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“Hazing” should be consistently enforced. — See page 5

Learn the truth about the dirtiness of school bathrooms. — See pages 8-9

Senior Alex Emmons excels in various areas. — See page 11

Find out the “worsts” in entertainment in 2010. — See page 13

The boys basketball team wins six straight. — See page 16

Valor Dictus James W. Robinson Secondary School 5035 Sideburn road, Fairfax, VA 22032

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bravely speaking to the Robinson community

Volume 40 Issue 4

Swimming into trouble Locker room investigation results in firing of two coaches have a problem with it. “We all took it as a big joke,” he said. Production Editor Meier said the school began to investigate quickly because of the gravity of the report. Following a report from a Fair“The allegation was very serious in nature, in my opinion, it bordered on sexual asfax County Parks employee about and sault,” Meier said. Meier went on to say that a locker room incident, and an en- according to the school’s investigation, the behavior did not constitute sexual assault, but suing school investigation, head the swim team had been participating in some swim coach Clayton Joyner and hazing. “There were some incidents going on that assistant swim coach Kevin Nolan the school considered hazing,” subschool 11 principal Michael Mukai said. “We’re supposed have been fired. to provide a safe and secure environment for all After the Dec. 3 swim meet at Cub Run, the of our kids.” Mukai said the definition of hazing is slightboys swim team went to the locker room for its post-meet shower. A facility employee reported ly ambiguous, so the school has to look seriously inappropriate behavior there to the Superinten- into allegations. It is better to err on the safe side dent’s office, which then passed the statement at any kind of team function, Mukai said. “If you’re makdown to our school. Principal ing kids do acDan Meier called the report “a tivities that you serious incident,” but declined wouldn’t want to elaborate further on specifics publicly known, I of the incident, citing privacy The allegation was very serious consider that hazconcerns. ing,” he said. “How A male senior on the swim in nature, and in my opinion, it can you tell the difteam, who agreed to speak on bordered on sexual assault. ference between the condition of anonymity, Principal Dan kids who want to disagreed with the administrado [an activity] and tion’s assessment of the situMeier those who don’t? ation. He said a freshman had Sometimes, because his swimsuit pulled down, and of peer pressure, was then spanked with a handthey don’t want to ful of soap, behavior that occurs speak up.” often in the locker room after The anonymous senior said he would not meets, but this time a Cub Run employee obconsider the incident hazing, and the members served the incident. Sophomore Frank Camacho, a member of of the team didn’t think it was that bad. He also the team, said this behavior is tradition and usu- said the school’s investigation methods were ally carried out by seniors, but the team doesn’t invasive and over the top, and argued that the


2009 FCPS Youth Survey Reveals Depression Higher Than National Average FCPS recently released its 2009 Youth Survey results. The survey was given to 81 percent of sixth, eighth and tenth grade students in county schools. Results showed rates of depression among county students are higher than among youths on the national level. Still, attempted suicide rates remain lower than the national level.

Reports of Depression and Attempted Suicide Fairfax Percent of Youth



Considered Suicide

graphic by Katherine Dempsey Information from 2009 Fairfax County Youth Survey

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


dismissal of the coaches was unfair. “[The administration] interrogated people multiple times,” he said. “They told us we were lying, and said we were guilty unless we talked to them. In the end, though, it was the kids’ fault. The coach had nothing to do with it.” Camacho agreed with this assessment, and said he was told if he didn’t tell the truth, he would be expelled. Assistant Director of Student Activities Jeff Ferrell said the interview procedure was standard, and any feeling of intimidation was unintentional and just an unfortunate byproduct of the process. “Any time a student is interviewed, there is a level of intimidation, no matter what the interview is about because [the student] is speaking to an authority figure,” Ferrell said. Swim team members said they were told this specific incident was not the only factor that contributed to the coaches’ dismissal, but were not given other details. Meier and Ferrell both declined to comment on individual personnel decisions. Philip Caslavka, who was an assistant swim coach at Oakton High School, will take over coaching responsibilities the remainder of the season. Meier said any staff or coaching change is not something he takes lightly, and he met with swim team parents Dec. 9, and students Dec. 10. He said schools must act quickly when any kind of hazing is brought to their attention. Meier said, “Society’s expectations of schools are changing. What was OK 10, 15, 20 years ago is often no longer socially acceptable. Things like bullying, harassment and hazing are at the forefront of discussion of acceptable behavior. In our investigation, I’ve become aware of the fact that this [inappropriate behavior] has probably been going on for a number of years, but unbeknownst to the school. But when it is, we have to take appropriate action.”

Ly plans scrapbooking event BY BAILEY HAASE Staff Writer

Junior Catherine Ly set up an after school scrapbooking activity with 10 selected special needs students on Dec. 9. The National Art Honor Society sponsored the activity, but it for Ly’s Girl Scout Gold Award project. “I wanted to do something with the WAT kids, but they are not allowed to stay after school,” Ly said, “but I thought this would be a cool way to give back.” Ly decided to create the after school activity because she thought it would be a fun way for simple and fun activity for the kids. “It’s simple and everybody has fun doing it and it allows kids to be creative,” Ly said. A substantial amount of volunteers showed up, though the coordinators, Ly, NAHS sponsor Asha Jones and special education teacher Kathleen Skocik thought there would be more participants than volunteers. “I think it went really well, there were a lot more volunteers than we expected which was really helpful to us,” Ly said. The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts and requires service hours. “The Gold Award has to be something that can happen more than once, and something charitable,” Ly said. The NAHS sponsored the activity, providing materials and a room for the participating

Photo by Bailey Haase

National Art Honor Society Hosts Scrapbooking- Middle school students Sabrina Latif and Alicia

Perez scrapbook on Dec. 9. Junior Catherine Ly organized the event to help get her Girl Scout Gold Award. “....I thought this would be a cool way to give back,” Ly said.

students, Ly said. Ly recruited NAHS members as volunteers for her activity, as she is the former NAHS president. “I chose scrapbooking because I wanted to

do something art-related that everyone could do,” Ly said. Ly said she likely will be running the event again next year.


Valor Dictus December 22, 2010

Student organizations help spread holiday cheer Several clubs participated in charity drives to help individuals in need. French Honor Society collects clothes The French Honor Society collected clothing, shoes and Christmas gifts for two selected community families. This is the second year it has sponsored the drive. The children of the selected families attend the Head Start program, a day care for children of families in the area with financial difficulties. Each of the families has four or five members. SGA and other foreign language societies and teachers assisted as well. FHS started collecting the donations since the beginning of November and ended Dec. 10. FHS sponsor Christine Schaffrath said, “We are successful every year because we have a good collaboration with the students and also the teachers.”

Random Acts of Kindness Club’s pajama drive Kindness Club held its first pajama drive this year with help from the Scholastic book publishing company. “Our officers were thinking of doing something this holiday season and Scholastic emailed me saying they are doing a pajama drive, where every pajama we donate the children also get a book,” said Shauntel Sibley, Kindness Club sponsor. “This was a wonderful opportunity.” It collected the pajamas from Nov. 19 to Dec.9. For every pair of pajamas the Kindness Club donated, Scholastic provided an ageappropriate book for the child who received the pajamas.

Key Club hosts winter blood drive Key Club hosted its winter blood drive in partnership with the American Red Cross Dec. 13. “We just need blood donation and people are into a giving spirit during the holiday season,” said senior Nour Alamiri, a club member. The club also runs the event in the spring. It runs strictly on donations as a source of fundraising. Alamiri said, “Blood drive is our main event and we are lucky that we get to do it twice a year.”


Upcoming Events

Dec. 23

Winter break begins. — Students can enjoy 10 days off school, before returning to classes Monday, Jan. 3.

Jan. 6

Financial Aid Informa— tion Night in Russell Theater from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. All students and parents are welcome to come learn about the college aid process.

Jan. 12

DECA holds annual — Fashion Show in Russell Theater from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Jan. 17

Students off of school in — honor of Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.

Jan. 21

Partner’s Club Winter — Dance in the Gold Cafeteria from 7 p.m.- 9 p.m.


SGA to host laser tag event Snow causes early closing, event moved to Jan. 5 BY HAILEY METZGER Staff Writer

SGA rescheduled its laser tag event for Jan. 5 due to snow last Thursday. “We started preparing for it right before Thanksgiving break; and had difficulty with finding a company to rent equipment from,” said laser tag committee member sophomore Eva Tamrakar. “ She said it all worked out, but the snow pushed the committee back a little bit. Along with the setback of snow, the committee said they also had an issue with getting the finance department to approve of the event. SGA advertised the event using GMR clips and Facebook, Tamrakar said. The committee felt this was a good idea, in hopes of getting the word out about the event. “I sent messages out to the laser tag group I created on Facebook with updates on the event,” Tamrakar said. “When the event was postponed, it was a simple way to let everyone know the new time and date.” The event is not designed as a fundraiser to make money, said senior Tanner Naughton, a laser

News German Honor Society competes in gingerbread house making for the holidays

tag committee member. However, there will be a small fee of $2 to play. Concessions will be provided and music will be playing at the event to make it more fun, the commitee said. “We want to provide something fun for the student body,” Naughton said. SGA will rent out equipment from Tom’s Laser Tag in Falls Church for $300, and it will use the admission fees to offset this cost, Naughton said. The company is not providing anything else and SGA is planning to make obstacles with mats from the gym. SGA is planning to run the event as a tournament. It will be similar to their Gatorball competition in the spring, which is like dodgeball, Tamrakar said. “Everyone can pick their own teams, which should make it more competitive and fun because students are able to compete with or against their friends,” Tamrakar said. The teams will be composed of three students, and four groups can play at a time. Tamrakar said, “If it turns out to be a successful event, we will use the money towards other projects later on this year.” $2 for participation Price: Contact: Peter Kownacki, SGA

Adviser or Laser Tag Committee members

Photo by Jacob Beil German Honor Society—Senior Matt Hill builds a gingerbread house

for the German Honor Society’s gingerbread house making after school Dec. 15. “The fact that a department like German can get 84 students on a Wednesday afternoon to make 14 gingerbread houses really shows our students’ enthusiasm,” German teacher Emily Massey said.

IB program changes TOK to two-year class Next year’s seniors required to take class during RAISE BY IAN CRIMAN Staff Writer

Although the class will not count on their report card, seniors will receive this class as a semester credit and the grade will be added on to their GPA as a half point. “We decided to add this as a semester grade as an extra incentive for students who are taking TOK,” Vu said. “We are currently working out a clear rubric so students know what they have to do to do well in this class.”

The IB organization is requiring our school to make the Theory of Knowledge class a two-year program to meet program standards. “If we didn’t change the schedule, we would have to get our status as an IB school revoked,” IB coordinator Wendy Vu said. “If we didn’t change the Senior IB diploma candidates will be required to schedule, we would have to meet two times a month get our status as an IB school for RAISE during their se- revoked.” nior year for TOK, Vu said. This TOK format will begin next year with this year’s juniors facing the IB Program Wendy schedule change, IB coorCoordinator dinator Lisa Green said. Vu Senior Diploma candidates will be divided into five classes with one teacher per class, IB coordinator Lisa Green said. Students will discuss Junior Rachel Murphy a different subject area each said she was glad she would month throughout the year, not have to take TOK her seGreen said. nior year as another class peTeachers will volunteer riod, although she wishes she for what they will teach for had more flexibility in her that specific RAISE period, schedule. Green added. “It bothers me that I “I think having the class have to take this class senior during RAISE gives every- year because I have already thing a lot more flexibility,” given up classes that I wantVu said. ed to take because of TOK,”

Murphy said. “Do I want to take this next year? No, but I would rather have it during RAISE than as an afterschool class.” Murphy said she decided on what she wanted to take for junior year in her sophomore year, and it was difficult to schedule classes around TOK because of the block that TOK took up. IB coordinators also considered making TOK an after-school class, but this would complicate student schedules, Green said. “The problem with making this class an afterschool class is that a lot of students at our school participate in sports and music so it might make it harder for those students,” Green said. “I think it would be impossible to have TOK as a full-year class for seniors just because of how the schedule works,” TOK teacher Matthew Connolly said. “Given the circumstances of having to change the schedule, I think having the class during RAISE is more than adequate and imaginative.” Connolly also said he was proud TOK was a main part of the IB curriculum Vu said she thought the way TOK will be held during RAISE is a good idea. Vu said, “I think it’s fantastic having the class during RAISE.”

Photo by Jason Focarino NEHS—The National English Honor Society held its

annual book drive which ended today. “We want to spread the wealth of English,” Firas Nasr said.

NEHS annual book drive ends today BY JASON FOCARINO Staff Writer

The National English Honor Society book drive ended today. It benefited community members who are unable to purchase books for themselves. The drive also holds a prize for the class that donates the most books. Senior co-officers Firas Nasr and Nour Alimiri organized the event with the help of NEHS sponsors Nancy Lowry and Susan Frenck. “We’d like to do something for charity that is tied to literature,” Lowry said. The Book Drive began Dec. 13. NEHS members placed boxes into English teachers’ classrooms for book collection. NEHS chose the charity Book For America to help with the drive. “I’m very confident in the fact that we can raise a good amount of books, hopefully 1,200 to 1,500 this year,” Nasr said. Last year, NEHS collected over 1,000 books, said Lowry, and it plans to collect even more this year. It will give the books to children amd adults. This project was a “great service”, Frenck said. A lot of work goes into organizing a charity event, both sponsors said. Officers needed to receive permission from the Director of Student Services,Donna Piscitelli, and will sort all of the books. A lot of planning from the officers goes in, Lowry said, and they put in long hours after school on Fridays. Nasr said, “Our primary goal is just to reach out to the community. We want to spread the wealth of English and reading.”


Valor Dictus December 22, 2010

New Years Eve run for Adam

DECA plans “The Sound of Fashion” Student directors, models advertise music-themed show BY DANIELLE NELSON Staff Writer

Walk. Pose. Turn. Walk. Strutting up and down the hallways of the E-wing, the models participating in a student-produced DECA fashion show “The Sound of Fashion,” practice their walking skills.   On Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. in Russell Theater, DECA students will perform a fashion show to take to the State Leadership Competition. There is a lot of work that goes into this eight-scene fashion event. Choosing the theme takes place before the school year begins. “Originally our theme was about cliques and stereotypes, but we were afraid that it would be too controversial.  Then we realized that music genres and cliques go pretty much hand in hand, so it sort of evolved from that,” said senior Jessica Kiraly, fashion show director. Each of the show’s eight scenes is based on a different genre of music, including alternative rock, country, techno and pop.   Every scene has a different style to it because the type of people who listen to the music have such varying personalities. Kiraly said for the pop scene they wanted things to be bubbly and fun, so everyone is smiling and having a good time, whereas the alternative rock scene has a more grungy appeal and all the models are more angry looking and serious. They get the clothes from various retailers to fit with the style of the scene.

Students must advertise for the show to be successful. “We have to make promotions, flyers, banners, GMR clips and announcements, and Facebook invites, to name a few. We need to get people excited to come and see the show. The students’ enthusiasm about being in the show and all their hard work gets them excited about having their friends and family attend,” said Sarah Hinkhouse, DECA fashion show adviser. DECA students spend a considerable amount of time putting on their fashion show that is held once a year. Everyone involved in the show has five practices from Nov. 21 until the week of Jan. 12—show week. During the week of the show, models have practices and fittings every day. “The models in each scene become a family.  We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and are able to come together and perform as a whole, rather than individuals. The dynamic between the models in each scene needs to be strong in order to have a successful, cohesive performance,” said senior Charlotte Perkowski, techno scene model. Working on the show conflicts with the schedules of some DECA students. “Scheduling practices around the busy school schedule on late bus days so everyone has transportation was a challenge. It is difficult to avoid conflicts with teachers, field trips and athletics, among other things.  We really appreciate the commitment from students and the understanding of teachers and coaches,” Hinkhouse said. Working with so many students provides some challenges for the di-


Community organizes Dec. 31 run in honor of alumnus Seymour BY SHARON CORISH Staff Writer

Photo by Jacob Beil DECA fashion show—Senior Rachel Metz walks the catwalk at last year’s student produced show. “We... are able to come together and perform as a whole, rather than individuals,” said senior Charlotte Perkowski, techno scene model.

rectors. “The hardest part is drama prevention and making sure everyone is actually working when they are together. There are going to be disagreements and we have to try to work those out before it becomes an issue,” said senior Thomas Barto, fashion show director. “Making sure everyone is working is difficult because anytime you are in a group

there is going to be a certain level of sloth and we have to make sure that everything gets done.” The fashion show is an event DECA students look forward to each year and they want everyone to see the hard work they put into it. Barto said, “There are two things you need to know. One, you should go to the show. Two, you should bring your friends.”

People are coming from Kansas City, Miss., Richmond and Pennsylvania to participate in the Bull Run Runners walk and run at 3 p.m. Dec. 31, in honor of class of 2010 graduate Adam Seymour who died of cardiac arrest in August. Many of Adam’s friends and family are planning to attend the event in honor of the young man who “touched many peoples’ lives,” mother Beverly Seymour said. “I am attending this event to help Adam continue helping others,” Beverly Seymour said. Every year Bull Run Regional Park hosts an annual 5K run and walk for a different cause. This year’s cause is the Corbin Marc Grabb Heart Foundation for Adam Seymour. Adam Seymour suffered a heart arrhythmia when training with the Lynchburg men’s soccer team in August. “He was local and very well liked by a lot of people,” said Michelle Newkirk, President of Bull Run Runners. Adam was an outstanding athlete and kind-hearted, said Newkirk. Seventy-five percent of proceeds go to the Corbin Marc Grabb foundation and the other 25 percent goes to Bull Run Regional Park. The CMG Heart Foundation is a non-profit organization founded helping children with congenital heart defect. It started after Grabb died as a young boy of heart failure. It raises funds to provide scholarships to athletic, artistic and civic-minded students, and to provide assistance for CHD research. This year, when the sponsors of the annual 5K heard about what happened to Adam, they contacted his parents and asked if they could hold the run in his memory. Adam’s father anticipates seeing many of Adam’s friends and family throughout the community participating in support of Adam. Adam’s girlfriend Rebecca Holtzman said, “Adam would have been happy that we’re getting up and doing something as a community.”


Valor Dictus December 22, 2010


Valor Dictus December 22, 2010 Volume 40 Issue 4 Bravely speaking to the Robinson Community 5

Aaron Berner - Editorials Editor

Valor Dictus

ABOUT US Valor Dictus is a student-run newspaper that serves the Robinson community. All bylined articles, editorials, columns and letters are the expression of the writer and not necessarily that of the staff or the adviser. Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the staff. ADVERTISEMENT POLICY Email letters to Acceptance of an ad is not an endorsement of the product or services of the advertisers. Information concerning policies and advertising can be obtained by calling (703) 426-2285 or emailing EDITORIAL POLICY Valor Dictus welcomes student opinion as an open forum. All opinion pieces must be e-mailed to Letters or columns must be signed. That is, they must contain a name, and a title All content received by the paper is subject to editing. Letters must be around 100-200 words. Guest columns must be 500 words or less. Valor Dictus reserves the right to withold the publication of letters and guest submissions. 2010-2011 Staff: Editor-In-Chief: Kaitlin Mackie Managing Editor: Katherine Dempsey Production Editor: Tim Ferrell Jack Connors

Hazing definition too hazy staff editorial The swim team’s recent locker room scandal is an example of the county’s recent crackdown on hazing. However, equal enforcement and clear guidelines are necessary to distinguish between the hazing and acceptable team traditions. As a staff, we represent a variety of sports teams. Staff members have observed or participated in team traditions such as locker boxing, “kidnapping”, shaving heads and BB gunning freshmen. Some of these traditions are harmful, more so than slapping a soapy hand on the rear end of a freshman. However, the administration is unaware of these activities and team

members consider them as part of team culture rather than hazing. The administration needs to take action to investigate such behavior and provide its own, clear definition of what classifies hazing. Administration, coaches and students need to be on the same page. The administration’s responsibility is the well-being of the students. If they are going to react harshly to instances of hazing, they need to ensure it is not happening in the first place rather than wait for an instance to come under their noses. To inform all students about hazing and ensure that they take it as seriously as the administration does, there needs to be an assembly or information session.

Do you think hazing is a problem at our school? “No, it is not that serious even though it happens. It is something that doesn’t matter that much.” —Matt Jones, 9 “What is hazing?” —Brittany Proctor, 11

The current definition of what activities can be classified as hazing is unclear. A definition exists in the SR&R book, but that definition can be stretched and interpreted different ways. As a school, there needs to be a clear policy. Society is changing. “Boys will be boys” or “they’re just being kids” are no longer acceptable excuses for certain team activities, just as fighting is no longer a truly acceptable form of resolving conflicts. The administration knows this, and students need to know it as well. This mutual understanding will only result from clear standards of behavior and proper enforcement. So, take the haze out of hazing and bring clarity and a sense of understanding to the issue at hand. photos and interviews by Hailey Metzger

“Yes, hazing almostcaused death to a fellow teammate on the freshman football team” —Jason Allen, 9

“No, I haven’t seen it, or even heard about it going on.” —DJ Rice, 10

“No, I have never been hazed, my friends have not been hazed. I’ve never seen hazing either.” —Joey LaFalce, 12

“I’ve never known of any hazing until now, after the swim team.“ —Margaret Veale, 12

what the

kids in the hall are saying

Business Managers: Lauren Duffy Kate Rozelsky Online Editor: Tyler Walter Editorials Editor: Aaron Berner Focus Editors: Thomas Friestad Tim White Features Editors: Yae Ji Cha Kate Monick

Entertainment Editor: Shelby Gee Page 15 &16 Editor: Andrew Miller Page 2, 3 & 14 Editor: Mollie Berner Photography Editor: Jacob Beil Staff Writers: Suki Adhikari Chase Bailey Jack Connors Sharon Corish Ian Criman Jason Focarino Bailey Haase Maggie Haynes Hailey Metzger Nikki Robinson Lindsay Webb Adviser: Stephanie Axelrod


From November 24 Issue —Sophomore Helai Karim’s name was misspelled, page 1 —The infograph about smoking was made by Mollie Berner, page 2 —Elena Patel plays volleyball, page 16 —Zach Sheldon’s position on the football team is offensive lineman, page 16

The Valor Dictus accepts all corrections from prior issues. Please submit to room 503 or e-mail to

Check us out online at Now including live commentaries on school sporting events


Valor Dictus December 22, 2010

TOK scheduling conflict forces time crunch for IB Candidates AARON BERNER In the past, our school has offered IB Theory of Knowledge to junior IB Diploma candidates as a full-year elective class. However, the IB program states the class should take place over a two-year period. Because of senior year class requirements, IB Diploma candidates would not be able to fit this into their schedules. This scheduling conflict, if gone unsolved, could have disastrous effects on the school’s IB program, including getting the school’s status as an IB World School revoked.

Our school’s IB program should be much too weak. The more time sestriving to give students as much ToK niors get to expand their thinking in Theory of Knowledge the better. Our learning time as possible. school should According be more proto IB coordinaactive in trytor Lisa Green, ing to prepare the solution to its students our school’s IB as best it can program that will for the rigors be put in place Our school’s IB program of the IB profor next year will should be striving to give gram and colmake senior IB Diploma can- students as much ToK learn- lege later on. With this didates go to a ing time as possible. in mind, senior special RAISE IB Diploma session two times candidates a month about eishould be rether the Extended quired to come Essay or Theory to 4 or more of Knowledge. RAISE sesWith eight RAISE sessions a month, this is hardly too sions per month for solely for Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay work. much to ask for seniors. Only requiring seniors to come In return, as already planned, senior IB to two RAISE sessions per month is Diploma candidates would recieve a

0.5 GPA boost on their transcripts. The IB program, if it wants to be recognized as a truly international organization, needs to be able to accommodate the differing schedules of its schools around the world. Asking students to go to school longer than their peers, when they are already taking a full schedule of advanced classes, is unfair to IB Diploma candidates. With the obvious importance of this class, especially for IB Diploma candidates, IB as an organization should work to reach the most students it can with this class, instead of creating an issue with students whose schedules don’t easily accommodate the class. The solution proposed by the IB coordinators is not a bad step to giving IB Diploma candidates more time in Theory of Knowledge. But more can still be done to enusre IB Diploma candidates have a strong base of IB knowledge.

Keep the Christ in Christmas

Students should look past gifts and food

KATE ROZELSKY Presents, shopping, and food. That seems to be all that anyone associates with Advent and Christmas anymore. Students have been focusing on the wrong aspects of the Christmas season, and don’t appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. The reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, so students must keep this in light. Christmas is a religious holiday commemorating the birth of Christ, but students do not

always focus on this. Christmas trees, music, decorations, lights, gingerbread houses, cookies, and gifts are just added traditions to make the holiday more festive. These traditions, as well as others, are not the basis for Christmas, and often, families place too much emphasis on them. Being a Christian does not just mean one celebrates Christmas—it includes having faith in God, Jesus and Christianity as a whole. In order to truly celebrate Christmas, students must fully believe in the Christmas story and Christianity and be thankful for the birth of Jesus. Jesus was born and crucified to save humanity and forgive all sins, so Christmas is a holiday to be thankful that God sent his Son and our savior. To celebrate Christmas the Christian way, it is necessary to attend a church service Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. In order to celebrate a religious holiday, students must actually observe its meaning. It does not make sense for someone

who does not believe and is not thankful that Jesus was sent to save humanity to celebrate Christmas because that is the point of Christmas. Students must remember this during Advent when preparing for and celebrating Christmas. Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and is a time to prepare for the birth of Christ. Although gifts are significant to Christmas, as the wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus, they are not the main point. If students choose not to celebrate Jesus’ birth, they should at least remember that Christmas is not about oneself, but about others. Students must focus more on getting others gifts, not what they want. This Christmas, focus more on the religious aspects of Christmas; sing “Joy to the World” along with “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer”, watch a Christmas pageant along with “Elf” and put others above yourself. But above all, give thanks for Christ’s birth.

Editorials IBSAB opens doors for IB BY FATIMA MUBARAK Guest Writer

By junior and senior year, IB students are used to passively accepting a great amount of difficult material. Students write 2,000 word essays, read stacks of historiography, process data for labs…the list goes on and on. Often, it seems as if the students have no power at all in the relationship between student and teacher. Recently, the IB Student Advisory Board— formed of students in the final two years of the diploma program—along with IB coordinators, has begun conducting informational sessions with various IB teachers. The goal of these sessions should not be to provide a laundry list of all the complaints students have about the program. If teachers want to hear that, they can simply stand in the middle of the senior and junior locker bays. We’ve all heard the complaints: “I hate annotating; it’s so annoying…” “The math quiz was so hard. I only got, like, half the questions…” “My extended essay is still not finished…” Instead, these informational sessions should serve as gauges of the extent to which each subject has been successful in teaching its objectives to the students. For example, a recent meeting of the IB Student Advisory Board discussed the lack of integration of Theory of Knowledge concepts into honors classes. Theory of Knowledge (ToK) is part of the core of the IB program and teaches students to think critically about the nature of knowledge. During this meeting, I argued that introducing ToK concepts in freshman and sophomore years would help students think more analytically when crafting arguments. Thus, one point that could be brought up in an information session with history teachers would be that introducing ToK concepts in freshman and sophomore years could help students write more analytical papers. This is very different from saying, “God, we hate writing so many papers in history!” The IB Student Advisory Board has an excellent opportunity here. Rather than turning the tables on the teachers, we should push the tables out of the way and start a dialogue. Let’s refrain from providing teachers with a list of complaints that can be summed up as, “We have too much work!” Instead, the Advisory Board should take this opportunity to work with the teachers to develop the IB program into an even more valuable educational experience for future students.


Students share their opinions on the Nov. 24 issue Roaming lunch YouTube aids in would build trust understanding I am writing in response to the Nov. 24 article titled, “Lunch should be allowed outside of cafeteria.” I would definitely have to agree with the article’s author’s opinion on allowing students to have lunch anywhere on campus. The privilege was taken away from students years ago and should be tried again because new students deserve a second chance. Allowing students to roam around the campus during lunch would build a sense of trust between the student body and faculty. It would also indulge the students to feel more independent and mature knowing that they can eat lunch without being crowded inside a cafeteria with hundreds of other students. This change would be beneficial for both the student body and faculty. In order for this change to be made possible, students must first demonstrate that they can care of themselves. This includes cleaning up their trash and not sneaking off campus during lunch time. The faculty needs to lose their sense of paranoia that students will go off on their own during school hours. Likewise, the student body needs to make an effort as a whole to prove that they will not take advantage of the faculty’s trust if the privilege were to be granted to them.


I completely agree that the administration made the right choice by taking the filter off of YouTube on school computers. It is great that the administrators finally realized the value YouTube contains. It will help the teachers considerably in teaching the class, as well as help students better understand the material. It is also a great way for students to get help on assignments when their teachers are not available. I cannot tell you how many times my teachers have tried pulling up a video to help us understand something and it hasn’t worked because of the YouTube filter. It not only wastes time but leaves students confused just as they were before. Almost every video on the internet is connected to YouTube so it is very hard to find videos that work. In my sports marketing class, we use videos every class to study the marketing involved in commercials, billboards, advertisements and TV shows. We should absolutely keep YouTube up and running because filtering it does more harm than good. It is a very good tool for teachers and has useful information that can help students in their studies. My studies in sports marketing have greatly increased since the YouTube filter has been removed and I expect it to help me in other classes in the future.


Videos can enrich learning

Hats do not help to fight gangs

I’m writing this letter in response to the Nov. 24 article “YouCan use YouTube now.” I feel like students should be able to use YouTube because this site has a lot of useful instructional videos that can be used by teachers and by students for studying. This site is full of videos that can be used in lessons by teachers. Teachers can use these videos in class to explain some topics better. For example, if a history teacher wants to show one of Hitler’s speeches, he/ she could look it up and show it to the students. Another example of this is if students are learning about a book and there is something about the book students do not understand, a video might provide additional information. On the other hand, students should not use this privilege to fool around. This site was unblocked to help improve the learning process. Hopefully this change will do its purpose. Some students use this just to mess around and waste time. For example, some students use it to look up music videos that have nothing to do with the topic they’re studying or look up random videos.

I am writing in response to the Nov. 24 article titled, “Erroneous ban on hats and hoods should be lifted.” This article states valid reasons for why students should be allowed to wear hats and hoods during school. The reason for outlawing hats and hoods because of gang affiliation is a very weak argument. Gangs are always going to come up with other ways of showing their affiliation; if it’s not hats and hoods it will be other clothing items. It makes no sense to punish an entire student body. I feel we should get as many people as possible to attend our next school board meetings to try to remove the rules on hats and hoods.



To submit a letter to the editor, e-mail a signed, 100-200 word letter to valor_ or bring it to room 503.


Valor Dictus December 22, 2010 Volume 40 Issue 4 Bravely speaking to the Robinson Community 7

Yae Ji Cha - Features Editor

Kate Monick - Features Editor

Before I leave Robinson...Senior bucket list

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Students look to needles and safety pins over professional piercing equipment BY REEM NADEEM Staff Writer

Ears gleam with metal in the locker bays. For girls and boys combined, a new trend has risen and invaded high school classrooms – self piercing. The traditional single-pierced ear has been long gone. Girls with their hair up now show off their latest accessories, the increasingly edgy piercings have expanded into more bizarre and creative places. This tempting trend also has its risks. Ears can become infected from using unsanitized, improper equipment, such as safety pins and needles. The location of the piercing also affects the proper way to care for the new hole, and a professional piercer would share such specific advice with customers in order to avoid infection. Junior Heidi Akello pierced two normal holes, gauged one set of them and pierced her own cartilage using only a needle, without any help. “The gauges weren’t that big really, so it took about five minutes. But the cartilage took like 30 minutes. It was really painful, and it was sore for a lot longer afterwards,” she said. Self piercing is not limited to ears. Sophomore Dhyamond Crenshaw pierced her nose with a safety pin. “It was very painful. My mom started it but she was hurting me so I took over,” she said. The actual piercing process took about 30 minutes, but the pain lasted much longer, she said.

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Information compiled by Nikki Robinson and Bailey Haase Graphic by Yae Ji Cha and Kate Monick

Students take care in buying first cars

Students choose self piercing over pros The pain is not an obstacle for all selfpiercers. Junior Marina Gayed pierced two holes in her upper earlobe and two in her cartilages. “It wasn’t that bad, [it was] like ripping a band aid off. You just have to do it,” she said. Sanitization is also a factor in a successful piercing. Popular ways students have sanitized their home equipment are with fire, heat and rubbing alcohol. Akello chose to boil the needle she used, and she put rubbing alcohol on it and the earrings she would soon put in. Gayed also chose to use heat held the safety pin over fire and cleansed it with rubbing alcohol. Danny Zelsman, a professional piercer for nine years and currently employed at Marlowe Ink, said any cleansers available at home are inadequate. “I started piercing at 17. I did my own and they got infected, badly infected. I fell into the belief that rubbing alcohol kills all bacteria but it doesn’t,” he said. “Kids have the idea that if you hold something up to a lighter, it’s clean, they couldn’t be more wrong.” Several students said they purchased post-piercing cleansers available in many stores. Crenshaw, however, said she did not clean her new piercings at all, despite what her internet research told her. Students turn to the internet to educate themselves on safe ways to pierce. Articles and videos containing advice and warnings are available throughout the web. “I looked at videos on YouTube to make sure I wasn’t piercing any veins or anything. And it was helpful,” Akello said. Virginia law states that a legal and professional piercing cannot be performed on anyone less than 18 years of age, unless their parent or guardian is present. Many students resort to self piercing because they don’t have parental approval. “My parents would never let me [get



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As the new year kicks off, seniors will be wrapping up their last few months as high school students. Here are some of our seniors’ goals that they hope to accomplish before graduation.

be true, before it broke down, and with [buying a car on] Craigslist, you really Staff Writer have no guarantee,” Avino said. Golman had to make his own repairs Is it reliable? Fuel-efficient? Does it to his car and pay for it as well. Along with Avino and Golman, Murphy also enlook good? Is it within my budget? Senior Anthony Avino kept these countered issues with the car he bought, questions in mind while searching for when the car starter failed only after a his first car. He said once he knew what couple months of owning the car. “Although I faced normal maintecar he wanted, the process didn’t take nance problems, such as changing the long. “My parents really wanted reliabil- bearings, breaks, tires, and increasing gas ity, but I wanted it to look cool; so we prices, it all added up,” Golman said. After setting the budget and narkind of met in the middle,” Avino said. Other students, such as seniors Bren- rowing down the choices, a buyer can dan Murphy and Eric Golman, were able search for a car. Golman said it took him to purchase their own car, with their six months before he found the car he own money, and with little advice from wanted to buy. He said his search was their parents. Both students only needed based on cars of low insurance but that he wanted his car to look good and fit his their parents’ final approval. Crucial decisions and intense re- budget. Avino added that reliability was certainly necessary, search surround while Murphy a student when didn’t really take buying a car. Stumuch into account. dents must first “Honestly, the narrow their oponly thing I took tions in searching “I thought the car was too into account is that for the right car good to be true before it the car didn’t need and make sure it is within their limit, broke down, and with [buying much work to put into it,” Murphy said Jimmy Diani, a car] on Craigslist, you really said. Internet Manager have no guarantee” Although all of Fairfax Motors. three students “Usually stuAnthony bought their cars dents go for the Senior Avino on Craigslist, Diani typical 4-cylinder said about 30 percars, such as Honcent of buyers from das, Toyotas, and the used car dealersometimes even ship he works at are high school students. Fords,” Diani said. “[Students] are easier to deal with Avino said it’s essential for the student to make sure his source of money [than adults], because they seem more is sufficient when deciding a budget. He knowledgeable and sometimes even said he wasn’t ready for anything that more than the dealer due to the research could have gone wrong, and when the performed,” Diani said. Avino and Murphy agreed not rushcar’s transmission failed a month after purchasing it, he had to spend even more ing the process. Murphy said he could money to pay for repairs. Golman agreed have spent longer. Avino said, “I decided way too fast and and said students must have enough rushed it. If I were able to do it over again, money, in case the car has problems. “I thought the car was too good to I would take a longer time to decide.”


Photo Illustration by Yae Ji Cha

the piercings], and I wanted them so, I just did them myself,” Gayed said. “My mom wanted me to take them off and still does.” But parents are not an obstacle to every self piercer. Crenshaw’s mother assisted her in piercing her nose with a safety pin and her ears with a piercing gun. “We were in Pennsylvania and she saw the gun so she bought it and when we got back, she pierced my ears,” Crenshaw said. Zelsman, however, said piercing guns are a bad idea. “We don’t use guns,” he said, claiming they are the” worst thing you could ever use. We use single-use hollow needles. Everything is absolutely single use,” Zelsman said. “The only thing we ever reuse are the forceps. Which after one use, we throw in Mr. Clean and then an ultrasonic cleanser. Scrub it with a toothbrush to clean the grooves, package it in our sterile packs and give it a serial number.” Zelsman emphasized again everything else must be single-use, including the markers used to mark the location of the piercing. Zelsman said, “We deal with a lot of messed up piercings, done by some[one] at home. You deserve to get everything right the first time.”



Valor Dictus December 22, 2010

A Look Under the Seat:

Valor Dictus December 22, 2010


The Bathroom DIRT:

Students break and dirty bathrooms at school’s expense

How that broken toilet you pass by every day goes from dumpy to dumped on and what every student can do to keep bathrooms clean for the future

176 rolls of toilet paper -and-


“When the toilet is clogged, the entire bathroom floor becomes wet.”


io at

What is the nastiest thing you have seen in the bathroom?

Students flush away resources; school flushes away money

ol san o h it c

24 rolls of paper towels = $2,751 monthly

OW o t N the


Their names are Daniel Sakyi, a plumber for FCPS, Building Engineer Jerome Torrence, Building Supervisor Claudia Asifuina. These are the people who hear about that broken stall door, the clogged toilet, the busted paper towel holder in the bathroom down the hall. Sakyi’s latest surprise he’s found in the bathrooms here —or commodes, as he calls them— was a urinal that had been ripped from the wall. He’s just one of a few skilled workers who helps keep the school’s bathrooms in working order. He’s just one of the 26 custodians working 40 hours a week cleaning the 98 total bathrooms, 306 sinks, and 202 toilets peppered throughout the school. “It takes four hours after school to clean up the bathrooms…every day,” said custodian Felicia Wiafe, another one of the 26 people who spends her time cleaning up the student’s messes. “It seems that students here went out of their way to make the bathrooms as dirty as possible, on purpose,” senior Matt Harrison said. Harrison has a unique perspective on the school, as last year he attended Clemens High School in Schertz, Texas. When asked to compare the bathrooms at Clemens to those at here, he responded with a quick, curt “definitely dirtier.” Not all students share Harrison’s opinion though. “The bathrooms here are 10 times better, the students seem to take more care,” said senior Dani Copeland, who moved here from Warrensberg High in Warrensberg, Miss. Torrence said, the responsibility lies on the students to keep the bathrooms - or water closets as he identifies them with their technical name - clean. He laments the expense students incur on the school when they mistreat equipment. “A lot has to do with the cost, paper towel holders alone cost $130 each, not to include the time it takes to put them up,” Torrence said. Copeland agrees with Torrence when it comes to students taking care of their own facilities. “You should be able to take care of yourself, you’re a high schooler,” Copeland said. Each week the school spends $11,804 for custodial labor. In addition to this, custodians are paid for overtime at one and a half times their hourly wage if a student is caught making a mess or if someone rents

the building. On average this will end up being an extra $5.68 per hour. If a student is caught in the act vandalizing or destroying property, FCPS charges the student $32 per hour for each custodian it takes to clean up. A portion of that money goes to the custodian; FCPS keeps the other part, usually about $17. “Once before, at another school a student threw a small bowl at the ceiling and broke a water pipe,” Asifuina said. “This pipe sprayed about five gallons of water per minute. We had to evacuate the school and then 14 people had to stay overtime for two hours in order to clean up the mess.” This means that FCPS charged the student $476.84, excluding the cost of the equipment that had to be repaired. Although expensive equipment does not need to be replaced very often, another factor that adds to bathroom finances is the cost of materials, such as toilet paper and paper towels which must be restocked each day. Students and faculty use 176 rolls of toilet paper and 24 industrial rolls of paper towels each day, coming to a total of $2,751 each month for toiletries alone. All of this adds to the cost of maintaining the bathroom. Each time a piece of equipment is broken not only does the school lose money, but the time it takes to replace costs each student as well. Having to run from bathroom to bathroom looking for a stall with a door is part of the price students pay. “It’s not the money [that delays equipment replacement] but the lack of communication as to if it’s broken,” Torrence said. This may be why a particular piece of equipment has yet to be replaced in your most frequented bathroom. Torrence described the process of replacing equipment as follows: First it must be reported by the night staff; then it must be put on order; then it takes time to deliver; a few days later the equipment is delivered then replaced. Often broken equipment is not reported and then sits out of order for student use. While Sakyi, Torrence and Asifuina each had their own biggest pet peeves about dysfunctional bathrooms, the one point they all made was that the possibility of clean bathrooms lies with the student. As Asifuina rifled through her papers for her files regarding the schools expenses she remarked, “It’s a lot of money, and when the kids don’t take care of their stuff, it’s a lot of money going in the trash can.”


Photography Editor



26 custodians cleaning up messes = $11,804 weekly

1 student vandalizing property = $32 per hour cleaning per custodian

Good behavior in bathrooms =

The dirty truth on bathrooms


photos and interviews by Bailey Haase and Nikki Robinson

“I walked in on a girl who had fallen asleep with her head on the toilet while I was washing my hands.”

—Kacey Wheeler, 9th

—Ella Bresson, 9th

“I have seen boys throwing a hamburger around the bathroom. It was left out for days.”

“I have actually seen used feminine products on the floor in a boys’ bathroom.”

—Chris Kasbarian, 11th

There are:


bathrooms in our school, containing


custodians at our school, who work


sinks,as well as a total of



hours every week, and who earn

an 11.35 hourdollars for their

regular sitdown toilets and urinals


Info from Building Engineer Claudia Asifuina


Info from Building Engineer Jerome Torrence



Graphic by Thomas Friestad and Tim White

1. A custodian working the night shift notices a piece of damaged equipment. 2. The custodian reports the damage to the school administration. 3. Administration orders new equipment from to replace damaged unit. 4. The parts are not delivered until one to two days later. 5. Finally, custodians install new equipment.



kids in the hall are saying


what the


Custodian Q&A on Bathroom Blues

Photo by Tim White


—Alex Hodges, 10th

Steps to replace

Photo by Thomas Friestad

Annelia Jorge discusses her job as a school custodian and voices her opinion on bathroom occurances. What tasks do you complete every day as a custodian? In the month I have worked at Robinson, I have cleaned the floors and tables during lunch, and the bathrooms after school. The bathrooms are cleaned every day after school, or whenever they are dirty, and I help out with that as part of my job What is the worst part of cleaning the bathrooms? The worst part of the job is walking into a bathroom and seeing paper towels all over the floor, because I have to clean those up. The work is not different from what people see [us custodians] do, but it’s harder than they think because people can be so messy. Why do you think teenagers vandalize school bathrooms? I imagine they vandalize the bathrooms because they’re bored during passing time. Maybe they have no friends and they just need a hobby. Graphic by Thomas Friestad

Features 10 ‘Tis the season for bad gifts... Valor Dictus December 22, 2010

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Looking for gift ideas for friends and family? Here are some suggestions on what to avoid.

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Information compiled by Yae Ji Cha, Sharon Corish, Jason Focarino, and Kate Monick

College Facebook frenzy As seniors prepare for college, Facebook begins to play an uncertain role in the admissions process BY JENNY SHIN Staff Writer

A typical college application checklist looks like this: Transcript? Check. Essays? Check. SATs? Check. Extra-curricular activities? Check. Facebook? What? Rumors abound about the possible use of Facebook in the college admission process. Whether or not students should be worried about keeping their profile “appropriate” has become a growing concern. Despite many beliefs, most colleges and universities don’t research their students and applicants on social networking mediums, said Jeannine Lalonde, senior assistant dean of admission at the University of Virginia. Smaller schools may conduct Facebook searches, but larger schools such as U. Va, which has over 14,000 undergraduate students, don’t have the time. “We don’t search for people, and we have no interest in status updates or pictures. There’s just no interest, but there’s no time. What are we going to find? Oh look, our students are pretty normal, they have a life, they have friends. It’s typical normal

teenager high school stuff,” Lalonde said. Likewise, some smaller colleges simply choose not to take part in the process. Haverford College, with a student body of 1,200 students, finds using Facebook or other social media to find out more about applications inappropriate, said Elizabeth Pandian, Haverford’s senior associate director of admission, so Facebook doesn’t play a role in their evaluation process. Instead of using social networking to search applicants, most schools choose to use it to better communicate. According to Lalonde, Facebook provides a useful means for the admission officers and students to communicate with each other, as well as for students to communicate amongst themselves. “I know people that look at the school’s page on Facebook, and it’s kind of like their website, but just on Facebook,” senior Nour Alamiri said. “Some communicate better on Facebook. I haven’t done that a lot, because I just go to the [college’s] website.” Facebook is also useful for newly admitted students to form groups and socialize to share ideas and questions. Mitchell Lipton, Dean of Admissions at Cooper Union College, said he finds Facebook a great way for newly admitted students to share ideas and questions, as well as a way to check applicants’ profiles. “I find social networking sites to be useful tools that are a part of a larger strategy to stay in contact with prospective students and their families,” Lipton said. “The only drawback is that we don’t always have the time to actively monitor the sites.” There are still some small colleges like Cooper Union that check on their applicants’ Facebook pages. Alamari has heard stories of kids

who had their acceptance revoked because of unsuitable actions in high school or inappropriate pictures online. “Any picture you post in your profile, the legal right belongs to Facebook, even if you untag or delete the album, Facebook still has rights to the picture, so it doesn’t mean it’s completely gone. Once you’re on their network, you have to be careful, because Facebook usually automatically allows others in the network to view your profile, unless you put your profile on private,” Alamari said. “I know kids get excited and enjoy the college network, which is nice because you can communicate, but it’s risky if you have anything that can tarnish your image.” Other students, such as senior Firas Nasr, agree that Facebook is an individual’s growing responsibility, regardless of whether colleges are looking at profiles. “I think it’s a double-edged sword,” Nasr said. “Facebook is another snapshot of who you are, and if you give access to Facebook, you’re giving access to the rest of the world.” Despite concerns, Lalonde said students shouldn’t be overly worried. Additionally, students can use social networking to their advantage. Lalonde said most admission officers want to be available online, but they want students to initiate contact. If a student mentions in their application about something on the web, admission officers will check it out, but only if a student prompts them to. “[Facebook] can help to build communities and share valuable information, if used effectively,” Lipton said. “However, students are advised to be careful of what they post, because it’s still possible for us to come across their pages even if it’s unintentional.”

Do you think information you post on your Facebook profile can affect your college admissions?

“Sure, because they actually look at your Facebook pages.” — DJ Palmer, 12

“It potentially could because anyone can see the information you post.” — Anastasia Moore, 12

“I don’t have a Facebook.” — Kevin Malek, 11

“Yes, because it’s out there. Whatever you put on your Facebook is out there for good. It’s not professional.” — Khatol Aziz, 10

Information compiled by Jason Focarino, Bailey Haase, Nikki Robinson Graphic by Yae Ji Cha and Kate Monick

Features Angie’s Restaurant F0 0 D We sampled numerous breakfast dishes at Angie’s Restaurant in Fairfax. This restaurant specializes in Greek and Italian cuisine. Read on to find out what to order and what to avoid at the restaurant.

Location: Twinbrook Shopping Center 9569 Braddock Road Fairfax, Virginia 22032 Website:

Two Egg Sandwich


Top Pick: Spanish Omelet

Rating scale: 10: Could eat it every day! 8: Would order it again 6: Worth a trip back 4: Avoid, avoid, avoid!

Hours: Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Friday: 11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Saturday: 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Scale of 1-10: 8 Taste: The bread was toasted nicely and wasn’t burnt at all. The egg was tender. We thought it would be bland because the sandwich only consisted of two eggs, but the eggs were enough. Prices: $3.25

Valor Dictus December 22, 2010

Scale of 1-10: 9 Taste: The omelet tasted fresh, with a generous amount of green peppers, onions and tomatoes. The dish was served with toast and the option of home fries or grits. Prices: $7.70

French Toast Deluxe

Scale of 1-10: 8.5 Taste: The french toast melts in your mouth. The bacon was crispy and flavorful. There was a generous amount of french toast, eggs, and bacon. Prices: $8.95

Photos and graphic by Kate Monick. Information compiled by Jason Focarino, and Kate Monick

A Latin Bible in a Ziploc bag and a ticket to New Haven: meet senior Alex Emmons High achieving senior in and out of the classroom distinguishes himself BY ANESSA DUFFLE Staff Writer

He carries a Latin Bible in a Ziploc bag. He is an IB Diploma candidate. He is called “warrior poet” and “philosopher king” by his friends. He is involved with his church. He is captain of the Speech and Debate team. And he found out last Wednesday evening that he got accepted to Yale University. What drives senior Alex Emmons to be meticulous in everything he does? Emmons was raised in the United Methodist Church. “It’s the source of my drive and motivation. It instilled a ‘save the world’ complex. That’s why I study hard and exercise,” he said. He is a certified speaker and is called upon to preach and lead sermons. He also co-coordinates the outreach projects, which help homeless people. His mother, Karen Emmons, is a United Methodist clergy member. “I’m not the stereotypical preacher’s kid. My mom doesn’t make me do any of it,” he said. “I’m also not the type of religious where I’ll take my Bible and smack you upside the head with it.” Although he does not plan to smack anyone with his Bible, he is known for carrying around a Latin Bible in a Ziploc bag. He said he does this because he wants to work on his Latin skills. It is impossible to find books in Latin, Emmons

said. He said he is trying to get a copy of “The Aeneid” and “The Metamorphoses” because they are literary works and easier to read than the Bible, he said. He said his favorite book to read is “The Iliad,” though. “When I took the ‘Which Trojan hero are you?’ quiz online, I scored 98 percent Hector. It was the most fun 10 minutes of my life,” he said. Emmons’ personality has made him stand out since elementary school. Up until second grade he said his parents thought he was autistic because he spent a lot of time reading and wouldn’t look adults in the eyes. As he sat in the cafeteria surrounded by noise he leaned in, smiled and said, “when my mother was finishing her graduate work at Stanford, she used to leave me in the psychology department and they would run experiments on me.” Now a senior, Emmons takes his academics seriously and appreciates his educational opportunities. “I don’t approach academics with a mentality of getting an A. My goal is to genuinely learn about many facets of the world, and my grades take care of themselves,” he said. Emmons has been a student here for four years and is an IB Diploma candidate. “We are blessed with a tremendous gift. I feel like a vast majority doesn’t understand the depth of the opportunity given to them,” he said “People come in with the wrong goals,” he said. “There are people in the world that would kill for this opportunity.” Emmons said he loves all his classes. “I couldn’t pick a favorite class, it depends on what mood I’m in that day,” he said.

Q&A: David Mathis Q: Because you are a A: “I don’t necessarily

senior not applying to know what I want to do; college, what are your I just know what I don’t plans for next fall? want to do. The Fairfax

area is a cubicle producing area. You go Seattle and we’re going to high school, college to live together and get and then an office desk jobs. I want to live life job for the rest of your the way I want to, not life. That’s just not for the way everyone tells me.” me to — sort of like a free spirit.” Do you think you’re missing out on anything When did you by not going to decide you wanted to college? do this? ”I think college is “I’ve known this for good for some, just awhile. I told my not me at this point in parents and they acmy life. I’m done with cepted it. I’m 18 —I’m school. But I can still be an individual.” successful. I still plan to be successful, I’m just Do you have any taking a different route concrete plans for your than most kids I know.” future?

A: ”I have a friend in

Photo by Jacob Beil Santa Emmons — Senior Alex Emmons dressed up as Santa Claus for the Tiny Tots Concert on Dec. 14. He is a member of the symphonic band.

English teacher Susan Frenck had Alex in her class last year. “He was extremely thoughtful in contributing to class discussions,” she said. “In general he nailed all the assignments. He was one of those students that showed you the best of your expectations.” He challenges himself in academics, but also makes time for Speech and Debate. He has been the captain for three years. Jennifer Fulton, Speech and Debate

coach, said Alex has played a key role in building the team. When the team was first formed, there were only three people and now there are over 30 people on the team. “He is Alex Emmons, a strong speaker and the team is going to miss him when he graduates,” she said. What does the future hold for Emmons? Senior Barton Terry said, “I see Alex going in two opposite ways -- monk out in the wild or president of the world.”

Q: A:


Q: A:

Entertainment Valor Dictus December 22, 2010 Volume 40 Issue 4 Bravely speaking to the Robinson Community 12

Shelby Gee - Entertainment Editor

Explore the voyage of

Before you see ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ quiz yourself to see if you know your Narnia. 8. What is the name of Prince Caspian’s mentor?

1. What is the name of the White Witch?

9. Who rescues Lucy from the sea?

2. True or False:

Mr. Tumnus is the first creature Edmund meets in Narnia.

3. What is the name of the White Witch’s head wolf?

4. What does Father Christmas Susan?


5. True or False:

Reepicheep is a skilled warrior at boxing.

6. Where do the

Pevensie siblings meet Aslan and his army?

10. What is the name of the island where Aslan’s Stone Table is located?

7. True or False: Trufflehunter

cooks Prince Caspian a bowl of soup after he wakes up in the treehouse.

*Check your answers at*

Illustrations by Sharon Corish, Quiz by Maggie Haynes, Graphic by Shelby Gee

Blind students listen to Discover a new ‘happily ever after’ the sounds of the cinema BY ANAGHA SRIKANTH


Staff Writer

Staff Writer

When teenage audiences watch “Tangled,” the latest Walt Disney release, the magic that so many of them found in their younger days isn’t the same – but it’s still there. In this spin-off of the traditional fairy-tale “Rapunzel,” a timeless classic becomes a modern work of art. Right from the beginning it is clear Rapunzel is not the typical damsel in distress, and Flynn Rider is not exactly a hero. In fact, there really is no poster-board hero mounted on a pedestal above human reach. The traditional roles of prince and princess are almost reversed at times, and eloquent language is traded in for fresh dialogue. In the middle of a heart-to-heart during which Flynn reveals his true identity to Rapunzel, the mood turns flirty, as Flynn jokes that “a fake reputation is all a man has.” One of the most gripping elements of the plot is how the audience is able to relate to the characters. The movie explores hidden dreams with menacing Vikings who reveal their secret desires to become concert pianists, take up interior design and bake cupcakes. Then there’s the main character Rapunzel, a teenager dealing with the same conflictions as those in the audience. She’s overly giggly and innocently trusting, almost to the point of naivety. She rebels against her overprotective mother, Gothel, who insists she knows best as most mothers do—with the one distinction of Gothel being a selfish imposter.

Myth: People who are blind have better hearing than others. Fact: People who are blind learn to listen better than others.

Photo reprinted courtesy of Disney

Once upon a time— Rapunzel, voiced

by Mandy Moore in the new Disney fairy tale, is anything but a damsel in distress in the modern remake of the classic story. In the movie she says, “I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?”

However, being a Disney movie, “Tangled” cannot escape all of the typical clichés, even with a fresh layer of paint. Corny lines, an inevitable love story and the triumph of good over evil mark the brand – not to mention the vague feeling that some scenes and songs have been saved from the recycling bin. “Tangled” does make its way through a fair share of detours, taking an unconventional route to that familiar land of happily ever after.

MPAA PG for brief mild violence Rating: 100 minutes Run Time:

When most people watch a movie, the soundtrack is just background noise, their eyes focused acutely on the screen. When the person is blind, however, sound becomes the entire movie. Subtle changes in musical key, the instruments used, and even a person’s breath are keys to the plotline. Everyone hears these elements, but most people don’t recognize the importance of sound. Junior Garrett Kearns, a visually impaired student, said he can appreciate the way the sound is constructed in movies, whereas sighted people are more focused on the visual aspects of the film. “A sharp violin gives a tense feeling, while a smooth cello creates a calm atmosphere. When someone is running on screen, I can hear the sound go across from speaker to speaker,” he said. These cues can provide small details, such as which way the person is running, that add to a blind person’s understanding of the movie. Cathryn Krebs, a teacher of the visually impaired, said students are taught how to listen intuitively and pick up on cues. “It’s very easy to miss things, especially depending on the quality of video description,” she said. Krebs said there are multiple services in the Washington area

that send sighted people as guides for people with visual impairments to provide description for films, plays or other visual entertainment. The Metropolitan Washington Ear Inc. produces video description for recently released movies to be played at specific local theaters around the D.C. Metropolitan area, which are listed at their website,

“Watching movies is a way for them to stretch their brains and minds.” Teacher of the visually impaired



Most DVDs come with a video description option as well— which, ironically, must be turned on using visual cues. Furthermore, there are no standards for audio description of movies in the United States, and so the experience depends on the quality of the description. However, “When you see everything, you are less imaginative. Blind students have to be picturing and conjuring up what it sounds like… [the ability to understand movies] comes from experience— things you’ve touched and heard before,” Krebs said.

Freshman Fatima Alsofayyan can’t remember ever having vision, but she does remember hearing the movie “Kiki’s Delivery Service” every day as a kid. “Now I don’t even remember what it’s about,” she said, but when she watches movies, “I get a feeling. I don’t really know what pictures look like, but sometimes I like to pretend that I’m there.” According to Andre Webb, a teacher of the visually impaired who also has a visual impairment, there are often ideas in films that blind students have not been exposed to. “If a blind student has never seen or touched a tree, how do you explain it to them?” Krebs asked. “[Watching movies] is a way for them to stretch their brains and minds.” While advanced technology enhances the movie experience for sighted audiences, the effects are often shallow and unrevealing. “In older movies the sounds mean more, because they didn’t have special effects. It was that carry over period from radios to television…and the sound and music really gave a sense of the plot,” Webb said. Freshman Hannah Bartling, a visually impaired student, agreed that sound from the early ages of entertainment technology was more enjoyable, and said she really enjoys radio programs such as “Adventures in Odyssey.” “It’s like the old storytelling, with sound effects,” she said, and, like most other girls who grew up watching princess movies, she said it “reminds me of knights in shining armor.”


Valor Dictus December 22, 2010

‘The Tourist’ confuses with strange romance



“What would you rather me be?” “I’d rather you be a man who does exactly as he pleases,” Angelina Jolie says to Johnny Depp in the new movie “The Tourist,” released Oct. 10. This line is one of many sassy quotes from Jolie as she pulls Depp into an adventure that confuses even the audience. The film is directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, and is a remake of the 2005 French film “Anthony Zimmer.” The film casts Jolie as Elise Ward, a mysterious beauty in an even more elusive situation, and Depp as Frank Tupelo, a clueless math teacher from America on vacation in Venice, Italy. “It all started when I met a woman on the train,” Tupelo recalls. The film follows Tupelo as he starts his ridiculous journey after meeting Ward on a train into Venice. From there, Ward takes the reins and uses Tupelo as a pawn, leaving him in a hotel to be caught by police, and later abandoning him on a dock at the Venetian airport. The film starts abruptly, but the audience is quickly sitting up in their seats with interest for the mystery that Jolie brings to the opening scenes. Jolie fulfills the role of being a seductive and tantalizing woman who is skilled at escaping any situation. The trailers lead the audience to believe the film has strong romance between Depp and Jolie. On the contrary, the two lead actors kiss once and from there on it seems like they are just good friends. The dialogue hints at a relationship, yes, but there is no actual proof of it. Action may be the best qualities of the movie. The audience is forced to the edge of their seats every time the music picks up, such as during a boat chase in the canals of Venice. Depp effectively throws out witty humor next to a seemingly serious Jolie. The two, despite being an awkward and unlikely team at first, soon seem like they’ve been acting together for years. The way

Photo reprinted with permission from Ford’s Theatre

Here we come a’ caroling— The cast of “A Christmas Carol” enjoy a festive dance in a cheerful Christmas scene from Ebenezer Scrooge’s past. In this scene, Tom Story plays a younger Scrooge when he still believes in the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas classic gets spooky in D.C. BY SHELBY GEE

Entertainment Editor

Photo reprinted courtesy of Sony Pictures

Ciao!­­­— Angelina Jolie plays Elise, a mysterious woman who intrigues American tourist Frank, played by Johnny Depp, when he arrives in Italy. However, he soon realizes Elise has gotten him in the middle of a mysterious situation involving the police and a man who looks just like him. The film has been nominated for three Golden Globes.

they just seem to belong together, their facial expressions and reactions, makes them an ideal lead couple for the film. The film may seem like it has progressed a lot, and the audience feels like it was just getting into the groove of things. In reality, when the movie is nearly 20 minutes from being finished, it feels like it has barely started. The movie flies from scene to scene, never stopping to give an ounce of why all of this is actually happening, which confuses the audience even more. This also makes the film stronger, in a sense. In the end, the audience realizes what the real story is, despite the dialogue making it a bit confusing. The twist near the end

is truthfully surprising, and Depp does an amazing job of pulling it off. After the movie is finished, and the lights come back on, the audience reflects on what happened. Somehow, just as they thought things were starting to look up for the film, it is over. The tricky secret of the movie is not enough to make up for its quick end. If the director had put at least a bit more meaning into the story, into why people were getting chased and killed, then it might have been memorable. PG-13 for violence and MPAA Rating: brief strong language RunTime: 103 minutes

Track by Track:

Connors critiques Kanye BY JACK CONNORS Staff Writer

Having given up the glory of the good life, Kanye West has seemingly resigned himself to a dark and soulful existence via his new album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” Delving even further into the themes behind “808s and Heartbreak,” West explores his dark psyche. Luckily for his fans, this leads to his greatest creation yet. A complete turnaround arrives with “Power,” a loud and proud call to arms. The spiritual successor to “Stronger,” from the third studio album “Graduation,” Kanye shows his new-found strength, and completely leaves behind any thought of humility, and does

what he does best; makes arrogance cool again. The real gem of “Dark Twisted Fantasy” is “Runaway.” The song opens with a haunting and simple piano piece, quickly joined by the now-famous 808 drums. West is not far behind, and works magic, using a double layer of his own voice for the chorus. West dominates the beginning, and even comes out on top after Pusha-T enters, bringing out strains of Common. Pusha-T’s verse is almost too short, but quickly overwhelmed by Kanye. The lyrics are the real strength, adding real weight. West somberly proposes a toast for all those who take themselves too seriously, inviting all those “who’ll never take work off” to join him for a

drink. He urges the listener to “run away as fast as you can,” admitting defeat and choosing to stay with his own demons. “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is a true tour de force, lending weight to West’s words. The weak portions are effortlessly conquered by the excellent, with several outstanding songs marking West’s return to stardom, despite his reluctance to do so. The album itself is a must-buy for any fans, and highly recommended to those who have not yet had the pleasure of hearing his work. Read the rest of the review at


This album contains a parental control label


13 new songs

“Bah Humbug!” retorts Ebenezer Scrooge at the mention of Christmas as “A Christmas Carol” begins. The holiday classic is brought back to the historic stage of Ford’s Theatre in what has become a holiday tradition. The show is full of good messages and holiday cheer, and is a great way to spend a few hours in D.C. over break. Scrooge, played by Edward Gero, discovers the spirit of Christmas with the help of three ghosts who visit him one spooky Christmas Eve. The effects are the best part of the performance and really set the scene of the ghost story of Christmas. Welldone sound and lighting dominate the show. The scene where Scrooge’s old friend and business partner, Jacob Marley, appears out of a painting and tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts, as the clock chimes 1 a.m., 2 a.m., and lastly 3 a.m. makes good use of these effects. The booming thunder, flashing lights and creepy appearance of Marley all make it one of the most enthralling and sinister scenes in the show. The acting in the show also shines, particularly in the scenes with the family of Scrooge’s employee, Bob Cratchit. Cratchit’s youngest son Tiny Tim is crippled, and needs surgery or else he will die. The young actor who plays Tim has cute little lines, but the acting that makes this scene moving is done by Christopher Bloch who plays Cratchit, and Amy McWilliams who plays his wife. They are realistic as parents, it actually feels like Tim is their son when they struggle to find a way to save him. The scenes range from amusing—

like the Christmas party scene with Scrooge’s nephew and his friends where they play party games that often lead to jokes about Uncle Scrooge, to heartbreaking—like the scene where young Scrooge’s one love, Belle, breaks off their engagement because he has become too concerned with making a profit, so much so that he no longer cared about others. Tom Story, who plays both Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, and the younger Scrooge, shows his dimensions of emotion by going from cold and harsh as young Scrooge to fun-loving and cheerful as Fred, making him one of the best young actors in the play. The effect of the sound and lighting, along with the live acting, is that the story becomes so much stronger than in the film. A big difference between the movies and the play are the transitions from scene to scene. Between each scene the cast of townspeople join together in singing Christmas carols such as “Oh Christmas Tree” and “What Child Is This.” This creates a smooth flow from beginning to end, and adds to the Christmas cheer. The only element of the show that becomes confusing is that almost all of the actors play multiple characters, which makes them difficult to identify. The play is definitely worth seeing over the holiday season, with stellar performances and astounding effects that create enthralling scenes. So, take a trip down to the historic D.C. theater over break and remember, don’t be a Scrooge.

Show- Nov.20- Jan. 2 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. times: Tickets: Get tickets online at www.

Students decide Worst Song

“Baby” Justin Bieber

Worst Movie

“Eclipse” Summit Ent.

Worst Singer

Justin Bieber Island Records

Worst CD

“My World” Justin Bieber

Worst Actor/ Actress

Worst TV Show

Robert Pattinson in “Eclipse”

“Jersey Shore” MTV

Students surveyed during all lunches on December10 and 14 by Maggie Haynes and Suki Adhikari


Valor Dictus December 22, 2010 Volume 40 Issue 4 Bravely speaking to the Robinson Community 14

Mollie Berner - Page 2, 3 & 14 Editor Winter Track

Andrew Miller - Page 15 & 16 Editor

Students finds love in running Junior Rachel Murphy runs half marathon, Jessica Piatt hopes to follow in her footsteps


Photo by Jacob Beil Junior Ansel Borhauer competes in the long jump event at the PR Holiday Invitational Dec. 18 in Landover, Md. He finished seventeenth out of fourty-eight competitors, jumping eighteen feet and eight and a half inches. “I felt I did well. On the first meet I usually get seventeen feet, but this time I jumped above eighteen feet, which is better than usual,” Borhauer said.


Murach, Velasquez named 2010 All-Met Fall team Volleyball

Senior Susie Murach named All—Met for the second year in a row. She is an outside hitter for our school’s varsity team.. Murach plans to attend Wingate University in the fall with a full—ride volleyball scholarship.

Football Senior defensive back Jared Velasquez named first team All—Met for football defense. He made the all—region team for offense, defense and special teams. He is a running back for our school’s varsity team who had 72 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles this season. Velasquez averaged 40 yards per kick return with two scores, 1,340 yards rushing yards, and 20 touchdowns, as well.


Upcoming Events

Dec. 27

Boys basketball plays — Middleburg at 2:15 p.m. This is the first game of the Lake Braddock invitational that extends to the three days folllowing, ending Dec. 30.

Dec. 29

Wrestling travels to — Manhein, Pennsylvania for the Manheim PA Tour Dec. 29- Dec. 30.

Jan. 3

Gymnastics competes — at West Potomac at 6:30 p.m. The team will face West Potomac, Langley, Edison, Thomas Jefferson and Fairfax.

Jan. 7

Boys and girls swim and — dive compete against Chantilly at Cub Run from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.


Rain pours down on cold Pittsburgh concrete. A gunshot pierces the near silence of the morning, as hundreds of runners prepare themselves for a long, arduous journey; a thirteen mile run across unforgiving landscape, a true test of human endurance. Among these brave men and women is junior Rachel Murphy. “I ran with the Hal Higdon running program” said Murphy. Over a course of twelve weeks, Murphy ran a set number of daily miles, interspersed with strength and speed training. After her success with her first half marathon, Murphy decided she would train on her own for her second. “It’s more fulfilling to train on your own,” said Murphy. The feeling you get knowing you accomplished this [the half marathon] on your own is more satisfying than when you train with a team, Murphy continued. Murphy quit the school’s Track and Field team to train. The race itself was held under less then pleasant conditions, according to Murphy. “The weather sucked, and it smelled horrible,” said Murphy. Despite these conditions, Murphy came in first in her age group, and accomplished her beforeset goal of running all of the miles, instead of slowing down to a walk. “It [finishing the race] was re-

ally important to me. Many people didn’t think I could do it, and it felt really good,” said Murphy. She went on to note the low likelihood of hearing about a high school student finishing a half marathon. Following in her footsteps, thought not purposely, is sophomore Jessica Piatt, a marathon hopeful who is currently in the middle of training.   Getting ready for a race takes a lot of commitment, Piatt said. Most runners start their training for marathons at least 18 weeks before the race.    “Training for a marathon takes time.  I believe that the benefits and rewards are worth the effort you put into it,” mother Cynthia Piatt said.  “There is a sense of accomplishment when you cross the  finish line regardless of the time on the clock.” “I haven’t ever actually run a marathon. The longest race I’ve ran in was 8 miles. It took me an hour and eight minutes to finish,”  Piatt said.    Running commitment results in time away from friends and family when training. During training, runners usually spend hours a day exercising, on the week days and on the weekends.    “The hardest thing I do when I train is spend time away from my family, it takes a lot of time to put in a long run,” Cynthia said.    Although some time is spent away from family, running is something that Jessica really enjoys.  “People have tempted me to quit running, but I don’t,” Jessica said.  When the gun is shot at the start line, so much adrenaline is

Reprinted with permission from Brett Montague Junior Jessica Piatt runs at the Oakland Invitational Sep. 25. Piatt is a member of the cross-country and track team and said she uses this training in hopes of one day competing in a marathon like junior Rachel Murphy.

pumping through my body. My own heartbeat overpowers my thoughts.”  Piatt plays other sports, such as soccer, that helps her train and stay in shape for the race.  “Every sport I play allows me to better myself,” she said.    Whether or not it is 26.2 miles, or just a race, the training is hard and requires commitment.     Jessica’s family is very passion-

Wrestling managers put hours into ‘thankless job’ Seril says determination and hard work is number one priority for her, fellow managers BY CHASE BAILEY Staff Writer

Junior wrestling manager Rachel Blaz thoroughly scrubs the mats after a long day of practice, one of many duties she is responsible for as a wrestling manager. Various jobs go into being a wrestling manager, assistant wrestling coach Andrew Foster said. “Our managers have certain jobs they do before practice such as cleaning the wrestling mats. They also keep the statistics during matches. The managers are a big part of the team,” Foster said. Along with these duties they need to fulfill, they keep the clock during the matches as well, senior wrestling manager Lyndsea Seril said. The managers get the medical supplies for the wrestlers when needed and they attend to the wrestlers who may be injured. “We do that type of stuff, like getting the medical supplies,” said sophomore wrestling manager Emily Unwin. “We also offer the guys moral support and encourage them to keep it up.” This job can also be pretty stressful as well, Blaz said. The managers are responsible for simple things yet they are able to empathize with the

players when it comes to close matches and such. These situations are a source of stress for the managers. “Going to the tournaments can be a very competitive and exciting atmosphere,” Blaz said. “It can also get pretty intense and stressful at times.” As managers of the team, they attend every practice and go to all of the matches. They realize they have to take their jobs seriously and devote their time to the wrestling team. Determination and hard work is the number one priority for the managers, Seril said. “The practices have a very serious atmosphere to them,” Unwin said. “The guys work really hard and they are constantly improving their game.” The managers really enjoy seeing the team improve. The team works really hard in the offseason and it is really cool for the managers to see those improvements they have made in their wrestling skills, Seril said. “One of the best parts about being a manager is seeing the guys improve and seeing them achieve success,” she said. The wrestling managers also have to put time in at the JV level before they can contribute at the varsity level. They have to advance their way through the system, Foster said. The managers are part of the team and are considered part of our school’s wrestling family. Foster said, “We have had very good managers in the past and present. Being a wrestling manager can be a pretty thankless job and a certain camaraderie comes with the title. We really appreciate how hard they work they work for the team—they are a big part of it.”

ate about running and have run in many races, including marathons, the inspiration behind Jessica’s running, she said.   Right now, Jessica is not training for a specific marathon, and may run in a marathon someday. The training she does at home and for cross country is helping by preparing her to run in one. It requires her total commitment.  

Spotlight on


Wrestling managers participate in every aspect of the team aside from the competition. They attend every practice as well as clean and scrub the team’s mats, control the clock and keep statistics during matches, and hold the team’s medical supplies. “We really appreciate how hard they work for the team—they are a big part of it,” assistant coach Andrew Foster said.

Emily Unwin Class: Sophomore Her favorite aspect: “Seeing the boys improve throughout the season is really cool.”

Lyndsea Seril

Class: Senior Her favorite aspect: “Spending time with my fellow managers is probably the best thing.”

Rachael Blaz

Class: Senior Her favorite aspect: “Being a part of our school’s wrestling family and winning are both great.” Photos by Mollie Berner


Valor Dictus December 22, 2010

Harlow shines at unusual hobby Freshman follows grandfather’s footsteps, plays polo BYHANNAH BUNTING Staff Writer

The horse races down the field as freshman polo player Wyatt Harlow finishes the game’s last five seconds. He scores the winning goal and his heart pounds with adrenaline. Harlow, nominated for Sports Illustrated’s Young Athlete of the Year, continues his passion on a regular basis, practicing at home and at scrimmages. The Harlow family has been involved with equine polo for a long time. Wyatt’s grandfather sparked his interest in polo when Wyatt was in sixth grade, he said. The family has enough property in Clifton to house their horses that they just transport them to other places for scrimmages. “It’s expensive, and takes up a lot of time every day… [but] we have a guy who works for us and takes care of [the horses]— and my family helps, too,” Harlow said. Though it takes time, it’s worth it to Harlow because it is an activity he can see himself continuing for a long time, he said. “I like the contact, the hitting, and the speed of the game,” Harlow said, adding “you can get scholarships or get rich if you’re really good.” Polo is a game with two teams and three to four players each. They score points by using mallets to drive a wooden ball through the opponents’ goal. Many of the rules revolve around safety concerns with the horses, Harlow said.

Average practices consist of scrimmaging, he said, because it is difficult to do drills. In the morning, players get the horses up and feed them. They each bring their own horses to the scrimmages or rent them. They switch the horses off every quarter because they get tired. And afterwards they wash them off. Though not your average afterschool activity, Harlow continues to play and impress those who know him well and those who are just seeing him play for the first time. Laura Linfoot, Great Meadows Polo Club manager, had nothing but good things to say about Wyatt. “He’s definitely an asset… he stands out on the field, not just because he’s younger but because he’s really very talented,” Linfoot said. Also making him stand out is his grown-up personality. “He’s quiet, which is nice. Lots of younger players will yell, but he plays like an adult,” Linfoot said. Though his personality is calm and collected, it doesn’t stop Wyatt from being forward and active while playing. “He’s riding more confidently and aggressively… he’s improved a lot,” Linfoot said. Polo is a worldwide sport, and Wyatt’s involvement has sent him on trips to places like Florida and Jamaica. However, it’s not all glamorous. Travis Worsham, Wyatt’s grandfather, was responsible for getting Harlow interested in polo. “Lots of people think it’s a gentlemen’s sport, but there’s a lot more to it. There’s a lot of speed, and [horses] are big animals—so it’s definitely a rough sport,” Worsham said. Wyatt’s mother, Sherry Harlow, spoke from a mother’s point of view, saying the sport is dangerous but she loves it; even if it requires consistent dedica-


Photo courtesy of Sherry Harlow

Harlow plays polo at equestrian clubs around the area— Freshman Wyatt Harlow was introduced to polo by his grandfather and “stands out on the field, not just because he’s younger but because he’s really very talented,” said Laura Linfoot, polo club manager. tion. “It’s not like putting your cleats on and stepping on the field. You have to load up the horses, tack all of them up, and it’s very time consuming,” Sherry Harlow said. Though there’s a lot of work, the

family argues that it is all worth it. “The adrenaline really gets you going… once you play polo, there’s just no other sport,” Worsham said. Freshman Matt Freer has been Harlow’s friend since kindergarten, and is always rooting for Harlow to

succeed in his sport. “[My first reaction] was like ‘wow!’ because I’d never even heard of it before,” Freer said. “He loves it, and I love seeing him play because he’s really good and might even go professional one day.”

16 Junior girls rule the court


Valor Dictus December 22, 2010

Junior class plays a large role on girls varsity basketball

“Megan can pass really well and Brigitte can run, so combined they have really good fast breaks,” Michals said. Most of the juniors have grown up playing together and some play on the same club teams, Green said, so she believes they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses on the court. BY LINDSAY WEBB Two of the starting juniors, Green and center Staff Writer Brigitte Kuter, have been playing on the same club team since sixth grade, and were both on varsity as The girls varsity basketball team improved freshmen. their record to 5-2 at Friday night’s winning game “All of us have been playing with each other for a against Lake Braddock. Four out of the five starting long time so we know each other’s style of play and players were juniors. it’s a good advantage,” junior shooting guard Tyler Junior forward Christie Michals believes the Hansen said. team played a weak second quarCoach T.J Dade also ter and used their strong team attributed the team’s chemistry to make a comeback success to the juniors’ after the half, she said. dedication during the “At the half, we all really got It’s a great advantage to have offseason. together and it all just clicked,” “You can really tell two seasons left because some junior Point guard Megan Green who has put the time said. “How we were playing of the juniors are still learning in the offseason,” Dade wasn’t good enough and we all the speed of the game and said. “Two of our [juagreed none of us wanted to lose niors], Tyler Hansen and growing. to Lake Braddock.” Christie Michals, work Michals believes the team really hard and you can Megan chemistry helps during games, Junior see that they now bring Green especially when fans of the opa higher level of skill,” posing team cheer against them, Dade said. she said. Juniors Green and “It helps us stay focused. If Kuter believe they have someone is uncomfortable we can read each other an advantage since they have two seasons left to and help each other calm down. We also know how improve as a team. to get each other pumped up”, Michals said. Green said, “It’s a great advantage to have Green and Michals said the team benefits not two seasons left because some of the juniors are only from their strong team chemistry but also from still learning the speed of the game and growthe junior girls’ high level of skill. ing and we will be even better next year.”

Megan Green Tyler Hansen ­ Point Guard/ — Shooting Guard — 3 years on varsity — 62 points scored — 16 rebounds total

y Photo b

Christie Michals Noelle Martinson Caroline Parris

— Point Guard/ Shooting Guard — 2 years on varsity — 77 points scored — 19 rebounds total

— Forward/ Center — 3 years on varsity — Injured all season*

— Shooting Guard — 2 years on varsity — 2 points scored — 4 rebounds total

— Shooting Guard — 2 years on varsity — 3 points scored — 2 rebounds total

Brigitte Kuter

Cassie Wood

Jenna Lamb

— Forward/ Center — 3 years on varsity — 43 points scored — 32 rebounds total

— Forward — 1 year on varsity — 1 point scored — 3 rebounds total

— Forward — 2 years on varsity — 20 points scored — 19 total rebounds Photos by Lindsay Webb

Comparing Seasons

Boys basketball beats last year’s record in four games With a 2-18 record last season, boys are off to an explosive 6-1 start BY NIKKI ROBINSON Staff Writer

The boys varsity basketball team is starting off their season with a 6-1 record, an improvement from last year’s record of 2-18. The most recent 83-79 win against Lake Braddock may reflect the positive changes that have taken place in the program this year. The team did not yield a significant crowd due to an unsuccessful record last year. As the swarm of blue made its way into Harry M. Smith field house, a sense of anticipation and excitement hit. Chants filled the gym and propelled the team to an emotional victory after the Bruins eliminated the football team in the regional semifinal in November. Most high school basketball games end with either team either scoring points in the 50s or the 60s. The team has been scoring at least an average of 80 points each game, said Nelson. “I know that we can win by scoring points,” Nelson said, “but we need to improve our defense.” Rice agreed. “We just have to keep up the winning streak into district play,” he said. Nelson hopes the team’s defense will improve as the season goes on. He wants them to be a tough team for opponents to

Webb Lindsay

guard, he said. One of the biggest keys to the team’s success is that players can work well together, Nelson said. He said, “I think that we can accomplish these goals since we have such a strong team this year.” “This year is different from last year because we have strong senior leadership,” coach Brian Nelson said. “Also, we have a lot more players that can actually play so we do not have the same people playing in each game.” This season, players have a better attitude when approaching each game, Nelson said. They also get excited for each other’s successes and they know work well together as a team, he added. “The team’s chemistry with each other I think has made all the difference,” senior Dan Lee said. “We all play well together, which helps with going into each game.” Senior captain Michael Rice attributed their success to the senior leadership and their desire to beat their opponents. “I think we’re all playing better because we’re seniors and we have more leadership and we want to win more,” Rice said. According to junior Rob Pillow, the team’s attitude change has been a big factor in their success. “We’re more confident and play better together and take better notice of what our coach is saying to us,” Pillow said. To prepare for the season, most of the players played on summer and fall basketball teams, said Lee. The team now has much more confidence heading into every game, he added. “We make sure we’re getting better every day so that we can reach our goal,” Nelson said. The team hopes to qualify for the regional tour-

Looking back on last year’s 2-15 season, there are already noticeable differences in the team’s performances.

Basketball 2010-2011 Record after first seven games: Loss vs Woodson 67-78


Win vs McLean 74-59 Win vs Yorktown 72-65 Win vs Langley 86-80 Win vs Fairfax 96-68 Win vs West Springfield 85-70 Win vs Lake Braddock 83-79

Photo courtesy of

Rams sink the Saxons 86-80—Rob Pillow added to the score with a strong offensive effort against Langley on Dec 7. Pillow finished the game with six points. “I wasn’t very focused, but I made the shots when I needed to,” Pillow said. nament, since they have not made it to the regional tournament in about four years. “I hope that we keep the winning streak up,” Lee said. Chase Bailey and Andrew Miller contributed to this article

Basketball 2009-2010 Record after first seven games: Loss vs Yorktown 45-61


Loss vs Mountain View 56-83 Loss vs South County 67-87 Loss vs Langley 47-63 Win vs Fairfax 80-69 Win vs West Springfield 65-60 Loss vs Lake Braddock 52-53

Valor Dictus: Volume 40, Issue 4  

The December 22, 2010 print edition of the Valor Dictus.

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