High School

Four Downs with Mount Saint Joseph 4-star wide receiver Dont’e Thornton Jr.

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Chad Ricardo/NBC Sports Washington

Four Downs with Mount Saint Joseph 4-star wide receiver Dont’e Thornton Jr.

Wide receiver Dont’e Thornton Jr. of Mount Saint Joseph is the consensus top-rated offensive skill player in the state of Maryland. At 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, the 4-star student athlete is a top target for many of the country’s elite college programs. 

We went "4 downs" with Thornton, where nothing was out of bounds.

1st Down

Back in the day when I played, many, many moons ago, we didn’t have wireless headphones, we listened to music on CD players, so it was challenging to carry that on the field. I’m always interested in what student athletes are listening to pre-game. 

Who are your top five musical artists of all time?

DT: That’s tough, because the thing about me is I didn’t really listen to any of the old school rappers.

Sooooooo, Jay, BIG and Pac are considered “old school” now? Has the Hip-Hop game completely passed me by? Ok, they can all be present day.

DT: OK, so I’m going with Future, Young Thug, NBA YoungBoy, Lil Baby and Rod Wave. YoungBoy is number one.

2nd Down

First of all, I’ve never even heard of a “Rod Wave” and I couldn’t name one NBA YoungBoy song if my life depended on it. I am officially old. Let’s take this to the gridiron before someone revokes my Hip-Hop card entirely.

You are one of the most highly recruited student athletes in the nation. At last check you had earned upwards of 30 offers, including Maryland, Penn State and Ohio State. When it comes down to decision-making time, what key factors must a school offer in order for Dont’e Thornton Jr. to call it home?

DT: Number one is education, of course. Next is I need the program to have a great family atmosphere -- I want to know that if I go to this school and anything happens to me that I’ll have a coach or teammate there for me at any moment. 

The next most important piece are the relationships between coach and player. When I take visits to a game or practice, I want to see how the coaches interact with the players and vice versa. 

Lastly, I want to be in a great offense that's going to throw the ball… I also want a great running game, so it’ll be easy for me… and a quarterback, I need a great quarterback.

3rd Down

Passing attack, strong run game and a big time QB -- that’s a heck of a grocery list. I’m certain the teams in your top 12 are working on gathering all those ingredients as we speak. 

Let’s touch on what’s led you to being so highly coveted. You have the speed to take the top off of defenses and your size makes you a consistent red zone threat. Who would you say you’ve modeled your game after?

DT: No doubt it’s Julio Jones. We’re both big receivers with speed. Before him, I’d say it was Megatron [Calvin Johnson]. In watching him, I learned to always be aggressive with jump balls. Megatron taught me how important it is for a wide receiver to high-point the ball.

4th Down

A Megatron reference! You’re a real student of the game bro, I respect that.

I can’t let you out of here without asking this. You’re one of the top wideouts in all of high school football and I have to imagine that a portion of what has allowed you to get to this point is your competitive nature. 

That said, how did you feel about teams choosing not to play St. Frances, and them subsequently being pushed out of the MIAA? 

DT: The last time we played them was my freshman year. When I saw that they were kicked out, I wasn’t actually mad, but at the same time I wanted to play against them because I knew it would be some good comp. I’ve never backed down from any challenge my whole life.

I really wanted to play them, and I still want to play them to this day.

If it ever happens, I will be there. Thank you for your time Dont’e. 'Preciate ya bro!

Robert E. Lee High School to change name after Fairfax County School board vote passes

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USA Today Sports Images

Robert E. Lee High School to change name after Fairfax County School board vote passes

Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, Virginia, will change its name after the Fairfax County School Board voted on the issue on Tuesday night.

Fairfax County Superintendent Scott Braband has proposed six new names for the school board to vote upon. They are John Lewis, Barack Obama, Mildred Loving, Cesar Chavez, Legacy and Central Springfield.

The new name will go into effect to start the 2020-21 school year. A one-month comment period, that includes community input on a new name not included in Braband's recommendations, immediately begins.

“We are grateful for the feedback provided by the community during this process," School Board vice-chair and Lee District representative Tamara Derenak Kaufax said.  "We have carefully considered their input, and will be moving forward with the name change at Lee High School.  As I stated in February when this process began, Confederate values are ones that do not align with our community. I have seen the pain and hurt that these names have inflicted on friends, colleagues, and community members. Our schools need to be places where all students, staff, and members of the community feel safe and supported.”

There will be a community meeting on July 15 to discuss the names, followed by a public hearing on July 22. From there, the board will vote on a new name of the high school on July 23.

Robert E. Lee High School is not the first Fairfax County school to make a change. Earlier this month, Fairfax High School changed its mascot from the Rebels to the Lions. Formerly J.E.B. Stuart High School, named after a Confederate general, adopted Justice High School ahead of the 2018-19 school year.

Neighboring Arlington County high school Washington-Lee changed its name to Washington-Liberty to rid itself of references to top Confederate general Robert E. Lee in January of 2019.

The recent decisions by schools to dissociate themselves with past names come at a time of great civil unrest throughout the country following the murder of George Floyd. Major sports such as NASCAR have made changes such as banning the Confederate Flag, while other leagues have shown support for protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Fairfax High School changes mascot from Rebels to Lions

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Image captured via Twitter @TroyKetch

Fairfax High School changes mascot from Rebels to Lions

On Thursday, Fairfax High School principal Erin Lenart announced that the school will no longer identify as the Rebels, instead adopting the Lions as its official mascot ahead of the 2020-21 academic year.

Citing the former mascot’s ties to the Confederacy, Lenart told members of the Fairfax community that the decision was one that had been made last September. Its athletic programs purchased and distributed uniforms that avoided the word “rebel” this past year in preparation for the transition.

“At Fairfax, we pride ourselves on inclusivity, family, belongingness, respect, and integrity, and given the history of Rebel, it is time for a change: Moving forward, Fairfax High School will no longer be the Rebel Pride; we will be known as the Fairfax Lions,” Lenart said in an email bulletin distributed by Fairfax County Public Schools.

As principal, Lenart was authorized to make the decision unilaterally, though the FCPS school board voiced its support for the change. The street adjacent to school, Rebel Run, will subsequently be renamed Lion Run at a school board meeting Thursday.

The announcement comes amid nationwide protests for racial equity following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, who died May 25 after a police officer kept his knee on his neck for eight minutes and 48 seconds. Nationally, sports leagues have made changes such as NASCAR’s ban of the Confederate flag and the NFL admitting it was wrong to fight the players on kneeling during the national anthem.

Fellow Fairfax County high school J.E.B. Stuart, named after a Confederate general, adopted Justice High School ahead of the 2018-19 school year.  In January 2019, Arlington County high school Washington-Lee changed its name to Washington-Liberty to rid itself of references to top Confederate general Robert E. Lee. A meeting to discuss the name changes for Stonewall Jackson High School and Stonewall Middle School will reportedly be held Monday.