Race for Governor: A Turning Point in Georgia History

by Sheila Onyango

Staff Writer

Since the end of legal segregation in Georgia, the men who have occupied the office of governor have reflected the state’s political ideals. Although the first five governors were Democrats and the next for the last sixteen years were Republicans, they have all been relatively moderate. Characterized as “steady” and even “bland,” Georgia’s past governors avoided blunt and career-defining statements. They focused on more universal issues, such as education and job growth. Most notably, they gave less public support to those on the fringes of their political parties.

In sharp contrast, this year’s main two candidates for governor unapologetically appeal to the more extreme voters. Leading the Democratic Party is Stacey Abrams, a Black, female Yale graduate and former Democratic leader of the state legislature. The top candidate for the Republican Party is Brian Kemp, an agri-businessman and two-term Republican secretary of state.

Abram’s campaign targets liberal sentiments. Under her New Georgia Project, she works to register young and minority voters. She sympathizes with undocumented immigrants, stating that her “soul rests with those seeking asylum.” Abrams also plans on nullifying recently-passed pro-guns legislation, such as the “campus carry” policy, and expanding Medicaid for the poor and disabled. Meanwhile, Brian Kemp stresses conservative views. Under his Trump-like agenda, Kemp has announced his “Track and Deport” plan, which advocates for the prompt removal of undocumented immigrants from the state. He has also adopted Trump’s rhetoric when talking about gun policy and he resents Abram’s call for more Medicaid as he believes it will raise taxes, reduce job growth, and cut into superior bond ratings.

After their huge wins in the primaries, it seems that Abrams and Kemp will not alter their strategies. Last May, in a two-person primary, Abrams won 76 percent of the Democratic vote. Kemp finished second in the packed Republican primary but took a whopping 69 percent of the vote in the Tuesday runoff, besting his better-funded Republican rival, Casey Cagle.

Abrams and Kemp’s narrow appeals would not have been as successful if it were not for Georgia’s changing demography. The state, especially near Atlanta, is rapidly diversifying. The amount of registered nonwhite voters increased from 27 percent in the 1990s to 46 percent. Political analysts believe that with more immigrants and Black Americans in the population, voters are choosing candidates on the basis of culture and identity.  The effects of minority voters cannot be better seen than in Cobb and Gwinnett. The two suburban counties went from fueling Republican candidates to voting for Hilary Clinton over Donald Trump.

The growth of Georgia’s economy made leeway for people to vote based off of their cultural affinities. Since voters worry less about financial issues, they can more seriously consider politician’s stances on social issues.

The importance of culture and identity is exacerbated in the Trump era, as political ties seem to be more polarized than ever before. Ideas of left vs. right pressure Americans to lean towards either side, making it more beneficial for Abrams and Kemp to definitively appeal to the extremes.

Of course, many Georgia citizens and politicians worry that without centrism and moderacy, there is a group of “middle” voters who are not being reached.  “It would be nice if we had a more moderate option,” relents Kathrine DeLash, a pet store owner in Cobb County who doesn’t identify with either political party. She tells the New York Times, “You don’t get that with the candidates we have right now. The people who shout the most to their own people get the most attention, and it doesn’t matter what they’re saying as long as they shout the loudest.”

Former Republican congressman Lynn Westmoreland echoes her concerns, explaining, “I think the Republicans are losing the middle, I think the Democrats are losing the middle, and the middle is kind of shrugging like, ‘O.K., what am I supposed to be doing?’”

The effectiveness of Abrams and Kemp’s political strategies will not be known until November 6th. Until then, political journalists and analysts wait in anticipation in the midst of a defining moment in Georgia’s political history. For the first time in dozens of years, Democratic turnout to primaries has nearly equaled that of the Republicans. If left-leaning voters continue going to the polls, Stacey Abrams could end up Georgia’s first female African American governor. If conservatives focus their energy on Brian Kemp, the state could end up with its own miniature Trump administration.

Tongue-in-Cheek or Should Serena Speak?

Helena Karas

Staff Writer

Male tennis players have historically been congratulated for snapping back at umpires for their bad calls or blind eyes. Yet, Serena Williams, one of the most honorable and sportsmanlike woman in the game, was severely punished for such an offense.

The U.S. Open was the scene. Naomi Osaka was the opponent. Chair umpire Carlos Ramos was the “villain” in Serena Williams’ eyes. After a disruptive moment of coaching, a demolished racket, and Williams’ sharp tongue proclaiming Ramos to be a “thief,” three code violations were procured by Mrs. Williams. A triple-combo that cost her $17,000 in fines. However, Williams’ frustration was not rooted in the harsh penalties that cost her the Grand Slam final win. On the contrary, Ramos’ manner in issuing the penalties is what spurred all the media attention, debate, and ultimately a controversial cartoon that depicted Williams rather crudely.

All the debate had the media honing in on tennis officiating and its potential sexist undertones. According to a passionate Williams, “To lose a game for saying [that Ramos is a thief] is not fair. There’s a lot of men out there that have said a lot of things, and because they are men, that doesn’t happen.” Just look at famous tennis hotheads such as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Men who were celebrated for their unwillingness to yield to tennis umpires. Men who said, did, and expressed a lot worse than Serena Williams had that day.

Therefore, in a show of concern for the equality of the game, not anger, Serena took to the tabloids and expressed her distaste for the double standard that female athletes are subjected to. The penalties that Ramos issued, in Williams’ and her supporters’ opinions, did not reflect the tolerance he has shown in the past for male players. Even tennis Hall-of-Famer Billie Jean King weighed in on the issue: “When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s “outspoken” & and there are no repercussions.”

All in all, the drama has started to simmer down, but will the double standard prevail? Or, is there even anything to protest? Was Serena over-sensitive and exaggerating the whole ordeal? Was Ramos in the wrong? That decision is for every individual to make for themselves. But, we sure do know how Serena feels, and justly so!

Celebrating the Lassiter Band’s 20 Years of Exellence

by Cassie Montgomery

Editorials Editor

This year’s homecoming was not only significant for the returning members of the school and crazy-spirited students; it was a very special day for the members of the Lassiter band, too. This year, 2018, marks the twenty-year anniversary of the first of two Grand National wins of the Lassiter Marching Band. The beloved and retired band director, Mr. Alfred Watkins, returned on Friday night to conduct this year’s band in playing the national anthem before the game. Alumni from the 1998 band came to see how far the band has come and to take a picture with the many trophies displaying the other achievements they earned that year. The ’98 band set a foundation for spirit, tradition, excellence, and pride that paved the way for the many bands to come throughout the years.

        Mr. Watkins quoted Aristotle throughout the training and practices leading up to the championships:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Since that defining moment in the band’s history, the directors, staff, and students have been working hard to do the best they can to form this habit of excellence. The lessons and experiences learned from band shape who we are and the way we live going on in life after high school.

        Such is true for one of Lassiter’s own teachers, band director Mrs. Kimberly Snyder. Mrs. Snyder was a senior in the 1998 championship band. For her, every day is homecoming. “I knew my freshman year, I was a part of something special. I had never worked so hard in my life, and 300 other students in the band were doing it too. The life lessons and work ethic that Mr. Watkins and Mrs. Samuels gave us on a daily basis is what molded me into who I am today.” She gets to see and experience up close the new waves of kids coming in and trying to continue the traditions and class that her band set for us. She gets to shape the future band in such a special way, because she experienced the greatness we too are trying to achieve.

        Upon asking her how she thinks the band has evolved from when she was in school, she says “We have a very strong leadership team and senior class that resemble many past Lassiter bands. It makes me so proud to watch many of them come out of their comfort zone and give up so much time to help others be successful.” She, as well as the other directors, brought our band to greatness and paved the way to Pasadena, California. Mrs. Snyder and the rest of the band could not be more excited.

        Every day, the band students and staff strive to follow the path of greatness and put forth their best selves. These members put their blood, sweat, and tears into working for a program that is bigger than the individual. In seeing the returning champions from 1998, I think today’s marchers were inspired in seeing what they have the potential to be: excellent. Things Mr. Watkin said to the ’98 band still rings true today: “Be the best version of yourself; there is no trademark on excellence,” meaning that excellence is something you have to work for, it is not given to you. With the groundwork from the ’98 champs, the current and future bands can work their way up to being the best they can be.

 

 

#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.