For any of you that have seen this fad in action, I would imagine that your first reaction was just as confused as mine. It is a strange and seemingly pointless activity which many of you know as “planking.” While it has other names-- “the lying down game” (England), “playing dead” (Korea), “facedowns” (Ireland), and “on one’s belly” (France)-- most of us were introduced to the fad as “planking.” Some were first exposed to it while looking at pictures on Facebook, some were told by a friend, and some even had the chance of seeing it firsthand.
When sophomore Paul Sanders came across a picture of somebody planking on Facebook for his first time he “thought they took the picture standing and just needed to rotate it.”
The rules are that the person must be lying flat on their stomach with their arms at their sides, while pointing their fingers and toes directly behind them. Next, a picture must be taken to document the plank. This is what makes the activity bigger than just someone lying down in public. The point is to find the coolest or most original place to plank, and to get a good picture while doing it.
It’s hard to think how such a seemingly pointless game could have become so world-renown, in what appeared to be a short period of time. In actuality, this “lying down game” originated roughly in the year 2000 with Christian Langdon and Gary Clarkson in England. As early teenagers, the two would have fun going to public places and taking turns lying down in random areas while the other would stand from afar and laugh at the people’s reactions. Eventually the game caught on to their friends and around their school, and people began posting pictures of themselves planking on social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. Its popularity skyrocketed when the two made a group for the game on Facebook in 2007.
Since that time it has become a worldwide fad. Cases began springing up everywhere, and more accounts of accidents that occurred while planking arose in the news. Seven doctors and nurses were suspended from duty at the hospital they worked at, after being caught planking at work. There have even been incidents of those who attempt a particularly dangerous plank, and end up losing their lives.
So while you may not get it or enjoy it, it’s amazing how an activity so simple and seemingly meaningless grew into a game that has caused everything from hilarity to fatality.
Through the years, George Mason High School’s student body has seen lots of talent come and go, and it seems only fair that we recognize these graduates as they continue to make a good name for Mason. One particular graduate from 2009, Katie Potrykus, is especially deserving of our recognition.
Katie Potrykus is currently attending school in the Conservatory at Shenandoah University. Her major is in Music Therapy with psychology and voice concentration minors-- needless to say she’s been pretty busy.
If that wasn’t enough, she is also a guitarist and lead singer of the band Dear Creek which is comprised of Portykus’ classmates at SU. The band has been playing together for over two years now and is currently comprised of Alex Salser (guitar), Robin Rhodes (bass), Maddie Newell (keys, accordion, vocals), Joe Hilling (drums, washboard, vocals), and of course Kate Portrykus (guitar, lead vocals).
They recently opened for artist Grace Pettis at The Mockingbird restaurant in Staunton, Virginia which was Katie’s favorite show that they have played together. In terms of what may come after college, Potrykus makes no promises of the band remaining together. The band has accepted the fact that they are all individuals who will end up doing whatever is the best after they graduate.
Potrykus first walked these hallowed halls in her sophomore year of high school in 2006, already a budding musician. Mason proved to be a great outlet for her talent and ambition in music, providing many musical opportunities and supplying a ton of other talented students for her to play with. Opportunities like the JV and Spring Shows, the George Mason Coffee House, and even being able to write songs for class assignments helped to foster Potrykus’ musical aspirations. She talks of how supportive the Mason teachers/administrators always have been of the arts, and how much that encouragement helped her to flourish.
“I owe a lot of what I was able to achieve in high school to my teachers. The endless support that I received throughout my years there helped push me to not stop reaching for my goals. Music is my passion. The Mason faculty recognized that and gave me confidence in my choice to pursue what I love.”
Katie plans to broaden her education in grad school, where she wants to study special education and continue practicing as a music therapist. She said that she wants to work in a school system so that she can do what her teachers did for her, which was “offer a positive learning environment and foster the growth of those who aspire to be something.”
Being a music therapist in a school system is what she considers her dream job, but she is also ecstatic about the idea of being a special education teacher. She longs for a future where she can “enable everyone to live a fulfilling life, regardless of disability or general hardships,” and both occupations would gratify those desires.
When I asked her what she thought about the path she was on, and how far she had come since high school, she responded nostalgically.
“I am thrilled to be moving on to bigger things, but I will never forget my high school years… I will always be grateful that my parents chose to move to Falls Church City so that I could attend George Mason High School.”
Mason students have always been able to walk through the halls and catch a few glimpses of exquisite student art, and they tend to get pretty upset when a favorite mural of theirs is painted over. If you are an upperclassman, then you probably remember the mural of angel-like babies coming out of flowers in the art stairwell. That mural was painted over last year, and a new mural has taken its place directly outside of the art rooms. Upon nearing the bottom of the staircase, one can see the vibrant illustration of a butterfly-sailed boat, and multicolored flying-fish creatures.
The mural, entitled “Metamorphosis,” was painted gracefully by Meredith Brindley, who is a junior currently taking IB art. She painted the mural last year as her art exam. It’s an elegant sight with windy, freeing aspects to it. The mural was based on a piece by surrealist painter Vladimir Kush called “Departure of the Winged Ship,” and is meant to be symbolic of a metaphorical journey. The wind spirit at the bottom of the stairs and all the cloudy entities were entirely of Brindley’s mind, while the flying fish are loosely based on the work of Daniel Miriam, another surrealist.
Brindley became interested in art because she wanted to make her visions a reality. “I used to wish I had a printer attached to my head so I could print my ideas, but that wasn’t going to happen so I bit the bullet and started practicing,” she remarked.
While the mural is painted with a professional looking touch, Brindley faced adversity in the art world before arriving at Mason. Peers undermined her work, and she always felt like someone was “overshadowing” her. Her talent is obvious now, however when she was a freshman in New Orleans she always feared that she was “doomed to be mediocre.” But after truly experiencing an artistic metamorphosis, Brindley felt more comfortable with herself and really came into her own with this mural.
Chili’s ‘I’m With You’ satisfies after 5 year lull
“I’m With You,” the newest album from our dear friends the Red Hot Chili Peppers kicks off with a seemingly rough start. Track one on the album, “A Monarchy of Roses,” begins with what sounds to be a band tuning their instruments for the first time in years. Judging by the fuzzed out sound and lack of catchiness, it seems as though the Chili’s have lost it. Lead singer Anthony Kedis begins to pour his watery, moaning vocals into the chaos, and then suddenly we are saved by a pounding surge of upbeat guitar and funky bass. A relieved sense of content brings you back down to earth and you hear Kedis’ voice sounding just like we left it.
It has been five years since they blew our minds with 2006’s “Stadium Arcadium,” although this time they’re back with yet another new guitarist. After John Frusciante left the Chilis for the second time in 2009, he was replaced with Josh Klinghoffer who had already spent time playing with them on the road. “Monarchy” continues to please for the rest of its four minutes and we get introduced nicely to Kinghoffer. The rest of the album proves to be conservatively surprising. The band has managed to retain their signature “Freaky Styley” funk-pop style while giving us a new experience and fresh sound that derives from the previous styles of Frusciante.
The newest and youngest member, Klinghoffer, really brings the band to a new place, where they leave the spacey arrangements and commanding guitar sound of Frusciante. While often serving as a subtle background support in the songs, Klinghoffer’s immense range and talent surprised me in almost every song.
From “Factory of Faith,” in which the fractal, spacey guitar meshes perfectly with the mechanical sounding drum and bass combo, to “Meet Me at the Corner,” where the soft voice of Kedis is layered over Klinghoffer’s graceful and pleasantly smooth guitar, it is apparent that the Red Hot Chilis are continuously evolving in their sound and will continue to please their fans.
My Top 3
This song begins with a heavy, funk baseline followed by some affected guitar that slides in along with the drums. It sounds like it might have been a song off of “Stadium Arcadium,” except without the high-pitched background vocals or as much spacey guitar. Josh Klingkoffer gets to show off his skills with some Jimmy Hendrix style jamming and a slammin’ bluesy/rock solo. We see the Chili’s ever popular wall of sound effect during the chorus, which fades into the same trippy effected guitar that we hear in the beginning, thus ending the song.
“The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”
The single that we all identify this album with, “The Adventures Rain Dance Maggie,” is what seemed to me at first to be a mediocre song. But after secluding myself in my room and listening to it through nice headphones (as opposed to on the radio, stuck in traffic), I really began to appreciate its quality. It’s a fresh style for RHCP, and yet the chorus is so classically them. Flea’s funk/blues style and Klinghoffer’s toying with psychedelic guitar really complement each other nicely.
“Did I Let You Know”
Klinghoffer’s guitar in this song hit me with the softest and most powerful sense of happiness, which nicely contrasted the loud and excited drums. “Did I Let You Know” invokes images of driving on a summer day with all the windows down. Suddenly it moves into a sassy trumpet line and African sounding drums, only before coming back to the beautiful guitar/vocals combination. We get another guitar solo from Klinghoffer, and the song wraps up with some upbeat guitar and synth parts.
During the first week of school, the students of George Mason encountered a fair amount of rainy days and depending on their teachers, rainy classrooms. Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, there has been a problem for quite some time with rain leaking into the school through the ceiling.
So what’s the big deal? It’s just water, right? Well for some teachers, that water can be their worst nightmare.
When rain leaks into classrooms, it runs the risk of damaging computers, growing mold, and ruining books. Just ask anyone from the English Department. The English office is filled with thousands of books that students use every year, and it also happens to be one of the leakiest rooms in the school. So what is being done about these problems? As it seems, the maintenance staff just changes the ceiling tiles and cleans up any remaining evidence. But what is being done in the long term to fix this?
I sat down with English teacher Ms. Christina Leigh to get a faculty member’s perspective on the leaks. She told me a story of several years ago, when Mason experienced a two day period of monsoon-like rain.
“I walked in to my room and saw Mr. Walsh and Ms. Whitlock frantically moving all the desks to the sides of the room. There was just so much water. The scene looked almost like a surrealist painting” said Leigh. Apparently she has had her computer replaced, and several curriculum papers ruined due to leaky ceilings.
Upon being asked how other teachers felt about the situation, she responded saying “people are certainly interested in a solution, but everyone has a positive attitude about it. Any problems are usually quite manageable, and when you work at a school you have to be prepared to just flow with it.”
Leigh is currently unaware of any official solutions being put into action, but the administration remains proactive upon being faced with the leaks.
The problem is the difficulty of finding the source of a leak before fixing it. Just because the ceiling is leaking in one room doesn’t mean that the water isn’t flowing down a beam from a leak thirty feet away.
We may very well see other incidents of leaking ceilings this year, but we can rest assured that any mold problems will be stopped before they happen and that if your book gets ruined, then you have one less thing to do for homework.
As fall began and the students of GeorgeMasonHigh School walked back into the halls that we know so well (or not if you’re an eighth grader), there were quite a few things that had changed since last school year.
We welcomed the class of 2016, and for the first few days watched them wander the school with their schedules out and with confused looks on their faces. Some of the older students took initiative when they saw a bewildered Gr8, and helped guide them to where they needed to go.
On the first day of class, students entered both the Pit and the Auxiliary Gym with the surprise of fresh, new paint jobs for both of them. As for the eighth graders, they probably won’t even notice the change until reading this article or being told by an older companion.
But to the veteran students, it is yet another improvement to our school that we have seen made over the years.
So, as we all return to our studies with a clean slate, we face the opportunity to set the path for how we want the rest of our year to go. For us seniors, we’re beginning the last chapter of our high school experience.