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FHS girls basketball player headed to Russia

Friday, Jan. 25 | By Fred Hodge
--Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
While many local high school students began January preparing for examinations and the start of second-term classes, Fauquier High girls basketball player Samie Cooper was practicing up on Russian phrases.

Among the rare crop of talented seniors who chose mid-year graduation, Cooper is leaving school and headed to Europe to participate in an International Language Program through Brigham Young University.

Cooper has been an integral part of the FHS girls basketball program for the past four seasons. But by the time the Falcons complete this campaign, Cooper will find herself residing in the cold climes of Russia.

Cooper, 18, is destined for the Russian city of Voronezh, located several hours southwest of Moscow. It was a key city during World War II that suffered intense combat from 1941-43 and was rebuilt.

"The purpose is to teach children to speak English," Cooper said, unsure on the exact age group to which she will be assigned. She is slated to leave Jan. 30.

"I will be living with a host family. We'll get up in the morning, meet with the others [in the program] and go to school," Cooper said.

"Of course, I'll have to learn Russian to survive," she said with a laugh.

"The idea for me is to experience what a Russian family will do during their [day-to-day] lives," Cooper said, adding she expects to participate in her host family's entertainment schedule and eat in local restaurants.

Cooper, also a two-time all-Evergreen District volleyball player, was a second-team choice in basketball last winter. She is the primary ball handler and leading scorer for Fauquier. She has enjoyed her athletic and other times at Fauquier, but the personable blonde feels more awaits in her life.

"Toward the end of the last basketball season, the idea was to graduate early and head to Utah," Cooper said, noting the presence of family in the state.

"My mom found out about this program," she said, finding the program's goals and ability to experience a foreign culture attractive.

"I really wanted to travel. I committed two months ago."

Cooper said she desired to travel and meet new people made her decision easy.

"I had no problem leaving Fauquier High School. I could be somewhere where I didn't know anyone and I would be fine," the effervescent personality stated.

"I feel like there is so much more out there than just Fauquier County.

"I will fit in just fine," Cooper said, noting she and the other volunteers will tour the northern portion of Russia as a group. "I'm expecting to get a feel for other places instead of just America."

She is not cutting ties permanently with Fauquier High School. She will return home June 5, in time to attend the school's graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2013.

As far as her collegiate future, Cooper cites Utah State as her preference, where she believes she will enter the nursing field.
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