Page 1


freedom high school newsmagazine | november 2019-january 2020 | volume 5 | issue 2


from the editors


Happy New Year, free birds! We hope winter break was fantastic and that the first couple snow days of the season have been enjoyable! As we settle into the New Year, we hope you get to work on any New Years’ Resolutions and get excited for the first year of the decade. Second semester is an exciting time for everyone. Freshmen, you’re finally settling into life as an Eagle. Sophomores, you’re already claiming senioritis. Juniors, you’re halfway through the toughest year. And, seniors, you’re finally able to take on the role of a second semester senior. As we start prepping and planning the third issue of the year, let us know if anything exciting is happening that we should cover! Let us know if someone you know is doing something cool for capstone, if you have an exciting summer adventure or if there’s just an inside scoop we might not have. Uncagedfhs.org has a plethora of new content for you to check out! If you miss a game, want to recap on the last pep rally of 2019 or want to read some of our staff writers’ opinions, head over to the website and check it out! Happy 2020, free birds!

Adviser Dana Baker

Editor-in-Chief Ava Proehl Managing Editors Kaise Dualeh Aayusha Khanal Online Editor Lauren Balser Photo Editor Claire Wodack Director of Media Emily Peacher

News Editor Madison Roney Features Editor Eliza Agi Culture Editor Camille Desjardins Opinions Editor Lindsay Brisson Sports Editors Morgan Maiden Bailey Elliott Staff Writers James Czarnaski Carina Funk Dan Gittelman Lauriane Razafinjatovo Uncaged is the newsmagazine of Freedom High School. The attitudes, opinions, views, and ideas expressed in Uncaged do not necessarily reflect those of this staff, the faculty adviser, Freedom High School, or the Loudoun County Public School system. Uncaged follows the county and state guidelines established for student high school publications, and disclaims any liability with respect thereto the use or reliance on any such information contained in this publication. The Uncaged staff welcomes contributions and encourages the expression of students, faculty, staff, and members of the Freedom High School community.

Cover photo illustration by Aayusha Khanal


letter from om the editors

table of contents 4





16 22







The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom. //excerpt from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou

22 table of contents


Newly Classified Diverse Books [Story and photos by Lauren Balser]


CPS’ new diverse classroom library program has sparked a conversation about sexual content in the classroom. “As a result of the equity audit that was performed on LCPS last year, we saw that we needed to make some changes to help be more inclusive and equitable to our students,” said Veronica Short, FHS English department chair. To start this process, LCPS purchased nearly $2 million worth of books “to get more diverse authors and more diverse characters in the classrooms,” Short said. According the LCPS, several factors were considered when choosing books, including “representation, authorship, relevance to students’ lives, authentic voice and developmental appropriateness.” While these books are not required reading, some of them have come under the spotlight at recent school board meetings, where parents



have voiced their opinions about some of the content. Natassia Grover, a mother of students at Farmwell Station Middle School, largely takes issue with the sexual content in the books. “I am in favor of the idea of bringing diversity into the classrooms and curriculum. I think that’s actually a great idea,” Grover said. “What I’m opposed to are any books that are sexually explicit. I don’t think that they belong in the schools at all. When there’s books that are on sensitive topics like sexuality, like this concept of gender identity, which I don’t really buy into, then you’re kind of getting into a realm where that should be the decision of a parent, whether or not they want their kids having access to that sort of material.” Despite the books not being required material, Grover says that the books’ place in classrooms sends a message to students regardless. “When you put books on a shelf in a classroom and you tell the kids, ‘These books are a part of the collection and you’re free to read whichever ones you want,’” Grover said. “It’s sending a message: ‘Kids, these are good books for you to read. We endorse them, these have been properly vetted and these are good books for you to read.’ So even if they’re not being implemented in the teacher’s particular curriculum, you’re still sending a message, anyway.” Renee Bailey, a mother of students at Tuscarora High School, believes some of the books would be “very beneficial to be included in the curriculum.” However, she does not believe that “anything that deals with sexual activity should be included in the curriculum.” “Even in classical books, there’s a lot of sexual material. There’s a lot of incest, there’s a lot of rape. Even

when you go to the classic books, you find this stuff present. So, my problem is not necessarily with the sexual content, it’s how that sexual content is presented,” Bailey said. “It’s a lot different than when you use really bad language and it basically transforms it into written porn when you’re presenting it in a foul way.” Sexual content is one of the largest issues that parents like Grover and Bailey have discussed in the school board meetings. Grover says that she can see some of the sexual content “causing some problems [for students]” if the books are read in the classroom. “That’s not creating a safe learning environment,” Grover said. “Not only for that student, who’s literally being aroused in the classroom, but it’s not a safe learning environment for the other students around that person. It’s just not.” Bailey is also concerned about how students who are victims of sexual abuse or assault will handle books that deal with these themes in explicit detail. “When we talk about inclusion, when we talk about diversity, we have to be so sensitive to every child,” Bailey said. “What about the child that was molested and reads a book about molestation? That’s horrible. I was a victim of rape.” Grover described a similar situation in which a student read a book in class related to molestation. The student also happened to be a victim of molestation herself. “She starts crying. She goes, ‘I don’t want to read this,’ and another classmate, a friend of hers, is like, ‘I don’t either because I am also a victim,’” Grover said. “When there is somebody who is suffering from PTSD from sexual abuse and then you are reading graphic descriptions of sexual abuse by the same sort of family member, it can be very triggering, and the last thing, especially since classrooms are supposed to be a safe learning environment, you want to be doing is triggering PTSD victims of child sexual abuse.”

Spark a Conversation Senior Sudi Cho agrees that graphic sexual content can have detrimental effects. “Having books containing graphic sexual content such as rape can negatively affect those who are not mentally and emotionally prepared to deal with those types of topics,” Cho said. However, some believe that these books might be helpful to students because of this kind of content. “Students who are exposed to these things have a better foundation of real life events,” senior Grace Nystrom said. “Rape and sexuality and anything along those lines are all things that students shouldn’t be sheltered to because they won’t be able to understand the real world fully if they are.” “Issues of sex and rape and healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships are issues that people deal with everyday,” Short said. “Sometimes, reading a book can help somebody navigate their way out of a situation.” One of Bailey’s main issues with the implementation of the books is the lack of monitoring over what she sees to be sensitive content, particularly the sexual content. “Why would I be asked if I want my child to go through [sex education] and on the other hand, I’m not being asked if my daughter should read something that has much higher sexual content. Isn’t that a little weird?” Bailey said. “Why would you give me an option to opt out of something that is not even porographic, but you are not giving me an option when it comes to these books and what they talk about, which is a thousand million times more explicit?” LCPS stats on their website that these books are “not part of the core curriculum and are not mandatory reading,” so the idea of who regulates student’s content has become more present in conversation. “These are books that kids can read by choice,” Short said. “If somebody starts reading a book, they can always put it down and walk away from it.” Bailey says that so long as there is an adult there to explain the concepts

presented, she does not have any issues with the books being in classrooms. “If you take material and you add an adult there that can instill the right and wrong,” Bailey said, “then I don’t have a problem with [these books]. The problem with it is that’s not what is happening. The child grabs the book, reads it for himself and whether they talk to an adult about it or not, that’s not monitored by anybody.” “It’s important that parents and teachers and adults talk to students about things that they’re reading just because our own life experiences can help them process what it is that they’re reading if it’s something new and challenging to them,” Short said. “I think that parents should be as involved in helping their kids pick out what books they should read as the parents should be involved in helping the kids navigate the internet and what’s out there.” Cho says that students should mostly be able to regulate what they are exposed to, especially in high school. “I think that parent regulation for younger students should only apply to sexual or violent content and mature language,” Cho said. “Other elements of diverse books such as minority racial/ethnic groups, various religions around the world and LGBTQ+ characters should not be regulated or deemed controversial because there is nothing inappropriate about them.” Freshman Connor McGoldrick has a similar perspective. “I believe that kids should regulate the content that they read about, [but] they should be warned about certain content in the book before they read it,” McGoldrick said. Having adult guidance is something that many say can help students digest the more

mature content of the books. “To have an adult help a student navigate through [challenging topics] can be really powerful,” Short said. “I know that there are some folks who are upset, but I encourage parents to read a challenging book with their kids. Read the same book that the kid is reading and use that as an opportunity to talk about what they’re talking about in that book.” “It’s understandable for parents to have concerns about sexual content and mature language, but the majority of students past the age of 15 have already been exposed to these things and the censorship of certain books won’t change that,” Cho said. “If parents are worried, they could have a discussion with their children about how sensitive topics might affect them and how to respond appropriately. “I don’t think that there should just be one group of individuals having

Senior Hasitha Nannapeni reads one of the books on the banned book list.



these discussions,” senior Cyrena Matingou said. “While parents have the right to be concerned about what their kids are re exposed to, students are the ones who will be ultimately affected by these decisions.” Grover ver says that parent permission would be an effective way to handle more mature themes and content in these books. “If you’re going to have a book that is normalizing, for example, a same-sex sex relationship, at least get the parent’s arent’s permission first. That’s all,” Grover rover said. “At least get parental permission. ssion. Say, ‘Hey, this book has

LGBTQ themes, it’s got some characters who identify as whatever, or a same-sex parent or something like that.’ And then the parents can say, ‘Oh, that’s not a big deal, that’s fine,’ or they’ll say, ‘You know, I’m just really not comfortable with that for my kid right now.’ And then, there you go. That way, everybody’s happy.” “Parents and students holding different ideas about what language and sexual content should be deemed acceptable for schools should be actively engaging in conversations about the topic to work towards an agreement,” Matingou said.

“I think that [this fighting] is much more detrimental to the children than anything else,” Bailey said. “I think that if both sides would sit their butts down and say, ‘Listen, this is my opinion, this is my belief, these are my morals, I understand and I respect yours, but I ask that you understand and you respect mine; could we come to a civilized, mature adult compromise where everybody’s happy?’ I truly believe that’s possible. I think that someone should just say, ‘Let’s all sit down together fighting over it,’ because and stop fighting fighting doesn’t teach children anything.”

Partnering to Make a Change [Story by Emily Peacher] [Photos by Ava Proehl]


reedom High School has been involved with many organizations to give back to the community, including Ellie’s Hats and Kyle’s Kamp, sparking the interest of students to donate. In 2015, FHS principal, Dr. Douglass Fulton, wanted to create a school-wide goal to bring awareness and support of those suffering from pediatric cancer. This began a long partnership with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, sending the school’s donations raised during certain activities and events to the organization. As a school, the student body and faculty have raised donations through charity prom and hosted activities. The idea came from the junior class sponsors, Mrs. Connors and Ms. Draisey that year, to implement Charity prom as an annual event that Freedom hosts. Faculty involved want to have a personal relationship with St. Jude’s and their patients, attempting to create a close connection with FHS and their organization affiliation. Class Officers send their donations through the St. Jude’s Arlington Office or through a trip to the original location. “We partnered exclusively with St. Jude, traveling twice to Memphis, where all costs were covered out of pocket by those involved, to tour the campus and deliver our donations,” Connors said.

Over the years, FHS has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, with last year, 2018-2019, being the most funded year in Freedom’s history. “To date, we’ve donated over $125,000 to St. Jude; last year’s prom was the highest donation at $45,532,” Connors said. Throughout the year, FHS puts together singular events in order to send support and encouragement to the children of St. Jude’s. At the end of December, the National Honors Society (NHS) arranged a card making event for pediatric cancer patients, made with stickers, decorations and kind words. “It was really awesome to see students take a short time out of their day to think of others that are going through a hard time during the holidays,” NHS Vice President Allie Spong said. The biggest basketball rivalry game against John Champe High School was utilized to raise money for St. Jude’s to support cancer research. It was called the Gold Rush Game, and was hosted by DECA, accompanied by Key Club, Sources of Strength and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). They created Gold Rush t-shirts for sale and ribbons in various colors were handed out to represent the different types of cancer. “We thought it was an effective way to raise donations because of our past experience and the success of previous years,” Key Club President Madison Do said. “We were collecting donations from our shirts, promoting the game and our cause at the Chick-Fil-A fundraiser, and from our collected flat donations from parents and students at the door of the game.” Freedom will continue its pattern of collecting and raising funds for St. Jude’s, helping fund to fight and find cures to treat childhood cancer.

Students make cards for children at Saint Jude’s hospital.

Theatre Steps it Up [Story by Bailey Elliott]


hen going to watch a play, the first thing a person thinks about probably isn’t the hours, conversations and details that go into the production. When watching a performance the audience only sees the performers and what is happening directly in front of them on stage. They do not however, see what is going on backstage to make the show come to life. Freedom theatre is set to put on their next production, “Footloose,” this spring. Take a behind the scenes look at Freedom’s Cappie award winning theatre department as they prepare to take on the beginning of their newest production and both the onstage and backstage process involved. Last year, Freedom’s theatre department created history by winning not one, but two Cappies for both acting and special effects. Senior Ethan Vanslyke won the Cappie for best dancing actor as the lead character in the “Singin’ in The Rain” musical. The theatre department also won a Cappie for special effects as they went above and beyond and actually made it rain on-stage. “In general everyone was really proud, we were nominated for nine different awards and we ended up taking two trophies home,” said Rachel Novi, theatre director. “Everyone was really proud of our achievement and I think we can all walk a little taller now.” There is a lot of work both behind scenes and onstage that is put into every performance. Before the cast is even decided, the directors must decide which show to do, prepare audi-



tion materials, watch and pick through each student that auditions. When thinking of theatre, it is often the actors seen onstage that come to mind first. But with every production comes an amazing team of talented artists and crew members constructing sets, designing lighting and engineering the production from start to finish. Freedom’s tech crew is made up of 18 head “techies” split up into certain crews to then help new members pick a specific crew to join and work with throughout the production. Each tech crew focuses on specific aspects of behind the scenes such as lighting, sound, marketing and publicity, costume design and set design. Every crew requires specific skills such as creativity, tech savviness, building, painting and more. Towards the beginning of the first show, both actors and tech crew members must participate in the “draining” yet critical, tech week. Tech week takes place from March 18-29. “Tech week is the tiring and stressful part of the production process where we stay after school for six hours to put on the first run throughs as everyone works to figure out what they’re doing finally putting it all together and focus on fixing any mistakes throughout the night.” said junior Sarah Rossman, head of props. While theatre is a demanding extracurricular that requires the time and dedication to put on each production. It is also a bonding experience for all students involved to come together and form a family of actors, techies, directors, and more. When watching a performance, think about the process and dedication it takes to create such an experience.

“Now I gotta gott cut loose, Footloose, kick off the Sunday shoes Please, Louise pull me off ff off my knees...”

“Footloose” -Kenny Loggins

stereotypes are completely false in a certain situation. Junior Brooke Hartman is familiar s a student in high school, with the topic of class stereotypes. one must face the harsh truth She came into high school with the of class stereotypes. As the typical stereotype viewpoint on each generations go by, class stereotypes, of the classes. as in stereotypes between the fresh“The freshmen are supposed to men, juniors, seniors and sophobe annoying and try too hard to mores seem like a more and more be cool,” Hartman said. “The sophprominent topic. omores are [more chill] than the These stereotypes have caused freshmen, but some still try too hard. students to have a certain view on The juniors are constantly drowning each class: almost like an instinct. in homework and tests. The seniors Some students have been prohibitare super chill and don’t really care ed to form their own opinion about about school.” each of the classes, allowing them to According to VeryWellMind, an just assume what each class is really organization that focuses on social about. psychology, individuals are severeEach and every class has a cerly infl uenced by the pressure and tain stereotype which defines normalities exerted by groups. If a the way students may view group of students are all doing one the class, leaving some thing, not following the trend beto wonder how they are comes difficult. This type of pressure defined in high school. is what may change how individuals These stereotypes infludress or their viewpoints on a topic. ence students to autoThis phenomenon is known as the matically believe that bandwagon effect. each class must act and “The bandwagon effect is when behave accordingly to the people start to take on other peostereotype, even if the

[Story and photos by Lindsay Brisson]




ple’s ideas because they feel like it’s easier to be part of a whole group instead of having their individualized opinions,” said Jennifer Schrader FHS counselor As more people take up a particular trend, the more likely it will be the other people take up on that trend too. Eventually, it spreads affecting everyone it reaches, which leads to the bandwagon effect. For the freshmen, this idea of them being the most “annoying” class could negatively impact students’ high school experience. Freshman Chris Gibbs says that stereotypes in general are pretty inaccurate, even though he has accepted the typical stereotype of the freshmen class. “I think the other classes view the freshmen classes as immature,” Gibbs said. “[They’re viewed] as newcomers to high school who are just trying to be social and make friends.” Even though class stereotypes have an impact on lots of students, there are still some that are not affected by the bandwagon of stereotypes. Senior Amy Bui feels that the stereotypes are able to influence the

students, however some students are able to look past the stereotypes. “I think that stereotypes definitely have some kind of control on me, but I like to formulate my own opinions on each class,” Bui said. “I have a lot of friends who are underclassmen and I don’t really associate them with their stereotype much at all.” For some teenagers, the stereotype has absolutely no impact on them at all, as they like to form their own opinions. However, for those who are almost addicted to following the bandwagon, they may not be as fortunate on formulating their own opinions on each class. Sophomore Collin Gray says that stereotypes are going to be here for a while. “Stereotypes are definitely going to be around for a while, and I think that’s just something that future generations are just going to have to deal with,” Gray said.



Senior Shawn Nies shows off David Dobrik’s YouTube channel. [Story by Claire Wodack] [Photos by Suzy Mayer]


n recent years, the amount of people watching TV has been going down. Streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu, have taken its place. YouTube has also grown tremendously as a primary source of entertainment. This platform is so popular because it’s easily accessible, free and there’s an overwhelming amount of content on the website. In 2017, YouTube’s chief product officer reported that 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute. “YouTube gives me the freedom to choose exactly what I want to watch in that moment,” senior Shawn Nies said. “YouTube is so great because you can just search [for] whatever you want to watch. Everything is available at all times.” The driving force being why the



platform is so popular are the creators on it. YouTuber influencers are able to create any content that they want, gaining viewership from different types of audiences. “I think YouTube is different than other sources of entertainment because most of the time they are not playing characters,” senior Suzy Mayer said. “On Netflix and other streaming sites, we are watching the characters in a predetermined plot who are following instructions given by the writers and the directors, but on YouTube, it is real people in real life. I think that on YouTube, you are able to connect to others on more platforms than just YouTube. YouTubers have an Instagram or Twitter where they are able to communicate with their fans in an instant where fans are able to keep up to date with them.” Many popular YouTubers have a large audience due to their relatability.

Their videos are seen as more intimate and authentic, which makes younger audiences enjoy them more than traditional TV shows. “I like it when I can see parts of myself in YouTubers,” Nies said. “Being able to relate to them makes their content more interesting and generated towards the audience.” Members of Gen Z have grown up with YouTube at their fingertips; many of them have been consistently using YouTube as a way to consume entertainment for years. “I have been watching YouTube for about six years,” Mayer said. “My taste in YouTube has changed with my interests, so what I used to watch when I was 12 is not the same at all to what I watch now.” YouTubers, such as Jenna Marbles and Shane Dawson, have been posting videos for over a decade, yet are still extremely relevant. They have evolved

with cultural trends and still post videos that consistently that get millions of views. Newer YouTubers, such as Emma Chamberlain and David Dobrik, are some of the most popular creators among teenagers. “Like most teenage guys, I like NELK, but I really like a lot of the positive people too, so I’m big on David Dobrik and Yes Theory,” Nies said. “Senior year’s tough, there’s a lot of stuff going on, so I’ve gravitated more towards those positive videos. They just straight up make you feel better.” YouTubers have created a sustainable career because they have produced an entire brand surrounding their personality. They make merchandise, go on tour and have sponsorships with companies in order to strengthen their brand

and have a consistent income. “I have bought merch[andise] for my favorite YouTubers and I attend their shows to support them,” Mayer said. “I want them to be able to get better equipment or go on more trips so I am able to get more content. I went to Kurtis Conners’ show because I love his videos, and I knew that he was going to be hilarious, so I wanted to hear more of his jokes that he doesn’t have a chance to say online.” Dobrik has perfected his merchandise and the marketing of his products, as his clothing with “clickbait” written across them make up a majority of his income. “I used to make fun of people for getting merch because I thought it was strange to buy someone else’s clothes, but David Dobrik’s the first person I’ve

ever bought clothing from,” Nies said. “I actually think it’s a good thing now because he gives off such a positive message, so I see nothing wrong supporting someone like this. I don’t see an issue with supporting YouTubers because they really are like movie stars essentially now. They will be the new celebrity, they’re not there yet but they will be.” The YouTube audience is getting younger each year. According to pewresearch.org, 81% of parents use YouTube to find content for their children to watch. As YouTube continues to rise, less people are indulging cable television, and the website will continue to shape the way people consume entertainment.

[Story by Camille Desjardins] [Photos by Chong Chung]


bout three miles down the road, only a 10 minute drive from Freedom High School, lies John Champe High School, home of the Knights. Since FHS students were in middle school, they have referred to Champe as their rival school, despite the close bond between the two schools when interacting within social settings. When picturing a rival school, a person may imagine a cliche West Side Story situation with two schools who absolutely despise each other. In this world, students would be hostile towards their peers at the rival school,and would not tolerate intermixing between the two groups. This is far from accurate regarding the interactions between Freedom and Champe students. Due to the proximity of the schools, students play for the same club sporting teams, attend the same social events and even date students at the “rival school.” For teenagers who meet friends at John Champe, they do not find anything odd or strange about getting to know students at the opposing school.

Junior Julia Bodmer has many friends at Champe, and she sees them no differently. “I think it doesn’t really make a difference where they go,” Bodmer said. “It can be a little weird sometimes because if they’re going to support their significant other would be rooting against our team, but other than that I don’t think it’s a problem.” Other students at FHS seem to agree that sports are one of the few times where a competitive rivalry arises between Freedom and Champe. Since Champe has moved up to 6A in sports, Freedom competes against them less in certain sports such as track or cross country, but the rivalry remains alive in other sports. Junior Ethan Forseth recalls that through playing lacrosse against Champe his team has received negative comments before and after the games. “They would blame the [referees] when they lose, make excuses after they lost about why they lost and say they’re still better than us somehow,” Forseth said.

With sports being a major high school activity, the tension level is high and the competitions are often heated. “It’s really competitive with sports,” Forseth said. “But other than that, everyone is chill with each other.” Though none can verify exactly why Freedom and Champe get along so well as rival schools, many think that it is possible the proximity of these two schools has impacted the relationship. The two schools are very close to one another and this makes it easy for students to see each other often and view each other as peers. “I think that part of the reason the rivalry isn’t heated is because we’re close geographically,” senior Julian Lee said. “You find similarities with each other, and you want to get along.” Even with some occasional tension between Champe and Freedom, students at the two schools continue to develop relationships and friendships. Though the rivalry comes into play during sporting events, it rarely overlaps into social aspects of life between the schools. “They’re just normal high school kids,” Lee said.

Junior Gabriel Turner rushes down the field in a game against Champe.




       ! "#

 $  % %&   '  

()  !* + ,-&. [Story by Eliza Agi and Madison Roney] [Photos by Madison Roney]


ut without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,� Hebrews 11:6. According to the verse, in order to please God, one must have faith and diligently seek Him. This has been a key scripture in the continual conversion process of junior Samuel Veliveli. “I grew up in a Christian family so all throughout my life, I’ve heard that Jesus died to take my sins away, and if I just put my faith and trust in Him, He would do that,� Veliveli said. “I honest-



ly thought that was too simple, there has to be something more than that, but it was how God used that process to show me it was just my faith in Him that I could gain salvation.� All throughout history, there has held a belief of a higher power. Whether the belief is in a defined deity(s), scientific force or the betterment of society, each attempts to hold communities together by increasing moral and preserving the light in individuals. Religion is a key part of many students’ daily lives. This year, Freedom students have the availability to attend a Bible study, hosted by juniors Laney Fick, Jake Fink and Susanna Kim on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings.

“I [want people] to understand that God loves them and He wants them to know Him. God made you, God loves you, and what He wants above all is to have a relationship with His son and daughter,â€? Fink said. Fink explains that a relationship is not one way and that a relationship requires communication through prayer and gratitude. However, many argue that these relationships are not always healthy. Religious history is often diďŹƒcult to swallow as shown by the convicted priests, anti-semitism and even terrorist attacks. “It is hard to try to open a conversation about faith because a lot of people are scared of, because church sounds like such a scary word,â€? Kim

said. “It’s hard to invite people to church events because they view church as a very judgmental place, and unfortunately there have been churches that are very judgemental.” Whether there are conflicts within the different sects are not, many can not deny what they have come to know in their religious texts like with Veliveli, and through their own experiences. “Well first of all, I [know] there [is] no way that the Earth or any of its creation could happen by accident,” Fink said. “Personally, I believe it takes more faith to be an atheist and believe that everything happened by chance, than actually believe there was a creator.” As the morals of society evolve overtime, certain aspects of religion have become seen as less socially acceptable, which might arouse feelings of judgement or exclusion. “I always try to treat people with the utmost respect that they deserve because we are all human beings,” Veliveli said. “And the Bible clearly says that every human being is made in the image of God, that God loves us with unconditional love, so we have to show that unconditional love to other people.” One dimension of the “wellness wheel” created by Bill Hettler, is spirituality. Even without associating with a specific religion, students still try to improve their overall wellness in a spiritual sense. Questions about life, death

and morals are commonly thought about. “Other people definitely view me as different, but that’s my goal. I want to be able to be seen as someone who reflects God through my actions, like through kindness and things like not cursing or doing bad things,” Kim said. The students at Freedom High School represent many different beliefs including atheism. The way students are raised can influence their religious beliefs. Students may interpret their beliefs independently as well. “I was never pressured to believe in Hinduism, and my parents were fully supportive whether I believed or not,” senior Vishnu Kumar said. Adding onto the belief itself are holidays that focus around a religious person or date. Varying beliefs within a family can lead to tension. The reason for celebration can also be indistinctive at a young age. “I would say that I have been an atheist before I even knew what it meant,” senior Ben Vieson said. “I had celebrated Christmas, Easter, even Hanukkah before, just without the broader religious context.” Living an atheist lifestyle does not have the guiding texts such as the Bible in Christinanity and the Qur’an in Islam. The guidance that it employs is determined by its interpretation. The common practice can be displayed by not being involved in religious affiliated activities. The practice of atheism is commonly not an influential factor of

the believers lives. “I don’t even notice [atheism] throughout my everyday life,” Kumar said. The non-traditional approach to religion can be seen with different opinions, allowing for productive communication between peers. When students are exposed to many viewpoints they are better fit to determine their faith. “I think [a friendly debate] allows for both sides to be open to new ideas and discover themselves more in root of conversation” Kumar said. Conversations are not allowed in certain circumstances though, such as a school setting. This keeps education on different religious backgrounds limited, which can lead to the unfamiliarity and knowledge of various societies and cultures. “A school’s job is to teach about the world, about history, about life and religion plays a key role in all of those,” Vieson said. “In government we learn about different ideologies and that we have to respect them, why not the same for religion?” Although atheism is defined as the disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods, it can be interpreted differently from person to person. Having an understanding of different beliefs can create a stronger faith for themselves. “There’s been times where I have seriously doubted my beliefs, but I suppose everybody goes through that at some point,” Vieson said.



LIVING WITH INVI [Story by Morgan Maiden] [Photos by Aayusha Khanal]


eing in high school can be stressful enough with learning how to balance everything. But, senior Darcie Jones has to add living with Type-One Diabetes a recent Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) diagnosis to her plate. To many of her peers, these disabilities are nonexistent; to Jones, however, they are with her constantly. “There’s just so many reminders and symptoms,” Jones said. “It’s hard to forget.” Jones has two invisible disabilities, which the Invisible Disabilities Project (IDP) defines as “physical, mental or emotional impairment that goes largely unnoticed.” Approximately 10% of people in the



United States have a medical condition that could be classified as an invisible illness, according to independent health and disability news source, Disabled World. IDP states on their website that “an invisible disability can include, but is not limited to: cognitive impairment and brain injury; the autism spectrum; chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia” and many more. For many individuals with invisible disabilities, the maintenance is often constant and tiring, especially when coupled with school or work. “I can’t describe how tiring [POTS] is, but it’s hard to work when you can barely open your eyes again after you blink,” Jones said. “It’s very hard to focus when your blood sugar is high or low, or just was high or low, or is changing quickly. There are often times when I have to wake up in the middle of the night to deal with blood sugar or medical device issues, so that’s tiring the next day.” Pain is often associated with invisible disabilities; Janice Decker, a CTE teacher at FHS, says she is in pain “all the time.”

“I wake up everyday at four o’clock to take my pain medication because it starts to wear off,” Decker said. “I just rate it on a scale. I live with a constant five to six.” Decker lives with Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a form of lupus that “attacks the organs.” Decker was diagnosed at 18, when she was a freshman in college. “Lupus right now is attacking my feet, making them very swollen. I can barely put on my shoes so I have to walk around in slippers,” Decker said. “I also feel fatigued all the time. It hits you like a truck, and all of the sudden your eyes are closed and you are asleep. I have fallen asleep many times in class due to this.” Senior John Glass deals with everyday stressors of being in high school and preparing for his future goals, but he has also had to deal with Hypoglycemia since birth. “It is kind of like the opposite of diabetes,” Glass said. “It is not enough blood sugar, too much insulin, in a way.” When Glass was younger, he would have to step out of class to eat snacks to raise his blood sugar after it went too low. The Center for Disability Rights states on their website that there are various links found between invisible disabilities and anxiety. For students, this anxiety can manifest in school


[ ] “Due to my POTS, I am afraid I won’t be able to work in the future.”

Darcie Jones

[ ] “When I was younger I would have to step out of class to eat a snack.” John Glass

related anxiety that is worsened by their disability, or anxiety about their disability in general. “I feel anxious a lot [because of ADHD]. My ADHD makes it hard for me to get my work done during the day and then I’m worried about the workload I end up having at the end of the day. It’s just a constant ongoing cycle,” an anonymous student said. “Other students can get their work

done in class or in study hall but because I can’t focus most of the time I end up falling behind and having to do a lot of work after school.” Jones has a variety of anxieties about her disabilities, ranging from her future to her day-to-day at school, dealing with her symptoms and others’ reactions. “I’m afraid of what jokes people make about diabetes, and what teachers will say about it, forgetting

that I have it. I’m afraid people will judge me, and think it’s my fault I got it,” Jones said. “It’s not.” When a disability isn’t immediately obvious by the eye, sometimes it can be doubted that it exists. “It can become very depressing because you look normal from the outside, but strangers don’t understand the daily pain that is incurred,” Decker said. “No one feels or understands the pain I am living through.”



the black sheep effect

[Story by Kaise Dualeh] [Photo by Aayusha Khanal]


ast year, the average freshman admitted to the University of Virginia had an average weighted GPA of about 4.3. This means that apart from getting straight A+s in all unweighted classes, admitted students needed to take at least a handful of college level classes such as advanced placement (AP) and dual enrollment (DE) - in order to compete with other applicants. Most American colleges seek students who take classes with more rigor in order to show traits such as passion for learning and the ability to overcome academic



adversity. However, both at Freedom and around the country, black and hispanic students are statistically less likely to take these classes when offered to them, and are more likely to drop them at the beginning of the year if enrolled. For students of color in these higher level classes, it is not uncommon for them to be one of two or three students of their race, and these numbers can dwindle even further in especially difficult AP classes. “My classes are pretty diverse, but in three of my AP classes and one DE class, I’m the only black person,” senior Ghion Worku said. “In my two other AP classes, there are only two to three black people including me.” Another facet of the issue that has

Another facet of the issue that has also garnered attention is diversity as it relates to teaching in not only college level classes but in classes in general. A 2014 report by the National Educational Association concluded that “educators who are grounded in the day-to-day experiences of their students and communities bring to their work more favorable views of students of color, including more positive perceptions regarding their academic potential.� However, while there is largely a consensus around this point - that more teachers of color must be trained and hired - many minority students have not been taught by a person of their race or ethnicity. According to data from the Washington Post, Loudoun County Public Schools has 49.8 percent students of color, but only 13.1 percent of LCPS teachers are people of color. That is a teacher of color gap of 36.7 percent. “I have only had white female teachers so far,� junior Mahad Abdi said. “That’s not just in high school but since preschool pretty much.�

While statistically, people of color are less likely to go to college, go to a teacher preparation program, graduate and be certified, that discrepancy does not fully explain the gap which is continuing to grow as the amount of minority students in the county continues to increase. Members of the Loudoun County NAACP have pressured LCPS oďŹƒcials to close the “achievement gapâ€? between races in the county, including in the underrepresentation of minority groups in advanced classes. Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams also commissioned an equity report last year which sought in part to gain personal accounts of how students view the treatment of race in their schools. FHS was also included in this study, with focus groups being held at school towards the end of the last school year. “Hopefully in the future it will be a lot dierent,â€? senior Jason Cruz said. “If we encourage kids from a younger age to take diďŹƒcult classes I think they will probably be more open to taking more APs and DEs in high school.â€?

  )# ' %  #

  ' /

)# )  ' 

 0"" " % 0  '


  1   )2

+ #3 features


Targeting Unity [Story by Dan Gittleman] [Photos by Ava Proehl]


hen clubs and sports are mentioned, archery often fails to make the conversation. The drawing of a bow is far more foreign to the common student than kicking a soccer ball or shooting a basketball. However, archery demands attention because it is an up-and-coming club sport in Freedom High School. In September 2019, Archery Club president Caroline Aversano and club sponsor Kate Adamczak came together to fabricate a brand new club. “Last year in P.E., I had a lot of fun during the archery unit,” Aversano said. “I’ve always had a good relationship with Ms. Adamczak, so I thought it would be fun to start a club doing archery since we were both really into it, and so we could help spread the love for it to other people.” That love was quickly spread, evident



by the increasing number of students joining this club. The club has already risen to 11 members and these avid archers are enjoying every minute of the sport. “I would describe the atmosphere as positive and uplifting because the people in the club just have fun with it,” junior Kalix Martin said. “No one is judging how anyone shoots, they’re just here to support you.” Although they haven’t competed in any competitions yet, the archery club is practicing weekly in order to prepare. Their practices are intended to be entertaining while focusing on improving accuracy, strength and precision. “Archery meets once a week,” Adamczak said. “Most of the time it’s on Thursdays, but now because of the cold, outside shooting bows is not as much fun. We kind of alternate based on whenever there’s gym space now with winter sports, but the girls are really flexible.”

This club initially did not have sufficient equipment for practice. Bows are provided by the P.E. department, but the club still needed arrows and targets. Adamczak had resolved this issue by utilizing leftover targets from Independence High School and purchasing arrows using club dues. “[Ms. Adamczak is] definitely doing a lot for us, and it’s actually really cool,” said Skylar Worst, archery club vice president. “She made sure we got better arrows because the ones P.E. had were very bad. They were warped and missing fletchings and nocks, so it was really hard to use them correctly. She also got us new targets, so it was a lot easier. She wants us to do the best that we can.” At FHS, archery was initially a simple and brief P.E. unit. This year, it is now offered as a club that has practices and competitions. This just goes to show the vast number of activities that FHS provides opportunities to explore.

Coaching the Community A [Story and Photo by Carina Funk]

Senior South Riding Stingray coach Sarah Ramboyong, “I learned how to ll throughout Freedom High School, students not only thrive plan swim practices and meets and the operations behind everything.” academically, but also strive to Coaching also helps FHS students better and be involved within their get more involved with the children community. One way students at within the community. Students get FHS have stayed involved is through an opportunity to create relationships student coaching. Many organizations with the kids, share their experience such as the SOLO Basketball league, with the sport, and genuinely make the Loudoun Soccer, Dulles South Lakids’ experience with the sport great. crosse, and the South Riding Stingrays “Coaches leave a lasting impact on offer high schoolers the opportunity to kid’s confi dence, skills, and love for a share their expertise in their sport and sport. I really hope to leave the season pass it on to younger players. Student coaching has many benefits with a group of kids that want to come and can provide students with skills to back and play again next year” Said help them in the future. One common future Dulles South Lacrosse coach Madison Mckenna. take away from student coaching is Junior basketball coach for SOLO how to be a good employee. It’s a Basketball Grace Schofield agreed with great way to learn communication this statement “I wanted the players skills and how to deal with parents to be able to learn the correct way to along with how to organize and plan. play, have fun, but also to show them “I learned how to talk and teach the best parts of the game that I have kids and then communicate with their experienced.” parents. I learned a lot about dealing Not only do students get a chance with adults especially rude ones” said

Junior Grace Schofield coaches her players at a basketball game. to connect with players, but they also create a relationship with the parents on the team. They allow a lot of the coaches to be flexible with their schedules so their not too overwhelmed. “The parents of my team are super supportive. They always offer to help with whatever my assistant coach and I need. They always thank us for volunteering and being coaches for their daughters” Schofield said.


andthe high fiving people tle out first yearthe team, The around Golden you even In if you no idea are.” Knights. the fihave rst match up,who the they Capitals TheThe Capitals then flthe ewloss to Vegas to team used as motivaIn theInpast the two pastyears, two years, majormajor sportssports lost 4-6. outfour the straight first yeargames, team, The Golden and, for the Capiteamsteams in Washington in Washington have have had monuhad monu- tionbattle In the first match up,becoming the Capitals won a total of 20-14 points, mental mental opportunities opportunities to prove to prove they are they are tals Knights. The team used the loss as motivathe lost 20184-6. Stanley Cup champions. the strongest the strongest and the andbest the in best their in sport. their sport. forof four the Capiwas and, at one thestraight Stanley games, Cup final In theInstands, the stands, the fans the always fans always remained remained “Ition tals and wonwitnessed a total of fi20-14 points, rst hand the becoming sea of optimistic optimistic and devoted and devoted for the forone theday one daygames 2018 Stanley Cup champions. in the streets surrounding the arena,” they get theytoget seetotheir see team their team be the bebest. the best. red the “I was Stanley said.at “Itone wasofsothe cool to seeCup ev- final During During their 44th their season, 44th season, the Washthe Wash- Tenorio games andout witnessed first hand the sea of come and support the team ington ington Capitals Capitals had only had one onlything one thing on on eryone red in the streets surrounding the arena,” together.” their mind: their mind: the Stanley the Stanley Cup. Cup. Tenorio wasCaps so cool to seethe evbest said. part “It of the winning It wasIt20 was years 20 years since since the Washington the Washington “The eryone out and support the team Cupcome was seeing how the whole Capitals Capitals mademade an appearance an appearance in thein the Stanley together.” came together to celebrate,” senior Eastern Eastern Conference. Conference. In a 13 In day, a 13 seven day, seven town “The bestsaid part of the Caps winning the gamegame crusade crusade against against the Tampa the Tampa Bay, Bay, Abby Knowles Stanley Cupjust waswhen seeing whole the field, thehow fansthe could the Capitals the Capitals trailedtrailed 3-2 before 3-2 before pushing pushing On town camethe together to celebrate,” senior barely watch, Washington through through their apparent their apparent slump, slump, with Capwith CapAbby Knowles qualifiedsaid for the 2019 itals fans itals eagerly fans eagerly watching watching at home at home and andNationals On League the field, justCard whenGame. the fans National Wild at theatrink. the rink. could the the Washington fifthbarely and fiwatch, nal game, series I loveI the loveenvironment,” the environment,” seniorsenior Han- In the qualifi ed teams, for theit2019 wasNationals tied, and for both was NaHannah nahTenorio Tenoriosaid. said.“When “Whenyou’re you’reatat a League Card Game. all ortional nothing. TheWild Nationals beat In a game game andand the the Caps Caps score, score, it’s so loud you can it’s barely so loudhear youanything over the screaming can barely and you’ll hear just start celebrating and anything high fiving over the the people screaming around and you even you’llif just youstart have celebrating no idea who they are.” The Capitals then flew to Vegas to bat[Story[Story by Lillian by Lillian Christenbury] Christenbury]



SDT. CR. EWCINHS LAand in afi7-3 Onthe October 30, theout fifth nal win. game, series was 2019,and the for Nationals won against the tied, both teams, it was all orHousnothton Astros in a 6-2 beat brawl. Washington ing. The Nationals out LA in a 7-3had win. made their fi30, rst World Series win in the On October 2019, the Nationals won Nationals against thehistory. Houston Astros in a 6-2 brawl. “The Nationals entiretheir run in theWorld playoffs Washington had made first was binge-worthy and impressive,” Series win in the Nationals history. senior Bryand Garcia said. “Therun team really cames “The Nationals entire in the playoff together and pulled through. The best part was binge-worthy and impressive,” senior was howGarcia the community was behind them Bryand said. “The team really came the entireand time.” together pulled through. The best part “We have the underdogs for over was how thebeen community was behind them a the decade,” entiresenior time.” Cole Novoa said, “but we were able to win Series this “We have beenthe theWorld underdogs for year.” over a decade,” senior Cole Novoa said, “but we were able to win the “I think [thethis Nationals] World Series year.” gave everyone a common thing to unite over,” freshman Luke Proehl said. “I think [the Nationals] gave ev“Whether you support diff eryone a common thing toerunite ent issues from diff erent sides, over,” freshman Luke Proehl said. everyone just came to “Whether youtogether support dif-

support the Nationals as Nationals fans ferent issues from different sides, everyone in D.C. andtogether around the country.the Everyone just came to support Nationwasaswatching baseball over als Nationals fans in and D.C.we andunited around baseball.” the country. Everyone was watching baseAfter fans ball andthe we respective united overchampionships, baseball.” new andthe oldrespective celebratedchampionships, the success of fans After Washington teams forsuccess the firstoftime new and old sports celebrated the in many years. Washington sports teams for the first time in “The manyfuture years.of D.C. sports teams seems bright,” Garciaof said. manyseems of our “The future D.C.“Since sportssoteams sports teams good, ourso representation bright,” Garciaare said. “Since many of our is better than are it has been in representation a long time.” sports teams good, our “I thinkthan the Caps the is better it has winning been in brought a long time.” town and the fan base “I think Caps closer,” winningKnowles broughtsaid. the “Sinceand we fan hadbase nevercloser,” won, itKnowles gave oursaid. city town hope and positivity.” “Since we brought had never won, it gave our city “I think energy with the fans will hope and the brought positivity.” stay the same,” juniorwith Connor Kolarov “I think the energy the fans will said. the “People have always beenKolarov passionate stay same,” junior Connor about“People D.C. sports I don’t think that will said. haveand always been passionate change.” about D.C. sports and I don’t think that will change.”



Paredes Goes Pro 26


[Story by Lauriane Razafinjatovo] [Photo by Xavier Dussaq]


riginally playing for multiple D.C. United Academy teams and now part of the D.C. United Professional team, junior Kevin Paredes has reached a remarkable level in his soccer career, unique to any other players his age. The 16 year old’s soccer journey began at the early age of three when his parents put him to play for Peewee Loudoun Recreational Soccer. At 6, he was playing for travel teams, starting with Chantilly Knights and later, Bethesda Soccer Club in Maryland. With intentions of reducing travel time to practices, Paredes tried out for Loudoun Soccer. During the tryouts, he was scouted by the D.C. United director, David Sanford, and professional team assistant coach, Nolan Sheldon, to play for D.C. United Academy. “When we first saw Kevin play, he fit the profile of a player we like to have inside our academy,” Sanford said. “Kevin was intelligent and had the ability to solve problems, which indicated he already had a high soccer IQ.” Currently, Paredes plays for D.C. United U19, Loudoun United Professional, and U.S.A. U16. It’s nice being in a professional atmosphere and playing with players that I’ve been watching since I was 5 years old,” Paredes said. “It’s a really cool experience and the practice intensity is crazy.” In the summer of 2019, Paredes traveled to Prague, Czech Republic to play for the U.S.A. U16 team, scoring the first goal against Venezuela. The same summer, he began training with the D.C. United Professional team. Paredes had the opportunity to play at the Nike International Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Florida against the Netherlands, U.S.A. and Turkey. There, he scored one goal against the Netherlands and assisted once against Turkey. “Kevin has impacted his teams statistically in many categories over the years, and he is often the leader with goals scored and assists,” Sanford said. “He is a team player. Kevin works hard in and out of possession to support his teammates. He is a well-rounded soccer player, which allows him to take

on a leadership role in the teams to lead vocally and by example.” Paredes’ mindset is to reach his highest potential and be fully committed every time he steps out on the field. Traveling an hour and a half to D.C. to practice and sacrificing time with family are among some of the factors that continue to motivate him. I’m pretty blessed,” Paredes said. “Not many kids have the opportunity to play or practice with a pro team. Even to be on D.C. United is a blessing because some kids don’t have the same opportunity as I do, so I cherish it and just keep working for that.” For the 2018-2019 season, Paredes received the best eleven for his position on the right wing in the East Coast for the D.C. U17 team. “When I was little, I didn’t even think about the possibility of going professional or anything,” Paredes said. “I just thought about being competitive with my brothers and would always find ways to beat them.” Beside from the typical sibling rivalry, Paredes is often reminded of the sacrifices his parents made for him to have the opportunity to play soccer. His parents, Greogorio and Claribel Paredes, came from the Dominican Republic without much to offer, which is another factor that motivates the soccer player. Paredes’ efforts are demonstrated through his successful impacts on the elite teams, allowing him to be ready to take the next step in his soccer career. “The steps I would like to see him take is to sign a professional contract, earn first team minutes and lastly become a contributor to the first team to impact the results of the professional team on the field with goals and assists,” Sanford said. The high schooler conveniently receives help from coaches and staff at the academy, which allows him to maintain his schoolwork and soccer life. “We are extremely proud of his progression and it is credited to his work ethic and determination to become a top player in this country,” Sanford said.



[Editorial by Lauren Balser]


tudents who participate in gifted programs maintain established interests throughout their educational career and after graduation, according to the National Association for Gifted Children. In areas such as Northern Virginia, the incentive to expose your child to a gifted program at a young age might appeal to some parents due to the competition for schools like TJ or AOS and the belief that these programs might assist students in getting into these schools or colleges, later on in their academic career. I believe that there is merit to these programs; as a student who was in the gifted program in Loudoun, I recognize that it is a great opportunity for students who are selected. Students may be less bored than they would be at their home schools, they may be exposed to new ideas or they may get to



learn and collaborate at a level that they might not be able to with the general education curriculum. Despite this, I have a bone to pick with the selection process, particularly the role that standardized testing plays. The selection process in Loudoun County looks at three factors: students’ scores on the two ability tests (Cognitive Abilities Test and Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test), teacher input and students’ work portfolio. If a student qualifies in two categories, they are said to be eligible. However, there is particular emphasis on testing, as Loudoun states, “students with qualifying test scores on the CogAT and/or NNAT” will be the ones evaluated for the gifted programs on their website. Despite this relatively holistic selection process, it has flaws that might be detrimental to students. Students who get in on the basis of their qualifying score on the CogAT and/or NNAT might not be ready for an accelerated program; due to the emphasis on standardized testing, however, this reality is not always considered. When students are not ready for programs such as these, they might believe that they need to continue on an advanced and/or accelerated track, later convincing themselves to take advanced classes that they are not prepared or ready for. In middle and/ or high school, when classes typically increase in rigor, this can lead to issues with anxiety

or imposter syndrome (the inability to believe one’s own achievements are legitimate). On the opposite end, students who do poorly on standardized testing due to poor test taking skills of a bad test day might not be considered because of one exam. If students can study their way into a gifted program, is that program actually measuring giftedness? Parents, especially in Northern Virginia, may be prone to tutoring their children for these exams because they feel it gives them a competitive edge. Aside from preparing their children for the assessments, parents also have the ability to appeal the decision or to refer their child to the gifted program. While this is undeniably useful in some cases, some parents may push for entrance into the program before their child is ready. This is not to suggest that standardized testing should be taken out of the equation, but, rather, to suggest that standardized testing should not be the most prominent criteria for selection. To ensure that selection has more to do with students than their scores, those who are talented in areas the exams cannot or do not adequately score should still be considered. For example, students who excel in music of art should be evaluated with their peers who do well on the tests to determine if they would thrive in an advanced or accelerated classroom.. Additionally, if students do qualify based on their score, additional screening should include areas other than just standardized testing to ensure that the program is a proper fit. Gifted programs should measure a student as a whole, not just on an exam.

[Editorial by Ava Proehl]


hen I first started working at Chick-Fil-A, it didn’t even cross my mind if they were anti- LGBTQ+. I did my interview, and the first thing I thought about was how excited I was to get free food after every shift. But then, I kept seeing stuff on Twitter where people would tweet out a list of companies that donated to anti-gay charities and CFA would be on there, among many other major companies I frequently support. I would see reminders that the CEO of Chick-Fil-A had said that he believed that marriage is between one man and one woman. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I probably should have been outraged. But for some reason, I wasn’t. The first reason was honestly because I really like chicken and waffle fries and didn’t really want to give it up. But, I also knew, from my own experiences, that not everyone who works there has the same views as the

head of the company. I know this to be a fact, because I worked at a local Chick-fil-a. I have at least two, if not more, fellow employees who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. When we’re closing and all talking about our lives, if someone brings up their significant other of the same gender, no one cringes or shuns them for not being straight. What people often don’t consider is that the views of the whole company aren’t necessarily continued throughout the local chains. Sure, certain aspects of the company, such as a focus on customer service and an enjoyable fast food experience trickle throughout, but the homophobia definitely doesn’t. Then, a couple weeks ago, ChickFil-A came forward and said that they would stop donating to charities, such as the Salvation Army, that had anti-LGBTQ+ views. This was met with mixed reactions from the LGBTQ+ community. Some of the community was elated; they were glad that their voices and

complaints had finally been heard. But, on the other side came the attacks. Multiple people fled to Twitter to say “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Many were concerned that this was just something they would do for show, and wouldn’t actually carry out. My view on this? Just eat the dang chicken. Trust me, I want more acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community all over too. I don’t understand the need for a company to donate to a charity or group that is known do deliberately discriminate. But at the same time, whether or not you or your three friends go and get nuggets at CFA or McDonalds today will not be the make or break of a company. It won’t make a large enough impact that will affect the entire LGBTQ+ community. So go get those chicken sandwiches, then let’s talk about a different solution. Let’s talk about the movement for more widespread LGBTQ+ acceptance, and a world where we can all eat our chicken in good conscience.



[Editorial by Aayusha Khanal]


ll I wanted was to fit in. In elementary school, my friend and I were the only people of color in my entire friend group of white girls. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but it kind of stung when we would play ‘family’ during recess and my black friend and I would always end up playing the maid whilst they were sisters, aunts and mothers. It was during this time in first grade when I began to feel like I was living in the shadow of my white friends. I never knew how to identify this experience. It wasn’t something I experienced in Nepal, where everyone looked the same and it wasn’t something I could explain to my white friends because, as far as I know, they don’t share the same experience. I couldn’t help but feel less than. When I became exposed to television, however, I discovered that what I was going through was not uncommon. I was just one of the millions of kids who would sit in front of the television, awaiting the new Disney Original movie to air. The movies and TV shows would begin with a straight white lead and a straight white love interest. On the off chance that there was a character that was from a minority, they would be the best friend of the straight, white main character. Whether it be the black, Asian or homosexual best friend, the characters would play their (usually very stereotypical) part and live in the shadows of the main character. Time and time again, they are there



to consolidate the white best friend and help them out of a crisis. We see this character in Dionne Marie Davenport in the movie Clueless and in the characters of Chad Danforth and Taylor McKessie in High School Musical. Yet, it’s rare to see these roles reversed. Minority characters in film and in TVshows are scarcely dispersed throughout so that the film or movie has the illusion of being diverse. The few times I see a Hollywood movie with a lead minority character, the plot revolves around their ethnicity, sexuality, or gender. While these factors can greatly contribute to a character’s identity, minorities aren’t just their minorities. Sometimes, I just want to watch an Asian character in a normal movie without the plot being about how the main character is Asian. It’s one thing for minority characters to be stereotypical and to be the background characters in a film but it’s another thing for them to be a one-dimensional character whose only characteristic is to reaffirm the cliches behind their identity. Although it can be expected for movies targeted at children to have less complex characters, these movies are also the most common in typecasting characters with primarily white leads. It feels like the only options are either stereotyping minorities or whitewashing them. According to a study conducted by the UCLA Department of Social Sciences, 20% of lead actors in film are people of color despite the fact that they make up nearly 40% of the U.S. population. We already face severe underrepresentation in the media. With

the representation we do see, minority characters play inside their stereotype. While white actors may be able to branch out in the roles they play (think John Krasinski playing a comedic character in The Office and then directing and acting in a horror movie The Quiet Place), many minorities have trouble breaking out of their shell because the film industry only wants them to play their part as a minority character. Although it isn’t inherently bad to have token friends in movies since it is difficult to give each character the same level of depth in a movie that only lasts between one and two hours, it becomes a problem when time and again, the Asian girl plays the stereotypical Asian girl. Luckily, we are finally moving towards a film industry that has more diversity. But, it must keep in mind that diversity is not a majority white cast with one or two minority characters thrown in the mix. It is when there is an equal representation of the population. Once we finally cross this barrier, I hope that there is a dynamic shift in how young minorities view their role in their friend group. I hope that they don’t feel like they have to play their part as the gay best friend or the Asian best friend or the what-have-you in order to feel like they are valid. I hope that the one friend that is different than the rest doesn’t have to act like proof that a friend group isn’t racist or isn’t held up like some trophy. With true diversity, there also comes a feeling of belonging. I hope that friend feels like they belong.

[Editorial by James Czarnaki]


common term used by seniors in high school is senioritis. Senioritis is defined as a lack of motivation and decline in performance during the final year of high school. This lack of performance and motivation can occur before senior year due to stress, workload and school extracurriculars. Whether it’s having a loaded schedule with lots of AP classes, being involved in tons of clubs or training hard for a sport, it’s important to be involved in and outside of school, but it’s also important to manage physical and mental health to prevent burnout. Loudoun County has a very competitive environment for students and student-athletes, everyone wants to be the best and sometimes push themselves over the limit. No one wants to be stressed out and exhausted 24/7. Some ways to avoid burnout are eating right, staying hydrated, exer-

cising, making time for something fun each day, getting proper amount of sleep each night, taking breaks when needed and making time for yourself. Just making some of these simple lifestyle changes can improve overall well being. In this day in age, the demands of high school can be very strenuous, making it harder to make some of these choices. If struggling to manage academics, social and extracurricular schedule don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources available to help like a guidance counselor, teachers, parents, or a friend, some will always have advice to help during tough times. Studies from Harvard Health have shown doing at least 30 minutes or more of exercise can help boost morale. Exercise can produce endorphins in the brain that act as natural painkillers helping reduce stress. Exercising frequently has many health benefits that help physically and mentally,

including improving sleep and overall mood. At first it may be hard getting motivation to go to the gym after a long day at school, but once made a habit it becomes easier. Even going for a walk or jogging around the neighborhood helps. On the other side of things as a student-athlete, it’s important to not over train or practice to prevent injuries, which can lead to burnout. Some other ways to prevent burnout and injuries as an athlete is to play multiple sports, stretch before and after practicing or working out, when injured taking the right amount of time to recover, eating healthy, and drinking plenty of water. Playing multiple sports allow for more range of motion to be used. Only playing one sport uses the same muscles repeatedly, which could possibly lead to serious injury. Being a multi sport athlete gets rid of tiredness, unlike playing a sport year-round that can lead to fatigue.



Profile for [Uncaged.]

[Uncaged.] Volume 5, Issue 2  

Here is the second issue of Freedom High School's newsmagazine! Hope you enjoy!

[Uncaged.] Volume 5, Issue 2  

Here is the second issue of Freedom High School's newsmagazine! Hope you enjoy!


Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded