#TeamPhoebe

by Audrey Safir

Co-Editor-In-Chief

During homecoming week, Lassiter students and faculty have rallied to support and fundraise for the Galloway family and Team Phoebe. In May of 2017, Phoebe Galloway was diagnosed with WAGR syndrome, a rare genetic condition affecting less than 450 worldwide. When Phoebe was born, she barely opened her eyes. They were also very dark, unusual for having parents with light eyes. Different doctors all brushed it off, saying it was normal and her eyes would change color over time. Then Phoebe started having nystagmus, which is involuntary, rapid eye movements. This made doctors think that she might have a brain tumor, so she was rushed to an eye doctor. The eye doctor discovered that Phoebe has aniridia, meaning there is no iris in her eye, only a pupil. Aniridia is closely associated with WAGR, so a genetic test was ordered. It was found that Phoebe had a mutation on chromosome 11, a deletion of the area 11p13 that causes WAGR. “That was the most devastating day,” said Mrs. Galloway. Phoebe’s diagnosis with WAGR meant that she was likely to experience the other symptoms associated with the syndrome: Wilms tumors on her kidneys, genitourinary anomalies (which she is too young to develop now), and a range of developmental delays. Phoebe had to start getting ultrasounds every 3 months to check for tumor growth on her kidneys. On one of her ultrasounds, the doctors discovered a spot on her kidney, but said it was a cyst and not a tumor. An MRI was taken, but the doctors were still unsure, so another one was ordered. At the end of August, after the second MRI, they discovered the Wilms tumor. Phoebe has now started chemotherapy. Afterwards, she will have to get surgery, and then another round of chemo.

For Mrs. Galloway, the hardest part of Phoebe’s diagnosis is not knowing what to expect for her future. However, she said there is a WAGR family Facebook community that brings together the families of people with WAGR for support and raising awareness. They have what are called “WAGR Weekends”, that different families host. Mrs. Galloway said, “I was able to meet a college student with WAGR named Jenna from North Carolina who wanted to become a special education teacher and raise awareness for WAGR. It was really encouraging to see these adults with WAGR still living their lives and having fun. I realized that no parent knows what to expect for their child. We just have to take one day at a time, an hour at a time, a minute at a time.”

The compassion shown by the Lassiter community has been overwhelming for the Galloway family. Proceeds from the buttons, bracelets, and t-shirts sold during homecoming week will be given to them. The Gofundme page has raised over $7,000. To support team Phoebe and the Galloway family, you can still purchase buttons and bracelets, or make a donation. “I feel like I’ve been here for 5 minutes and have already received so much love and support,” remarked Mrs. Galloway.

“I feel like I came to Lassiter for a reason. I can’t imagine what it would be like working somewhere else where people didn’t care so much. I don’t have words to express how much it means to me, thank you isn’t enough.”

– Mrs. Galloway

Donate to the Galloway family at https://www.gofundme.com/phabulous-phoebe.

Pros/cons of school spirit

Samantha Flores

Staff Writer

School spirit is something a lot of schools want for their students. It’s amazing to see 2,000 of your own peers come together, with painted faces, glittered hair, confetti launchers, and matching colors, cheering for the same team. It’s so much fun at sporting events and pep rallies to be doing your school’s own traditions and chants, but some of these traditions are very crass and looked down upon by the community. People from the outside are watching our school in shock of what we’re doing in the student section in the midst of cheering on our own team. School spirit is great, but is it as beneficial to the school as it claims to be?

Intense school spirit can take over a campus and disrupt the environment. The chants and distractions of showing spirit take away from the meaning behind a school day: to learn. During pep rallies at Lassiter, many teachers have been complaining about how the sophomores, juniors, and seniors chant “Freshmen suck”. They also hate how we scream “You suck” (directed towards the opposing team) at the kickoff during the football games. From a different perspective, these things we as students say are NOT the best choice of words to show our spirit. There’s no need for us all to come together and boo the other team because at that point we aren’t showing spirit, we’re showing hatred. It doesn’t reflect well on the school when the students exhibit this behavior. School spirit can also excite students to the point where it becomes mad chaos. This is shown at every single pep rally, and often in the student sections of games. For example, this year at the patriotic game we had an enormous paper flag rolled over the student section. Teachers and students worked hard to craft this flag.  Kids were so excited about the game that they began to tear at the American flag, and they ended up destroying it. Not only did that look bad, but then the fact that students were bashing the other team with the hateful chants just added more negativity to that night. Sometimes, school spirit can be detrimental instead of helpful.

From another point of view, school spirit is amazing. Kids show their spirit through dressing up for the themed games, being loud at events, participating in the pep rallies, and so many more ways. These traditions that schools build upon (Lassiter especially) make the school more unified and positive. For a lot of students, these spirit events are where they have the most fun. Students who participate in spirit prove to be happier, more engaged, and perform better academically then others. Being involved in school activities is so important and brings you closer to other people. Sports teams are known to do better in front of an audience, and when the whole school is involved in cheering the teams on, those teams WILL be more successful. School spirit reflects pride, achievement, and determination.

School spirit has its pros and cons. It is good for the students and the school, but it can end badly. It can end with kids in trouble, jeopardizing their future, or it can end with kids happier and more involved in school. It’s all about the choices each of the individuals make themselves that shape whether school spirit is good or bad.

New Clubs at Lassiter This Year

by Janalyn Lilya

Centerspread Editor

This year at Lassiter, one club in particular has gained a lot of new interest. The Modern Myths and Conspiracy Theory Club was created by a group of juniors. The president is Carolina Moeller with vice president Audrey Regan. When asked about how they felt creating a club, Audrey said, “It was way more work than I expected to start a club. Worrying about dues, the club constitution, if we would have enough members, and a teacher to sponsor us was all a lot of work. I definitely did not realize how much of a time commitment it was going to be.” The idea behind the club is to openly debate and discuss conspiracy theories. Their mission is “to promote free thought and discussion, bring people together with different ideas, and to develop individual opinions in a safe environment.” Their first meeting was a huge success and had about 50 students show up. Every meeting one or two students researches a topic and creates a powerpoint and just explains some basic details of the theory. The rest of the meeting is an open discussion about people’s individual thoughts on the topic. The club is held in Ms. Bradley’s room 1205 every Thursday after school.

One club that began part way through last year is Stop the Madness. The club’s mission is to promote awareness of sex trafficking and to help to raise money against it. The founders are two sisters, Brooke and Michelle Hudson. They meet monthly in Ms. Etters room. One member of the club said, “I joined thinking it was not that bad, but quickly realized how bad sex trafficking is in the world today. I feel like the club is a nice way to feel like I am helping out even if it is with small donations.” The club hopes to continue to gain members and hold more drives to raise money and awareness for sex trafficking.

Teen Advisory Council is another newly created club at Lassiter. Their focus is to fight against teen and young adult prescription drug addiction. Their motto is “not even once.” To them, this stands for not even trying drugs or illegal substances once. They host many events throughout Red Ribbon Week, including dress up days to spread awareness. Coach Brunner and Ms. Young are the sponsors. The meetings are in room 926 as needed.

Pay it Forward is a service club at Lassiter. They just had their first informational meeting of the year, and are excited for their upcoming events. The club is centered around giving back to the community and school through service. Students involved have the opportunity to tutor kids, serve at Must Ministries, mentor special needs children and many other great service events. Ms. Fross is the teacher sponsor and they meet every other Thursday in the social workers office.

Numbers or nothing

Wambui Chege

Sports & Health Editor

Every year, millions of students across the nation will spend several nights without sleep,
days skipping meals, and weeks cramming for exams. All this in order to preserve their pristine transcripts and get the right number on their next test. There is an epidemic affecting students around the world. Numbers, as in scores and grade point averages, are beginning to define and shape who a student is destined to become. Whether that number is a 1400 on the SAT, a 32 on the ACT, or a 5 on an AP exam, these scores are starting to make students feel as if their worth, not only as a student but also as a person, is embedded in the number that appears next to their name.

Beginning in early elementary school, tests such as the CogAT and the Iowa test are used
to place students into certain classes labeled AC, Intermediate, and On-level. This system of categorizing students then creates a culture within the school community of dividing students based on their intellectual capacity, therefore limiting students to spend time with certain peers. From that point on, students are challenged to the level to which they need, but they are not able to fraternize with those who may be different from them. This pattern then continues into high school, as students begin to pick classes that will be best for them. Though this process is mostly beneficial to students as they need to be challenged, some honors and AP classes stress the importance of the score that the student receives at the end of the year over actually learning the material. Lassiter senior Gabby Buttry states, “I think that our scores have been a defining factor throughout our education. Starting in as early as elementary school with programs such as Target, and into high school where SAT/ACT scores are emphasized to be high.”
The effect of these scores on students’ lives is most realized when students are preparing
to apply to colleges. Freshman profiles and admission prerequisites make some students fearful for their further education if they do not have certain scores. Though it is necessary for some schools to keep their requirements high for reputation and standard reasons, a student should not begin to feel less self-worth because of one single test. In fact, scores reported to colleges only show a small part of the whole. “Although most colleges do offer personal essays, where some of one’s personality can shine through, most merely look at test scores and grades. I feel like a score doesn’t tell the full story. In fact, it doesn’t even scratch the surface, so I think this is a very disappointing reality we as students must face,” shares Lassiter senior Grace Karas. Though this has become a harsh reality for many students nationwide, there is some hope for those who feel completely defined by their scores. Within some high schools, there are programs such as STEM and art tracks that can help those not as strong in one area, become more focused and specialized in what they are interested in. Also, at the college level, more schools are taking into account the activities done outside of school, such as sports and
community work. This world has adopted a competitive nature, which will help to propel society forward, but it is always beneficial to see the person behind the number too. “I don’t think that scores should determine the way a student views themselves. We all have our bad days and our good days, but at the end of the day, we are all just people,” states Lassiter junior Caitlin Sasapan.

Labor Day is No Lie

by Helena Karas

 

Staff Writer

Beginning school after Labor Day, otherwise known as the Holy Grail for high school students, is triumphantly striding its way into Georgia legislation plans. This unattainable, elusive idea that Cobb County administration has dangled in front of its students’ faces for years might finally come to fruition in the upcoming year. Of course, the average student looks at this news with a triumphant grin and thoughts of an eternal summer with unbothered sleep. However, Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch (with his doozy of a title) also expresses some justifiable reasons in converting Georgian public schools to this wrench of a schedule. Even though this potential uniform start date might interfere with the inescapable juggernaut that is the Cobb County school district, August 1st, the infamous Day of Judgement for most high school students, might finally be vanquished with Gooch’s council.

According to Gooch, the esteemed man all Cobb County high school students are rooting for, “As we celebrate Labor Day each year as the unofficial end of summer…most of our public schools have been back in full swing for nearly a month.” However, it must be noted that Gooch’s disruptive start date was not addressed to end student suffering. On the contrary, a few subtle, yet powerful points made it to the list: August energy bills, sport’s injuries, and student safety. All things that are compromised with August’s infamous heat, subsequent heat strokes, and costly air conditioning bills. Even the tourism industry is lashing back. Its profits and labor force having slowly dwindled over the summers as kids must return to school and forgo their economically beneficial vacationing in Georgia. Just look at Six Flags. It is practically a wasteland when summer is brought to its abrupt end!

Of course though, with all controversial matters, disagreement was raised with Cobb County’s Superintendent Chris Ragsdale. A man who justifiably believes that locally elected district administration should have the coveted decision-making power when deciding on this universal start date. And others, such as West Cobb’s Senator Lindsey Tippins, have sharply denounced such a date, noting that it disrupts students’ first semesters, learning hours, and scheduled breaks.

But, the decision must be made. Gooch, Mike Dugan, John Wilkinson, and Jack Hill are the committee members in charge. December 1st is the Day of Judgement. Cobb county students will be crossing their fingers and blowing on metaphorical dandelions until then.

Lassiter Lottery for Parking Spaces

by Samantha Flores

Staff Writer

The Lassiter High School auxiliary gym is set to be torn down towards the end of
October. This gym has been home to many of Lassiter’s sports: competition cheerleading,
wrestling, basketball, etc. It will be missed for those reasons, but how exciting is it that Lassiter is getting a brand-new gym? Sadly, this construction will eliminate 300 student parking spots, and has caused quite a disruption. Harrison Park has been gracious enough to allow Lassiter access to 100 of its parking spaces, those of which have been raffled off to juniors. The lottery is now over, and the lucky juniors have been given their decals, but this is unfortunate for many. Half of the junior drivers may not get a chance to park for the remainder of the year, and the sophomores who get their licenses throughout this year have a slim chance of getting a decal as well. The construction is expected to end between October 2019-January 2020. The next time Lassiter students will have full accessibility to parking may not be for a long while. In the meantime, this new gym is said to be so big that it can host cheer competitions. This will be a great asset, as the schools hosting these have to be very large. We are a 7A school with over 2,000 students, but our gym right now doesn’t really reflect that. It’s exciting that we have this to look forward to, but for now it as seen by student drivers as an inconvenience.

Anti-vaccination or pro-preventable diseases?

Sheila Onyango

Staff Writer

There has been public resistance to vaccinations since they were first introduced. In the early 1800s, the first widely spread smallpox vaccination in England resulted in fear and protest. Some opposed vaccinations because they originate from animals, deeming them “ungodly.” Others were quick to denounce medicine as an entire practice. Lastly, there were the objectors who were weary of vaccinations simply because they felt that they encroached on their personal liberties. This last group grew as the government mandated more and more vaccines.

Fast forward to 2018 and anti-vaccination leagues still lead an outcry against immunizations. At the top of their current hate list is the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Their reasoning is that it is allegedly linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, researchers have found no correlation between the MMR vaccine and ASD, so why are anti-vaxxers still so skeptical?

One can point fingers at fraudulent and grossly mishandled case studies. The most notorious is Wakefield’s paper.  In 1998, Andrew Wakefield, a now expelled doctor, published a report which linked the measles vaccine to autism. Anti-vaxxers constantly cite Wakefield’s study as evidence, but fail to mention that before drawing overzealous conclusions, Wakefield only tested twelve children (not thousands, as studies of such implications are expected to). Curtailing his credibility even more, Wakefield conducted his study only after being approached by lawyers suing vaccine distributors. After producing a report with ASD as a conclusive link, he was paid $500,000.  

Objectors retort that it is their right to be skeptical, that they have the freedom to want to be safe and not sorry. However, how can they claim that their children are better off without vaccines when their fear of the MMR vaccine is completely unfounded? The MMR vaccine was introduced in 1963. In the United States alone, ten million doses are distributed each year. If there was a correlation between the vaccine and ASD, there would be hundreds to thousands of more cases of autism than there are now.

The anti-vaccination movement can only fall back on the idea of personal liberty, but that excuse lasts until it starts to be a threat to public safety. Ousseny Zerbo, a postdoctoral fellow at the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, explains the concept of “herd immunity” and states, “In order to disrupt the chains of infection in a population, a large portion of the population needs to be immune to the infection,” he later stresses, “A higher vaccination rate can break those chains of infection. This is why it is important for a large proportion of the population to be vaccinated.”

That is why people need to relinquish some of their personal freedoms. Just because you have the right to not vaccinate your child, does not mean you should exercise it. In a twisted turn of events, the anti-vaccination movement impedes on other parents’ rights to immunize their kids as they see fit. After all, parents of children who are not eligible for vaccines can do nothing but hope their kids do not contract anything from those un-vaccinated. It becomes a full on public health issue when the decision of one fatally dictates the countless lives of others.

Even if, in another universe, vaccines did correlate with autism, you cannot definitively say it is better for a child to have measles instead of autism, especially considering the rate in which measles spreads and the amount of lives it takes. Globally, 100,000 people die from measles every year, most of which are under the age of five. If a person is fortunate enough to have access to a vaccination for a preventable disease, then they ought to take advantage— if not for their own sake, then for the wellbeing of those around them.

Made for the music

The end is approaching. The dark cloud is rolling over us once again. What will we do? People are not prepared for the end. We are not ready. Nothing is more tragic than when the seasonal music festivals are over. What do I do now? How am I going to listen to music that isn’t live? Am I supposed to listen to music with headphones? No way. I mean sure, when I’m at the music festivals, I’m not actually paying attention to the music, but I pretend like I am! I even go as far as to record the most important songs so that everyone knows that I am there. What more can a person do?

I live for music festivals. What is better than thousands of people crammed together with hardly any room to breathe? Nothing. Obviously. I love being in the sweltering heat with no fresh air to breathe. I thrive when I am surrounded by a bunch of other sweaty people with no room to move. I have not met a single person that does not like that. The best is when you combine the immense crowds with a smidge of dehydration. There is no better way to get people to the front of the crowd (because the medics have to pull them out and take them to first aid) than that. It is a real line cutter! Personally I prefer another way to get to the front. I like to camp out for hours and yell at everyone else that tries to get close to the front. How dare they try to get close to my favorite artist? My experience obviously matters so much more than everyone else’s. How rude does someone have to be to not acknowledge that I am more important than them. I spent a lot of money (just as much as they did) so I deserve it and the artist will like me more.

The food at the festivals is to die for. I love paying for overpriced low quality food. Nothing screams, “I had a good time at the music festival,” like coming home after broke from buying water and pizza. If you don’t want to come home broke then you can always just starve yourself until the concert is over. I always try to get water, but a lot of the time the food places will not sell water. Weird, huh? It is almost like they know that you are dehydrated so they offer you water so that you have to come back and buy more drinks. That is absurd though. They would never do that! Anyways, the food at festivals complete the experience. What would a music festival be without long lines for foods, crazy crowds, and people shoving their way to the front. What will I do now? Music will not be the same.