On Boyhood Adventures and The Freedom of Flight

May 23, 2018
May 23, 2018

On Boyhood Adventures and The Freedom of Flight

8th graders reflect on happiness, adventure and taking flight

In the final 8th grade speeches, two more of our future graduates shared personal reflections on boyhood adventures and passions that will drive the future.

The Drone
By Reese Horne ’18

My fingers fumbled with the small metal switch, the four bladed machine in front of me spinning up as I watched it warily. The multicolored blades whined ever louder, increasing their rotations until the only recognizable trait was the dark nose cone. The carbon fiber airship rose up into the air, it’s small engines ready for the challenge ahead of it- racing six laps around the flags stationed at intervals on the airfield. The onlookers at the Culpeper Air Fest clapped as the whistle blew, and I took off. Hello, my name is Reese Horne, and I am an aspiring drone pilot.

You may know me as the CRAZY person behind the antics of the drone. My past with them is much more interesting. My obsession started early in 5th grade, with my first hobby of all things technical. This can be rooted even further back to me getting my first Lego set in 1st grade. But, that is a story for another time. One day, during my 5th grade summer, I spent time with my uncle, a professional photographer. Right then, I saw my first drone. From that moment on, I delved into the life that enraptures me still.

Engineering Club has opened me, and everyone else in it, to the wider, more wonderful opportunities in life, especially the future.

My first remote control aircraft was a small helicopter, with two rotors, that was no larger than the size of my hand today. This simple machine never really flew that well, and its fly-aways and mindless losses of control were always such a nuisance, especially when it got stuck in the top of one of the massive oak trees stationed in my front yard. The only saving grace was the strong winds that blew it into, and out of that tree. After this, I lost interest and returned to tinkering with random electrical components, and small machines. My spirits were once again lifted when I saw an ad that Christmas for a helicopter twice as large, one with a camera attached. This became my baby until mid 7th grade. I took it to most of my events that I attended, imagining myself the photographer at some family gatherings, taking memorable photos. Other than my dream of being that person, I loved entertaining some of the smaller children in my family with the mystical flying machine. I took photos of them and showed them cool tricks that I could do, like flips and my favorite, the Inverted Upwards Tornado. Then, I joined Engineering club. Now, don’t ask me about its impact, because you will need to see my friend Ronan’s speech for that. But, I will say this. It has opened me, and everyone else in it, to the wider, more wonderful opportunities in life, especially the future.

In Engineering club in 7th grade, the main goal of the year was to complete a build-it-yourself racing drone provided by the leader of the club, Mrs. Sherman’s husband, who is a professional pilot himself. The challenge was there for me, and even though the drone came with a manual to get you started, it took a lot of doing by the whole club to complete it. When it was done everyone was incredibly happy, and I started to train potential pilots on it. This is when the accident happened. Now, don’t get scared of drones, but I cannot talk about them without talking about the risks. A mechanical malfunction could be the difference between having a finger and not having one, all of a sudden. This was the case late one Friday, when a friend and I were adjusting the rotors. I stopped the drone, and turned off the controller, to tighten one of the rotors, when it turned on all of a sudden, gashing my finger. From then on I am incredibly cautious with a drone. But, back to the point.

The racing drone had sustained me up until a few weeks ago, when the club received a DJI Phantom 3, one of the most advanced drones on the public market. It’s countless safety systems make sure that it never has an accident like mine, and it’s HD camera is wonderful at capturing the campus of Grymes from 200 feet in the air. Its many uses can never be stressed enough, as it has opened a door that can now never be closed, especially for me. It heralds an incredible amount of possibilities, and being a drone pilot can very well be the profession of the future. Although currently just a hobby, this knowledge has already done wonders for me. It has advanced situational awareness, and overall my connection with the world to name just a few. I love flying the drone for Mrs. Scibal, Mrs. Sherman, and any other person with a need.

Sometimes I just like getting away from everything, looking down on everyone like ants on an anthill.

I also do not only fly the drone for these reasons. Sometimes I just like getting away from everything, being high up in the sky, looking down on everyone moving around like ants on an anthill. Flying a drone allows me to imagine the world from a higher vantage point. Looking down, I see how everything keeps moving while I hold still, staying in place as the world moves forward below me, leaving me in the dust. I stay up there for what feels like hours, savoring the new perspective offered to me every single time. Up there is peaceful, where there is no care in the world, except for not crashing into the rogue power line that occasionally crosses my path. But, eventually, the battery loses charge. And I have to land back on the ground, where I rejoin the world. And that is why I like to do what I do. Not only for my own gain, but for others’ gain as well. That previously once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has been offered up to me, and I would like to offer it to everyone else that I can. And every time I do, I feel like I have traveled a little  further into the future.


The Rapidan Boys
Corter Laughlin ’18

Once upon a time, there was a boy.  He lived near another boy, who was only a year younger, but they didn’t know each other yet. That is, until THE GREAT SNOW OF 2016! The older boy asked the younger boy if he wanted to go sledding. Of course, he said yes. The two boys ended up spending 96 hours sledding and hanging out. That began the boys’ long journey of wreaking havoc and having fun along the Rapidan river.

One weekend that next spring, the younger boy called the older, and said that instead of a normal fishing day, a new boy was coming along. The older boy thought that the new one would want to go fishing as well but he was wrong. He did not want to go fishing. He didn’t even want to go swimming. The older boy, fueled by the teachings of Mr. Mclaren, changed the plan to biking. They agreed to bike to Orange and soon after began their long journey. That’s when “the new kid” became known as Brendan and you should have already figured out that the other boy who brought Brendan to the river is Thomas. After navigating the treacherous dirt road to Burger King where we feasted on Whoppers, the boys became close friends. And then there were 3. They ventured into woods, into fields, and down dirt roads.  The group remained the same until Thomas couldn’t come on the second bike ride so, a boy named Seth went with Brendan and the older boy. And then there were 4.

The next time that a rumor of a bike ride arose, Thomas was determined to come along. On the long and perilous journey the boys thought of the idea to call themselves The Rapidan Boys. (Hugh don’t think that I forgot you.)  In fact, there are quite a few honorable members of the Rapidan Boys all in all there are eight of us.

In the summer, we swim in the river, and in the winter, we game it out all night. I am the older boy if you haven’t already guessed.  Good morning, I am Corter Laughlin and a proud member of the Rapidan Boys. The four original members all ride the bus together. At some point, we started having a lot of sleepovers during the summer that normally included swimming in the river. We also participated in the Great Weight Quest, where we swim to the bottom of the Rapidan and look for fishing weights. I personally have found 43 weights and one Civil War bullet.  As you can see, The Rapidan River is a huge factor in “the Rapidan Boys”.

Thomas, Seth and I all do most of the same sports together. Sometimes Brendan did them too. He said that the car rides were what he loved the most. The Rapidan boy car rides to and from games are fun whether we are starving to death because some parents wont let us stop to eat or throwing up because another parent fed us a feast.

Although we love our food and our car rides, there is one thing we love most of all. Now, you may think we are a little kiddish because we have birthday parties but they are fun. Brendan’s birthday is something that everyone looks forward to, because we always do something crazy and exciting. At Seth’s birthday we played a game where we ran into each other with giant human hamster balls, and at Thomas’s, we played paintball all day.

We don’t just have fun at birthdays either,  we have fun whenever we hang out and sometimes it is in the hay. I’m sure that some of you have heard Thomas, Seth, Hugh and I call each other “Scabbi”. Well, that is all part of the game of the year. It’s called Scabies tag. I know that most of you won’t ever get to play it, but for those who do, you know that there is only one way to win– hide in the hay. Every time we play Seth gets an allergic reaction and we all hurt ourselves. But after our two day recovery period, we are ready to play again if Seth’s dad will allow us to come over. We only play about two or three times a year because of the dad factor. I personally will not play in the summer because of the spiders, and it is way  too hot.

Soon, even though I am not leaving Rapidan, I will be going to high school. It’s important to me that we came together to make a little group, and decide that our main goal was to have fun adventures. I have realized that when you get older you have to look back on something. Even when I am gone, I hope that the three remaining boys will keep hanging out and having parties. And when Thomas and Seth and Brendan look back on the fun times we had, they will be happy. So keeping the boys together will be beneficial to their future happiness. Things aren’t always perfect  and sometimes I think that my friends don’t always like me and I don’t like them but it all comes down to the sleepover, the sleepovers reunite us. It’s like we are all birds and we have a string on our ankles. Sometimes we can snap the string, but we are always caught by the person who tied it in the first place and reunited with the place that we call home, and by home I mean friends.

When I am old, I am going to think about this time in my life and I will remember how it felt to just be a boy.

I understand that there is no other place like Rapidan, or do I mean no other time like this time we have had on the Rapidan River and in the Rapidan woods.  But I hope that other kids can find the kind of happiness that I find when I am with them. When I am old, I am going to think about this time in my life and I will remember how it felt to just be a boy, a boy who has no worries about all the issues that adulthood holds. I will remember that I didn’t have to worry about what time it was and that sleeping was frowned upon at “sleepovers”. I will remember the freedom we felt,  true freedom.

The comfort you find in seeing your friends is crazy;  just think about one of your good friends and think of how comfortable you are around  them. If you don’t feel that way well then I think you need some new friends.  This gang of 3,4, and sometimes even 8 have become my anchor, all ships need one.   This ship intends to sail but the anchor will tug and remind me to return home to my friends.

Perhaps I have learned that it isn’t where I am as much as who I am with that makes me feel that I have a home.