Valor Dictus James W. Robinson Secondary School 5035 Sideburn road, Fairfax, VA 22032
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
INSIDE OUR PAPER
Volume 39 Issue 9
Bravely speaking to the Robinson community
Managing editor Alexandra Hiponia rediscovers D.C. — See page 7
Security sounds off on illegal student activity on campus. — See pages 10-11
Learn affordable but fun ways to enjoy your senior prom. — See page 13
Faculty renews focus on tardies BY KATE ROZELSKY Business Manager
In a recent faculty meeting, faculty discussed the tardiness problem, and teachers were instructed to discipline students for arriving to class tardy and wandering in the hallway without a pass. “We are supposed to be policing [the tardy issue] more. For my part, I am using hall passes more often when students leave to go to the bathroom or office, and have given lunch detention to tardy students,” math teacher Mary Bowersox said. According to Principal Dan Meier, teachers should be teaching to a bell-to-bell schedule, meaning as soon as the bell rings, instruction time begins, and it should not finish until the next bell sounds. “Since spring has sprung, more students are becoming
more and more late,” Safety and Security Specialist Sandra Corbin said. Security personnel have been revoking parking passes of students who park on campus, and reminding off-campus parkers and walkers their tardiness now will affect their chance to participate in the parking lottery in the future. Meier said the new countdown clocks have helped students arrive to class on time. “[The countdown clocks] have made a noticeable difference. I have seen kids looking at them and saying how much time is left,” Meier said. According to Bowersox, the consequences for tardiness are not enough to get students to get to class on time. An FCPS policy changed the consequences of unexcused tardiness so they could not affect grades..
Read a preview of the new Batman comic book. — See page 15
Longboarding gains popularity among students. — See page 20
Boys varsity soccer looks to bounce back
“Grades ought to be based on knowledge, not if you’re in class,” Superintendent Jack Dale said. Junior Kailey Macpherson said she has been less worried about arriving tardy because of this. Now the consequences are smaller, such as the removal of parking passes, detentions, warnings, or no consequences at all. “Last quarter I was late to Environmental Systems multiple times, and I had to clean up the classroom because of my tardies,” senior Ryan Jeffs said. Teachers and administrators are trying to solve the issue for multiple reasons. Meier said, “In our society, as opposed to others, punctuality is important, so we need to teach students the importance of punctuality.”
Senior forward and team captain Alex Makumbi wins the ball from a Westfield player during a 2-2 tie against Westfield April 23. This brought the team’s overall record to 7-1-1 and district record to 2-0-1. Makumbi said he believes it was important to win every district game. He said, “We played well as a team [but] we just gave up two easy goals.”
Bell schedule planning PTSA event uncovers teen life ‘Suburbs’ night addresses parties, drinking, Internet use process nears completion News Editor
After only one year following the current bell schedule, in which eighth period meets every day, and which contains a daily RAISE period, the bell schedule committee and the administration are considering another change. According to Principal Dan Meier, a decision will be made on the schedule within the next “couple of weeks.” Meier said teachers seemed to consider RAISE every day unnecessary, and the 30 minutes too short of a time to accomplish anything substantive. “Teachers have recommended we have RAISE few days, but for a longer period of time,” Meier said. The bell schedule committee, which gave its recommendations to Meier, is comprised of faculty from all around the school, including middle school teachers. According to committee chair Dr. Karen McLean, the committee recommended a return to a schedule similar to the RAISE trial run in spring 2009, which had two hour-long RAISE sessions per week. “This seemed to be the best compromise between maintaining a remediation schedule and maximizing our class time. This wasn’t an issue of taking away RAISE,” McLean said.
The final decision is up to Meier, though. Meier said, “We just have to take all the information we have.” McLean cited several reasons for the recommendation, but said the major reason was teachers feeling they could not teach as effectively with the shorter class periods. “The biggest concern about the current schedule was the decrease of time in class,” McLean said.
Bell Schedule Committee Recommendations The committee recommended the administration return to an intervention schedule similar to the spring 2009 RAISE pilot run. This schedule would be used twice a week.
2009 Pilot Schedule 7:20-8:50 1st/2nd Period 9:00-9:45 RAISE 9:55-10:40 3rd Period 10:50-12:40 4th/5th Period 12:50-2:05 6th/7th Period Graphic by Tim Ferrell
BY HAILEY METZGER AND DAVID WEINBERG Staff Writers
Upperclassmen and recent high school graduates spoke on an anonymous panel about drugs, alcohol and partying at PTSA’s event, “Saturday Night in the Suburbs” April 7. “I was surprised about how candid the students were towards the parents, they really opened up that night,” Drug and Alcohol Counselor Sam Wagner said. “Saturday Night in the Suburbs” is a nationwide event Wagner said he wanted to have at our school. He found out about it a couple years ago when Westfield High School implemented the program. Westfield’s event was more focused on drugs according to Wagner. Wagner is a part of the Robinson Community Coalition, a small group put together with members of our community. The group’s goal is to initiate a program called Parents Reaching out to Educate Communities Together, or P.R.O.T.E.C.T. According to unifiedpreven-
Alcohol Use: Robinson vs. Fairfax County Students One topic our PTSA addressed at the “Saturday Night in the Suburbs” event was teen drinking. Here are the results of the 2008 Fairfax County Youth Survey regarding alcohol use among eighth, tenth, and twelfth grade students from our school and county-wide:
Alcohol use within last 30 days % of student population
BY TIM FERRELL
Compiled by Katherine Dempsey from Heather Ripley, Robinson PTSA Chair of Health & Safety Programs
tioncoalition.org the program is a collaborative reaching out to educate and PROTECT our children, families and communities from the dangers of alcohol and drugs. “Next year we hope to add P.R.O.T.E.C.T to help us out with things,” Wagner said. “We also partnered up with PTSA to host the ‘Bong Show’ twice this year, once in November and again right before spring break.” According to Wagner, he was only expecting about 40 parents to show up, but surprisingly over 120 parents came. It was an
event for only parents because event organizers wanted to keep the panel anonymous. “It was a very open dialogue; parents could ask questions to the students and get honest answers,” Wagner said. He added that a lot of the parents were even telling stories about their high school social life. Overall Wagner said it was a good idea and he is hoping it continues in the future. Wagner said, “It gave parents a better awareness of what is going on and it really gave them something to think about.”