Fandom Friday — How Class Ranking Works

By — Njeri Jackson

With all the craziness that happens in senior year, throwing in class ranks is just complicated. Class ranks can be really confusing because different schools determine how they rank students with multiple methods. Some schools don’t even do class ranks at all. With that, here is some information on what to know about class rank.

Numerical Ranking

A typical way that schools rank students is by numbers. This means that a student is given a number out of all the amount of students in that grade. The top two students are the valedictorian and salutatorian. The rank is usually based on gpa, but takes into account the level of difficulty of the courses a student is taking as well. Along with this, there is usually a percentile that each school mentions; this includes the top 1% or the top 10%. 

How to determine the percentage a student is in, and what is an excellent class rank

If a student is in the top 10%, this is usually considered an excellent class rank. If a student is wanting to get into a selective school, it is recommended that the student aims to hit the top 10%. This is how to determine what percentage a student is in:

  1. If a student is 68 in a class of 285, what percentage are they in?
    • 68/285= .24 (rounded) 
    • They are in the top 24% 
  2. If a student is 20 in a class of 450, what percentage are they in?
    • 20/450= .04 (rounded)
    • They are in the top 4%
  3. If a student is 167 in a class of 350, what percentage are they in?
    • 167/350= .48 (rounded)
    • They are in the top 48%

Cum Laude

Many schools have eliminated ranking students by number and instead do it best on an honors system called Cum Laude (or an alternative to this system) which means “with honors.” This system is ranking students with a certain honor based on their gpa and classes. Not everyone makes the honors system, and while it depends on the school, a 3.5 gpa is usually the requirement to make the honors system. Graduating with honors is Cum Laude and then there are two main categories in the system: Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude. Magna Cum Laude means “with great honors,” and Summa Cum Laude means “with highest honors.”  Usually those with Cum Laude have a gpa between 3.5-3.7, Magna Cum Laude between 3.8-3.9, and Summa Cum Laude is 4.0+. 

Ways to Raise a GPA, and How to Get a Higher Class Rank

Many students are in a situation where they are attempting to raise their gpa, whether that be to graduate, to get into the college they desire, and whatever other reason. Here are some tips on how to raise a lower gpa:

  1. Take harder classes

Taking more challenging classes like APs, DEs, or honors, can greatly help a gpa. These classes are usually more heavily weighted than regular classes, which rises a gpa higher than if a student took a regular class. APs and DEs usually have a 1.0 or higher gpa boost which means that instead of a 4.0 scale, it is on a 5.0 scale, so if a student gets an A in the class they receive five points instead of four. Honors provide a 0.5 gpa boost. This is how people are able to get a gpa higher than a 4.0. These classes can be helpful even if a student is struggling because even though they might score a B in the class, on a regular scale it would be equivalent to getting a B+ or A-. 

  1. Take on a challenge in senior year

Many seniors take that year easy or at least easier than what they took junior year. This is a great opportunity to raise class rank. If a student takes a challenging course load and does well, their class rank will naturally pass others who have chosen to take an easy senior year.

  1. Take grades from 8th grade

If a student took high school level courses in 8th grade and they want to raise their gpa, they can ask to have their 8th grade classes counted into their gpa. Only do this if the grade was an A though because it might not do anything to the current gpa, or even decrease it. For instance, if a student took Spanish l in 8th grade, it can be counted towards their gpa.

An End Note

Even though there are class ranks, honors, and a heightened importance on gpa, it must be said that gpa is not everything. Having a lower gpa is okay. It is not the end of the world to graduate without honors and it is not bad to not end up being valedictorian. Just because these students have made honors or have a high gpa does not mean they are any better than a person with lower stats. 

Monday Mention — Jackson Tallamy in the All-Virginia Jazz Ensemble

By — Taylor Byrne

The All-Virginia Jazz Ensemble is a group of the finest high school jazz musicians in all of Virginia. Out of 129 members of this prestigious ensemble, Jackson Tallamy was the only student selected from Tuscarora High School, along with a handful of other students from Loudoun County.

Jackson Tallamy plays the baritone saxophone, and has been in band for six years. In total there are ten baritone saxophone players in the ensemble, and Jackson is ranked third. Auditions were held in late march to early april. According to Jackson, there was a virtual video audition which was later judged. 

“We met on zoom twice a week for two weeks for rehearsals, outside of rehearsal we had to make recordings of the songs we were working on for a digital concert.”, explained Jackson. Members of the All-Virginia Jazz Ensemble also got to participate in a master class with Jeff Coffin and the Wooten brothers, which Jackson enjoyed the most. 

When asked how it felt to be the only person from Tuscarora selected for the ensemble, Jackson stated that he never really thought about it, but thinks that “it is pretty cool”. 

This Sparks Joy — Bed Tent

By — Xandrine Foxfire

I’m a very strong advocate for blanket forts.  I find them incredibly endearing, and on top of that, blanket forts provide a comforting privacy amongst chaos. 

They are, however, tedious to make.  I’ve been really busy recently,l and the senioritis has settled so deep in my bones that even opening my laptop makes me want to cry.  I simply do not have the time to build a blanket fort everytime I need a getaway. 

ENTER: Bed Tents! Tents intended to encapsulate one’s bed for privacy. These tents are a total dream. Not only are they practical, but they’re also incredibly pretty, and insulating (so you stay warm and cozy at night!). 

I recently bought my first bed tent off of Amazon, and I absolutely adore it. I found it easy to assemble, and I think it looks pleasant in my bedroom. On top of that, it provides me with what is essentially an isolated pod away from distractions.  This tent makes me feel surprisingly productive, I highly recommend it.  

The bed tent I personally bought was this one by BESTEN. It comes with little hooks and loops to keep the doors of the tent open, and it has a perfect little phone/tablet holder so that you can snuggle in bed and stare at a screen without craning your neck. Being in bed has never felt this convenient to me before!  

Tech Tuesday — Android 12

By — Danny Kistner

Google just released the developer preview, and consequently the first beta to the up and coming Android 12 operating system. The tech giant has called the update one of the biggest UI overalls in years, and this can very obviously be seen with the companies bold approach to its animation, button, control center, and overall design within its Pixel phones. 

I say Pixel, of course, because there’s no way of telling when or how this update will be carried out with other Android phones, a problem made more curious by the company’s focus on this year’s rebrand. Indeed, Google is calling its most important, and new feature, Material You. This brings another level of personalization to the phone, focussing on color schemes that match to wallpapers and a much needed update to many of Android home widgets. 

The update is less a total redesign, of course, it still remains familiar to use, but what has changed is the consistency within the operating system; Google has essentially cleaned up what had been some very messy UI and is trying to include developers as they continue this process. Not only this, but the team at Google has worked to create a far smoother looking system, removing the need for an extremely fast refresh rate or high amounts of RAM. Indeed, there is a completely new quality about animations and scrolling, that add to the bubbly new UI and design Google is going for overall. 

As with every year, quick settings received yet another refresh, Google making the buttons bigger while also adding in the wallet and smart home controls in the upper panel. They’ve added camera and microphone access in the quick settings as well, another effort to improve privacy within Android. Similar protections are being added to location tracking, as well, Google making it more difficult for other companies to have access to your current and personal data. Like with iPhone, the Pixels now have an indication of access in the top right corner of the screen. 

There are, of course, a mass amount of other features being introduced, however this and more are bound to be improved upon before the first public versions become available to use later this year. 

Monday Mention — Senior Keely Tate Breaks School Discus Throw Record

By — Taylor Byrne 

This track season was full of great accomplishments and wins for several members of the Tuscarora Track Team. One athlete in particular accomplished a stellar feat this spring, senior Keeley Tate. 

Keeley Tate has been an athlete on the Tuscarora Track Team since her freshman year, and competes in both discus and shot put. At a meet this spring Keeley broke the Tuscarora discus throw record of 110-4. 

According to Tate, “Breaking the school record was always a goal of mine, I felt really happy and proud.” Keeley has been an exceptional student and athlete these past four years, breaking a school record was the perfect cherry on top. 

As of right now, senior Keeley Tate has no plans to continue track in college. Regardless, her feat will set the bar high for future Tuscarora High School track athletes. 

2021 Cicadas

By — Joey Hudson

Eastern states have seen the emergence of the Brood X cicadas over the past few days. The sounds of their buzzing, which are actually their mating song and are also able to reach 90 to 100 decibels, can be heard throughout the majority of the day and they are easily spotted outside.

The cicadas made their last appearance in 2004. The cicadas emerge from the ground every 17 years due to the change in temperature and also tree sap, a source of food for cicada nymphs to help them develop and grow. The cicada’s appearance is commonly a black body with piercing red eyes, however their appearance changes to albino once they shed out of their exoskeleton. They also have very large wings which are also quite durable against water and are 1 to 2 inches in length. 

While many are freaked out by these insects suddenly emerging, many bug-enthusiasts are also excited to study them and be a part of a situation that only presents itself every 17 years in a limited part of the world. Farmers, however, are concerned about the destruction that cicadas could bring to their crops. Despite the preconception that the cicadas are also going to terrorize crops, the cicadas actually won’t do any harm to them. Associate professor Paula Shrewsbury, who’s also in the entomology department, said that there is very little evidence that the Brood X cicadas do any damage at all, so they are basically harmless.

While many people are using this chance to study the cicadas, others are also using this opportunity to experiment with them in the kitchen. Many people have gone to social media and have posted videos of them collecting the Brood X cicadas and making some sort of meal out of them, some of the recipes being popcorn cicadas and tacos. If you’re curious to try some cicada tacos, you can find them right here in downtown Leesburg at Cocina on Market. 

According to many people making these cicadas a part of their meals, the cicadas contain a good amount of protein and can be easily replaced with other proteins in recipes. While the idea of eating bugs may seem obscure to many people in North America, bugs are actually a delicacy in other places and cultures around the world such as China and Zimbabwe.

The cicadas aren’t here to stay outside forever. In fact, the wait for them to go back underground isn’t a long one. The cicadas also only live for four to six weeks max, meaning that we will start to see a decrease in them in late June to early July. Once that time limit comes and the cicadas go back to their home in the ground, people living on the East coast won’t see them again until 2038.