Miller School of Albemarle

Where Does the Change Start? by Meghan Noga

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Wilbur and Orville Wright are famous for a one reason – they invented the airplane.  Their invention sparked a revolution of technology that has impacted history forever.  Today, we have airplanes that come in many different shapes and sizes.  Some are used for carrying people, some are used for spying on countries, some are used for show.  We have airplanes that can go faster than the speed of sound – 768 miles per hour – all because two little boys from Dayton, Ohio, with a passion for flying machines, decided to make their dreams into a reality.

The destruction of our environment has been a growing issue in the world.  It was an issue in the 1800s when states wanted to regulate the killing of game.  It was an issue in 1962 when Rachel Carson wrote her famous “Silent Spring,” that addressed the issue of pesticides.  It is an issue, still today, in 2012 – our fossil fuels, the very gears of our every day existence, have started to show scarceness, causing the rise in gas prices (among other products).  Coral bleaching and the deforestation and extinction of rain forests and animals such as the polar bear have become apparent; and the giant slabs of ice at the either extremes of the earth have slowly started to melt, eventually causing the sea level to rise about 61 meters, wiping out the southern coast of North America with ease.

Wow, that is a mouthful.  Not to even mention that these are just mere  examples, of how our environment is changing for the worst.  There are numerous other issues with the planet and the worse part, is that the actions and carelessness of Americans effect countries thousands of miles away.

So why isn’t our government doing anything?  One could argue that, Yes! The government banned the use of aerosols and enacted laws like the Clean Air Act – cute attempt but not enough. Why don’t we invest in alternate energy?  The answer is obvious but not an excuse – our gas prices may be high, but there is still gas to use. And how, exactly, does a coral reef affect me?  And have you SEEN the SIZE of Antarctica?!  It is massive!  7000 feet of solid ice?  That thing isn’t melting any time soon.  But the thing is, these elements DO affect us, just not in a direct and therefore, incognizant way:  Coral reefs are beneficial because they stimulate revenue for struggling countries.  Reefs have also been found to have some kind of medical potential.  For all we know, these coral reefs could hold the cure for cancer.  Besides wiping out the entire state of Florida, the melting slabs of ice we call Antarctica and the North Pole contain massive amounts of CO2.  As the ice melts, this CO2 will be released into the Ozone – Not. Good.  CO2 is one of the leading causes of climate change.

Now, don’t get me wrong, issues such as the education system, job stimulation, and healthcare are extremely important.  However, the American government is made up of a bunch of extremists who can’t seem to find a balance.  It is incomprehensible to them, and of some sort of mathematical formula with a complexity beyond even the most profound knowledge, to equally distribute focus and funds to multiple purposes.

So that is it, then?  The natural world is doomed as we know it and thus, every inhabitant, including us, is doomed with it?  Not quite!

If our government isn’t going to do anything about this serious issue, then we, the every day, average American citizen must make the change happen.  Change doesn’t start with the President, or the Senate, or the Governor of Virginia.  Change starts with you, with us.  We have to force the attention of our government and demand the change our environment so desperately needs.  Of course, the change won’t happen in a day – it will take years, generations, for the environment to make noticeable adjustments.  Maybe that is why people don’t feel the need to stand up for the benefit of Earth.  Humans are obsessed with immediate modification.  We desire the visible difference.  That just isn’t how the environment works.

A seed doesn’t grow in one day and time heals all wounds. It is time to start a revolution and then, take all that we’ve learned in that revolution, take all the change and incorporate it into everyday living – just like airplanes.  At the time, Wilbur and Orville created something new and morphed the way humans live.  But now, planes are about as common as breathing.  That is how our treatment of the environment should be – there shouldn’t be a “Green Movement,” it should simply be just how we live.


Written by Miller School of Albemarle

October 10, 2012 at 10:31 AM

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Outstanding Results for MSA Riders at Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont

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MSA Cyclists were the top two American finishers in one of the world’s most prestigious junior stage races. Sophomore Jake King finished second place overall and was the top American rider in the talent-filled international field of junior riders.  Chris Keeling finished third place overall with the help of teammates Spencer Virtue and Virginia road race champion Sam James.

In the women’s race, Ashlyn Woods went up against an adult field and finished 9th in the circuit race!

Complete race report coming soon!

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September 4, 2012 at 12:59 PM

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An Opening Year Word From Class President Meghan

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School spirit. Wikipedia defines it as “emotional support for one’s educational institution”. My definition is somewhat similar: School spirit is more than just dressing up on game day. It is more than face paint and posters and cheering. And although that is a large factor of school spirit, there is more to it than the physical part. School spirit is community. It is the unconditional love for the school, the teachers, the students and the message that is portrayed through the academic program. Minds, Hands, Hearts. Respect the Hill. It’s not just a saying on the back of a t-shirt or words hanging on a banner. Those words are sort of a philosophy that has been established throughout the years at Miller. Spirit is following through and respecting that philosophy. School spirit is wearing those words, Respect the Hill, proudly and setting a high bar for anyone who comes upon campus. Spirit is trust. When I put down my back pack filled with my cell phone, my laptop and my iPod, I trust that when I return to it, everything will be exactly where I had last placed it. Spirit is love. It is reaching out a hand when someone else is in trouble or needs help. Spirit is togetherness. There is no “I” in team; that is what we are: one large team.

When I first arrived at Miller, I was absolutely shocked that a SENIOR was talking to a freshman. How is that so? No senior ever talked to freshman at my public high school. It was against “the law”. But that is why Miller is so special. Spirit is family. But why is it that Miller is so lacking when is comes to spirit? We have all the ingredients and the recipe is right there! So where is our school spirit? I am setting the bar and I challenge us as a community to raise that bar this year. Let us go above and beyond when it comes to spirit. I want to see community and love and family.

And as far as sports are concerned, away or home, we will be the most spirited there without being disrespectful to the other team. Why? Who cares if we yell at the other team. They will probably be doing the same thing! Simply because that’s just not how we roll here at the Miller School of Albemarle. I want to see face paint, capes, that silly horse head, wigs, posters, balloons. I want to hear us above everyone else. And if it costs us a little dignity? Who cares. That just shows everyone else how serious we are about our school. Let’s get crazy and loud and show our school spirit in everything we do. I am ready for this year.

Written by Miller School of Albemarle

September 4, 2012 at 8:40 AM

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Listen up: Student Podcasts from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello!

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Last year, six students volunteered with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello through the MSA service program.  Working with museum archivists, publication specialists, educational outreach staff, and members of the Foundation staff, students assisted with preparing and evaluating educational displays and materials.

Each student has chose an object found in Monticello to be the subject of an educational podcast he or she wrote and recorded. The students conducted original research at the collections of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello in order to write the podcasts, which have been placed on the Monticello website as part of their educational resources for visitors.  Read the Monticello blog post and listen to the podcasts HERE.

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August 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM

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U.Va. Summer Course Examines Rock Music’s Role in American Culture

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Steve Knepper, chair of the Miller School of Albemarle English Department, is currently teaching a 200-level summer course at the University of Virginia entitled “Popular Song Lyrics: American Rock.”  His course was profiled for UVaToday.  Read the article here: (link).

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July 23, 2012 at 12:28 PM

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MSA Rider in the News by Travis Williams

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The Burgs Summer Olympics series: Cycling

Sam James, 15, of Blacksburg is an avid cyclist and recent top finisher of the Mountains of Misery bicycle event. James has been following the sport of cycling and is excited about the upcoming Olympics in London, especially the road race event. Matt Gentry | The Roanoke Times

The 2012 Summer Olympics kick off Friday in London.

Thousands of athletes from across the world will test their skills in sports such as diving, wrestling, track and field, volleyball and even badminton.

We turned to local athletes who specialize in these sports, asking them for tips and what to look for during the epic event.

LOCAL ATHLETE: Sam James, Blacksburg

EXPERIENCE: James has been cycling for about 12 years.

DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY: There are four different types of cycling events featured in the 2012 London Summer Olympics — BMX, Mountain Bike, Road and Track.

BMX (Bicycle Motocross) began to take off in the late 1960s in California, around the time that motocross became popular in the United States. The motorized sport was the inspiration for the pedal-powered version — a spectacle that has since become popular all over the world. This is just the second year the sport has made its appearance in the games.
Mountain Bike cycling also developed in California in the 1970s. The sport takes athletes up rocky paths, tricky climbs and technical descents.

Road Cycling made its first appearance in 1912. Road Cycling events will take place in both London and Surrey this year.
Track Cycling was held indoors at the Olympic games for the first time in Montreal in 1976. Track bikes have fixed wheels and no brakes. Riders stop by putting pressure on the pedals.

COMPETITION DATES: BMX, Aug. 8-10; Mountain Bike, Aug. 11-12; Road, July 28-29 and Aug. 1; Track, Aug. 2-7

— Source:

 Q: What do you enjoy about cycling?

A: I like that for the most you get out of it what you put in. So you have to work hard for it. You have to be willing to suffer a lot and make sacrifices every day that you’re out there. In the race, you have to be willing to hurt more than the other guys. You have to be tough.

Q: What advice would you give an Olympic cyclist?

A: I’d probably say the most important thing is not to get nervous. I think a lot of people would get nervous.
They’d get real amped up for it, and they wouldn’t sleep the night before. They’d be worried that, maybe, their preparation wasn’t good enough for something.
They’d start off the race, and they’d go too hard and bore themselves up and risk not finishing.
Every time someone would try to get away, they’d be the one trying to chase them down.
Whereas good competitors, they’d sit back and kind of see what happens.

Q: What should viewers be looking for during the event?

A: I think it’s important to look at the fact that how people race is very dependent on what type of racer they are.
For example, there are some guys that are going to be better at sprinting, so if they can, the last 15 seconds of the race, they’re going to blow everyone away.
But if they try to accelerate 20 minutes from the finish, they’re not going to make it.

Whereas, someone with … a less explosive sprint, they’d attack earlier. … No one strategy fits every rider, and that’s why you see some riders attacking right from the gun because, maybe, they don’t think they stand a chance in the last 30 seconds of the race.

Whereas, another rider, who might be the favorite to win, isn’t going to go with those moves. They’re going to wait — wait for the pack to kind of bring those guys back.

By Travis Williams
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643


Written by Miller School of Albemarle

July 23, 2012 at 11:13 AM

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MSA Endurance Team Competes at Junior Road National Championships

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This past week, members of the MSA Endurance Team as well as the Summer Team competed in the Junior Road National Championships in Augusta, Georgia. Over five days the athletes compete in three separate events: the grueling test of endurance road race; fast and technical criterium; and “race of truth” individual time trial.  The championship events take place each summer and are the largest stage upon which the Team competes all season.

Rising sophomore Ashlyn Woods was the first MSA rider to compete in the Women 15-16 road race. Seasonal hot and humid temperatures were exacerbated by a venue that offered virtually no shade and very little breeze. As her race got underway, Ashlyn was always seen sitting comfortably near the front of the peloton, but after the half way point, the heat began to take its toll. Despite losing contact with the group on the fourth lap, Ashyn showed her tenacity and bridged back up to the group solo and regained contact with just under a lap to go. Despite being gapped off slightly on the run to the finish line, Ashlyn still managed a very respectable 19th place.

In the time trials, MSA students Chris Keeling and Jake King started the day with impressive finishes. Fortunate to have early start times before the temperatures climbed high, Chris and Jake finished 21st and 44th, respectively, in the incredibly talented 120 ride-strong Men 17-18 field.

Next up was Ashlyn Woods, who flew around the course and for a short time was in the “hot seat” with the fastest time in her category! As more and more riders finished, several managed to beat her time, but by mere seconds. When everyone had finished, Ashlyn had finished 6th, just four seconds off the podium!

In the Men 15-16 time trial, Sam James, new Team member Spencer Virtue, and Summer Team rider Parker Brookfield were all flying the teal and green. Spencer was the first off and shot out of the start house like a rocket. Sam and Parker started several minutes later, both looking for a high placing. Spencer placed 71st with a time that was much stronger than the result suggests, while Parker was able to shave over two minutes over his previous year’s time to finish 57th . Sam had a very solid ride to finish 49th, a result which showcased his continued improvement in the discipline.

The criteriums were all fast-paced and full of action. Ashlyn looked comfortable in the group all day and even launched an attack with two laps to go. Despite being brought right back, she still finished safely in the group in 21st place.

The Men 15-16 saw a huge field of motivated riders take the start. Unfortunately, mechanical issues forced Spencer from the race early, but left him all the more motivated for the upcoming road race. Sam surfed comfortably in the field until a late-race crash opened a gap in front of him, but he still finished a respectable 40th. Parker stayed near the front of the peloton all race, and entered the final lap in second wheel. Despite being shuffled back slightly on the back straight, he was still able to launch a great sprint from the last turn and finished an impressive 17th place!

Both Jake and Chris suffered mechanical issues during the Men 17-18 race, and while Chris was able to jump back in and hang on to finish 34th, Jake was forced to abandon due to an ill-fitting neutral bike.

The week ended with the Men 15-16 and 17-18 Road Races. Temperatures remained high and fatigue from the previous days of racing made every mile seem daunting. Parker again rode well, and after covering several attacks, was able to hang in the main group and finish an excellent 38th. Sam held tough despite not feeling great, and only came off the peloton on the last lap to roll in a still respectable 49th. Spencer was caught up in an untimely crash early in the race, but despite the setback, showed his class and perseverance by putting his head down and finishing the race strong in 64th place.

Chris and Jake were feeling great and on track for great finishes, but, as seems to happen far too often in cycling, both were held up and forced off the road by a late crash. Chris still managed a solid 35th, while Jake rolled in just moments later in 63rd.

All in all it was a successful week for the Team and a tremendous learning experience for every rider. Motivation couldn’t be higher as training continues for the remaining races of 2012 and next year’s National Championships!

Written by Miller School of Albemarle

June 28, 2012 at 12:06 PM

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