It was around 5:30. I had just left T.C. and was walking down Braddock Road when four black guys around my age emerged from behind Blessed Sacrament. One of them yelled something that sounded like a name. I didn’t think too much about them and kept walking past them.
I didn’t get far before I started feeling suspicious. I knew I had no reason to, but I couldn’t help it. I tried to remain neutral.
Regretting my lack of toughness, I soon began to drift off into visions of me taking on all four of them, like something out of a Jackie Chan movie. Of course, I’d never do this, but it made me laugh.
“Ay son, lemme get some money.”
Not too intimidating, but I was a little taken aback when I looked up and he was right in front of me. I scolded myself for judging him. Why should I have been intimidated? Maybe he just needed some money for the bus.
“Ay son, lemme get some money.”
What a charmer. “I don’t have any,” I said. I never carry cash.
“Empty your pockets.”
“I don’t have anything,” I said as I obeyed his command. I had nothing in my left pocket. In my right, I had my phone and a cloth to wipe my glasses.
“Lemme see the phone.”
Maybe he needed to call his mom for a ride. “Why?” I asked.
“Lemme see the phone.”
“Nah,” I said. He could have at least said please.
“Give him the phone or I’ll shoot.”
This new voice came from behind me. I was surrounded at that point. Shoot me with what? Your fingers? I thought. I looked back—nope, that was most definitely a gun sticking in the back of my neck. “Alright fine,” I said as I gave him my phone without a struggle.
(On a side note, the one doing all the talking was wearing rosary beads. Hail Mary, full of grace, give me the phone or I’ll shoot you in the face.)
They ran off in the direction they came from. They thought the whole ordeal was hilarious. Honestly, I can’t say I blame them for thinking that. I mean, think about it. They pulled a gun on me on Braddock Road, one of the busiest streets in Alexandria, during rush hour, one of the busiest times of the day. They didn’t even cover their faces with anything. At least a dozen people must have seen him put that gun to my head. Who knows how many more would have heard the shot if I refused to give up my phone. And don’t even get me started on how bloody—not to mention dead—I would have been.
Kids these days. Some might argue that these troubled youths might have grown up in a troubled neighborhood where they might not have had any role models to look up to. I don’t think they had a lack of role models to look up to. Where else would they have gotten the idea to get a gun and go rob people? The problem is that they picked the wrong people to be their role models.
First of all, if they had their minds set on going the crime route, they should have at least picked smart criminals who knew better than to pull a gun on someone in broad daylight. They should have pick one of the original gangsters like Al Capone or Lucky Luciano, not one of these “gangstas” who flash guns on street corners in broad daylight.
Moral of the story: If kids are going to pick bad role models, they should at least pick smart ones.
It was around 5:30. I had just left T.C. and was walking down Braddock Road when four black guys around my age emerged from behind Blessed Sacrament. One of them yelled something that sounded like a name. I didn’t think too much about them and kept walking past them.
The Harry Potter series has evolved from a particularly imaginative and entertaining children’s novel to the defining literature of an entire generation. J.K. Rowling, the series author, was unknowingly creating a cultural phenomenon when drafting her first Harry Potter novel in the 1990s. Harry Potter is now referenced in television shows, books, newspapers and even Internet cult followings of the beloved characters. A connotation is attached to the before-insignificant names ‘Harry’, ‘Ron’ and ‘Hermione’ not just in Great Britain or the United States, but literally all over the world.
With this in mind, one can understand the increasing extravagance and sophistication of the Potter movies. In all frankness, the Sorcerer’s Stone was cloying in its silver screen depiction; though there were some creepy, unusual characters, the absurdly happy, peaceful ending left the viewer wanting more. The successive movies became more and more complex, but many details were smoothed over, and more than a few action-packed scenes have been added to the film version to keep audiences’ short-lived attention spans glued to the subject matter.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, cures that longing. Darker themes have run through the past few Potter movie installments. They grow even deeper in this one. When the movie starts out, its tone is immediately identified as uneasy, made clear by Alexandre Desplat’s violin dominated score and the grayish, foggy shades of the film itself. Deathly Hallows wastes no time in showing its superb special effects, which are first displayed in the gasp-inducing chase scene in the first minutes of the movie. The majority of the movie features Harry and his two supporting characters, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, who simultaneously avoid the evil Lord Voldemort and hunt down horcruxes (protected containers of Voldemort’s soul). The would-be monotony of their uprooted lives is punctuated with thrilling, brief skirmishes with Death Eaters, Voldemort’s aptly named henchmen, as well as other villains. One notable change from the past movies is the backdrop of these adventures. This is the first installment of the Potter movies not to take place primarily in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Instead, the three protagonists migrate from place to place, across England. Director David Yates does not fail to take advantage of this. Many scenes have the dramatic backdrop of the Atlantic viewed from a beach in Wales, a dreary forest in Buckinghamshire, England, or a vast, misty loch.
Despite the use of brilliant cinematography to brighten the story, the shadowy topics this movie deals with may be too mature for some of the younger Potter fans. A gigantic snake emerging from a person’s mouth does not seem like the most pleasant image to a ten-year-old. Nor do the dark political themes Deathly Hallows evokes. In the movie, the magical government has been overtaken by Voldemort, and he is out to purify the ‘race’ of nonmagical or muggle blood, and to force the muggles into submission as wizards’ servants. This strikes dangerously close to the Nazi goal of creating a perfect race during World War II. The anti-muggle propaganda, which is panned over briefly in the movie, is also reminiscent of that era. The movie deals with adolescent themes as well. There is palpable sexual tension between characters. For the most part this is kept age-appropriate, but there is one scene where it is addressed much more explicitly.
Death is something mentioned many times throughout the film. A well-known character does perish, but death is mostly addressed through Lord Voldemort’s longing to defeat it. Towards the end of the movie, it is made apparent that Voldemort is out to find the Deathly Hallows. These are three magical objects: an all-powerful wand, an enchanted stone reputed to bring back the dead and an invisibility cloak. When combined, they promise to bestow upon their owner everlasting life. This gives Harry yet another issue to tackle. Along with destroying Voldemort’s soul, he must keep him from obtaining the Deathly Hallows.
For those of you who simply crave light-hearted entertainment, The Deathly Hallows is certainly not lacking. Comic relief is provided mostly by Ron, adeptly played by Rupert Grint, and his twin brothers, Fred and George Weasley (James and Oliver Phelps). Dry, awkward, chuckle-worthy humor is used to break the tension of the movie and to keep the audience’s nerves from shattering, for Deathly Hallows is filled with suspense.
Harry, Ron and Hermione’s characters shoulder most of the dialogue in the film. The admirable job they do with this task is a testament to how comfortable they have become as actors. Hormonal rages, which were vaguely stilted when they first began in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, have become much more believable. Emma Watson, who plays Hermione, performs particularly well when her crush departs in a rage. Her portrayal of depression is touching, and her fury when he bashfully returns seems fully justified. However, the impeccable style that she manages to maintain while living out of a tent is doubtful. Harry’s character (Daniel Radcliffe) is again the stoic, stubborn third wheel to Hermione and Ron. His snappish, martyr attitude is at times annoying, but much more tolerable and relatable compared to his earlier acting. Rupert Grint’s Ron character has shot up into a tall, muscular adolescent and his anger is well acted. His more sensitive emotions seem slightly awkward. Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is of course well acted and Fiennes has fun with the blatantly evil and sometimes melodramatic character. The same applies with Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, a witch who is so warped by evil and hate that she appears to be insane.
The movie, which despite its considerable length, seemed to fly by. Perhaps that was simply because, as a die-hard fan, I was enthralled by the vivid depiction of Harry Potter’s world for a full two-and-a-half hours. However, this movie was so well made that anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the series would enjoy it. I caution those who have had little exposure to Harry Potter will easily find themselves floundering in the onslaught of information within the movie. Watching it requires familiarity with the series, or the viewers may find themselves thinking, what exactly is a horcrux? I greatly approved the split of the seventh book into two movies, so as not to sacrifice details. However, could they really not have explained what a horcrux in the entirety of the movie? That seemed to be an error in judgment by the scriptwriters. Those who viewed Deathly Hallows with me, though fans of the series, still needed a refresher course. Harry Potter is so packed with details, it seems unfair to have to memorize them all.
The well-conceived ending to Deathly Hallows is all at once a cliffhanger and a resolution. It leaves the ultimate fates of the characters in question, but the movie closes with them safe and sound but only for the moment. It is a fitting, dramatic end to the film and one that goes along with the many themes that run through it.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Two-and-a half hours. Rated PG-13. Five stars.
“Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive.” These words, spoken by influential former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, are true of all aspects of life, especially education. Hunter Hammond, an AP U.S. History teacher and T.C. Social Studies Department Chair, has been pushing to get a women’s history class available for the past year. “Because the SOLs [Virginia Standards of Learning test] have very little on woman’s history and the AP curriculum has some, it just seemed like, among some students there was more of an interest,” said Ms. Hammond.
Currently at T.C., classes such as Peace Studies and African-American Studies are offered to students with such esoteric interests, so why no Women’s Studies? A common college course, the proposed semester class would count for a half credit for those who chose to take it. U.S.
History teacher Patrick Deville fully endorses the idea of the class and recognizes Ms. Hammond’s strenuous efforts in planning the direction of the curriculum. The current T.C. administration could not give specific reasoning for why the class was not approved last year and thus offered this year.
According to the ACPS Strategic Plan, a goal of Alexandria schools is to make available “rigorous” and “relevant” classes in order for students to “succeed as citizens in a global community.” Surely, understanding the history of fifty percent of the population would fit the above criteria.
Junior Elaine Bledsoe and sophomore Eileen Nakahata are two examples of students who would be interested in taking the class. “I would love to take that class; I think it’d be extremely interesting. Women are almost absent from a lot of history classes and text, which frustrates me,” said Bledsoe. Displaying the same sentiment, Nakahata believes that a women’s history class “would be interesting because they only usually get a few paragraphs in a normal history textbook.”
The curriculum would be designed by Ms. Hammond and would not solely cover famous women. “We don’t just study famous men in history class, so we won’t only study famous women in this class,” said Ms. Hammond. Other topics featured in the class will be the development of the family and how women’s roles have changed over time. As pointed out by sophomore and history lover, Alexander Eichner, “There’s a correlation [in history] between war getting less interesting and women getting more influential.” That’s not to say that all males at T.C. Williams are hesitant over the idea of a class devoted to just the historical evolution of the female. Sophomore Eli Gray believes “it’s a great idea.” He thinks that it is an opportunity “for girls to [get to] know their past.”
Gray misses an important fact: women should not be exclusive in learning the female history. Social inequality does still exist and the one way of diminishing this truth is to expand the knowledge of both men and women. When Eleanor Roosevelt said “life must be lived,” she didn’t mean a life where women are paid 77 cents to a man’s dollar. In America, women are slightly more than fifty percent of the population, and in a country where more than half of college graduates are women, men still dominate. Out of the Fortune 500 companies, fifteen have female CEOs; that is 0.03 percent.
Junior Lucas Lemna renforces this with his belief that “there is still some anti-women sentiment in the world.” For example, in the Senate, there are 18 women and 82 men. The House of Representatives (key word: representatives) has 78 women and 357 men. Lest we forget, there have been 44 presidents, none of whom have been women. Female suffrage was granted in 1919, fewer than one hundred years ago. It may seem ancient to some of us who are reading this while texting or reading online, but in the wide spectrum of American politics, women have just finished introducing themselves.
Knowledge is power. Women have fought, suffered, and on the rare occasion triumphed. Students, both male and female, who participate in a women’s history class will gain both knowledge and power, two key stepping stones in the path towards true gender equality. Ms. Hammond will appeal for a second time to the administration about the establishment of this proposed class and hopefully with the new Transformation model in place, this course will be offered to the curious minds of T.C.
As many students know, rap music is one of the most widely popular and listened to music genre today. It plays a big part in the lives of students at T.C. as well as people from all over the world, and was recently the inspiration for a big final project for the book A Long Way Gone. On Friday November 5th, Sarah Kiyak’s 12th grade English class performed raps based on what they read in the novel. The class read this book together, and as the ending to a very powerful story was able to incorporate the book and very popular music into their projects.
A Long Way Gone is a collection of memoirs by Ishmael Beah, who was a child soldier in the mid 1990s in Sierra Leone during their civil conflict. “To him [the author], rap music was everything,” Ms. Kiyak said. So she decided to incorporate rap music into the students project “…we thought that it would be clever and relevant to both the students lives and to the novel to have them produce a rap at the end,” she said. The students were required to write one verse and each group as a whole had to come up with a chorus, and pick two people to perform in front of the class. Each group was able to choose what theme their rap was based around, but each group all chose to do the same theme, “War is Hell.”
But the book isn’t just about rapping, it sends very powerful messages to all those who read it. “I was able to read someone else’s life…it gave me an idea [of]…an exterior life from what I just know,” one of the performing students remarked. “But it actually sucks about the corruption and the government problems that are affecting society,” they continued. Ms. Kiyak agrees that there is something to be learned from the book“I think that his story has a universal message that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that you can survive and that you can get better,” she said.
But the rap for the class wasn’t the only important part of the project; three teachers were chosen to be “American Idol”-style judges of the performances. Simon, Paula, and Ellen (Alan) were all in attendance to see the groups perform their original raps based on the book and the feelings they had reading it. All of the judges (even Simon) only had good things to say and lots of praise for the students; including that they came up with great lyrics and did a wonderful job keeping the beat of the music.
The project seems to have been a big hit with the students as well as the teachers in attendance. “I thought it was great, I thought it was an awesome way to measure the students’ knowledge of the novel they read, while also incorporating fun and creativity and performance,” said English teacher Todd Koren, who played Alan (Ellen) DeGeneres. He even admitted that he was jealous that Ms. Kiyak thought of this idea before him, and he might use the idea with some of his classes in the future.
Ms. Kiyak seems to have been really happy with the way things turned out “I wish the kids were a little more confident in themselves, but I think that they did a great job,” she said. Based on all this positive feed-back from teachers and students, it looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot more of this kind of project in the future.
Answering Your Online Fashion-Fix
I have kind of a style-blog obsession. They are fun, interesting and can open your eyes to tons of great fashion you may not see on a normal basis. Some (like The Lo Down) are done by celebs, highlighting the glitzy styles dawned on the red carpet, and others (like The Fashion Bomb) are done by regular people, often taking inspiration from everyday trendsetters on the streets. Here are some of my favorites for you lovely fashionistas to gain inspiration. Enjoy!
Elements of Style by Erin Gates
Erin Gates is an interior designer and fashion stylist who merges fashion, interior design and humor to create a blog that is both practical and funny. A lot of it is home décor and more expensive items. She has some great articles on how to incorporate trends into your daily wardrobe, not to mention gorgeous photography all over the site. Check out her October 14 article Cable News; it’s too cute!
The Fashion Bomb by Claire Sulmers
For all you fabulous urban trendsetters, this one’s for you. Sulmers’ blog covers everything from fashion on the street to affordable runway-inspired pieces. Her blog is specifically geared towards African-American women, so she has great information on colors and styles that look great with darker skin tones. I LOVE her interviews with everyday stylish people around NYC. Very cool!
The Lo Down by Lo Bosworth
Calling all Laguna Beach and The Hills fans! Lo Bosworth is now stepping out of LC’s shadow and covering hot fashion on the red carpet and on the street. Lo’s blog is colorful and fun, and gives practical advice on how to dress for job interviews and important events. Check out her article on great finds under $100!
Salt & Prep
This one has to be one of my favorites, featuring real fashionable teens from all around the world who have posted pictures of their stylish selves. It also lists great finds at popular stores such as Macy’s. I love how it features real people and not just models, showing us that anyone can look glamorous. Fabulous!
Me siento excluida porque mis dos mejores amigos son novios. Siempre están juntos. El fin de semana pasado fueron a una fiesta juntos y no me invitaron. Me dan ganas de llorar porque ya llevamos cinco años siendo amigos. ¿Qué debo hacer?
Habla con tus amigos. Diles como te sientes. Si ellos son buenos amigos, te van a comprender. Busca cosas que tu y tus amigos pueden hacer juntos. ¡Buena suerte!
Mis padres estàn muy enojados. Ellos siempre me dicen que tengo que limpiar mi cuarto, hacer mi tarea, y màs. Pero, yo hago todos esas cosas. Ellos nunca estàn en la casa y no hacen mucho, entonces, yo hago todo para la casa. Estoy muy frustrado, Teresa. ¿Qué debo hacer?
No debes sentirte frustrado. Mis consejos a ti son hablar con tus padres, y diles lo que me dijiste. Necesitas hablar con calma, y paraser responsable. Si ellos no te respetan tus deseos, tu todavia necesitas intentar. Yo sé que tus padres seràn razonables.
This year T.C. implemented a new grading policy: students can no longer receive a zero for not turning in assignments. The lowest grade a student can now be given is a 40 percent. “The policy hasn’t changed, just the math behind it,” said math teacher Susan Kaput. T.C.’s grading scale now runs from 40 percent to 100 percent.
The grading policy has been changed this year in order to make all three grading scales, the ‘F’ to ‘A’ scale, the zero to four scale, and the 50 percent to 100 percent scale all consistent. “Mathematically, the [old] policy was not correct,” said Executive Associate Principal for Curriculum and Instruction Peter Balas. “If 60 percent was the lowest ‘D’ [a student could receive] it actually meant a zero to 59 was an ‘F’. The [old] policy gave students 59 ways to fail.” However, this new policy is not giving students credit for not doing work. “A 40 percent is equivalent to a zero,” said Ms. Kaput. “So students are not getting points for doing nothing.”
Students now receive an ‘I’ for incomplete assignments as well. “[If you do not turn in an assignment] your entire average turns into an ‘I’,” said Mr. Balas. “An ‘I’ is used as a placeholder until the assignment is done.” If the assignment is not turned in at all, the ‘I’ then turns into a 40 meaning the student did not receive any credit for that assignment.
The new grading scale shows how T.C. has improved its academic standing. “The policy is a concrete way of showing we’re transformed,” said Mr. Balas. “[However, there are] still a little too many D’s and F’s.” An anonymous staff member believes the new policy is not going to help students in the way the administration hopes. “We’ll look like we’re doing a lot better on grades, but not on SOLs,” said this staff member.
The policy has been received by the staff with mixed reviews. Some teachers feel that the policy does not distinguish between students who attempted an assignment and failed and students who did not complete the assignment at all. However, according to Mr. Balas the difference is noticeable. Students who try but fail an assignment can only get a grade as low as a 50, but students who did not complete an assignment at all will receive a 40.
Administrators believe the policy has more flaws than benefits. “[The policy results in] a loss of our academic integrity,” said a staff member. “It should take effort to do well in school.” This staff member believes that giving students 40s is like giving students free grades, “There’s nothing in this world you get for free like that. We’re supposed to be encouraging students to do more work, but the policy is making them do the opposite.”
Students are also given opportunities to retake tests if they receive a low grade. According to Mr. Balas, the policy of retaking tests relates to policy IFA which states that, “reassessment is a powerful tool that assists students in their pursuit of achievement by providing them the opportunity to demonstrate that they have mastered the required skills and content.” However, according to Mr. Balas it is ultimately the teacher’s decision if a student may retake a test. “Teachers will re-teach and retest students but it is up to the teacher’s professional judgment, [on when this policy applies,]” said Mr. Balas.
The policy has gotten a variety of responses from different sources. Mr. Balas said that people are “mostly inquisitive” when it comes to this new policy but some administrators stated that parents have not reacted positively. “Many parents don’t like it,” said a staff member. “Parents, teachers, and students weren’t consulted [on the decision to change the policy.]”
The policy has also received mixed reviews among students. “I think the policy is okay because it helps kids out with the ‘no grade under 40’ rule,” said junior MJ Benites. “It is a pretty fair system that allows students to get good grades,” he said. Sophomore Trish Brown agrees. “I think kids not [being able to get] zeros isn’t affecting grades that much,” said Brown. “The policy is pretty much the same; it just boosts grades a little. Teachers can’t give zeros, just 40s, which is pretty much a zero.” Junior Jordan Cirenza sees the negative side of the grading policy. “I feel that the change was unnecessary,” said Cirenza. “It makes some of the grades and the grading system at T.C. fake.” Senior Qwante Cherry believes the grading policy is impractical. “I don’t think it’s very realistic because [the policy] won’t be like that for those who plan on going on to higher education,” said Cherry. “Your professor isn’t going to say ‘Hey, you didn’t do your paper, I’ll give you a 40 percent until you hand it in.”
The changes made to the grading policy can be seen through two different perspectives. Most people recognize that the math behind the policy makes sense, but there is still discussion about whether the same goes for the principle behind the policy. “The staff is still continuing discussions about [the policy],” said Mr. Balas. “Some staff members are still trying to get a handle on what this grading scale means.” Administrators believe the policy’s standard will not help students. “On principle alone it makes me bristle,” said a staff member.
Rain and mud never stop the T.C. Williams’ Varsity girls’ cross country team! After running impressively at Districts last week, on Thursday, seniors Adugna Desalegn, Lisa Toledo, and Kate Snow, juniors Kathryn Hendley and Grace Garrahan, and freshmen Sydney Schaedel and Stephanie Slaven competed at the Northern Region Cross Country Championships at Burke Lake Park. Despite the nasty weather, the girls battled it out, with certain team members including Desalegn, Schaedel, Slaven, and junior Shannon Smythe moving on to Foot Locker Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina later this month. Despite the rest of the boys’ team not making it to Regionals, senior Darren Foreman competed on his own in the boys’ race, qualifying for Nationals individually. Let’s go Titans!
“It’s easy,” “it’s hard,” and “I don’t care,” were some of the students’ responses when asked about their World History class. T.C. offers three levels of World History: Advanced Placement (AP), honors and general education. Many students spend time weighing each individual opportunity of each class, keeping in mind that the school recommends each student take at least one AP class before graduation. Students want to be in the right level and work toward an attainable goal, but many of us are stuck wondering if we are getting all we can out of our history course. Is each course challenging each student, and is each level of World History comprehending the subject at the same level?
The student population is dispersed between the three levels for many reasons. Their opinions on their classes are just as varied. Some students currently taking general education said that they took it because history is not their strongest subject, and/or that history is boring. Some students find general education hard enough to pass. They want the extra teacher support and the general education curriculum so they can pass. “I took Pre-AP last year [ninth grade] and it was harder than I thought,” said sophomore Courtland Chavis who is in World History II and teacher, Stephen Bertetti’s general education class. Some students in general education, however, chose the class for the same reasons some students chose honors—they want an “easy A.”
Students in the honors classes were divided on the actual difficulty of the class. “I have over 100 percent in World Civ,” said sophomore Emily Dooley. “I was too much of a slacker to take AP. Honors is an easy A.” Sophomore Brian Comey said, “I thought it [honors] would be really easy, and it is really easy.” Comey said that the class provides less homework and makes him “feel smart.” Dooley said, “The class [of students] does [find it hard;] I don’t,” while sophomore Felix Tanyr said that the class is not as easy, nor as hard, as some students say it is. “It’s not easy, but it’s do-able,” said Tanyr. Some students say that the honors class is hard for them, and AP would have been nearly impossible.
“I’m really bad at AP,” said sophomore Alexandra Daniels, who is in AP World History with teacher Molly Freitag. “I needed to take an AP class,” said Daniels. The general consensus of AP students is it is a lot of work, sometimes more than they think they can handle. “During the summer, I had those moments where I was like, I’m going to fail this class” said Daniels, referring to the AP summer assignment. Sophomore Jazmine Calderon said that she experienced the same feelings as Daniels her first week of AP classes. “Right before the [unit 1 exam] I was freaking out,” said sophomore Caroline Chamberlain. Students think that the homework load is an annoyance, but necessary. “If you don’t study at home, you won’t be prepared,” said Calderon. “You can’t possibly learn everything you need to know in class.” Students are required to read chapters from the AP text book for class. “Online activities definitely help [with comprehension],” said Calderon. “They cover things you haven’t learned yet.” Students in AP classes say that they took the class because they want to be prepared for college, enjoy world history, or know that they need one AP for graduation.
While student opinion is varied, the consensus of world civilization teachers is that each class is feasible, but the differences between levels are important to comprehension and student pacing. World Civilizations II and Peace Studies teacher, Chris McGill says that his honors class is, “more writing intensive,” than his general education class. Mr. McGill also said that switching from general education or honors to AP is difficult because the classes do not parallel. The classes start at two very different points, and a student who wants to switch out of AP, for whatever reason, will be months behind. Mr. McGill said, in reference to general education, “it’s easier to just regurgitate, AP is not that simple.” However, Mr. McGill tries to make his honors classes more like AP to help bridge the gap.
Ms. Freitag said that she uses similar lesson plans between her honors and AP class, but that AP is not honors. “Honors was created as a bridge [between AP and general education],” said Ms. Freitag. Honors classes do not exist in the upper class levels of history and may be removed from the history curriculum next year, eliminating any middle ground available to students.
Mr. McGill and Ms. Freitag maintain that students who take AP will have a better understanding of world history. This better understanding will inevitably help students to achieve higher SOL scores, while the AP class is not structured for the SOLs. General education and honors classes, which are based on the knowledge needed for the SOLs, should be allowed to use more AP material and patterns of thinking so those students can gain better comprehension of the subject, and score higher on the SOLs. The students taking honors and general education because AP is too much, but are not challenged will never have a chance to gain the understanding AP students will. Supplementary material should be supplied to students who are doing well in their level of world history, so they can prepare themselves to move up to the next level in history next school year, if they choose to do so. Steps need to be taken to bridge the gap between students’ understanding of world history. The discrepancies between the levels, some small and some big, should be pointed out when students are making scheduling decisions. Each student should leave high school understanding world history as thoroughly as possible.
“To strengthen the confidence of students in themselves and their work, and to create more interest and understanding of American business enterprise,” is the goal of the Future Business Leaders of America club, said AP Computer Science teacher Shelly Bell. Ms. Bell is the staff advisor for FBLA, which helps prepare students to take on the American business world and become successful entrepreneurs.
“It’s business at its best,” said Ms. Bell in reference to FBLA. Students who want to join the FBLA club must be enrolled in one business class. Business classes include office administration, accounting, business law, economics and personal finance, visual basic programming, information systems and principals of business and marketing. During the meetings, students engage in various activities including guest speaking opportunities and activity planning sessions. FBLA supplements the skills students learn in their business classes. It supports each student with their goals and prepares them to turn their skills into business careers. “Students don’t prepare for FBLA, FBLA prepares students,” said Ms. Bell. FBLA boosts students’ confidence, encourages them to contribute to the community, develop strong character, promotes scholarships and school loyalty and fosters patriotism. FBLA helps bridge the gap between school and work.
FBLA helps students develop career plans to make decisions so they can continue to be leaders after high school. When applying for scholarships, “students can demonstrate how they served in leadership positions, received awards or participated in projects for the largest business based student organization in the world,” said Ms. Bell.
FBLA began in 1942 as a sect of the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL.) FBLA was the brainchild of Dr. Hamden L. Faulkner in 1940 when he was serving as head of the Teachers College of Columbia University. A Spotsylvania chapter was started at a local high school and FBLA began. In 1950, Virginia picked up FBLA and started the eleventh chapter. Virginia FBLA is part of the national structure of Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda, Inc. There is a college level Phi-Beta Lambda, an alumni level or professional division, as well as middle school and high school levels. FBLA-PBL is non-profit and helps a quarter million students form business careers.
FBLA students work to prepare for a yearly competition. This culminating competition provides FBLA participants the opportunity to compete against other young business entrepreneurs. Registration for this February competition begins in January. Members compete in over 50 subject areas and skills in events in the area of public speaking, technology, finance, business and management. There are four different classifications of competitions: individual, team, recognition and chapter. The participants take Scantron tests, and other tests to assess their proficiency in business management. Participants must place in the top three in the local, district, and state level to continue in the contest, and the winner is announced during the national level of the competition. The prize is the glory of being the very best in the state, as well as cash prizes from FBLA sponsors.
In addition to competitions, each state holds State Leadership Conferences. Different regions, sections and areas come together for these conferences. Workshops are held and participants elect leadership positions. Conferences are held for each level in every state that participates in FBLA. 6,000 people participated in 2006 and 7,200 in 2007.
Written by Emma Beall and Lora Strum