Reston, and Fairfax. Torrico managed to finish two scoops of ice cream and left the rest of it in a jumbled, melted mess.


The Flatliner Challenge at Buffalo Wing Factory is not something to take lightly. Participants are required to sign a waiver before attempting to eat ten of their spiciest wings.


Before attempting the challenge, Torrico was warned to not touch his face, especially his eyes and nose, after putting his hands in the sauce.

Torrico took three bites of the first wing and could not finish it. With watery eyes, Torrico walked away without being able to finish the challenge. “My mouth was on fire the minute I bit into the wing”, Torrico said.

2014 class bulletin

Take on the 4 pound “El Toro Burrito” in 45 minutes. It costs $14.99 if you cannot finish it. Winners get a special El Toro T-shirt, a gift certificate, and the honor of having their names placed on The Wall of Champions. Challenges take place one Saturday every month and switch between the Columbia Rd. and Florida Ave. locations, so check their Facebook page or restaurant website to find the right day to compete.

m u i d e M


On Tuesdays take on the taco challenge at Breeze Restaurant and Sports Bar in Herndon. If you can eat 22 tacos in one sitting the tacos are free. If you can’t complete the challenge you’ll be walking away with empty pockets and tighter pants.

BR FROZEN CUSTARD AND SWEETS This old-fashion sweets shop in Woodbridge is home to the Outrageous Split. The Outrageous Split is a six pound banana split that has three bananas, nine scoops of frozen custard, nine toppings and whipped cream. The ice cream split has caused a buzz across the nation and is more than a challenge to take down in one sitting, under 30 minutes.

FAMILY PIZZERIA For this challenge, two people must take on the colossal 28 inch pizza within an hour. The winners get $40, a free pizza and two challenge tee shirts. Both contestants cannot take bathroom breaks and you have to be 18 or accompanied by an adult to compete. The Family Pizzeria is also home to the 6 1/2 steak challenge if you aren’t in the mood for pizza.

Senior pictures begin on Sept. 9 and last until Sept. 13

Homecoming countdown: 51 days!

y s a E

Talk to your counselor about college visits that are available to students!


On your smartphone, scan the above code using the application “QR Code” to look at more pictures of the Food Challenges.

Although Annapolis is a little out of the way, the distance is nothing compared to the challenge you’ll be faced with. Many have taken on the milkshake but only few have been able to take it on. Try finishing Chick and Ruth’s infamous six-pound milkshake and a one-pound burger. The successful competitors walk away with a tee shirt, bragging rights, and a bigger waist band. The milkshake is equivalent to the size of 6 normal milk shakes. The milkshake is $19.99 and the burger is $7.50.

CHUTZPAH DELI At the Chutzpah Deli in Fairfax Town Center try the 40- ounce Reuben challenge. It consists of 2 1/2 pounds of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on three slices of rye bread. If you are able to complete the challenge, you get a free dessert of any choice.

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