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.

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.




by Audrey Safir


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.

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.

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.