’22 Elementary Grads Writing Contest


Editor-in-Chief Devon Rudolph completed her Gold Award for Girl Scouts by hosting a writing contest for sixth grade students and White Oaks Elementary School. Rudolph taught the students journalism curriculum lessons about identifying misinformation, interviewing, writing opening hooks, editing stories and creating a page design. 

Through this process, the students created their own articles by interviewing classmates and doing research on a topic of their choosing. At the end of this program, the students submitted a final story and page design to be entered into the competition. 

This year, there were four winners who had especially excellent stories. Congratulations Michael Salamone, Chenyue Wang, Lucas Sears, and Grace Burke for writing outstanding articles and wonderful page designs!


Badminton – Michael Salamone

Roughly 229 million people play badminton worldwide, according to a 2018 study by BadmintonBites, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the sport. Badminton is a racket sport played by hitting a birdie over a net until one team fails to hit it back. Badminton has been around for over 200 years and is still enjoyed by many people today. Its main audiences are in Britain, Denmark, Sweden, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Korea, though it can be found in many other countries as well.

Named after the estate from which it was introduced to the country of Britain in 1873, badminton was originally called Poona and was played by British army officers in India. Badminton also has roots in Greece and China. The game hasn’t stayed the same the entire time though, as changes to the equipment and rules have occurred. For example, the birdie (also known as the shuttlecock) used to be made out of cork with 16 feathers attached to it, whereas mo


dern birdies are synthetic. Another change was to the racket, originally a wood frame with natural gut strings (cow intestines) would be the racket of choice, while rackets today have carbon fiber or metal frames with synthetic strings.

Professional Players
Just like sports such as soccer, football, and basketball, badminton has many players who are the best of their craft. Lin Dan is known worldwide for his incredible skill. With a devilish number of game wins at 666, he has two Olympic gold medals, five World Championship wins, and six All-England Championship wins. Compared to 243 game wins for Tom Brady and 82 for Tiger Woods, Lin Dan is on par with, or better than many well known athletes. The average salary for a pro badminton player ranges from $29,500 to $61,00, with the highest being $122,000.

Casual Play
Is Badminton right for you? A question many ask when they see people playing in the park, at the beach, or other outdoor locations. With the ability to get an entire set for just under $30, badminton is very affordable. It is easy to set up, easy to play, and one of the lowest injury rates in sports. Badminton is a great and safe game for all ages. “Badminton is a very good sport and you need minimal equipment,” said Victoria Lee, badminton player. “[The] rules are simple and easy to learn.”


Softball – Chenyue Wang

Did you know that softball is the fourth most popular sport among girls? It’s even more popular than basketball and soccer. Softball is a team sport played with a ball and bat, and for the most part, its rules are fairly similar to baseball. The ball is pitched underhand, as opposed to overhand in baseball. The sport is very active, which provides the players with good fitness. Softball athlete Grace Burke says, “Softball is an amazing opportunity to make friends, be active, and have fun all at the same time. ” 

Softball is known by various nicknames, such as kitten ball, mush ball, playground ball, and many others. The sport was first played in 1887, in Chicago, when George Hancock, a reporter for the Chicago Board of Trade invented “indoor baseball.” George Hancock’s intended to provide baseball players with a way to practice during the winters. By the spring of 1888, the games had spread outdoors. However, it wasn’t until 33 years later, in 1920, that softball acquired its name. Following that, in 1933, the ASA or Amateur Softball Association of America was organized, and it became a governing agency for the promotion and control of national competitions. Before the ASA was formed Softball was only popular among men, but now that it was formed it has become popular with female athletes as well.

Softball is a bat and ball team sport played between two teams consisting of nine or more players, with one team on the field at a time. It’s the descendant of baseball so the fundamentals are quite similar, although there are several key differences. The ball is larger in softball, the bat is smaller than those in baseball, the ball is pitched underhand rather than overhand, softball fields are smaller than baseball fields, the balls are different colors, and baseball has nine innings while softball has seven innings. Softballs themselves, are a sphere of light material covered in leather or synthetic material. 

“Even though baseball is so similar to baseball I don’t think I would play baseball,” said Grace. “ I’m honestly not sure why.”

The games are observed by one or more umpires (also known as referees), although usually there is only one. Both the umpires and player are allowed to call a time-out at any time as long as it is when the ball is not in play or directly following a play once its outcome is clear.  

There are three types of softball; fast-pitch, slow-pitch, and modified-pitch (a combination of fast and slow pitch). In fast-pitch, the pitcher throws the ball as fast as they can, so the arc is barely visible. While in the slow-pitch, the ball is released at a moderate speed with a prominent arc. In modified pitch, there is no rule for the ball’s visible arc. Out of the three types of pitches, slow-pitch is the most popular type for all genders. 

Softball is played for usually six or seven innings. Each team plays offense and defense once per inning. The game usually begins with a coin toss to determine which team plays offense first. When one team is on offense, all the players take turns batting, while the opposing team on defense pitches the ball and tries to prevent the batters from getting to the bases. In addition, there are eight positions to be played: pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman, left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder. 

“Try your best to make sure the least amount of runners get past you and make sure that in the end, you have more runs than your opponent,” said Grace Burke “I’d also watch youtube, to help me improve my skills.” 

Physical activity is very important to a person’s health, especially for children. Yet around 70 percent of children stop being interested in sports by the age of 13, according to a poll conducted by the National Alliance for Youth Sports. “Softball is an awesome sport to play,” said Grace. “It gets you a great workout, strengthens your confidence, and you can make lifelong friends. But most importantly, you have a lot of fun! I suggest you try it.”


Lucas Sears – Masks

On March 8th, 2020, Anthony Fauci, head of the CDC, said, “There’s no reason to walk around wearing a mask.” However, on January 12th, 2022, he said,  “You should wear the highest quality mask that’s available to you.” So what’s the deal with masks, and what’s the truth about the actions necessary to stop the Coronavirus? 


Yes students should wear masks

Chenyue Wang, sixth grader at White Oaks Elementary School, said, “I wear masks because I am trying to protect my family members with weak immune systems in my household. My parents force me to wear two masks, and if I had my own choice, I would still wear a mask, but only one.”

“I don’t really wear a mask because of Coronavirus reasons, I just wear them to protect from my allergies,” said Will Pham, 11 year old from Burke, VA. “My parents force me to wear it, but even if I had the choice, I would still keep it on.”

No students shouldn’t wear masks:

“Cloth masks have been proven ineffective against the omicron variant,” said Eliab Teshome, sixth grader who doesn’t believe a mask mandate at school is necessary. “They can’t filter it out of the air, and nearly all the people who wear masks are wearing cloth ones, like some of my classmates, so they really aren’t doing anything for their health. In a research study by Dr. Janice Smith, Bell County Health Official from KWTX, he described that cloth masks are “ineffective at filtering out the omicron variant from the air. They aren’t dense enough to purify the air.”


Vaccines can affect somebody’s choice of whether or not to wear a mask. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks or physically distance indoors, with few exceptions, according to the updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

Additionally, according to the Cleveland Clinic, “It’s important to note that fully vaccinated people should continue to wear face masks and maintain physical distance while in public spaces.” 

“I think vaccines are very important and they protect you enough that it’s worth it. If you’re unvaccinated and you don’t wear a mask, you are a piece of garbage,” says Byron, clearly making a statement of his own.

“I think having a vaccine has no effect on whether or not you should wear a mask.” Will states. Amazingly enough, I’ve never heard this argument before. 

“Vaccines affect whether or not you should wear a mask by giving you extra protection, but not drastically. They shouldn’t change your whole idea of wearing masks.” Eliab claims that he is somewhere in the middle of this argument about vaccines and masks, but more towards the maskless side.

People have their own ideas about wearing masks, whether it’s to protect themselves, or someone else, or if they think it’s needless to begin with. Another 6th grader from Northern Virginia, Byron Purdy, said, “It’s unnecessary to wear it because I live in a low risk area and nobody near me has it. Also, I am fully vaccinated. I think vaccines are very important and they protect you enough that it’s work it.”


Volleyball – Grace Burke

Throughout the world, a total of around 800 million people play volleyball, according to the Northern Carolina Volleyball Association. That adds up to more than 10% of the earth’s population. Volleyball player, Chenyue Wang, says, “Volleyball is a fun yet challenging sport to play. You have great social interactions and get plenty of exercise.”

Volleyball was invented by William G. Morgan in 1895, in Massachusetts, and became an official Olympic sport in 1964. Morgan originally called the sport “mintonette” but the name was later changed to “volleyball” because, when playing the game, the players hit the ball back and forth to each other without letting the ball touch the ground. In 1928, the United States Volleyball Association (USVBA) was formed, now known as USA Volleyball (USAV). Initially, USAV only had men’s and senior men’s volleyball championships, but it opened its women’s group in 1949, and its senior women’s group in 1977. Over time, the sport spread and became popular across the world, especially in Brazil.

A standard game of volleyball is played with a net, a volleyball, and 12 people. The net should be 27 feet long and at least two feet tall. There should also be six feet, six inches between the top of the net and the ground. The volleyball should have a circumference of 25-27 inches, and be covered in either canvas or leather. Six players stand on each side of the net, divided into two teams. The object of the game is to score 15 points before the other team. 

“Your team needs to have good communication and teamwork,” Wang suggests, “Otherwise, people will bump into each other and injure themselves.”

To score a point one team must serve the ball over the net and make it touch the ground on the other  side within the boundaries. This can go on for a while without the ball dropping, depending on the players’ skill. When the ball is hit over the net, the team  can hit the ball no more than three times before it has to go back over the net, bumping it to different positions on their side. If they bump the ball more than three times, it is an automatic point to the other team. The volleyball can be served over the net overhand or underhand, which can depend on personal preference or a plan that a team has. The players rotate positions when a server fails to make it over the net, or serves the ball out of bounds.

Volleyball improves important skills such as agility, speed, reaction time and good communication. It also strengthens leg muscles, both when players run to reach the volleyball, and when they bump it. Playing competitively or just for fun are both ways to workout and enjoy a social activity. “Remember, it’s always good to try something new,” Wang encourages future players, “So whether you like to play sports or not, you should definitely try volleyball. There are many great benefits to it.