Month: December 2015

PTSA collects used items, receives cash for school

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By: Karla Llano Reyes, Staff Writer

The PTSA is joining up with Capitol Clothing Recyclers to help out the community by participating in the “Clothing to Cash” recycling program.The “Clothing to Cash” recycling program is about donating used items like clothes, shoes, textiles, toys, and accessories and in return the PTSA gets paid.

This program is something that other schools already participate in and now James River has joined it as well.

The company contacted us as the program is successful at neighboring schools – Bettie Weaver Elementary and Robious Middle.  Since anyone can participate with old clothing and household items, we thought we’d try it at James River,” PTSA President Kathy Hostetler said.

This program benefits the PTSA because it helps raise money. For each pound that is collected, the PTSA gets paid.

“The program essentially recycles clothing, blankets, stuffed animals, etc.The [PTSA] is paid for these items by the pound, and is also eligible to receive additional funds if we are one of the top collecting locations in the area,” PTSA Vice President for fundraising Wendy Etz said.

They are different places where the items that are donated will go.The items that are donated will be reused by the company in various ways.

The company operates thrift stores in North Carolina, where they sell all the products they can,” Hostetler said. ”If the recycled item is not in good shape, it is turned into dog toys or rags.”

The items donated don’t have to be new.They can be old clothes that isn’t used anymore. All donations are helpful.

“ We recommend used items in any shape.” Etz said. ”These items can include shoes, clothing, towels, stuffed animals, basically any textile.”

Help out the PTSA by bringing in donations and taking it to the recycling bin that’s outside in the school parking lot.


Student club supports gay rights

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By: Harley Butler, Staff Writer

Here at James River, there is a club for the students that struggle with their sexuality and for kids who support their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning/Queer peers called The Gay/Straight Alliance.  

According to a Gallup poll, 20 percent  of the teens in 2015 are part of the LGBTQ community. It takes a kind, thoughtful person to direct these meetings, because a lot of people disagree with the whole idea of the LGBTQ community.

“I’m the sponsor, but I don’t direct the meetings. This club is not for anyone in particular, it’s basically for having like minded people together,” sponsor and school librarian Ann Reinke said.

93 percent of the teens that are homosexual are bullied for their sexuality, according to Violence Prevention Works.

“In the past we’ve served as a safe haven. We’ve had bullying, so much bullying. In fact, we were one of the first schools to provide this club for students,” Reinke said.

Pew Research states that about 25 percent of the straight population is “anti-gay.”

“We had to go to the school board once because they tried to shut it down. The anti-gay community used outrageous lies to attempt to shut it down, our club did not have many supporters,” Reinke said.

This club has been around for about 14 years, and is now supported by many. According to Pew research about 75 percent of the population fully support gay rights.

“I fought my entire life for gay rights,” Reinke said.

James River students attend their second meeting. Photo by Harley Butler

The Gay Straight alliance club is a club of many different dynamics.

“The group of people change every year,” senior and GSA president Julie Beasley said. “We’ve had a variety of different leaders that do different things too and the people in here are very open and are here to help, it’s a very nice tolerant club.”

If you are interested in the Gay/Straight Alliance connect with either Ann Reinke in the library or Julie Beasley to join.
“This club is not only for people that are homesexual, it’s also for kids that are straight. It’s for them to further support their personal beliefs,” Reinke said.

Students opened up and talked about how they discovered their sexuality. Photo by Harley Butler

Chromebooks cause confusion

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By: Julie Hutchison, Staff Writer

Starting the 2014-15 school year Chesterfield County Public Schools starting distributing Chromebooks to all middle school students. This year, CCPS gave all middle and high school students chromebooks. Since then, many students around the county have experienced many difficulties accessing websites to help with their schoolwork.

“There are so many blocked websites and it feels like every website I try to use is blocked,” freshman Madison Pierpont said.

The county denies access to many websites that students could use resourcefully to complete assignments teachers give them.

“I was working on an English research paper and when I tried going onto the CCPS library website to find facts it was blocked. Why would the county block a website that it created?” Pierpont said.

Freshman Madison Pierpont experiences the county library’s website being blocked on her Chromebook. Photo by Julie Hutchison

English teacher Carolyn Schmitt   has had many problems with them Chromebooks as well. She experienced an issue where the PTSA website made by the county blocked students from accessing it, when there was an essay prompt they needed to use for a contest on the website.

“The only reason I could think of is that there were some topics that the parents didn’t want seen by the students,” Schmitt said.

Blocked websites aren’t the only problems the Chromebooks seem to be having.  On November 15th, all of the student’s accounts were disabled and no one was able to get onto their Chromebooks to do work.

For some students that might not have been a problem because they had other computers they could use to access their assignments, but other students who fully rely on the Chromebooks for school and homework were out of luck.

The problem was said to be fixed by November 16th but many students still struggled with issues until the 18th.

Many students experience an chromebook issue earlier this year. This page showed up when students would try to log on and denied them access to their accounts. Photo by Julie Hutchinson

Looking ahead: James River artist Olivia Marino discusses her future in art

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By: Eva Dorn, Staff Writer

       Standing a little bit above five feet with long brown hair in an understated flannel, senior Olivia Marino is a quite extraordinary student at James River High. For starters she is the president of James River’s NAHS or National Art Honors Society.

“Two of my biggest passions are art and community service, and with NAHS I can bring the two together,”Marino said.

 Among Marino’s accomplishments, she has been accepted to the Savannah College of Art and Design.In addition,her artwork has been displayed at the Chesterfield County Festival of Fine Arts consecutively in the past two years.

  Art has always been a big part of Marino’s life, but she didn’t start pursuing art seriously until her freshman year of high school. Marino is currently a student in art teacher Toussaint Manley’s 3D Design Three class. She also takes Graphic Arts One.

“Mr.Manley inspired me to be committed to my art,” Marino said.

Taking Mr.Manley’s class has been a positive experience for Marino. It has been an experience to help her to learn and grow with her art.

 “I’m inspired by my peers in art class, and they challenge me to be a better artist,” Marino said.

 Marino has created many pieces of art in Mr. Manley’s class and in graphic arts, one of her personal favorites is The  Glass Converse. The piece is a modern take on a Cinderella shoe which she had to do for a class assignment.

   “The Glass Converse is really personal to me because it represents me as a little girl and myself now,” Morino said.

Marino works on her latest piece of art in 3D Design class. Photo by Eva Dorn

  Morino has created many other meaningful pieces of art. Marino’s Car Radio inspired by the Twenty One Pilots song is another one of Marino’s personal favorites. She has also made several graphic pieces.

  “Olivia is a very detail oriented artist. Her artistic process is amazing because she puts so much thought into her work,” Manley said.

   Marino plans to pursue her art after high school. At the moment she is uncertain whether she will attend SCAD. However, there are a couple of colleges she is also looking into.

  “I plan to study graphic art, crafting or art education. I would like to go to James Madison University or Virginia Commonwealth University,” Marino said.

Whether Marino goes to SCAD, VCU or JMU, she plans to continue pursuing her art. She is not yet sure if she wants to pigeonhole her self into an art related career,but she is certain whatever she will do it will relate to art.

“Whatever I do I will remain in touch with my art whether it’s professional or personal,” Marino said.


Feed your brain for a great start to the day

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By: Amanda Wallace, Staff Writer

Do you get all the nutrients you need in a day to be healthy? Probably not, if you’re not eating a wholesome breakfast to last through the school day!  

According to About Kids Health, four out of five kids do not get the vitamins and minerals they need, by only eating lunch and dinner. Vitamins and minerals are an essential for normal physiologic function (growth and reproduction) according to Precision Nutrition. By eating breakfast assures you get all of those daily.   

“By eating breakfast you rev up your metabolism, when you don’t eat breakfast it stays at a low metabolic rate, it slows the whole day down,” school nurse Liz Klement said.

Teens who eat breakfast perform much better in school and their school work, they  show extra energy in sports and other physical activities, according to About Kids Health. Teenagers who eat breakfast tend to have better grades, better social behaviors, and do not get into fights as much. By eating breakfast you change yourself for the better everyday.

“Eating breakfast increases the attention span in the classroom,” Klement said.

Eight out of 12 of kids skip breakfast according to Healthy Children. Many older kids take as late as 11 p.m. and they would rather sleep more than eat in the morning, also according to Healthy Children.     

It’s just as important for teacher to eat breakfast as students and for the same reasons. About one third of U.S. of American Adults,  According to Kellogg. Teachers won’t be able to teach you as well and interact with their students as much if they don’t eat breakfast as if they do eat breakfast.  

It’s crucial for students and teachers to eat breakfast so they can perform to their absolute best. It can be hard to make time for in the mornings, but Breakfast is crucial, but it keeps you nourished and healthy.   

“I usually find time for breakfast, I don’t make a feast out of it,” freshmen Sara Skolnick said.

Cereal is a very common choice for breakfast every morning. Cereal is not the healthiest of choices but very convenient for people on the go. Photo by Amanda Wallace

School considers homework for potential snow days

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By: Henry Forbes, Staff Writer

Winter is fast approaching the state of Virginia, and with the new season comes an unrelenting amount of snow. However, with schools closing in fear of hazardous conditions and teachers afraid of their students missing vital information, one high school considers this: should they give students work through their Chromebooks?

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, at least eight days of school were closed in the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico last year. In the case of Chesterfield, days in school were extended for a certain period of time to make up for the time lost due to snow.

Students at James River High School wear warmer clothing to be prepared for the upcoming winter season, a time infamous for bringing snow to Virginia. Photo by Henry Forbes

“Make-up time is required,” assistant principal Dr. Jennifer Coleman said. “If there are half days, we would take out the half days. They would add time to the school day.”

One school in particular, that being James River High School has announced that teachers will be able to make up work through the facility’s newly-introduced Chromebooks. That way, students will be able to complete assignments at home without the risk of being exposed to the icy roads.

There have been mixed opinions about this concept. Some have felt that this will provide for the students’ benefit.

“I think it’s actually a pretty good idea,” freshman Bailey Clark said. “We don’t want to fall back as much like we did last year.”

Teachers are also relatively optimistic about the idea, as it could prove to be useful to have the students make up work while they are at home.

“I think it’s a great idea,” A.P. Human Geography teacher Shannon Castelo said. “JRHS has less instructional times than any other school in Chesterfield County due to AEP and ONE Lunch.”

However, the concept of having Chromebook work on snow days is not as favorable to others, due to some potential negatives that could arise from the situation.

“Most students wouldn’t really try hard on their work when their out of school” freshman Josh Crawford said. “Some people don’t have WiFi.”

This issue of people not having Internet is a concern for some, as snow days can prohibit others to access places with decent WiFi accessibility.

Many students rely on the bus system to transport them to school; however, snow inhibits the bus routes due to ice on the roads, reducing the friction on the surface and endangering whoever is on the vehicle, causing school cancellations and delays. Photo by Henry Forbes

“There are many students who don’t have WiFi at home,” Castelo said. “Many students use public venues for WiFi. It would be difficult to make a requirement.”

So far, the administration is considering the idea while weighing out the positives and negatives of such a concept.

“Benefits of that would be reducing instructional time loss,” Coleman said. “You would be able to stay current, and that would be able to keep you fresh.”

As for now, the possibilities of Chromebook work on snow days is being weighed by students and faculty alike, but ultimately the decision lies on the teachers.

“Teachers can have that as an option, but it cannot negatively impact a student’s grades,” Coleman said.

The Chromebooks supplied by James River High School will be used by certain teachers to assign work to students over the snow days. Photo by Henry Forbes




Concussions rock young people

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By: Landon Moore, Staff Writer

Teen concussions are on the rise across America and the risk is only becoming higher. According to the Head Case Company, one in five high school athletes suffer a concussion during the course of a sports season. Many athletes here at James River suffer them also.

Concussions can happen when you least expect them, just like they did for softball player freshmen Robyn Bennett, who on October 27th, 2014, was hit by a pitch to the head.

“I slept a lot, had bad headaches, was nauseous, and was very sensitive to light and screens,” Bennett said.

This being her first concussion, she did not know what to expect, but advises others to not give up.

“You have to push yourself and not quit because your head hurts a little. You have to stay positive.”  

With 33 percent of high school athletes that suffered one concussion suffered another in the same year, the need for safety is greater than ever.

“Communication is key. You have to tell people to be careful.” said Bennett.

Students receive concussions not just during sports, though.

“Many concussions come from NJROTC, theatre, and anywhere where activity is being done,” James River nurse Liz Klement said.

Students can suffer concussions anywhere, even horseplaying in the halls of the school. Photo by Landon Moore

There is a very detailed protocol for situations like these.

“For sports related concussions they go to the trainer, and an email is sent to the clinic but for non sports related concussions, they must bring in a doctor’s note and go through a neuro check which consists of multiple questions to see the severity of the concussion,” Klement said.

There are three times as many catastrophic high school football injuries as in college. Freshman football player, Jarvis Chandler says form is important.

“To keep young athletes safe, coaches must teach great form to reduce concussions,” Chandler said.

Many safety improvements have come to the game at the pro level, such as improved helmets fit to some players specially proved to be very beneficial to player safety.

Sports corporations like the National Football League are taking many steps towards keeping athletes safer. Such as bettering the quality of helmets worn by players. Photo by Landon Moore

Rapids basketball coach, Warren Kempf, who suffered a concussion playing basketball in high school says people are “Overly sensitive about concussions” and “Players get kept out of the game when they are fine.”

What should be done when a concussion is suffered? “Students need to let their parents or teachers know if they feel they have suffered a concussion,” Klement said. “The best thing to do is sit in a dark quiet room to let the brain heal.”