Archive | May, 2016

POTUS’s Statement on Transgender Inclusivity in Schools and Waynesboro Public Schools’ Reaction

On Friday, May 13th, President Obama and his administration issued a statement telling public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches the gender they identify with. The Departments of Education and Justice gave statements to public schools including guidelines so transgender students feel they are in a community of support and nondiscrimination while in school.

“[Waynesboro does] have a written policy that clearly prohibits discrimination and harassment of students. We continue to monitor the court case as well as the actions of federal agencies to determine what, if any, changes to our current policies and practices are necessary to remain compliant with applicable law. In the meantime, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and other privacy laws limit our ability to describe our practice with respect to an individual student. Our constant priority is to provide a safe and supportive educational environment for all students, and to treat all students with dignity and respect,” said Jeffrey Cassell, Waynesboro Public Schools Superintendent.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Transgender FAQ says someone who identifies as transgender identifies with a gender that differs from the sex marked on their original birth certificate. It is an internal sense of being a man, woman, or someone outside the binary of standard genders. The sex assigned at birth and the internal gender identity of the person do not match. Transgender students may use a variety of terms to describe themselves, including those such as transgender, transsexual, and genderqueer. To avoid discriminating against or hurting the person’s feelings, check with the person first and use the term(s) and pronouns they prefer. Some transgender people go through what is called transition, or the purposeful changing of their body so their outward appearance better reflects their internal identity. The word transgender is used as an adjective, so someone is a transgender person, not a transgender. In essence, gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of oneself, and a transgender person (or student) is someone whose sex or gender assigned at birth differs from the gender they identify with inside.

“Waynesboro Public Schools currently does not have a policy specific to transgender students’ use of bathrooms. Though the federal executive branch has issued its interpretation of applicable law, we are waiting for a decision by the federal courts as to the impact the executive branch’s interpretation will have on our operations and whether there is a need for any written policy regarding bathroom use by transgender students,” said Cassell.

Policy in Waynesboro Public Schools is constantly updated, being “most often implemented when new laws or regulations necessitate the need for a new policy. Occasionally, a need is identified or a situation arises locally that results in the need for a new policy or a revision to an existing policy,” said Cassell. To implement a new policy in the WPS system, the “policy is presented to the Waynesboro School Board by recommendation of the Superintendent. Typically, there is a first reading of the policy during which an explanation of the policy is offered and any questions are answered or discussions occur.  Revisions may be made at the direction of the school board. At the next meeting of the school board, there is a second reading of the policy, during which additional discussion may occur. Typically, a vote is taken to adopt the policy after the second reading. Additionally, readings of the policy may occur before a vote is taken if the school board wishes to continue discussions or gather more information,” said Cassell.

Waynesboro waits for federal courts to make decisions regarding new policies before implementing said policy, and this is most evident in the president’s suggestion for transgender inclusivity. Waynesboro High School has proved itself as a school to set the precedent for others in the community, especially with the recent addition of the Gay­ Straight Alliance, as WHS is one of the few schools in the area to have a GSA. The implementation of transgender inclusivity policies, specifically in regards to bathrooms, is still in motion across the country, but for the moment, Waynesboro Public Schools is waiting for the federal court’s interpretation of the federal executive branch’s suggestion, while still trying to promote a community free from discrimination and harassment.

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FUNd for Teachers


Amber Loyacano on her trip. Photo Submitted By: Katie Ford

By: Avery Paiste, Reporter

The Fund for Teachers Grant  allows teachers to learn skills and acquire more knowledge about the subject area that they teach. According to the Fund for Teachers’ website,, “Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has invested $22 million in nearly 6,000 teachers, transforming grants into growth for teachers and their students.” In the last three years, three teachers from Waynesboro High School received this grant.

        Joshua Spees, a photography teacher who recently received the grant, plans to travel to the Southwest United States. While there he wants to interview many photography professors and professional photographers, asking questions such as “What makes you want to take pictures?” or “What do you enjoy about photography?” Spees plans to take pictures himself as well. He wants to document the water scarcity in that region and continue a photo essay that he started many years ago when he lived there. One of the first projects his Photo II class works on is a photo essay. Spees said, “The kids always ask me, what should I take a picture of? Now I’ll be able to give them an example from me [of my own work].”

        Two other teachers from WHS took a trip using the Fund for Teachers grant. Katie Ford and Amber Loyacano, both of whom are WHS English teachers, took a trip to Europe to learn more about Shakespeare. Loyacano, an American literature teacher, said that although it was a trip to Europe, it helped her tremendously because she can reference things that she’s actually seen and talk about how the things that happened in Rome were very reminiscent of what happened in America at the time.

Loyacano believes that every teacher should apply for this grant. “Teachers don’t get a lot, and most grants are for the classroom, which is great, but this one is just for teachers and it’s just such a great experience,” said Loyacano.

        To receive this grant, teachers write a five-part paper explaining what they are doing, where they are doing it, why they are doing it, and how it will help them in the classroom. In addition, applicants must submit a projected budget of how much money will be needed.

Spees said “The paper took me about two days of hard work to write, but it was definitely worth it.” If you receive the grant you can begin to get ready to go on your trip to wherever you planned. This grant allows you to get a first-hand experience with the curriculum that you are teaching; taking lots of pictures and writing down all of the different experiences is something that Fund for Teachers recommends because you want as much information as possible.

        For more information on this grant or to apply, be sure to go to the website at There is also information about all of the teachers who received a Fund for Teachers grant this year and what they plan to do on their travels. Be sure to see Mr. Spees’ to get a more in depth description of his travels.




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A photograph of Pailon del Diablo, or Devil's Cauldron, a famous waterfall in Ecuador.
(Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

WHS Makes a Difference Across the Globe

by Dalton Lafferty, Technology Manager

“We only did 6 hours of service work, [but] it was the first step towards a bright future for those children,”said Junior Madison Becker of the Passport Club’s recent trip to Ecuador.” In a couple of weeks, those children will have a new classroom to learn in where they will not have to worry about getting too hot under the metal roof or being able to hear their teacher when the rain bangs on the metal.”

The club returned from their trip on April 6th, 2016. The seven WHS students and teacher departed on March 28th, and the trip was not just about touring the country. It was about volunteering for a community in Ecuador

The first day, the club toured Yunguilla (young-gee-ah), and learned how the community supports itself, as it is isolated from the rest of Ecuador. Members of the community are mostly farmers, and are noted for their milk, cheese, jellies, and jams. Next the club went to a museum on the equator to learn about the history of Ecuador. Then they traveled to Plaza de la Independencia, a square in the heart of Quito, the capitol. On day two, they hopped aboard a bus to travel to the rain forest, a seven hour trip over the Andes mountains. Once they arrived, the club, along with students from Washington D.C. and Ohio, completed a series of team-building activities. The next day they suited up in helmets and boots and got to work building a school for the community.

“We built a school classroom for a group of kids who [otherwise] have to learn in buildings with hot steel roofs and dirt floors. We bent rebar, twisted wire, dug holes and carried rocks,” said Becker.

She went on to say that the Ecuadorian people are very grateful. “I could not believe how hardworking the local people are and how, even though most families do not have a lot, they are extremely proud of what they do have. Unlike Americans, it does not seem like they are constantly desiring and expecting to get more out of life; they expect to work for it.” They are thankful and proud of what they already have. This made being around the locals one of her favorite parts of the trip.

“At one point, I was shoveling dirt and rocks that would be turned into concrete, and a young local boy around 4 or 5 helped me by standing on top of the pile and using his foot to push rocks into my shovel. He was happy to do whatever he could to help us and smiled at me the entire time. The worst part was feeling guilty when I realized how ungrateful we are for all that we have. It was frustrating that I was not able to communicate with the little boy fully. We also had to be around the local project managers and when we had to talk to them about issues with our work we would use hand gestures, but it was not as hard to communicate as I would have expected,” said Becker.

Serving the Ecuadorian people was certainly an eye opening experience for Becker, who said “I wish that people could learn to be grateful for what they have and understand that we need to be doing more to help other countries. There are people all over the world who face problems that most people in America cannot even comprehend, like struggling to get clean water, [whereas] in America we expect to have it. The trip was a once in a lifetime experience that has changed my perspective on life in many ways,” said Becker.

Passport Club mentor Katie Ford travelled to China with the club in the spring of 2014. This made her trip to Ecuador her second with the club. “It was so interesting seeing how this community lived. Their houses were much smaller than what we’re used to in the US, and anything they wanted done had to be done by hand. Without heavy equipment, hauling rocks becomes much more labor intensive. The experience has made me appreciate the lives we have here and how easy it is to get work done. If Americans had to build their houses themselves, I imagine we would have far fewer houses. The best part of volunteering was getting to work in that community and really understand how they live. While we were only there for a short time, I walked away wanting to help more and get involved with international community service more. The worst part of the experience was that we didn’t have enough time. I could’ve spent all 9 days working with that community.”

Ford wishes everyone who went on the trip brings back a sense of appreciation for what we have. “I wish everyone could learn to be tolerant of others, and to be open to new experiences. Some of the best memories from Ecuador came when we stepped outside our comfort zones and tried new, and sometimes scary, things.”

Passport Club members pose with other volunteers after their service. (Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

Passport Club members pose with other volunteers after their service.
(Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

A photograph of Pailon del Diablo, or Devil's Cauldron, a famous waterfall in Ecuador. (Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

A photograph of Pailon del Diablo, or Devil’s Cauldron, a famous waterfall in Ecuador.
(Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

A photograph of the Napo River in Ecuador. (Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

A photograph of the Napo River in Ecuador.
(Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

A photograph of a hydro-power plant in Ecuador. (Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

A photograph of a hydro-power plant in Ecuador.
(Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

A photograph of the sign marking the equator. (Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

A photograph of the sign marking the equator.
(Photo: Kelley Conley/Senior, Journalism Classroom Manager)

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