How much family is too much?

Audrey Renaud, Comedy Editor

The holiday season is here and that means that family will be visiting soon. Everyone has the set up for Christmas or Thanksgiving that happens every year: going to your relative’s house for the week of Thanksgiving Break, then the other side of your family that you do not see as much comes to stay at your house for the second half of December. This sounds good and fun at first, but it gets old quickly. 

On the first day of Thanksgiving Break, you get the genuine catching-up conversations that you are actually engaged in, but these topics last about five hours until everything happened in the past year has been shared. By the third day of break you start to fight more with the other kids and the in-laws start to bicker, and you start to wonder when Thanksgiving Dinner is actually happening. However, when the dinner does finally happen, you end up having to go through the whole meal listening to your older relatives be politically incorrect while you sit there and decide to stay silent or make them mad by correcting them. Finally, after Thanksgiving Day is over it is time to go home and wait until next year to do it all again.

Around the second week of December is when it clicks for your parents that they are having people over for an extended period of time, so that means one thing: cleaning. The floors, the walls, the door frames, they all have to be thoroughly cleaned at least twice before your relatives arrive, but they never notice any of your hard work. When these more distant family members come to stay, the catching-up does last longer because it has been longer since you have seen them, but it will inevitably run dry. After this happens, you realize that Christmas is still five days away and that you will be asked if you are dating someone at least ten times, even though the answer is always no. However, when Christmas comes, and the relatives finally leave, despite how annoying they are, you always find yourself looking forward to next year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas with your relatives.

The Nightmare Before Christmas: When to watch it?

Audrey Renaud, Comedy Editor

People have been debating which holiday Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas should be associated with since 1993, the year the movie was released. The argument that people have is whether the movie is for Halloween or Christmas. A popular opinion in the matter is, even though it is in the title and it has Christmas themes, this is a Halloween movie. 

The movie starts in a forest and there is a circle of trees with different holiday symbols on them, and after showing all of them the camera stops on the Halloween door, and then the door opens. Then the movie takes you into Halloween Town as the song “This is Halloween” plays in the background, which leads to the main character, Jack Skellington, who is a giant talking skeleton, being introduced. So far, it is extremely obvious what kind of movie this is, but as it goes on peoples’ confusion becomes justified.

Jack ends up getting lost in the forest and he ends up at the trees with the holiday symbols on them, and he ends up being intrigued by the Christmas door. He then opens this door and falls through it into Christmas Town, where he discovers snow, elves, and Santa Clause. He loves everything so much that he decides that he has to have it. Jack forms a plan to take over Christmas and he wants to have reindeer, and give presents, and essentially wants to become Santa. To do this though, he arranges to kidnap Santa and throw him in a dungeon with a monster. This big plan does not work out, though, because the presents and reindeer are scary, and as Jack is trying to be Santa, his sleigh gets shot out of the sky by scared citizens. 

In the end this movie is more focused on Halloween and a creepy undertone frames the entire movie. Jack goes back to Halloween and he and Santa end on good terms with each other, which does give the movie a positive ending. So even though Jack does discover and love Christmas, it is the fact that he tries to take over the holiday but then bring a creepy edge to it that makes it a Halloween movie.

Finals week: Schools normalizing tremendous pressures

Cassie Montgomery, Co-Editor-in-Chief

“Finals week” has evolved into a phrase dreaded by nearly every high schooler, whether in real life or in movies and television shows. Similarly, words and phrases such as stress, exhaustion, and too much float around the phrase “finals week” like bees to honey. How is it that children from ages thirteen to eighteen can spend an entire week with little to no sleep in constant states of stress and still be considered mentally well enough to take up to seven long, cumulative tests for four days straight? In recent years teachers and schools have come to value grades over a students well-being, and have, in turn, integrated that ideal into the minds of developing children, a practice that is detrimental to  the development and mental health of a growing student.

While the purpose of finals week, to test students of their growth and knowledge over the course of a semester, can be an understandable factor in public schooling in theory, the execution of it has warped into students losing sleep and sanity over back-to-back, hour-and-a-half long exams over content learned months ago. The pressure to do well set by teachers and parents, as well as the massive sway these final exams typically have over a student’s final grade, put unnecessary pressure on the children, whose brains simply cannot process and handle those amounts of information and stress. Too many times, adults have convinced students that getting good grades is more important for their future than their mental health, and when students get a bad grade they are convinced that it is their fault and not the fault of the adults telling them that an A is more important than sleeping. 

Unfortunately, these ideas have become a part of our culture. Finals week and the school system, in general, has become a machine that spits out mentally unstable robots instead of fostering a healthy practice of learning, and there is not much we as a society can do about it. However, the truth must shine through: mental health should always take priority. Despite what teachers and society has forced us into believing, grades do not matter more than the well-being and sanity of the student.

The evolution of the Nutcracker

Audrey Smiles, Staff writer

The Nutcracker has become an essential part of the holiday season—not to mention a part of most dancers’ DNA. These days, the ballet is a beloved tradition, and the lifeblood of many dance companies, whose budgets depend on its reliably great ticket sales. But did you know it is not the same all over the world. The original two-act production, in 1892 in St. Petersburg, was the brainchild of Ivan Vzevolozhsky (director), Marius Petipa (choreographer) and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (composer), adapting Alexandre Dumas’s version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story. Somehow, however, “The Nutcracker” became a Christmas fixture in the mid-20th century.

Every year productions pop back into life by the hundred, from Vienna to Hawaii. Most still follow the same basic conventions established by that first version: a little girl heroine, her mysterious godfather (the magician Drosselmeyer), a battle between toy soldiers and mice, a forest full of dancing Snowflakes, a ballerina Sugarplum Fairy. However one adaption is the Hip Hop Nutcracker, just like the original it has the same storyline and characters but with innovative digital graffiti and visuals transform the landscape of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s beloved story. In Nutcracker Swings, the familiar Tchaikovsky score mingles with the swinging sounds of Duke Ellington’s jazzy take on The Nutcracker Suite. In this version of the story, set at the end of World War II, the action opens at a swinging Christmas party to welcome home a returning hero. The Nutcracker is not just made to be a traditional ballet anymore and it is quite special to see the new and revised versions.

Is it truly the most wonderful time of the year?

Samantha Flores, Sports & Health Editor

The month of December is an eventful time as the holidays and festivities approach. Christmas time is great as a child, but the older one gets the more baggage comes along with Christmas, and the “most wonderful time of the year” can become the hardest. The many pros of Christmas-time come with cons as well, and these cons cause hatred for the season many love. 

This time of year is said to be a “joyous” one. The beautiful decorations, snow, presents, and activities are loved by many across the entire world. Christmas is a reflection of what is truly important: family. It brings families together to celebrate an important religious holiday and shows them all they have to be grateful for. For children, Christmas can be a stress-reliever or a time where they can be happy as they use their imagination. Santa Claus, “Elf on the Shelf”, school activities, etc. all bring children excitement this time of year. For children suffering from a disease or dealing with anxiety, Christmas is their outlet. These festivities that have been practiced for centuries bring people joy by giving them something to look forward to. 

However, the holiday season can also be hard for some people, giving them pessimistic opinions of it. This season can be hard to enjoy for those who have suffered trauma. Children with divorced parents often do not enjoy Christmas because it is not the same “family” feeling. Often, they will celebrate two Christmas’ and it will take an emotional toll on the kids and parents. Christmas can also be hard for those who have had a death in the family. Once again, the “family feeling” will not truly be there anymore, and it can also make families dislike the holidays. This season also can be difficult for low income families. They cannot afford gifts for their children who are surrounded by others at their school who get more than them. This puts pressure on the parents and makes the children sad, making the season unenjoyable for them.

The holiday season brings both positive and negative feelings to the table. It is a great time of year with decorations and family, but can be hard for those who struggle with issues at home. Different people have different opinions, so there really is no answer to if it is truly the most wonderful time of the year. 

December bucket list

Samantha Flores, Sports & Health Editor

December is here and it is time to officially start the holiday festivities. Even in East Cobb, there are lots of fun winter activities to do and nobody wants to miss out! Try some of these fun ideas to have an eventful holiday season this year:

  1. Ice Skating

Ice skating is a must-do around this time of year! From the Avalon skating rink to “The Cooler” in Alpharetta, there are many places to check off this activity. 

  1. Christmas Lights

One of the best parts of the holidays are Christmas light displays. Last year, Woodbine Station had a beautiful display, and others can be found in Roswell, Atlanta, etc. Take a nice drive one night and enjoy the lights!

  1. Movie Marathon

Everyone has their favorite holiday movies. From Santa Baby to Elf to The Grinch, there’s something for everyone. Spend a night cuddled up under Christmas blankets by the fire and relive your childhood by watching these movies!

  1. Bake Christmas Cookies

The classic December bucket list task: making Christmas cookies. Go to Publix and pick out the Pillsbury Doughboy Christmas cookies or have fun and bake some yourself! 

  1. Make Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread houses are like the pumpkins of Christmas. Spend an afternoon competing with your family and friends for the best Gingerbread house or simply put all the creative skills into one beautiful, delicious house!

  1. Go see Santa at the Mall

Santa never gets old! Go take Santa pictures for fun and tell him what you want this holiday season!

  1. Organize a Secret Santa Exchange

Secret Santas are one of the best holiday games. Suggest it as a sports team bonding activity, a family game, or something between your friends! It brings people together and is a fun surprise.

  1. Go see a Play

Christmas plays truly do instill the Christmas spirit into the audience and are a great activity. From The Nutcracker to A Christmas Carol, there are many options and all are fun and entertaining!

  1. Shop for a Local Toy Drive

Toy drives are one of the best ways to show the true holiday spirit in December. Giving back is easy, and it makes someone else happy. From Shop with a Trojan to local toy drives at preschools and churches, it is easy to participate.

  1. Go Shopping

The mall is one of the most decorated and fun places to be during the holidays. The mall during December is a whole different vibe and it must be experienced! Go Christmas shopping with friends or family, or even just go to the mall for fun!

Lassiter’s favorite Christmas movie

Natalia Bass, Co-Blog Editor and Editorials Editor

Besides making hot chocolate, sitting by the fireplace, and listening to Christmas music, one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit is to watch some of the classic Christmas movies. This begs the question of which Christmas movie reigns superior to all. In an effort to answer this question, we have asked Lassiter students what their favorite Christmas movies are:

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (16%)
  • The Polar Express (14%)
  • Die Hard (12%)
  • Elf (12%)
  • Home Alone (10%)
  • White Christmas (10%)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (8%)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (8%)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (4%)
  • A Christmas Story (4%)
  • The Santa Clause (2%)
  • Christmas with the Kranks (0%)

The controversy behind Joker

Samantha Flores, Sports & Health Editor

Joker, a long awaited origin story of Batman’s arch-enemy, came to theatres on October 4th and has started quite the conversation. Directed by Todd Phillips, people are calling for a chaotic Oscar season as the Prince of Crime will compete for a top spot in the prestigious Hollywood awards. It is surprising that in 2019, a comic movie still breaks ground and attracts a large audience. Joker was said to be the most controversial movie this year as it dove into issues surrounding mental health and extreme violence.

Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson argued that Joker  possessed an “irresponsible” way of telling the story of a mentally ill man. The movie focused on Arthur Fleck (later Joker) and how he lived with a mental disability that eventually caused him to turn to mass violence. It tells the story of how Arthur went from a party clown who was beaten up in the streets, possessed a disability that made him constantly laugh uncontrollably, and lived with his mentally ill mother to the most feared man in Gotham who was out to kill anyone who made him angry. The movie was set in a time where the economy was suffering and the rich people were hated, and those who hated the rich supported Joker and his murderous personality. The violence in the movie was gruesome, as producers were not afraid of showing gory images of blood and shooting scenes.

Joker is being seen as wrong for portraying a “hero’s journey” for a man who killed aimlessly and was mentally ill. In this day and age, with shootings happening consistently in the United States, was this the best idea for a movie? In New York, it was reported that the audience was clapping as characters in the movie were violently murdered, causing others to become frightened and leave. This has caused an uproar across the nation. Particular theatres have stopped showing the movie, some have placed security outside the doors, and the Colorado theatre where the shooting occurred in 2012 refuses to show the movie. Joker seems like it is promoting violence, as Arthur was seen in the last scene being glorified by the poor people in the town for killing those that angered him. This is scaring people and causing backlash at the production company.

This movie has been quite the hit, making $96 million after its opening weekend. Some say it was an insightful movie on mental illness. Others loved seeing the villain they had watched growing up have his own story and be portrayed in a new way. However, society as a whole is against Joker and what it seems to be promoting. Obviously, the directors behind the movie did not predict this type of reaction. With recent shootings and the fear behind them, this movie was not a good idea to put out. Joker was a very successful movie of 2019, but it also began a nation-wide discussion of what it truly stands for and if it should be continued to be shown in theatres.

Why you should apply early action

Nyra Pasha, News Editor

As senior year continues on, many students are accumulating their resumes, teacher recommendations, and grades in order to apply to their dream colleges. While many apply in the spring through the regular application system, some take advantage of the early action programs that several colleges around the country offer.

Around 450 colleges offer early admissions for applicants. This allows students to apply to a school in October or November and then find out if they are accepted or deferred by December or January. There are many benefits to the early action plan that students should take advantage of. Some applicants have a better chance of getting in early than in regular admissions because it allows them to avoid competing in the regular applicant pool. So if your GPA and SAT/ACT scores are top notch, this may be a good option for you. Colleges also benefit when students apply early decision because they get the students who really want to attend to commit to their school early. 

When applying early action, make sure to research which schools offer it and what type of system it is. Most are non-binding, which means that if you are accepted early, you do not have to tell your final decision until spring. However, some universities such as Harvard and Yale only allow applicants to apply to one school early action, which can be limiting for a student. 

Overall, applying to colleges early action has a multitude of benefits. It can provide security and relief for students who get accepted into their schools of interest and reduces stress that many seniors often face. This is a good option if you know which schools you are very interested in and have the requirements to attend. While you may not be able to procrastinate your college applications and essays until second semester, applying early action usually has no negative effects and provides only advantages to students.

Greta Thunberg: The teen activist

Nyra Pasha, News Editor

Greta Thunberg has gained a mass amount of attention over the past few months as she advocates for an issue that is very urgent and important: the future of our planet. The sixteen year old climate change activist is a leader of a youth movement that is pushing governments around the world to address the crisis. Greta started a movement called “Fridays For Future” in 2018 calling students from all over to skip school and protest environmental issues to garner media attention. Thunberg, who has Asperberg’s syndrome, claims that her illness is her superpower and says that she would not have become as passionate about an activism if she did not have it. She does not let it prevent her from achieving her goals in combating the issue of climate change.

While Greta has been advocating for climate change for several years, she recently struck social media fame when her speech to world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit spread rampantly across various platforms. People learned new information about how dire this situation is and how society and the government need to help save the planet. 

Inspired by Thunberg’s activism, about four million people in 161 countries participated in the largest climate change demonstration on September 20th. This occurred right here in Georgia, as around 200 adults and students convened at the state capital for a climate strike. This was just one of the many that took place as a part of a youth climate strike in which many students even skipped school to join the cause. Advocates demanded attention on environmental issues like renewable energy and greenhouse gases.

Although only a teen, Greta Thunberg has already made a lasting impact on the world and the environmental scene. She is being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to combat the climate crisis. There is no doubt that she has brought a mass amount of attention to this terrifying issue that threatens our planet and its people today.