Let’s Reduce our Litter with Literati

By: Ansuman Rath

The constant growth of Litter in the United States is gradually getting worse. Over 51 billion pieces of litter land on U.S. roads each year. The threat of waste is detrimental to the environment, health, and safety.

Literati is an app that offers challenges to pick up certain amounts of trash in specific areas to help clean them. The total trash count for the app as of now is 4.8 million pieces. This app also offers global and local challenges and sets a goal amount of trash. It also explains how each project will help the environment.

#Loudoun Litterbugs is a group composed of students at the Academies of Loudoun. The goal of this group is to raise awareness for the emerging  issue  of litter and to pick up 10,000 pieces of trash by the end of the school year. So far, through the first 2 months, this group has collectively picked up 651 pieces of trash. Encouraging others in Loudoun County to pick up and document trash that they see is also a priority of Loudoun Litterbugs.

Academies of Loudoun Pond: A Modern Masterpiece of Stormwater Management

By Chief Investigative Journalist Jack Dunleavy

The pond at the Academies of Loudoun, built approximately two years ago, serves as a key element in stormwater management on campus. Ponds like these serve to provide a middle point between storm runoff and major watersheds and ecosystems. These ponds collect sediment and other pollutants and allow them to settle before being put back into the water supply and are a reservoir of water to prevent flooding during times of intense rainfall. The pond at the Academies of Loudoun can be described only as the Mona Lisa of stormwater management ponds. With beautifully integrated sewage pipes pictured above, and a stunningly put together dam pictured below, one could only stand in awe at the amazing work done by the engineers who worked on the ACL campus. The pond today still stands as a representation of the Academies of Loudoun as a whole. The pond life, rich with diversity, is almost a physical metaphor of the students on the campus. While as individuals we all have a purpose, together we create a wonderful synergistic system.

Escape the Vape

Since 2014 there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of youth and teens utilizing vapes and electronic cigarettes. This increase is primarily attributed due the variety of flavorings available, its portability and discretion in use, as well as its over accessibility and ease of use. So, what can be done to stop this trend? When a poll was conducted amongst teens in Loudoun County by MATA students Rohitha Akkaraju, Sabrina Sokol, Rhea Sarang, and Afrah Nirar, it was found that 69% of students were unaware of resources to seek help to stop vaping. This overwhelming statistic promoted them to write to the US Surgeon General in addition to state and local legislature about the need to promote these types of resources.

On January 24, 2020 Dr. David Goodfriend, the director of the Loudoun County Health Department and Shannon Raines, the coordinator of Northern Virginia’s Tobacco Control joined these students to present to the Academies of Loudoun the dangers of vaping.

According to the FDA vapes are classified as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). The primary function of a vape is to deliver nicotine. Flavoring and additives are added to the solution to mask the nicotine (nicotine’s primary function in the tobacco plant is to act as a natural insecticide and has an off taste.

So, what is the danger with vaping?

Vaping isn’t just water vapor. The method of delivery for vape is more equivalent to that of an aerosol product than that of a cloud. This increases the amount of risk for lung infection and disease.

Nicotine is an addictive substance the impacts impulse control. Because the brain isn’t fully developed until roughly age 26, exposure to nicotine at younger ages has a huge impact on brain development.

1 JUUL pod is equivalent to 20 cigarettes. While JUUL was originally marketed as a device to stop smoking, ease of access may actual be increasing the amount smoked.

5700 new youth and teens start vaping every day. This is over 5 million teens nationwide – significantly more than teens who would have been smoking.

Ready to Quit?

One of the leading programs is This is Quitting, which can be reached by texting DITCHJUUL to 88709. This program works to provide text messages and set up a support network to help you ditch your vaping habit.

Local resources include the Loudoun County Health Department – Dr. Goodfriend can be reached 703 771-5829 or health@loudoun.gov


Hey Kiddo – a tale of Addiction and Awareness

Hey Kiddo – a tale of addiction and awareness

This year’s 1B1C choice by Loudoun County Public Library was unique in many ways. Hey Kiddo: How I Lost my Mother, Found my Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction by Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a graphic memoir, two mediums that usually don’t coincide, depicting the difficulties Jarrett experienced growing up with his less than traditional family dynamics. Despite his trials, Jarrett triumphs – you may recognize his name from the Jedi Academies, the Lunch Ladies series, and a multitude of picture books of which he is the author/illustrator. With 21 new VERSO standards for our MATA health and medical science students addressing the opioid crisis and science of addiction, books like Hey Kiddo are timely and necessary.

The Academies of Loudoun, among many of the local high schools, was a recipient of 100 copies of the book to distribute among students and staff. As limited copies were available this year (the cost of the book was more than years past due to its full color), all were encouraged to pay it forward when they were done reading. Due to its popularity, we set 25 copies aside as a class set; Lt. Henry’s EMT class was the first to read it together and come up with promotional materials. Below are a few of her students’ creations:

Click here to listen to a podcast created by student Nadina Erkin.

Healthy Hydration Event

The Academies PTSA is one of only a handful of schools nationwide to be awarded a $1000 grant to bring awareness to students and the community about Healthy Lifestyles, and in particular Healthy Hydration.  We will be celebrating this event with an awareness campaign about choosing water for hydration over other sugary drinks.  There will be activity centers and free giveaways!  Please join us at the Academies on November 21st and 22nd during lunchtime in the Dining Commons!

Dr. Rivets returns!

RoboLoCo competed in their first off-season event for this season the IROC – Ilite Robotics Off-Season Challenge. The team hosted two new drive teams – and their performances were outstanding. Despite some battery challenges and a brownout, the team advanced to the Quarterfinals and had lots of fun!

2019 SkillsUSA Graphic Arts Competition


In today’s rapidly changing graphic arts industry, it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends and keep up-to-date with the newest creative software. Adobe’s Creative Suite is a top of the line package that mixes all the programs needed of today’s graphic designed. Students in the Graphic Design program at the Academies competed today in a two and half hour challenge as part of the 2019 SkillsUSA Graphic Arts Competition to test their use and knowledge of Adobe Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat.


Students had to create a full color one-page print advertisement for the “Print Grows Trees” campaign, which is a strategic effort to raise awareness that printing on paper actually helps to grow trees and keeps our forests from being sold for development. It’s counter-intuitive, but by connecting the dots between print and private landowners, who own almost 60 percent of our nation’s woodlands, we’ll come to understand that the existing forestland with all its biodiversity could be better sustained if growing trees was a more profitable endeavor. This will only happen if there is more demand for paper. “Print Grows Trees” challenges the widely held belief that by using less paper, trees will be saved.

Students are to conceive, design, and execute a one page (8.5” x 11”) full-color print ad for the campaign. Students are allowed to choose from the supporting artwork provided to incorporate in their ad or else they can come up with some original art or background to use. They will also be provided some text copy that can be used as body copy for their ad. Finally, they must come up with an original slogan, used in the ad.


Below are the four top designs, created by Julia Spewak, Paravi Das, Sarah Sheikhnureldin, and Ashley Ayeri.  These competitors have earned a place in the state competition this spring in Virginia Beach.