BluePrints Magazine - Volume XX, Issue 3 - May 2022

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BLUEPRINTS

NO LOVE P. 31

VOLUME XX ISSUE 3 MAY 2022

CRYPTO CRISIS P. 6 BOOK BANNING P. 41 CEDARBLUEPRINTS.COM @CEDARBLUEPRINTS

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BLUEPRINTS MAGAZINE

STAFF DIRECTORY

BluePrints is the official magazine of Cedar Shoals High School. Published opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of anyone other than the staff and individual writers. BluePrints is a student-led newsmagazine published for the Cedar Shoals community to enjoy as well as to educate student journalists. Each issue is an open public forum for student expression under the guidance of a faculty adviser. The BluePrints staff is committed to reflect the mission statement set forth by CSHS. The staff ’s goals are to provide fair, accurate news and commentaries, as well as to serve the interests of the school and Athens community. Advertising must conform to the guidelines set forth for editorials. Publication of advertisements does not indicate an endorsement by CSHS or by BluePrints. Students pictured in advertisements are not given monetary compensation. All advertising rates are available upon request from any BluePrints staff member. BluePrints is a member of the Georgia Scholastic Press Association and the Southern Interscholastic Press Association. Corrections of errors and omissions will appear in the next issue. Submit letters to the editor to: cedarblueprints@gmail.com.

Co-Editors-in-Chief Violet Calkin and Jackie Wright Managing Editor Megan Wise Copy Editor Jackie Wright News Editor Anna Schmidt Features Editor Ellie Crane Viewpoints Editor Melany Mathis Variety Editor Emma McElhannon Sports Editor Jacob Weiszer Art Director Ava Maddox Layout/Design Director Aiden Dowling

@CEDARBLUEPRINTS

Web Editors Melanie Frick and Tory Ratajczak Beat Editor Kira Law Photography Coordinator Isabella Morgan Staff Writers Genevieve Bielli, Ruby Calkin, Savannah Duncan-Barnett, Freddrell Green, Gabriel Holcomb, Mallory Huntsman, Tumelo Johnson, Eva Lucero, Delia McElhannon, Lilly McGreevy, Brendon Milsap, London Moore, Landon Neace, Michael Niedzwiecki-Castile, Ikeoluwa Ojo, Aissatou Sarr, Mattlee Scott, Marcus Welch

NEW CONTENT ONLINE

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Adviser Marc Ginsberg BluePrints Magazine Cedar Shoals High School 1300 Cedar Shoals Drive Athens, GA 30605 Phone: (706) 546-5375, Ext. 21314

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Cover photo by Zaya Roberson

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Viewpoints

Fast fashion 5 Crypto crisis 6 Left in the dark 8 Finding myself 11

SPORTS Sports stars 12 Dodd Ferrelle 14 Tennis team 16

VARIETY

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Reviews 20 LGBTQ books 22 To Paradise 25

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NEWS

Pootie Taylor 26 Welding at ACCA 28 News briefings 30

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FEATURES

No Love Zytavious Ford Farm Burger Virtual school Book banning Teacher burnout

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31 33 34 38 41 44 Photos by Melanie Frick, Isabella Morgan and Freddrell Green

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Driving dilemmas: transporting students requires cooperation and sacrifice ur bus drivers here in Clarke County deserve better pay. More people should start protesting for an increase in pay. Having a pay of only $16.26 is weak compared to other districts. Also, knowing how erratic and stressful the behaviors can be from students they definitely deserve at least $18-20 an hour to start. I know a kid my age making $16 an hour doing simple, easy work, while bus drivers work five days a week and have to memorize hundreds of routes while dealing with teenagers. They deserve better and more! If not a raise in pay, then appreciation days. Overall, they need more appreciation and a pay raise because they deserve it for all that they do and have to put up with. - Savannah Pilgrim, junior

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Assessing the threat: discussing safety protocols at Cedar Shoals his article was well written and displayed the crisis I — as well as all other high school students — face all too frequently. I can confidently say that after four years of high school I am desensitized to any possible school shooting and now simply view it as another day off. That’s not good, but that’s how it is. Every time something like this happens, I wish something would change. Until recently, nothing did. After four years, this finally happened as students demanded more transparency on security protocols at Cedar. The first step to effective change in this type of environment is awareness. Articles like this are an incredible way for the district to relay information to Cedar students because it allows for the writer the article to interpret it. I’m glad to see articles like this before I leave, because it lets me know that Cedar is improving. - Max Whitford, senior

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Critical Race Theory discussions arise in CCSD here is a Wolof proverb, widely known in Senegal, that goes: “Lu bant yàgg-yàgg ci ndox, du tax mu soppaliku mukk jasig.” It means: “Even if a log soaks a long time in the water, it will never become a crocodile.” In terms of America and Critical Race Theory, this wisdom translates perfectly. Even if efforts are made to suppress the topic of racism and the legacy of enslavement, it will never go away. Over 400 years of insubordination, rape, murder and segregation cannot and should not be swept away just because it is deemed “divisive and anti-American.” The best thing to do is to educate ourselves about the causes and consequences of racial inequality and work to bridge the gaps that have been created. We live in today’s age of race-blinding policies that contribute to the continuous patterns of systemic discrimination that lie underneath. The underfunding and lack of resources for schools with a students of color majority, the adultification (disproportionate discipline) of Black students and the selective gifted programs all occur in our district and reinforce the racist ideals. Now, the attack on curricula with the intention to cause fewer divisions on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin will do the opposite. It will carry out in another generation in which those who are privileged will continue to live in ignorance and racial insensitivity. The attack on CRT upholds the toxicity of saying “I don’t see color.” Refusing to have a dialogue about race is not only racist, but it shows a lack of empathy for the different perspectives that minorities face. Silence will only continue to perpetuate the state of race relations. - Hadiza Sarr, senior

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We want to hear from you! Submit your letter to the editor to cedarblueprints@gmail.com to be considered for our next edition.


FAST FASHION IS A FAILURE O

ne day it’s cool to wear a crop top and yoga pants, and the next being ‘in’ demands you wear graphic tees and baggy jeans. As fast fashion websites initiate styles, rapidly changing trends surge. Environmental damage due to quick garment production accelerates parallel to society’s demand for conformity. ‘Fast fashion’ is the name for the capacity to keep up with this pressure. The detrimental impacts of fast fashion are complex, but a short definition is the speedy production of trending clothes by underpaid workers to be sold for cheap prices. Brands like Zara and Shien are well known fast fashion outlets. Brands slip through legal loopholes by choosing regions with a low minimum wage and paying their workers the least amount of money possible. A notable example is British fashion company Boohoo’s connection with Leicester. Some fashion corporations within Leicester are no longer affiliated with the United Kingdom’s employment law. The factories are also known to lie about the number of hours put on the employee payslips to make it seem like they are being paid minimum wage. Boohoo workers’ actual average wage per hour is £4.25 ($4.85), £3.58 less than the UK’s minimum wage of £7.83 for workers over the age of 25. The environmental impact of the fast fashion industry cannot be overstated. It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one shirt and the fashion industry contributes 8-10% of all global carbon emissions. For reference, the agriculture industry also makes up 10% of carbon emissions. Consumers contribute to a cycle of waste by buying cheap, poorly manufactured clothes, throwing them away due to their bad quality and then buying more clothes.

Kira Law Beat Editor

Art by Eva Lucero

In addition to the poor quality of fast fashion, the shortened length of fashion trends contributes to this cycle. A micro trend is a craze that lasts only a sliver of typical five to 10 year trend. It rises in popularity at an incredibly fast pace, and demand falls just as quickly. Micro trends also require buyers to keep up by purchasing new clothes. Fast fashion manufacturers are the only ones able to compete in this market. 2020’s revival of the late 80s bucket hat fad is a recent example of a swiftly moving trend. Current crazes include everything from corset tops to wide-leg pants. Influencers enable these trends, of course. Personally, Nava Rose on TikTok integrated pants beyond just skinny jeans into my closet. Before social media allowed more people to convey styles, there were a limited number of people that had any control of the fashion industry. Fashion magazines were the main influence over clothing styles, but now with Instagram and TikTok, just about anyone can set off a fashion chain reaction. Once these instigators start trends, people are compelled to buy into them. Conformity is a natural instinct, and the fear of missing out can be strong. By wearing what everyone else is wearing, there is no way to wear the wrong thing. Aside from conformity, the sheer low cost can be enough to convince people to strictly buy from fast fashion companies. Like most environmental issues, wealth or lack thereof is the root of the problem. Sustainable clothing is expensive, so there is less incentive to buy it. I don’t expect teens to investigate the ethics of where they are buying clothing. The critical thinking that goes along with abstaining from buying fast fashion is not an easy trek. Teenagers also are not presumed to have money to buy from more ethical clothing sources. One of the reasons that the ethics of fast fashion interest me is my own participation in it. It has been a struggle for me to find what type of style fits me best. Is it skinny jeans or mom jeans? Graphic tees or striped shirts? Hoodies or cardigans? I have yet to find the right answer, and I doubt there is one. But in an attempt to figure it out, I bought a pair of $12 jeans from Shein a few months ago. Unemployed and feebly attempting to find my style, Shein was the perfect provider. The craziest part is that I still probably would have bought the jeans even if I knew the impact of my actions. It was less about how much I liked the jeans and more about how desperate I was to find what suits me best. The lengths I was willing to go to find my style outweighed the environmental costs

for me at the time. I ended up returning the jeans anyway due to them not fitting correctly, but my hypocrisy illustrated the widespread assimilation to fast fashion. Now that I have more of a handle on who I am and have done more research, I try to buy more secondhand clothes by either thrifting or from friends. While it is not as easy to obtain the type of clothes I am looking for, I think the good outweighs the bad. Even so, my experience with fast fashion shows how the accessibility or lack thereof can cause people to turn a blind eye to environmentally damaging sources of clothing. Besides conformity ceasing to exist, one way of handling the issue is to actually allow people to obtain affordable sustainable clothing. The reality is that making ethical clothes cheap is just as hard as shifting the conformity mindset. In the struggle to keep up with fast paced trends, the environment worsens and the uniformity mentality accelerates. While trying to find our unique styles, we end up conforming to the stylish trends we are bombarded by every time we open our phones. Despite the terrifying statistics, the truth is that nothing will change unless every aspect of fast fashion — including the companies that profit off of them, sustainable companies and buyers — make ethical changes.

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CRYPTO

CRISIS C

ryptocurrency, NFTs, mining, Bitcoin, Blockchain and “buy the dip” are just a few of many terms that have become common in the last two years. As the once quiet chatter surrounding cryptocurrencies becomes a painfully loud and constant wail further fueling an environmentally damaging and financially unpredictable form of currency, many questions pervade. What does any of that mean? What does it all amount to? What benefits and consequences come with the use of these currencies? Let’s start with the basics. What is a cryptocurrency? Investopedia defines a cryptocurrency as a digital currency that is secured by cryptography (the art of writing or solving codes). These digital currencies have some serious real-world value with price tags for the most popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum ranging anywhere from $3,000 per coin for ETH to $40,000 per coin for BTC. However most investors choose to buy fractions of these coins instead of paying the full price. In a study conducted by the University of Cambridge, researchers found that in 2021 Bitcoin mining alone consumed an estimated 144 Terawatt hours of electricity. To put that into scale the entirety of New York City uses 52 TWh annually. That means one year’s worth of electricity used in Bitcoin mining could power all of New York City for almost three years. The University of Cambridge also found that when compared to the top 59 countries in the world for energy consumption, Bitcoin mining came in 27th place — ranking its energy consumption above countries including the Philippines (population 109.6 million), Ukraine (population 44.1 million), and Argentina

Marcus Welch Staff writer

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MAKING SENSE OF THE DIGITAL DISASTER

(population 45.3 million). I fear what the future holds for a world where popular cryptocurrencies are responsible for power consumption rivaling that of multiple countries, but staggering consumption is not the only real-life consequence of these digital currencies. Alongside the massive amounts of electricity used to fuel crypto mining and transactions, physical waste also comes as a result in the form of exhausted computer components used to mine and acquire cryptocurrency. Digiconomist, a widely cited database used to track the energy consumption and electronic waste of various cryptocurrencies, estimates that Bitcoin mining alone is responsible for 30+ kilotons of electronic waste. While that number is relatively small in comparison to the electronic waste of other industries, the rate at which the amount of electronic waste produced by Bitcoin mining is increasing rapidly with Bitcoin

being responsible for just 2.6 kilotons of electronic waste in 2017. While the global environmental damage caused by cryptocurrency consumption and waste are most concerning, the societal impacts of crypto-culture are arguably more frustrating. Whether its impacts on the supply chain for computer technology, social media promotional campaigns, pressure from other investors to pour in more money or the obnoxious and cult-like supporters, cryptocurrency has invaded every walk of life. When it comes to mining cryptocurrency, the stronger the computer you use the faster the process goes. Consequently, everyone scrambling to mine as much crypto as possible is also scrambling to build the strongest computer possible by whatever means necessary. In the world of computers, it’s not uncommon for anyone who keeps up with

Art by Eva Lucero


high-end or newly released tech to have experienced the dreadful escapade of attempting to purchase the newest and most powerful computer parts only for them to sell out instantly. When it comes to purchasing high-end computer parts from a big name website like Amazon, you’ve likely fallen victim to bots that purchase items the moment they become available. Guess who sets up these

programs? Crypto miners. It’s frustrating for tech enthusiasts to spend months attempting to get their hands on computer parts that are being ravaged by bots. But there’s a new level of frustration added by knowing that once crypto miners have used their unfair advantage to acquire high-end tech, they will effectively destroy it by running dozens or even hundreds of top of the line computers under high stress conditions until they no longer work. what is cryptocurrency? Then the cycle begins Cryptocurrency is a digital form of money anew. that possesses unique characteristics making it nearly impossible to counterfeit. Even if you’re not a Cryptocurrencies are secured through the tech enthusiast, there’s process of writing or solving codes using a high chance you’ve computers. seen one of those promotional campaigns on Instagram What makes crypto desirable? for a new collection Many cryptocurrencies are bank-free of NFTs, or non-fundecentralized currencies. This means that gible tokens: unique they are not regulated by any government entities and can be purchased and traded pieces of digital media on digital platforms. like pictures, videos or audio that are individualized using how popular is crypto? blockchain technology. NFTs are purchased Each day hundreds of thousands of with Ethereum or transactions occur with popular cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin averages over Solana (SOL) through 300,000 daily transactions. online marketplaces like Open Sea. Cryptocurrency prices are extremely The nature of NFTs, volatile and can plummet at any moment allowing for artists to leaving investors with massive financial sell their work for large losses. sums of money to people all around the world, isn’t inherently Where does crypto come from? bad. Still, NFT collections like the “Bored Cryptocurrencies are acquired through cryptography (more commonly referred to as Ape Yacht Club” mining) and using computers to read and infiltrate and sour the write strings of code. market. The thousands of slightly different drawings of monkeys What makes crypto valuable? that sell mostly to celebrities for hunPopular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have annual and hard limits on the dreds of thousands of amount that can be mined or acquired, creating dollars take away from a competitive environment and a race to the work of real artists acquire as much crypto as possible. trying to make a living off of their passion, Limited supply is only one half of the equation that drives expensive crypto prices. The other thus encouraging the half is the blockchain technology used to house creation of copycat all of the data behind cryptocurrency. NFT collections floodBlockchain stores all of the data in unique digital blocks, creating unique and individual ing the market. cryptocurrencies. Many entry-level crypto investors Limited supply

Infographic by Marcus Welch

purchase less expensive and less popular cryptocurrencies called altcoins. They hope that these coins will rise in price to allow early investors to profit. Due to the typically low cost of altcoins, they’re a relatively low investment risk in comparison to mainstream cryptos like Bitcoin or Ethereum. With a low risk and massive room for profits, investing in the cheapest altcoin you can find seems like a no-brainer, but making money from them requires patience and luck. Altcoins take some of the downsides of mainstream cryptos to an extreme. With so many altcoins on the market, it’s nearly impossible to invest the right assets without investing money into dozens of altcoins. In the event that an altcoin does manage to value above a few cents, their prices often fall way back down as the conversation surrounding them dies down. Crypto price dips encourage an addiction like “buy the dip” behavior. Investors pressure each other to use price dips as an opportunity to spend more money and buy more rather than selling off their assets before prices drop too low and investors lose money. An example of this risky behavior would be Dogecoin. After gaining traction online Dogecoin amassed millions of investors, many of whom swore that the more money they put in, the more they would get out. However after Doge prices rose to 74 cents per coin they quickly plummeted down to 14 cents per coin and cost investors major profits. Along with volatile prices, investing in altcoins also brings risky rug pull schemes, a danger not present with more mainstream cryptocurrencies. In November 2021, the creators of ‘Squid Coin’ cashed out completely and crashed the Squid Coin market resulting in millions of investors losing their money while those responsible for the rug pull made off with millions of dollars in profits. At the end of the day, we live in a world where people pay tens of thousands of dollars for an environmentally devastating, unique string of codes or hundreds of thousands of dollars for an atrocious digital monkey — all while swearing that those who don't see the appeal have so much more to learn. After hours of research and puzzling through the intricacies of the market, I guess I still have a lot to learn.

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Lack of communication leaves us in the dark T

he morning of Nov. 1, when I got out of my car, I said goodbye to my mother and told her I loved her. I was scared that it would be the last time I would ever be able to say those words to her. All I knew was that someone had threatened to “shoot up” the school during one of the lunches, a rumor that had surfaced on social media the night before. Some people in my first period didn’t even know about the threat until they got to school, but by the end of third period, many students had called their parents to take them home. When I came to school, I was afraid, but what made me the most scared was the lack of information. While there was no information sent out to students, teachers and parents on the Cedar Shoals listserv received information about the threat the night before at 11:19 p.m.. At the time, school administration and law enforcement had not identified the source of the threat (it was made on an anonymous Instagram account), but they did say that they were implementing the safety protocols for incidents like this one. The next morning at 9:25 a.m., students received an email explaining that the school was not under any immediate threat and the student who made the threat had been apprehended. These emails did not do much to put my friends and me at ease, especially after already being at school for almost an hour. By the end of my first period, there were only four or five people left in my class. Throughout the day, the highest attendance in any of my classes was five people. I appreciate that the school administration and law enforcement swiftly found the person who made the threat and determined that there was no immediate danger, but the issue remains that some students were not aware of the threat. The fact that high school teenagers were not sent the same email communication as parents and teachers to ensure that we were all informed is insulting. When there is an actual shooting threat, aside from faculty, we will be the ones in the life or death situation. A factor of the speedy determination of the credibility of the threat was parents who gathered information

Delia McElhannon Staff writer

Art by Eva Lucero

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and shared it with the school. If information was shared with students who are admittedly more tech savvy than parents, we could help find out more about the situation and help the administration find out what they need to know. I would understand sending information to parents first if this was elementary school, but this is high school. Teenagers are capable of forming their own thoughts and decisions. If there comes a time when we go through another threat like this one, we should be allowed the decision of whether or not we feel comfortable going to school. Even if parents or administration believe that a student is not responsible or mature enough to make a decision like that, students should be given the chance to prove that they can be mature and responsible. No one starts out knowing the right decision or how to make it. The only way to learn is trial by fire. But all through my life I have been told that high school will be the place that I am supposed to be allowed to make decisions to practice for when I won’t be relying on my parents in the future when I am an adult. It was not my choice to come to school on Nov. 1, with what was in my eyes an active school shooter threat. My parents were fairly certain that the threat was not credible and that my sister and I would be safe, so I was sent to school feeling that my own future had been taken from me. I wish that my peers and I had been given the chance to show responsibility in practicing control over our own lives that day. The fact that some students did not know anything about the threat does not sit right with me. Why not directly inform high school students when parents are informed? Not everyone gets email notifications or checks their email regularly. Students, especially so, are more likely to get the information quicker when it is posted on social

media such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Additionally, information is spread very quickly by people on social media, so it would decrease the percentage of people left in the dark. Days and scenarios when students wonder if a particular day will be their last are becoming too common. For some, it is their last day. There have been 356 victims of school shootings in the past 10 years. With such a disturbing number, the place where we are supposed to feel safe and learn is also the place where we worry for our safety. This isn’t even the first time I endured an experience like this. On Aug. 6, my third day of freshman year, Cedar Shoals went on hard lockdown. A robotic voice spoke over the intercom telling teachers to lock their doors and hide. It was later confirmed through a local news source that there was no immediate threat to the student body, but the sickening heart-pounding feeling of wondering whether I was about to die is one that I won’t forget. Both of these cases are times that I felt that I might be in danger. The lack of information and feeling of being thrust suddenly into a potentially hostile environment left me dazed, scared and angry. After the Aug. 6 incident, an email was not sent to students, so we either had to learn what happened from a local news source or our parents. At the beginning of the pandemic, a report published from the Journal of Behavioral Medicine noted that 2.1 million excess firearms were purchased in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic — a 64.3% increase over expected volume. I worry about my safety when situations like these happen, and I worry about what school safety will be like in the future. If we don’t do something now, will anything change? When my little brother goes to school, I don’t want him to experience the same worries. I want him to learn in a safe environment and to not have to be in the dark about his safety.


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American Media harms perception of my culture A t a young age, I was welcomed to American culture through television. America seemed like a wonderland of hope and success. Although I’d never been to or met anyone from America, I had so many high expectations. The cars, the people and the money were shown constantly, and I believed that every American was incredibly rich and successful. When I finally came to America in 2012, I wasn’t surprised that it was just like the movies. The cars, the people and the money were all there. But why was America so disconnected from everything else? It’s an understatement to say that America is less accepting of different cultures, but back in Senegal and different countries in the world, it’s the complete opposite. When I went back this summer, my cousins and family members watched shows from different countries and learned about different cultures and their lifestyles. It was awkward for me to then come back to America and have someone assume that I lived in the desert because they watched a TV show about it. I have always been bombarded with ignorant questions since my journey here, thinking that people were just being mean. Now I realize that people truly don’t know. My hope that America was exposed to the variety of cultures I was back in Senegal quickly fell. After seven years of my residence in Athens, the first day I watched a video about Africa was in my seventh grade world history class. I was excited to show everyone what my real culture was and how it wasn’t stereotypical. I was hoping that it showed how Africa was innovative and not everyone was poor. What I wanted to happen sadly didn’t and I remembered everyone’s eyes on me. I was embarrassed because now everyone thinks that I took a two mile walk across the jungle just to go to school. As an immigrant, people’s perceptions of you rely on what they see in the media. After that, questions like “Did you swim to America?” or “Do you have water at your house in Senegal?” became more prominent. It made me angry. What I remember about Africa was taking a ten minute walk with my sisters from our apartment to my preschool. We were normal people just as Americans were.

Aissatou Sarr Staff writer

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I’ve only been able to see lower-class Africans on American television, yet I grew up only seeing rich and successful Americans on our TVs in Senegal. The most well-known types of depictions of these Africans were shown in documentaries and YouTube videos. The worst ones came from the videos where the typical white man with a savior complex went to the poorest parts of Africa and gave them money and food. What I saw was a man trying to seek validation and praise for having basic human decency and doing a good deed. It’s obvious that these Africans he was exploiting were uncomfortable and wanted their privacy. The comment sections are filled with pity against these people and praise for the man. These types of videos start a multitude of stereotypes and miscommunication. For example, a common phrase that American parents use is, “Eat your food, people are starving in Africa.” This is true, but it seems as though the starving people of every other country have been forgotten and Africa is the only place where starving people exist. Hearing these remarks made me feel not only em

barrassed but angry for being embarrassed. Being African is my identity, but in America, it became an insult. Not only does American media show misconceptions of Africans, but the stereotypes of African Americans are worse for someone like me. I look and sound American but I’m also African. The discrimination that African Americans face every day affects me and also the harmful stereotypes that Africans face. I felt like I was stuck in the middle and had to take damage from both sides even though we are all the same. Coming from a place where everyone looked like me, then walking into my first day of American elementary school where kids already started ridiculing me for my darker skin color, I felt so out of place. Being that we were only six years old, I believe that little TV representation had a part to play in these misunderstandings. “The Lion King” is and will always be an iconic movie. The music and the graphics were up to par but because we were just kids, I got questions like “Did you have a lion in Senegal?” and “Did you eat bugs?” The first day of the new school year was always the worst part of the year. My least favorite part was introducing myself to the class. Transitioning to an American environment at such a young age, I was always confused about who I am. When I tell others about my culture, no one seems to understand. There’s not enough African representation in America that isn’t stereotypical. Americans often see thick accents, loud behavior or uncivilized villagers. I started to feel ashamed of my culture and wanted to suppress it. I landed on the idea that no one would ask me ignorant questions if they didn’t know I was African. Because of this, I started adopting the American way of life. I didn’t tell my teachers and classmates that I was African. When I had to, I became uncomfortable thinking that they would have a negative reaction to it or mock me. I adopted a more American accent, I stopped celebrating my culture and I stopped eating Senegalese foods. Now, I long for my culture, yet feel so far away from it. After 10 years of living here, television’s representation of African people has improved. Movies like “Black Panther” or “Queen of Katwe” showed Africa in a new light, but we still have a long way to go. The better representation that debunks harmful stereotypes can allow children, especially immigrant children, to feel more welcome. When settling in America, the bullying, colorism and mocking that I endured was already enough without knowing the language or knowing anyone on top of that. No child should have to experience this feeling if we have open minds and simply educate each other.

LOST IN WONDERLAND: Figuring out your identity is something that everyone goes through. But it’s harder when everyone is telling you what to be. Art by Ava Maddox.


GROWING FACTIONS: A fissure grows in between the American and Namibian flag, representing the two cultures staff writer Tumelo Johnson finds myself between. He finds it hard to connect with the Namibian side of himself. Art by Megan Wise.

FINDING MYSELF: I

grew up wanting to be white. I wished more than anything for straight hair, pale skin and freckles. My whole family is white, one half from south Georgia and the other from Colorado. I’m biologically related to my mother and was adopted by my Dad in pre-k. My mom and I met my dad and my now step-sisters when I was 4. My biological father is from Namibia, a country in southern Africa, but he and my mother split before I was born. Growing up in a white family means a complete detachment from Black culture, both American and Namibian. This disconnect from blackness permeates my everyday life. I don’t know how to take care of my hair, keep it healthy or style it. I know next to nothing about the country my biological father was raised in. I don’t speak the native language or

Tumelo Johnson Staff writer

growing up mixed in an all white family

eat any of the cultural foods. I’ve researched the customs and traditions of the people of Namibia, but I fear that I will never fully understand the culture. I can’t walk into the village where my birth father grew up and feel at home. The reality is that I will never, and can never, be completely in touch with my roots. Every single person of color living in America fights a hostile white world. Every step they take is combated by a larger system of oppression. I fear that I have assimilated into that system. Maybe being raised by middle class white people has stripped me of my native culture and made me part of theirs. Many times during my childhood — like community theater and summer camp — I was one of few, if not the only, Black or mixed person present. Camp was so overwhelmingly white that the only other Black person was also raised in a white family. I have spent a concerning amount of my time explaining white people’s underhanded or overtly racist behavior back to them. It does not happen to me often, but when it does it truly opens my eyes to how clueless they can be.

One time, a white guy literally said the n-word to me in casual conversation. When I questioned him about it, he explained that he had been given an “n-word pass” by his Black friend. Incidents like this are very rare for me, but they point out how normal it is for white people to be casually racist. The number of people that randomly touch my hair is astounding. In these instances, I am standing by myself or with a group of friends and someone that I don’t even know comes up and starts to pet me. I don’t really know what to do, so I just stand there feeling vaguely like an animal until they stop. I hope that one day I can learn the language my birth father spoke. I hope that I can someday learn everything there is to know about my culture and customs. I realize that I sit in a place of enormous privilege, and that I have opportunities that I would not have in Namibia. My family supports me whenever I talk about wanting to reconnect with my culture, and I am very grateful for that. I hope that one day in the future, I can go to the country that my birth father was raised in and feel at home.

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SPRING SPORTS STARS ~

Compiled by Jacob Weiszer, Gabriel Holcomb and Isabella Morgan Photos by Isabella Morgan

HOSSIEL PENA

SOCCER 4 YEARS

SEASON STATISTICS • • • •

Two goals Five assists 22 chances created 39 tackles

ROLE MODEL

CARSWELL HICKEY

“My teammate Kevin Soliz, a freshman on the varsity soccer team, is my role model because although he is a young player and often has to go against bigger players, he is always putting in a lot of work to help the team on the defensive end.”

GOLF 2 YEARS

KEY PERFORMANCES

• Flowery Branch meet (Feb. 23): Low Medalist (first place) • Chestatee meet (March 4): Second place • Lowest combined score for girls team • Leads team in holes parred

ROLE MODEL

“My mom is my role model because she encouraged me to play golf and I wound up loving it.” 12 | cedarblueprints.com


JA’SHIA TURNER

TRACK 4 YEARS

KEY PERFORMANCES

• Sixth in the girls 100-meter dash finals at the North Oconee FAT All-Comers Meet • Seventh in the girls 200-meter dash finals at the North Oconee FAT All-Comers Meet • 11th in the girls 100-meter dash finals at the Loch Johnson Invitational

ROLE MODEL

“My role model would definitely be my coaches, as they push me to become a better athlete. Seeing how successful they are and how they made other athletes accomplish things makes me want to do the same thing, but better.”

,

ROBERT CHATMON JR.

BASEBALL 1 YEAR

SEASON STATISTICS • • • •

.492 on-base percentage 16 runs scored 14 stolen bases Six RBI (runs batted in)

ROLE MODEL

“I watch and learn from different players to see what they have in common and what they add to it themselves. My go-to shortstop would probably be Tim Anderson or Dansby Swanson and for second base, Ozzie Albies.” cedarblueprints.com | 13


Fairway

ON PAR: Dodd Ferrelle Jr. swings his club and launches the golf ball far into the driving range. “Even though he was playing at a really high level, he has a standard for himself and when he’s not meeting it he gets frustrated. So I think that’s what he learned last year, how to handle some of that adversity. It didn’t look like adversity to me. It looked like he was still playing better than any freshman I’ve ever seen. But to him, he knew he could do better,” Coach Brandt Hacker said. Photo by Isabella Morgan. Design by Ava Maddox and Aiden Dowling

By Michael Niedzwiecki-Castile

D

odd Ferrelle cuts quite an unassuming figure. Tall, lithe, composed and calm, he exudes an aura of humble confidence. His hat might be the only thing that gives away his passion. Perched atop closely cropped, sandy blonde hair, the Titleist logo shines out, marking his passion for an 18-hole walk. “Golf is a good walk spoiled,” the old adage goes, but for Ferrelle, that couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s been playing golf for as long as he can remember. “The first time I picked up plastic clubs, I was 1. My dad played golf and then all my dad’s family played golf, so he got me into it,” Ferelle said. “Every year we would take a week-long vacation to Richard B. Russell State Park. They have a nice golf course and that’s when I first played golf.” Ferrelle has always been a standout. His father, Dodd Ferrelle senior, reminisces fondly about first watching his son learn the game. “By the time he was 5 or 6, I could see his swing developing and that’s when I cut out a little golf hole in our side yard. That’s where he learned the game. It was his swing in our back yard that made me think he was a special golfer,” Ferrelle Sr. said. Ferrelle Jr. entered his first tournament at the age of 7, just two years after he began practicing seriously. “A few tournaments later, I got a hole in one. I think my dad and my caddy were more excited than I was,” Ferrelle Jr. said. Since then, there’s been no looking back. Ferrelle became one of the fiercest competitors in the junior national golf scene, competing independently in tournaments until joining the Cedar Shoals golf team during his final year at Coile Middle School. Before then, he was almost entirely self-taught. “His dad reached out saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got this eighth grade son who loves golf, I don’t know if you have any kind of JV team or if you can practice with the guys, but we’d love to be involved,’” former

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Cedar golf coach Brandt Hacker said. “He was already more experienced than all of us. As an eighth grader, he knew what he was doing in a way that most of our crew did not.” Ferrelle joined the Cedar Shoals golf team as its only junior varsity member during his final year at Coile. Until that point, the team had been composed of students who had never previously played or had only sparse exposure to the game. Ferrelle brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team, even as its youngest member, and he appreciated the laid-back environment the team fostered while still improving his game. “We wanted to get better each year and enjoy doing it, and while he’s certainly got some big individual goals, I think he was able to just kind of slide right into our norms and just have some fun with it,” Hacker said. “Once he got to know everybody, he realized that we were a goofy group. He’s got a good sense of humor about him.” Ferelle’s teammates echo Hacker’s sentiments. Alex Holland, a senior and fellow member of the team, credits Ferrelle’s ambition and attitude for the team’s fast rise in competition. “Dodd is someone who doesn’t accept anything other than his best. There’s been countless times where the rest of the team think he’s played well but he still sees all the areas he can improve,” Holland said. “Dodd just loves to see other people succeed. He’s constantly helping us to be better golfers and raising the bar for the whole team.” Ferrelle has competed both for the school and in individual competitions, and has received numerous accolades and admirable placings at tournaments over the years. These include being named

North American Junior Golf ’s Player of the Year in his age group in 2018, 2020 and 2021, podium placings in 54 of 64 tour appearances, securing first place in 27 of those appearances, and most recently taking home the 2021 NAJG Tour Championship.

Art by Ava Maddox


Holland has an intimate view into the work it takes for one to get to that level. Countless hours of practice create fond memories after the day’s work is done. “My favorite memory of Dodd was the first time we ever played together. It was the second hole at the country club, and we watched this little eighth grader walk up and drive a ball about six inches away from a hole in one. We were all like ‘Holy crap he’s good,’” Holland said. Though he is only now a sophomore, Ferelle has dreams of making it on tour and has recognized that he has a better chance of doing so if he plays in junior tournaments outside of school. “My dad talked to somebody that is a college recruiter at the state championship last year, and they said that the sophomore to junior years are when you really want to prove yourself. That’s when colleges will start looking at you,” Ferrelle said. “But school is one of the least likely ways to get on tour. You’ll play junior tournaments and you’ll get sponsorship exemption types that let you play a couple of tournaments on tour.” While the future looks bright, it hasn’t come without a few annoyances. Ferrelle himself cites a recent growth spurt as a point of frustration with his game. Golfers’ swings are dependent on their height, so different heights and body types require subtle changes in one’s swing. “I was the short kid in middle school. Then COVID hit and I grew like five inches when we were in quarantine, and I didn’t really play much golf. I wasn’t used to being five inches taller, and I was hitting the ball all over the place,” Ferrelle said. “Since then, I’ve grown about six more inches, so growing has really put me off my game.” The age divisions of the junior tours have also presented Ferrelle with challenges to overcome, finding himself often on the youngest end of each division. Typically, the oldest golfers in each division often have physical and experiential advantages.

“As soon as the age groups change, I’m the youngest again. The age groups were supposed to be 16-18 and then 14-15. I was going to be 15 in the 14-15, but then the groups changed and I was 15 in the 15-18. So I didn’t really win, only twice that year,” Ferrelle said. Through all the challenges, Ferrelle Sr. has been there right alongside his son and couldn’t be prouder. “I am in awe of what he has done at a young age. It’s not just all of the wins and accomplishments. He has faced the kind of adversity that golfers much older may never face and he has always persevered. Golf is a solitary sport that takes an immense amount of inner strength and resolve. His strong character has only been strengthened by what he has faced and overcome,” Ferrelle Sr. said. “I tell him before every tournament that the guy having the most fun wins. And I believe that’s true in any line of work or life in general.” Ferrelle continues to find motivation to improve his game and is looking toward the future of golf at Cedar. He hopes that he can convince others who may have misconceptions about the sport to play and enjoy it. “A lot of people think golf is some easy sport that isn’t fun because they’ve seen it on TV, and admittedly watching it isn’t the most fun thing. But, when people get to the course and actually play their first round, they think it is pretty fun,” Ferelle said. “Sometimes you are just too scared to be called an old man for playing golf. I just find it really fun, I can’t imagine not playing golf.”

SWINGING AWAY: During an afternoon practice, Dodd Ferrelle Jr. watches as his golf ball shoots into the air after a swing. “I try to stay out of his way at this point. And I try to keep the game fun for him. He’s still young and it’s a difficult grind. COVID has been difficult on all young students and Dodd has had difficult times, but he pulls through and I’m super proud of him for that,” Dodd Ferrelle Sr. said. Photo by Isabella Morgan.

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TENNIS TURNS OVER A NEW LEAF PERFECT HIT: Sophomore Sam Michael braces to hit a tennis ball during the Jan. 11 practice. Carly Chandler, the team’s coach, points out the importance of movement to her players during practices. “It’s very much like that ping pong sensation,” Chandler said. “I have to anticipate where the ball is going to go, and then in a split second you have to get into the perfect position, the perfect distance. So movement is something we need to work on across the board for every level player.” Photo by Melanie Frick.

A

By Melanie Frick

fter last year’s season, which was noncompetitive and consisted of four regular players, the Cedar Shoals tennis team is making a comeback. On Jan. 11, the team held their first practice, where 20 students were present to learn technique and put each other’s skills to the test. “It was my first time actually playing on our team, so it felt good having other people to play with,” freshman Spencer Waldroup said. The program kicked off the season in October with conditioning on the Cedar Shoals campus, incorporating running long distance and sprinting with agility and strength training. “We started off with running and did a lot of back and forth cardio, and we did the Green Mile (a track around the Cedar Shoals grounds),” Waldroup said. “We also did a lot of stretching too, probably half (cardio) and half (stretching). It did help us build some stamina for the court.” Carly Chandler, science department, has been coaching the team since 2017. Although there have been additional coaches throughout the years to work

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with the team’s boys, Chandler is the program’s only coach this year. “​​We’ve got beginners and intermediates, and then we’ve got a couple of kids who actually have some playing behind them,” Chandler said. “My goal is to work with real beginners on a few specific skill sets. While I’m doing that, I try to pair up people that I think will be the most competitive together to play against each other.” Growing up playing tennis in elementary school, senior Mia Morlock was eager to get reacquainted with the sport in high school. She practiced with the team last year and appreciates how the variety of players gives each person a diversity of skill levels to train against. “We have some people here that have had private lessons, and then there are people that played when they were younger but they kind of lost it and came back,” Morlock said. “Then there are some people that haven’t seen a match before, so it’s really different but I think that’s one of the best parts.” Chandler, who grew up in a competitive tennis environment, had to adjust to

Design by Megan Wise

players’ needs when competing wasn’t an option last season. She now recognizes the importance of creating that foundation. “I grew up in a hyper-competitive high school, where winning was the only goal and we killed ourselves to win and that was it. That was the only mindset,” Chandler said. “That was difficult when I showed up here because if you have not grown up playing tennis at all, if your first time playing tennis is when you’re 17, you’re probably not going to win. That can’t be the goal.” After taking last season to get familiar with the sport and practice for fun, the team now expects to have the seven boy and seven girl minimum requirement to participate in competitions. Chandler anticipates more players will join winter sports like swimming and wrestling end their seasons. “My goal is to actually play in a real match because I haven’t done that and also work on my serving,” Morlock said. Players also know the specific skills they need to work on to succeed in competing.


“I hope to get better, be more consistent with my rallies and not hit the net or hit it out of the area,” Wauldroup said. “My goals are pretty much set in motion for just winning matches.” Chandler also has ideas for what to work with the team on during practice. “We all need to work on movement. Tennis is really cool because it’s very quick. Where you have to move is a split second decision, and your distance from the ball is clutch in having a good shot,” Chandler said. “The number one mistake that players make is not understanding where they have to move.” Without enough courts on the Cedar Shoals campus, practices take place at the Athens-Clarke County Tennis Center off of Lexington Road. The program has run into transportation issues though. With a shortage of bus drivers in CCSD, there is not always a reliable bus to get students to the courts on time or at all. “It’s not the kids on the bus’ fault, but they’re getting here 20 minutes late. If I wait until then and then we go do a warmup, we just won’t have time and what we really need is time on the court. As much as we need to get in shape, if

you don’t know how to hold the tennis racket, it doesn’t matter,” Chandler said. Despite the logistical challenges, Chandler enjoys spending her time outdoors as much as possible, whether it be 6 a.m. runs, taking her environmental science class to a river or playing on the tennis courts. She hopes to teach a deeper connection with exercise to all tennis players. “My goal is for you to set a goal. Whether it’s ‘I want to get in shape. I want to learn something new. I want to make friends. I want to feel part of a team.’ Whatever that is, actually commit to it,” Chandler said. “I’m a really really big believer that developing your physical abilities, and your physical body is intricately related to your mental health, so that’s my goal for everybody on the team: gain mental health through physical health.”

Graphic by Megan Wise

PRACTICE IS KEY: Cedar tennis team players refill their pockets with tennis balls before playing. Senior Charles Winchell values the connections he fosters through the team. “I think teamwork and coordinating with others is a big part of it (my enthusiasm for tennis) for me,” Winchell said. Photo by Melanie Frick.

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AN EXCITING ADDITION: Cedar Shoals Principal Antonio Derricotte and Athletic Director L’Dreco Thomas stand in front of a model of the new fieldhouse. Derricotte expects the impact of the fieldhouse to spread beyond the school’s gates. “The fieldhouse is just another source of pride. We often say ‘take pride in the East Side,’ and if that pride can start here at Cedar and spread beyond, than it can impact our entire community,” Derricote said. Photo by Jacob Weiszer.

A new source of pride for the East Side

By Jacob Weiszer

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he selection of an architect for the new Cedar Shoals fieldhouse is set to take place this month with hopes of breaking ground this summer. As part of a renovation funding package that was first approved for both district high schools in the fall of 2019 that included new tracks, each school was allocated money for stadium renovations. While Clarke Central opted to use its funds to install an artificial turf field, Cedar Shoals decided to upgrade its athletic facilities with a new fieldhouse. The fieldhouse is expected to include locker rooms, a banquet space, a weight room and trainer facilities with proximity to the outdoor athletic fields. “It is a big inconvenience for our athletes and referees to have to walk from the gym where they change down to

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the fields,” Principal Antonio Derricotte said. “From a safety standpoint, we needed a closed in environment closer to the athletic fields in case we have to move athletes quickly because of severe weather. There was a need to put something in the area that would best serve all the surrounding athletic fields so the fieldhouse will serve as an opportunity to bring everything together in a one-stop shop.” Athletic Director L’Dreco Thomas sees the fieldhouse as not only beneficial for the athletes but also for physical education classes. “Oftentimes teams and PE classes will have to split into two or three groups in order to use the locker and weight rooms because our current facilities are just not big enough,” Thomas said. “These new spaces will allow us to accommodate more people and will give us facilities that are better suited for our school’s needs.” Senior James Maddox, a weight training student, says the current weight room often gets overcrowded which can increase the risk of injury. “The weight room generally feels cramped which sometimes makes me nervous of others lifting around me,” Maddox said. “One

Design by Megan Wise

weight dropped by a person could land on another student’s foot which can lead to a really bad injury. Certain exercises like power cleans require more room than others so being overcrowded is dangerous in this regard.” Sophomore wide receiver and track athlete Devin Hester has seen similar scenes during football workouts. “When the whole team shows up for training, the weight room is often too small for our whole group so we have to lift in waves which can make our workouts take longer than usual,” Hester said. Derricotte says the project has taken inspiration from another Athens area high school — a region opponent at that. “When I was in my former district, we were in the region with North Oconee (High School) when it was first built and the way that they phased out their projects instead of building everything at once was really smart,” Derricotte said. “Our fieldhouse will mirror a lot of what North Oconee’s field house has, so their building provided some inspiration for us.” The initial budget for the project was around $3 million of Education Special


Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) funding but with increased resource costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of the project is expected to be closer to $4.5 million. “The economic downturn that we are seeing right now with pandemic related issues makes it hard to get materials and makes them more expensive which was a factor in delaying the project,” Derricotte said. “Now it seems like all of the pieces are coming together but we have to be realistic that some of the items needed will be delayed.” Thomas expects the project to resume in the next few weeks. “We are in the process of selecting the architect which should be finished this month,” Thomas said. “The board then has to approve the decision which should allow us to break ground in June. It will then take about eight months to complete the fieldhouse after we break ground.” While the fieldhouse will allow Cedar Shoals to upgrade its facilities, the existing weight rooms and locker rooms will still be used. “A lot of people don’t realize that we renovated the old gym recently to open up

more storage space for our athletic teams,” Derricotte said. “We are trying to make sure all athletes have room to practice and that we don’t overuse any space, which prevents wear and tear.” Derricotte believes that upcoming additions to CSHS facilities will be especially beneficial for female athletes and students. “A few years ago, we bought new weights for the weight room that were specifically designed for our female lifters and we will try to

“It’s a recruiter in that it gives younger kids the mindset that people care about the East Side community and it gets them excited to be a Jaguar,” Thomas said. “It also gives the alumni who have poured a lot of work into our program over the years something that they can take pride in.” Hester believes that having new facilities shows students in the area that Cedar Shoals cares about their academic and athletic development. “The fieldhouse will let students know that we have all the resources that they need to grow as a person and a player which can help them get to where they want to be,” Hester said. “Being able to show them (incoming students) all the new facilities that we have will get them more interested in the school and help bring pride to our athletic programs.” The fieldhouse comes at an important milestone in the school’s history. “We are about to celebrate our 50th anniversary as a school this fall so this is just another way to bring together alumni and show that we care about our students,” Derricotte said.

The fieldhouse will serve as an “opportunity to bring everything together in a one-stop shop. “ -Principal Antonio Derricotte make sure to bring in more diverse equipment for the new weight room as well,” Derricotte said. “People often forget that weight training is a class, not just an after school program that is specifically for athletes. We have to make sure that we have what we need from an academic standpoint which will be a big benefit for all of our students.” The project is also about installing pride in the East Side community.

GROUP WORKOUT: Weight training students do push-ups on the floor of the weight room. James Maddox, a senior weight training student, believes that students are more engaged in learning when they are comfortable with their environment. “Having updated facilities are important as they help with school morale, student efficiency and student ability,” Maddox said. Photo by Melanie Frick.

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Coming off of a strong year for superhero movies, “Morbius” falls short in comparison to recent cinematic giants. Riddled with dozens of plotholes and victim to laughable special effects with writing that feels like it wasn’t proofread, “Morbius” seems as if it was doomed to fail by its own production team. A relatively short runtime of one hour and 44 minutes makes watching “Morbius” feel like watching any other superhero origin story except with one third of the movie missing. All that remains are the painfully predictable aspects of the story and the fight scenes that rely heavily on special effects that look dated enough to have premiered years ago. The possibilities were nearly endless for “Morbius,” with a solid foundation laid out by the 1971 Amazing Spider-Man comics in which Morbius makes his first appearance. “Morbius” could have gone all in on an elaborate origin story and created a strong connection with the audience through emotion and purpose. Instead viewers are left with a choppy exposition that leads to a purposeless conflict with a villain that lacks any and all reason to even be a villain other than the fact that the writers made it that way. Ultimately “Morbius” failed to create a theater-worthy experience and would have greatly benefited from both a longer run time and more time in development. Unfortunately for the film, neither of those items are a reality. - Marcus Welch

Six years following the release of “Dark Souls 3,” FromSoftware has returned with their latest release, “Elden Ring.” The lovechild of “Game of Thrones” creator George R.R. Martin and game director Hidetaki Miyazaki was announced in 2019 but saw a delay to ensure the game wouldn’t be half-baked. “Elden Ring” has borne high expectations since the first trailer released, and fans wouldn’t expect anything less than a masterpiece from the creators. “Elden Ring” takes place in a medieval world, overrun with dragons, giants, skeletons and other abominations. On a quest to collect the shards of the Elden Ring to become the Elden Lord, the story doesn’t venture too far from the Dark Souls franchise. The game also plays almost identically to its predecessors, with the same HUD (heads-up display), weapon types and controls. The Souls games focus mainly on the bosses, and “Elden Ring” does not disappoint. With 120 bosses, players find a new challenge around every corner. While this number may sound overwhelming, it provides an experience where players decide what to do at any moment. If you’re tired of the boss you’re fighting, you can turn around and walk in the opposite direction. The game’s story is fleshed out through the side quests, and players can choose to become fully invested in this vast world. That all said, the main problem with “Elden Ring” comes with some of the bosses as each one is not entirely unique. To save time and money, the game takes liberty in reusing some bosses around the map. Some fights are just multiple previous bosses stacked inside of a room. This repetition isn’t awful, but it can grow tiresome. “Elden Ring” offers an open and beautiful world for the player to explore. Whether diving into side quests, random caves or the main story, there’s always something new just around the corner. Regardless of the challenging and grueling boss fights, any completed task will leave the player fulfilled. - Aiden Dowling

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(Disclaimer: rated TV-MA) “Pam & Tommy” is a hilarious portrayal of actress Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee’s (Sebastian Stan) stolen sex tape. The Hulu original begins with the couple’s Malibu mansion being reconstructed after their spontaneous wedding in Cancún. Their contractor Rand (Seth Rogen) continuously becomes angrier with Tommy due to his disrespectful behavior towards the crew, demanding changes in architecture and pointing guns at them jokingly. Tommy fires them and refuses to pay for any of their completed work. All of his actions inspire Rand to sneak into the garage and steal a giant safe containing the infamous tape. In the second half of the show, viewers see Pam and Tommy discover that their private honeymoon film has been leaked on the internet. The leak affects Pam the most as she absorbs disgusting remarks about her while her career as a “Baywatch” actress is threatened. Viewers might imagine a relationship between a highly fetishized actress and a notoriously narcissistic jerk being entirely shallow, but the show does an incredible job of showing that the two actually do love one another. They frequently discuss getting pregnant, and surprisingly they do. After ecstatically awaiting their baby’s arrival, they suffer a miscarriage. Pam, now overwhelmed with emotions, shatters a paparazzi’s windshield. Aside from the intriguing plot, the casting is nothing shy of spectacular. Lily James and Sebastian Stan are perfect choices, nearly identical to their respective celebrities and playing their personalities well. An amusing, shocking and sometimes emotional rendition of real life celebrity drama, “Pam & Tommy” showcases the lives of Pam and Tommy, as well as Rand while they endure very different sides of an infamous event that took the world by storm. - Ellie Crane

FEAR OF THE DAWN Jack White’s newest psychedelic blues rock album “Fear Of The Dawn” creates a unified feel with songs that flow together without becoming overdone. With 12 tracks running at almost 40 minutes, the entire album could be enjoyed conceptually or just listened to as audibly appetizing music, song by song. With the opening track “Taking Me Back” and title track “Fear Of The Dawn,” listeners are introduced to a harder, more trippy rock album developed with lyrics of the metaphorical dawn of a new era for Jack White. Track five, “Eosophobia,” meaning fear of dawn, furthers the trend of mesmerizing guitar riffs and image-heavy lyrics throughout the album — cementing the theme of dawn. On tracks like “Into the Twilight” and “Hi-De-Ho,” White mixes samples from other songs and sound bites with his own vocals and instrumentals giving all new meaning to the former songs and making them feel like multimedia art. With the vocal clips from multimedia artist William S. Burroughs, White truly gives “Into the Twilight” an out of this world art vibe. In “Hi-De-Ho” White and Q-Tip sample Cab Calloway’s “The Hi-De-Ho Man,” once again bringing the album into new territory and introducing a jazz rap element into it. White’s loud, more electronically produced vocals and instrumentals leave fans excited for his upcoming softer album “Entering Heaven Alive” to be released this July. - Emma McElhannon

Most movies fall in two different categories: movies that make you laugh hysterically, or movies with thrilling, fast-paced action. However, sometimes a rare movie combines both, and “The Lost City” is one of these examples. It’s a comedy, as most events are done to make viewers laugh, but many events such as fighting scenes can get your heart racing. After romance novelist Loretta (Sandra Bullock) gets frustrated with Alan (Channing Tatum) over stealing her spotlight at events, Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) kidnaps Loretta, as he thinks that the treasure and city she writes about in her novels is real. He takes her to an island and tells her to find the treasure before the volcano on the island erupts. In an attempt to rescue Loretta, Alan goes onto the island, but they end up getting lost in the jungle when they attempt to escape The way Loretta and Alan change how they see each other during the film is portrayed through forming a strong bond along their adventures in the jungle. The shift in their relationship is not abrupt, but rather a gradual change that the audience senses. The comedy in this movie is top notch. Oscar (Oscar Nuñez) stars in the film, and he uses his goat sidekick in Randy to make all of his jokes hilarious. All in all, most of the jokes in this movie hit the mark, but there are a few that don’t really get a reaction. The best action moments come when Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt) is on the screen, as he’s always moving and up to something. The pacing of the movie varies, moving fast when appropriate and taking time to show the progression of Loretta and Alan’s bond. There’s always something interesting happening. With incredible humor and a great cast, this movie has something for everyone. In just under two hours, it has humor, action and great progression in the relationship of the two main characters. This is the definition of a movie that’s just pure fun. - Gabriel Holcomb

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CUPID DUNGEONS

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edia representation is crucial for young LGBTQ+ people when attempting to find their identity and acceptance. In February, The Cedar Shoals library adopted an LGBTQ+ romance section in hopes of shaping a safe space for students and staff. Media specialist Megan Ogden says the variety of books with LGBTQ+ characters in the collection are meant to better represent the wide community of LGBTQ+ students and to educate all of the Cedar Shoals population. “LGBTQ representation is on a rise in literature in general. It’s always been part of our mission statement to make sure that we represent everyone,” Odgen said. “It’s really important to us to make sure not only do we have books that represent all of our students, but books so that if you don’t understand a particular group of people, you have an opportunity to experience that.” Media specialists curated the section to represent and include members of the Cedar community and inspire schools and libraries across the country to do the same. Junior Ash Plaksin, who identifies as nonbinary and queer, feels that media representation is important for all students. “Not having the section is fine, but having one is more celebratory and I think it’s a good thing. I think it will help other kids be like ‘Hey, they have the whole LGBTQ+ section,’ and also might encourage them to find more books that include characters like them,” Plaksin said. With LGBTQ+ representation increasing, non-LGBTQ+ people being exposed to LGBTQ+ characters in books and film are more likely to be accepting to the community in their everyday lives, according to a study published by Glaad.org. Senior Mattie Johnson says representation is crucial in helping LGBTQ+ youth to discover parts of themselves while provid-

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ing a sense of safety at school. “High school is a very important time for growth and realizing who you are. I know I spend a lot of my time questioning my sexuality. Having something in the library that represents that could be very important for some people to help realize who they are,” Johnson said. “A

bunch of kids who are LGBTQ+ may not be in a situation where it’s socially accepted. They might not be in a safe situation where if they do come out, they could be in danger. Representation will show them that it’s not a bad thing and it’ll make them feel less alone.”

A beautiful story of two teenage boys coming to terms with their sexuality and love for each other, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” is set in the 1980s and tackles the common theme that everyone is fighting their own private wars. When Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana meet one summer they quickly become best friends. The story is set in Ari’s point of view and throughout the book readers feel his emotions with him. Author Benjamin Alire Sáenz describes him as being quiet and mysterious. Dante on the other hand does not hesitate to share his mind or emotions. The boys endure conflicts within themselves and with each other as they attempt to understand their overwhelming feelings. The novel is an emotional depiction of two Hispanic gay teenage boys falling in love with each other all while trying to hide it from themselves. -Ellie Crane

Aiden Thomas’ “Cemetery Boys” follows Yadriel, a transgender 16 year old boy who must help the ghost of Julian Diaz after summoning him in an attempt to prove himself as a brujo to his Latinx family. Together they try to solve the mystery of Yadriel’s cousin’s murder. Along the way, the story explores the characters’ relationships with themselves, their gender, sexuality, culture and families. “Cemetery Boys” depicts trans teenagers and their struggles both internal and external with authenticity and emotion. Presented in a captivating mix of mystery and magic and written by a trans author, “Cemetery Boys” is one of the most dynamic queer books. -Emma McElhannon

Burgeoning journalist Monique Grant is given the opportunity of a lifetime when old Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo personally requests Monique write her life story. As the elusive actress tells of her journey from a poor Cuban girl growing up in Hell’s Kitchen to a star on the silver screen, secrets are unearthed about her romances, sexuality and an unexpected connection between her life and Monique’s. The book’s nuance in regards to Evelyn’s bisexuality and the conflicts she faces because of it feel very real. However, in comparison to how well Evelyn’s queerness is discussed, the way in which the book handles her Hispanic background is dissapointing. Reading the book, it is clear that it was written by a white woman. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a captivating and emotional read. It’s refreshing to see a story about sapphic love in a genre dominated by straight romance. -Eva Lucero


To Paradise By Tumelo Johnson

Design by Aiden Dowling

Hanya Yanagihara’s latest novel “To Paradise,” released Jan. 11, 2022, is split into three parts: each a distinct story of its own. The stories all have intersecting themes and plot devices. Spanning 300 years and multiple realities, the epic is Yanagihara’s third book.

Part one: “Washington Square” Set in 1893, wealthy aristocrat David Bingham meets mysterious piano teacher Edward and their relationship entirely consumes David’s life, conflicting with his arranged marriage to an older man. Yanagihara’s writing elevates this mediocre storyline to new heights. I was most impressed with the way she portrays the ostentatiously wealthy Binghams and their compatriots, especially David’s vapid condescension. I often found myself recoiling in disgust at his words and thoughts, such as the casual disdain with which he treats black people.

Part two: “Lipo - Wao - Nahele” The first half of part two follows a different David Bingham in 1993 New York as he navigates his relationship with another older man. The worst problem in this part is the inherently predatory relationship between David and his partner. David ponders their relationship for brief moments, but the creepy nature of the relationship is never adequately explored. The second half of “Lipo - Wao - Nahele” is about David’s father Kiwika, a member of the Hawaiian royal family. It explores his dealings with the Hawaiian independence movement. Yanagihara portrays the efforts of the activists as childish and stupid, not worthy of anything but laughter and ridicule. Otherwise, this was an enjoyable section, due to the compelling stories in both parts.

Part three: “Zone 8” Almost half of the book is set in 2093 with two interconnected narratives weaving throughout the section. In one of them, a woman navigates a dystopian America under a fascist dictatorship and suffering endless pandemics. The second narrative is composed of letters from Charles, the woman’s grandfather, to his friend in London. This section excels at creating a realistic dystopia. The cooling suits needed to go outside, and decontamination chambers and authoritarian government seem not only plausible but inevitable. It feels like a snapshot of life in future America. This uneasy atmosphere pervades as characters traverse a world not so different from our’s. This section’s greatest sin is its pacing. The narrative goes from a slow, creeping story to a thriller in the last 20 pages, jolting the reader awake from an almost stagnant tale. The story is not boring up to that point though, as many reviews have suggested. I was entertained the entire time, save a few paragraphs that drag on too long. This section offered a story of what could be. In “To Paradise” Yanagihara writes social commentary, tackling important issues such as racism and the complacency of oppressing factions. Her problem is simply that she is not very good at it. She treats the Hawaiian independence movement like a stupid group of children, her characters say racist things out of nowhere and she includes fatphobia where it is completely unnecessary. But perhaps her biggest offense is her fixation, almost obsession, with gay men. All of Yanagihara’s three books have a gay male protagonist in some shape or form. This is not a problem in itself, but these men are rarely portrayed as human beings. In “A Little Life,” the main character was sexually abused as a child. With “In The People in the Trees” the main character is a pedophile. This trend continues in “To Paradise,” with two of its three gay men engaged in unhealthy relationships. These characters exist in real life too, but when an author writes again and again about certain stereotypes, it turns from realistic to obsessive and damaging.

Graphic by Aiden Dowling

BOOK BY HANYA YANAGIHARA

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Shooting on the spectrum

By Mallory Huntsman

Art by Megan Wise Design by Ellie Crane

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show on the air still lingered. Seven years later, she pitched it again. “I traveled to Los Angeles and pitched the show to a bunch of production companies, and Lifetime loved it,” Taylor said. However, when attempts to film the pilot episode started, problems arose due to the pandemic. “I didn’t want to lose the oppor-

summer, with some off days. Taylor was filmed the most, averaging about 10 hours a day, while the rest of the cast appeared on camera for a day or two during each week. “The biggest thing was that I didn’t want to put any expectations on Pootie. If he was only in a shot for a second and that’s all we got from him all day, it was

My hope is that this show will open the door to more discussions and acceptance for people with different abilities. There is room for everyone in this world and I pray that we see more representation on TV and in the media.

tunity to make a show, so I told Lifetime, ‘Look, I’ve done this with my YouTube and I know what I’m doing. I can just film this on my phone,’” Taylor said. As far as being filmed everyday, Taylor recalls naturally feeling comfortable in front of the camera. “I don’t get embarrassed easily. Honestly, there’s not much that I won’t put out there. The whole cast is really expressive, so when we were being filmed it didn’t make us uncomfortable since we are so used to putting our personalities out there,” Taylor said. The cast filmed for 14 weeks last

everal years ago, Athens resident Geege Taylor took a risk and pitched a reality show to producers based on her family’s uplifting and positive experience with her autistic son. The show got rejected, so she started her own YouTube channel. But in Jan. 2022, “Leave it to Geege” debuted on Lifetime and now airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. Taylor’s son Ainsworth Dudley, most commonly known as “Pootie,” currently attends Cedar Shoals High School. He was diagnosed with nonverbal autism at 18 months old. The original idea for the show stemmed from the lack of autistic representation in the media around the time Pootie was diagnosed and the lack of positive stories on the matter. “Back then it was always sad and stressful talking about the struggle with autism and it focused more on the negatives. It just drove me crazy because I’m such a positive person and I thought that the conversation needed to be changed,” Taylor said. Rather than giving up on the idea of positively documenting her life with Pootie, Taylor started her Youtube channel “Planet Poot.” The channel has since been deleted after the debut of the show on Lifetime. Through her videos, Taylor portrayed a reality show style but the idea to put the

-Kim Stanley

fine,” Taylor said. “The crew was very cooperative with him, bonded with him, and it was just kind of a win-win.” Since Pootie is nonverbal, Tyler Elliot was hired to help Taylor and the rest of her family know his wants and needs. This eventually led Elliot to move in with Taylor and Pootie, and since then he has made significant progress with Pootie’s ability to communicate with others. Also featured are Taylor’s mom Francis (Puddin’), Taylor’s daughter Harper, Taylor’s gardener George and Pootie’s best


friend Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Stanley who graduated from Cedar Shoals in 2012. Pootie and Nicky met at a birthday party 12 years ago and have been inseparable ever since. “Nicky is so vibrant. We immediately fell in love with him and he started coming over all the time. He just loves Pootie and Pootie loves him so it’s a real sweet friendship,” Taylor said. In his time at Cedar, Nicky was known for having a fun and energetic personality that people around him adored. But Nicky also recalls sometimes being made fun of for this. ¨I remember being bullied because I was special, but I had some friends and teachers who had my back,” Nicky said. With this support, he started to gain his passion for wanting to become famous. “I had a lot of teachers tell me I was strong from the inside out, and with that motivation I’m now bringing joy on TV,” Nicky said. Nicky’s mom, Kim Stanley, was friends with Taylor in high school and they reconnected when Pootie and Nicky became

friends. Stanley fully supports Nicky’s involvement in the show, and hopes for it to have a positive impact. “My hope is that this show will open the door to more discussions and acceptance for people with different abilities. There is room for everyone in this world and I pray that we see more representation on TV and in the media,” Stanley said. While Nicky was inspired by his peers at Cedar to become famous, he initially found curiosity at an Extra Special People (ESP) event. ESP is an organization based in Athens that specializes in changing communities and bringing joyful experiences to people with conditions like autism. ESP is featured in the first episode of the show “Making a Splash!,” which gives viewers an insight of ESP’s summer camp. “ESP is a helpful community that has done a lot of good work over the years,” Taylor said. “I think one of the most rewarding things that people can do is volunteer or work at a place like ESP where you’re actually rolling up your sleeves and

helping kids with disabilities.” Before the show began, Taylor was an advocate for autism already through her social media accounts. She portrayed a very positive enviroment with Pootie and gained a following of over 20,000 people on her Instagram. “Another way to get involved is to support projects like ours. Not even through just our show but also our social medias, ” Taylor said. Taylor hopes for a second season, and thinks that the show will have a very positive impact on her viewers. But most importantly she hopes that the program will show how autism isn’t always just about the medications and breakdowns, instead more so about the good aspects. “It’s almost rude to think, ‘Oh, autism acceptance.’ Of course you should accept it,” Taylor said. “My hope is that the show will go from autism awareness to autism celebration.”

BEHIND THE CAMERA: (left to right) Harper Taylor, Ainsworth (Pootie) Dudley and Geege Taylor pose on their living room couch. “The reason we were so comfortable being filmed every day is because our family is used to being loud and expressive, so we never got nervous about the cameras,” Geege Taylor said. Photo by Delia McElhannon.

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WOODSON’S WELDING LAB

STUDENT SUCCESS MEETS COMMUNITY DEMAND By Anna Schmidt

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t first glance, it would be easy to assume that Pierce Woodson’s classroom is a typical learning space. However, with the push of what seems to be a closet door, this ordinary classroom transforms into a fully functional welding and manufacturing lab. Sparks fly, and the sound of students independently operating horizontal band saws, sheet metal benders and other welding tools greet anyone that enters. A former helicopter mechanic for the United States Marine Corps and later an instructor for adult classes on welding and manufacturing, Woodson, was brought in by the Athens Community Career Academy (ACCA) to help start and operate the advanced manufacturing and welding pathway. This pathway launched

Design by Aiden Dowling Art by Marcus Welch

in the fall of 2021, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students were not able to use the newly built lab on the ACCA campus. “I hate to say it, but we kind of flew by the seat of our pants (last year), but we made it work. Every student who went through our pathway has received several different certifications, including OSHA 10, First Aid, CPR and AED, and we just kind of went with everything that worked,” Woodson said. After a year of online learning, Woodson and his students were excited to return to the untouched lab. Joshua Moon, a senior at Cedar Shoals High School, plans to enter the welding field when he graduates in May. Although this pathway offers a variety of curricula, including woodworking, metalwork

HANDLE THE HEAT: A student practices his welding technique at the Athens Community Career Academy welding lab. Jaylen Stringer, a student in the pathway, recalls the mandatory safety precautions while operating welding tools. “We are required to wear leather gloves to keep sparks from burning us, a coat to keep our body and clothes from burning and we have tinted headgear,” Stringer said. Photo by Isabella Morgan.

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and laser cutting, Moon enjoys growing and perfecting his welding skill set. “I’m glad I was able to learn how to weld and learn well enough that I will be able to go out and get a job and show that I’m certificated and can do the job well,” Moon said. As the spring semester winds down, Moon plans on speaking with companies that have been community partners with ACCA about potential employment. These corporations have helped design the curriculum for this pathway and provided funding for the lab’s production. “They’ve (the partners) helped us as far as funding and starting the program, but they also provide a lot of feedback to the individual students. They come in and talk about what they do at their respective workplaces. We try to keep the relationship fairly close, and the students have the opportunity to go directly into those fields with those partners or even an intern in those fields for paid internships,” Woodson said. The welding field is projected to experience an 8% growth from 2020 to 2030. The median hourly wage for most careers in this field starts at $17-$24 an hour and could grow to up to $60 an hour without requiring a college degree. “As of right now, welders, manufacturing engineers and maintenance engineers are in a real deficit in this country. We got in a situation because those jobs are so reliable, the people in them stayed in them, and now they’re retiring with nobody to back them up. So there’s a real gap in employment in those areas and its high demand. We talked with some of our partners in the community and found that they really had a need for these kinds of individuals,” Woodson said. Junior Jaylen Stringer at Cedar Shoals High School is also interested in potentially pursuing a career in welding. However, Stringer finds the digital aspects of welding particularly interesting. The pathway takes commission orders from the community, including products such as firepits, and uses the


proceeds to continue improving the program. When building these products, the students need a blueprint for putting the piece together. That’s where Stringer comes in. “For most of the things that we weld, before we weld them, he (Mr. Woodson) will give the idea to me, and I will find or build a blueprint before we build, for this (pointing at a project), for example, I would go and stratify it as a 3-D model, so that we can make a digital blueprint and see how to build it from scratch,” Stringer said. One of the objectives of this program is to cater the curriculum to a student’s interests and comfort level while ensuring that all students receive certifications such as OSHA 10 and first aid that would make them competitive candidates in the welding field. “We do different kinds of hands-on things. Not only do we have regular welders, but we also have virtual welders that we can you in the event that somebody’s either too nervous to work around the sparks, don’t want to work around the heat, or has some kind of learning impairment that they need to do it there first,

we really focus on There’s a real gap in employment in making sure that those areas and its high demand. We every student has equal access to the talked with some of our partners in the information,” Woodcommunity and found that they really son said. In addition to had a need for these kinds of individuals. adapting to his students’ interests, Woodson also makes an effort to learn his students’ learning styles of pace the welding lab’s collaborative learnand modify his lessons accordingly. ing environment provides. “One of the things I focus on is that I don’t “We had one project with cars. We started learn very well traditionally, and I think our with wood and tried to design the metal students don’t do very well in a traditional version, and I think that was fun because environment. Even if they do, they do better the whole class got to interact. It brought in a hands-on environment. So I try to cater a lot of people into the activity, and it gave the content to the student. If that student everyone a learning experience,” Stringer said. learns better through PowerPoints, which I “He’s (Woodson) a great teacher, he’s a great don’t think many of us do, then that’s how I instructor, but I think everyone in this class will present the information. If that student prefers hands-on teaching.” learns better by seeing me do something, and then they do that too, then that’s what we’ll do,” Woodson said. Woodson’s students appreciate the change

- Pierce Woodson

SAFETY FIRST: Pierce Woodson stands in front of the newly built welding and advanced manufacturing lab located inside the Athens Community Career Academy. Students operate industrial machinery, so maintaining proper safety protocol is a priority for Woodson.“The first thing that you’re introduced to every semester is a pathway to safety. We address it frequently and as clearly as we possibly can,” Woodson said. Photo by Isabella Morgan.

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ONLY AT THE SHOALS

MAKING MOVES: (Left to right) Emma Rentz, Sebastian Caillault and Robert Chatmon Jr. stand holding their first place chess tournament trophy. “I was just happy to be a part of the winning team. We’re better as a team,” Chatmon said. Photo by Megan Wise.

CHESS TEAM CEDAR ON DISPLAY TRIUMPH

Design by Aiden Dowling

The biannual Lyndon House art exhibit is approaching, and Cedar Shoals art teacher Laura Lee Johnson has prepared a collection of 24 student art pieces for display. This year’s exhibit theme “RE” encourages students to expand on the letters to create their own stories through their art. Johnson hopes that the students whose work is being displayed gain confidence in their ability and pride in their work. “I want the community of Athens to know the depth of thinking of our student body and how intelligent we are here at Cedar Shoals, and how amazing our students are because that’s how we change perceptions of Cedar Shoals,” Johnson said. - Marcus Welch

HUMANISM: Sophomore Ana Mowrer holds her project. She is a part of Johnson’s fourth period class, which has been working on projects about the Linnentown community. “I knew I definitely wanted a human element so people could look at a face and identify humanism with a real issue. And then I wanted to include the building so they could relate it back to the topic,” Mowrer said. Photo by Melanie Frick. Graphic by Aiden Dowling.

Cedar Shoals took the trophy for the annual Chess and Community Tournament on March 12. Sebastian Caillault, Robert Chatmon Jr. and Emma Rentz represented Cedar Shoals and received the most collective wins. “Our team went almost undefeated,” Caillault said. The two hour event at the Classic Center hosted 60 chess players ranging from elementary to high school. The high school division consisted of players from Cedar Shoals, Clarke Central, independent players and even a team from Hilsman Middle. Nine games were running at all times throughout the tournament, and each player took part in four total. “We were only supposed to do three rounds, but after the third round everybody wanted to keep playing, so we did a fourth one,” Rentz said. Cedar Shoals dominated with Caillault and Rentz winning four of four games, and Chatmon winning three of four. The chess trio have had their share of experience ranging from four to 10 years, so their victory comes as no surprise. “We all love the game of chess,” Chatmon said. “So for them to be able to get recognition for all the work they put in was amazing for me to be a part of.” - Kira Law

LGPE RESULTS

Every year, high school band and orchestra students across the state come together to perform for a panel of distinguished judges for the Large Group Performance Evaluation. By performing a selection of songs practiced throughout the year along with sight reading new music, participants hope to receive superior scores to reflect their hard work. “LGPE is an opportunity for students to compete and be judged by professionals who will help them improve,” said Ella Johnson, cellist for the Mastery Orchestra. All three of Cedar Shoals band classes — Concert Band, Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble — as well as the Cedar Shoals Mastery Orchestra performed on March 8 and 18 at Clarke Central High School. “LGPE gives us a chance to further our musical talents and also gives us critiques from more well rounded people,” said Mary Frances Beeson, flutist for the Wind Ensemble. The Cedar Shoals Concert Band received scores of “excellent” for both sight reading and on stage performance. Symphonic Band received an “excellent” for their stage performance and a “superior” in sight reading. The Wind Ensemble achieved the ranking of “superior” on both their sight reading and stage performance. Cedar’s Mastery Orchestra scored one and two out of five from their judges, with one being the highest rating on the scale. “LGPE is a great way for band students to be exposed to more advanced music by hearing others play or performing it themselves,” Jane Michael, trumpeter for Wind Ensemble, said. “This exposure pushes students to become better musicians, expanding their musical knowledge.”

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- Emma McElhannon


NO LOVE AFFAIR: Cedar Shoals students (left to right) Tony Foster, Robrazia Knight, Jamie Williams and Kylin Browner show off their “No Love” attire. “I bought my hoodie from Jamie because I really liked the design and I also thought it was cool that he has his own business,” Browner said. Photo by Zaya Roberson.

A Labor of By Ikeoluwa Ojo

F

Design and graphics by Megan Wise

or a number of Cedar Shoals students, a graphic hoodie or hat featuring a unique skeleton and broken heart combination is a staple piece in their daily attire. This fashionable unity is possible because of junior Jameson (Jamie) Williams, the founder of the “No Love” clothing line, which is growing in popularity in Athens and surrounding areas. “I chose the name because I want people to be aware of the fake love and bad intentions around them and how they can cause pain,” Williams said.

Using his fashion sense, creativity and money from his previous part time job at Little Caesars, Williams launched his clothing business in early 2020. He designs and sells T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and other streetwear items. “First I draw out my designs on paper and then create them on the computer. After that my cricut machine prints and cuts them so that I can place them on the clothing,” Williams said. When sophomore Zoey Hillery heard about Williams’ business, she was excited to place her order. “It’s really cool that Jamie has his own business, being so young. I wanted to be the first customer and I was kind of upset that people beat me to it,” Hillery said. When purchasing her hoodie, the distinct patterns and images caught her attention.

“All of his designs are so unique and no one is really creating anything like them,” Hillery said. Williams’ designs usually feature bones, hearts and phrases such as “Love me, hate me” or “Love is rare.” “I get inspiration for designs when I’m scrolling on Instagram or hearing things people say to each other,” Williams said. He promotes new products and releases with both his personal (@liljvmie) and business (@nolove.clothing) Instagram pages. He also does giveaways and customer shoutouts. “My girlfriend is a big supporter of my business and she helps me promote it at Gainesville High School as well,” Williams said. In addition to his girlfriend, Williams’ parents and younger brother encourage his entrepreneurial feats.

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“I chose the name because I want people to be aware of the fake love and bad intentions around them and how they can cause pain.” - Jamie Williams “Our dad helped him buy the machine he uses and we all always repost when he drops new clothes,” Williams’ younger brother Jace Williams said. Their mother Candy Alington was originally surprised by Jamie’s commitment to No Love. “When he first got his cricut for christmas a year ago I thought making clothes would just be a hobby, I never thought his business would be as big as it is now,” Alington said. She credits Williams’ success to his strong work ethic. “He works on his clothing every day after school and on weekends. Even when his friends are over they’ll all go to another room so that he can focus,” Alington said. Because of his added responsibilities Williams’ peers and classmates view him as a role model. “I’m so proud of Jamie and all he’s doing for himself. He’s a great representation of our school,” junior Spratley Haynes said. Haynes currently owns three “No Love” hoodies and has plans to purchase more. “Jamie is part of a movement of successful young Black entrepreneurs so of course I have to support him,” Haynes said. “No Love” products range in price from $20 to $70 and purchases are made through the No Love website: noloveclo. com. “At first I used to make sales through Instagram DMs (direct messages),” Williams said. “But because of the amount of out of state orders I was receiving I had to create the website.” Williams’ consistently sells more than his monthly sales goals and the bulk of his products sell out in just a few days.

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“Money is needed in life to succeed, make many sales I know to make changes so the fact that Jamie is making so much to the designs and not give up,” Williams money in a positive way is amazing,” said. junior Amadi Smith said. While other juniors stress over standardized test scores and future college applications, Williams plans to continue and grow his business after he graduates from high school. “I’ve already made sales in places throughout the country. I want to expand and move business worldwide,” Williams said. Being an entrepreneur has allowed Williams to learn critical life skills outside of a traditional classroom setting. “One lesson running No Love has taught me is to keep growing and improving. When I drop PUTTING IN THE WORK: Jameson (Jamie) Williams, the creator of “No Love,” works on a a hoodie or design for a sweatshirt. The Junior works on creating his products after school and on clothing item weekends. “Most of my room is really used for my business,” Williams said. Photo by Zaya Roberson. that doesn’t


On the come up Jasace2x

By Freddrell Green

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unior Zytavious Ford’s passion for both producing and rapping was visible even as a young child. Ever since he was four years old in church, Ford not only had an aspiration for God but for music as well. “I grew up in the church and listened to music in the church. That’s why I’ve got that love ­— the passion for music was in church. I felt the soul, I felt the beat and every time I produce a track, I want that exact same feeling that I got as a kid in church: listening to the drummers and the keyboard play,” Ford said. Rapping started out as a hobby for Ford, whose artist name is Jasace2x. He didn’t begin to see the profit music could bring him until his friend Alan Barton got the chance to hear his talent. “I showed my friend Alan my music, and he was like ‘Man you need to put this out.’ So I put it out, and I’ve seen the feedback from my first little drop that I did. If it’s bringing me money, then I might as well do it,” Ford said. Barton is continually amazed by Ford’s work. “Everything he would show me would always be so good and it would be better than the stuff I would hear on the radio. I would be like ‘This stuff needs some publicity and you should get it out there,’” Barton said. Rapping did not reap revenue for Ford immediately. Making music for artists Ford worked with came easy, but rapping by himself took time to reward his hard work. “I started making money four or five months after my first release as far as rapping. Producing, I instantly got money from that. When I got my first rap check that’s when I realized ‘Okay, if I can make this much, I can most definitely make ten or a hundred times more than what I just made.’ It was all motivation,” Ford said. Ford describes his production style as versatile. “When I produce, I want to combine two different genres and try to make something new,” Ford said. This versatility can be heard in his album “Takeover” where songs like “Hot Head,” “Overseas” and “Lay Em Down” are available to stream on multiple platforms such as Amazon

Music, Audiomack, Soundcloud and Apple Music. Ford recently released his song “Buddy,” a freestyle track, on YouTube and all other platforms. As Ford gained experience, he matured and became comfortable with music. “It doesn’t feel forced. I feel like this is from a deeper place than just doing it for the money. I feel like I’ve been put here for a reason: to benefit myself and the people around me. It just feels surreal to me. I’ve been wanting to do this since I was little,” Ford said. Ford doesn’t forget his roots and is thankful to live in a music hotspot like Athens. “I won’t be one of those folks that gets big and forgets about where they came from. Even though people talk bad about our city, it’s what made me. I wouldn’t have been anything without the love and compassion from my mom and from the people in my city,” Ford said. Even though Ford is not the only aspiring musician or rapper at Cedar, he does not look

Design by Aiden Dowling

at other students as competition. Instead, Ford sees them as colleagues and tries to help them achieve success as well. “I definitely try to reach out and do collaborations with somebody who may not have a platform and may not have the same options that I have,” Ford said. “I know how it is to not be able to pay for a studio or have the connections to people who can produce a good song.” Ford doesn’t view himself as superior to any of the other aspiring artists and producers at Cedar Shoals. If someone achieves more success because of Ford, that makes him happy. “I’ve had more opportunities. People have opened more doors for me, so I feel like my job is to give them that same opportunity so that they can eventually do better than me. I wouldn’t feel salty if I put somebody here at the school in a position where they blow up faster than me. I’ll feel accomplished because I helped create that,” Ford said.

MONEY TALKS: Ford plays the xylophone in band class. Ford is keen to how he gains income from his music. "With my beats, it's currency exchange between me and whoever is the rapper for a song," Ford said. Photo by Marcus Welch.

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Flipping fresh: Farm Burger promotes sustainability

Design by Aiden Dowling Art by Ava Maddox

By Delia McElhannon

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revious Farm 255 co-owner Jason Mann and consultant George Frangos are back in Athens as of Jan. 19, with the 13th location of their farm-to-table burger joint. From Farm Burger’s grass-fed beef, chicken, pasture-raised pork and quinoa burger to even their craft beer and wine, they always have had the goal of developing sustainable and organic agriculture while supporting local farmers. “We keep it simple in terms of our description, we just call it a neighborhood grass fed burger joint. For us it goes on three themes of what we’re trying to do. Be a neighborhood restaurant, be a part of the community we’re in and a commitment to grass fed beef — that’s the heart of what we do,” Frangos said. Before Farm 255 closed in 2013, Mann

and Frangos were already working on Farm Burger. When Farm 255 shut down in Athens, the first Farm Burger was flourishing just a short distance away in Decatur. With their Decatur location booming they started to branch out to other places, including Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee and

chemicals or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that can be found in factory-made burgers, or even the containers. Employees are also educated on the food and where it comes from so they can answer customers’ questions about what they are eating. Part of Farm Burger’s mission for sustainable food is promoting local agriculture in the Athens area, such as Hearts of Harvest and Love is Love farms, with information about the farms on social media and pictures throughout the restaurant. “(Farm-to-table) really comes from an idea of knowing where your food comes from and getting away from industrial flavors. We wouldn’t say we’re always 100% organic. That’s a part of farm-to-table, but it’s not 100%. It’s a way to help smaller farmers and a community that is growing be successful,” Frangos said. While Farm Burger is not 100% locally sourced due to seasonality, they still work with local farmers as much as they can. Their process starts with visiting places like Collective Harvest, a multi-farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program committed to connecting local family agriculture to the community and seeing what they grow. “It’s a real networking process. It’s not an ordering book where you just open up and go through a list and be like, ‘Oh, I want to order this from these people.’ It’s a harder process, so you have to be committed to it as a chef or restaurant,” Frangos said. Though the process may be more time consuming, it is important at Farm Burger to form these ties to their sources and not just be a restaurant they produce for. Employees in training even visit the farms that they are sourced by to see the work it takes to manage them. “You get them out there and you really see

“ Farm-to-table is a way to help

smaller farmers and a growing community be successful. “

- George Frangos

various Georgia locations before returning to Athens. Frangos and Mann wanted to promote transparency through Farm Burger’s operations. Committed to their farm-to-table approach, their menu leaves out all the harmful

BURGERS ARE BACK: Farm Burger’s opening banner beams in the sun, promoting both the restaurant’s move and its owners’ return to Athens. “The local agriculture just outside of Athens, it’s just thriving and doing so well. This was a good time and opportunity to get back in,” Frangos said. Photo by Delia McElhannon.

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ORDER UP: A Farm Burger employee bags an order. Farm Burger works to have a welcoming environment with highly trained employees. “I think one of the pieces that makes us successful is providing a level of service that people don’t expect from a fast-casual or a burger joint,” Frangos said. Photo by Delia McElhannon.

the passion that they (farmers) have. Farmers aren’t doing it to be millionaires, they have love for the land and what they do: raising or growing things responsibly. Hearing and seeing it first hand is always very impactful,” Frangos said. For Frangos and Mann, sourcing from local farmers instead of big manufacturers is also a beneficial step for regenerative soil — creating healthy soil and reducing carbon in the air. “There’s that environmental part of taking care of our planet. Knowing what we eat and animal welfare is a huge part of it,” Frangos said. Farm Burger is neither Frangos’ nor Mann’s first experience with organic farm-totable food. Mann is a rancher who produced for his previous farm-to-table restaurant, Farm 255, and now Farm Burger. Previously Frangos worked in other farm-to-table restaurants in New York and Restaurant Nora (now closed) in Washington D.C. Frangos and Mann are sticking to the structure of Farm 255, but keeping it more simple. “Farm 255 was a more full service restaurant, higher price point, doing many menus every day and every week. With Farm Burger, we have part of our menu that is pretty static or maybe just changed three or four times a year,” Frangos said. After Farm 255, Frangos is happy to be

back in Athens and believes it is a pivotal time for farm-to-table restaurants in Athens with the thriving agriculture, food scene and other stores — such as Slutty Vegan, Condor Chocolates and Cafe Racer — moving to Athens. “Athens has grown over the years but I think it has grown in a controlled way,” Frangos said. Opening the Athens Farm Burger location has not been without its challenges. It was originally scheduled to debut in 2020, but due to construction delays it opened in January 2022. Frangos learned to be flexible and adapt to the change of plans. “It’s a stone’s throw from the old Farm 255. Creature Comforts is there and The Grit. It’s an iconic spot in downtown Athens, and so we really liked that location,” Frangos said of Farm Burger’s location on Prince Avenue. Besides construction delays, Farm Burger has also navigated the pandemic while making their own COVID-19 regulations to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. “Those have evolved over time. If you have worked and somebody tests positive, is

there close contact or not? And if somebody has to quarantine or not quarantine? For us, it’s just having a really clear policy and expectations,” Frangos said. Farm Burger works to ensure that their employees feel safe and supported if they are sick by making sure they are paid and have assistance from Farm Burger. “It’s definitely a challenge. Right when you think you figure it out, something else changes. There are mask guidelines and a time when there’s no vaccines and then there’s vaccines and you think it’s going down and then delta and omicron come,” Frangos said. “But such is life in the restaurant business, staff shortages are challenging industry-wide. Those pieces just make us recommit to what we can do.”

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FAS N T FASHIO Art by Megan Wise Design by Aiden Dowling

accelerating unethical clothing production By London Moore

W

hen you walk in the hallway and see the diverse outfits of the students around you, have you ever thought about where those clothes come from? Are they from H&M, Shein, Zara or Forever 21? These fast fashion stores and websites make up a subculture of fashion that produces clothing very quickly, often leaving their workers in hostile conditions throughout the fast production and shipping process. The clothes are cheap and marketed through trends to increase customers with one goal in mind: speed. With these trendy designs and low prices, fast fashion is a dream for young consumers with limited time and money. “It (fast fashion) has become normal in our society, especially for teenagers. We have this pressure to constantly dress with everything new and dress like the best, so we can impress everybody else. We have to go out and buy where it’s most afford-

able for us,” senior Jorge Sanchez said. Fast fashion companies and businesses have depreciated quality and ethics in the interest of profit. The manufacturing for these companies often takes place in countries such as China, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam where workers are paid far less than American minimum wage, at two to six cents per garment produced. Some workers are paid as little as $300 for 60-70 hour work weeks. Fast fashion also has environmental drawbacks. Every year, the fast fashion industry consumes 93 billion cubic meters of water, enough to meet the consumption needs of five million people. Furthermore, textiles and dyeing treatment contribute around 20% of industrial water pollution. The quality is cheap and the clothing depletes resources which makes for an unstable environment. The fast fashion industry has a significant carbon footprint and is accountable for around 10% of all

global carbon emissions. Freshman Amelia Hembree agrees that the quality of these clothes directly affects the environment. “I think it (fast fashion) is definitely not good for the environment because people throw out a lot of clothes due to the quality,” Hembree said. The quality of the clothes from these businesses tends to be very low and cheap. Many of these clothes are discarded after a few washes. Sanchez says he has become more aware of the poor quality of fast fashion through his past experiences with brands such as H&M, Urban Outfitters and Old Navy. “After I saw the impact of more brands, I would see that fast fashion quality was pretty bad. They (are) only worth it for like five or seven washes and (get) pretty worn down,” Sanchez said. Michelle Paterick, marketing teacher at Infographic by Aiden Dowling

FAST FASHiON ALTERNATiVES

Additionally,

H “Ethical And Sustainable Clothing Brands Betting Against Fast Fashion”, The Good Trade, https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/fair-trade-clothing

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Cedar Shoals, says that people’s materialistic habits contribute to overconsumption. “I think that teenagers and adults alike are used to having the newest, latest and greatest fast fashion. That makes it really easy for people to get addicted to shopping. I think that our consumerist behaviors will just continue to get worse over time, which is really concerning because that is simultaneously negatively impacting the environment,” Paterick said. Fast fashion companies have many charming aspects in the eyes of teens looking for trendy and affordable clothing. “You (as teens) basically only have access to what your parents give you, (and) with fashion, cheap clothes make it possible for you to change up your styles really easily, quickly and for not a lot of money,” Paterick said. Hembree does not have a part-time job yet, so she says she gets her parents help to buy clothes. “I normally only buy one item at a time if I’m paying just because I don’t have a job, so I don’t have many ways to get more money. It’s normally around $30 when I buy clothes. My parents will give me about $40 to $50 depending on the store and how long ago they bought me clothes last time,” Hembree said. Microtrends contribute to fast fashion cycles as trends come and go quickly, leading to the discarding of garments as a new microtrend begins. Examples of microtrends from this past year are cow print clothing, patchwork tops, baggy jeans and crochet dresses. Sanchez says that he has steered away from buying these trends as he expands his personal style. “Buying (trending clothes) was something common I used to do. But I was able to get away from that after I defined my own sense of style,” Sanchez said. Still, he admits to following trends such as athleisure and buying new shoes. Hembree’s inspiration to buy new trends comes from people who look like her, though she has regretted her decision to buy some of these clothes. “When I buy things that are trending it’s normally because the person I saw wearing it had a similar body type, so I knew it would look good on me. I have bought things that were trending but never wore them because they didn’t fit or they didn’t look right. Sometimes I will buy stuff and it comes broken because it was made out of cheap material,” Hem-

bree said. One way to counteract the harsh environmental and humanitarian effects of fast fashion while saving money is thrifting. Thrifting lets consumers reuse and flip old clothes into something new to decrease the discarding of clothes. “My reason for thrifting was that it was just cheaper to get the clothes that I wanted and more sustainable since I was buying secondhand and not letting the clothes go to waste,” Sanchez said. Hembree often thrifts but sometimes struggles to find the right fit. “(I thrift) sometimes when I’m with my grandma, she likes to go thrifting a lot. If I’m buying shirts I love to go thrifting, but pants are just hard to find in my size,” Hembree said. Paterick sees the advantage in thrifting in many aspects.

“I just prefer it (thrifting) because I feel like it costs way less money. It’s less harmful for the environment. I think it gives people an opportunity to be a little more unique, like when you just go to a fast fashion store, you look just like the next guy or girl,” Paterick said.

Bought secondhand through Depop app

Bought secondhand through Depop app

Purchased secondhand from a local thrift store

Bought FROM VEJA Photo by London Moore Graphic by Aiden Dowling

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WORKING FROM HOME: Although she occasionally stays after school in her classroom at Cedar to host her virtual classes, literature teacher Brittany Blumenstock hosts most of her virtual classes at home. “I prefer at home because I think I have a nice setup and a nice backdrop,” Blumenstock said. Photo by Savannah Duncan-Barnett.

Georgia Virtual Learning offers CCSD students online schooling

By Savannah Duncan-Barnett

T

here are many reasons why students and their parents may be considering the prospect of virtual school. For Jesmond Cooper, freshman Georgia Virtual Learning student, those reasons include avoiding drama or not having to wear a mask. For others, it may be the worries that accompany a new variant of COVID-19 running rampant. From April 2020 to March 2021, the Clarke County School District conducted a virtual model of learning, where students met with their teachers via Zoom every weekday for school. CCSD then switched to a “hybrid” model of learning from March 2021 to May 2021, which offered students the option to return in-person or continue learning remotely. CCSD’s remote form of instruction was considered synchronous distance learning, not virtual learning. “I'm trying to help people understand what virtual school is,” Dana Siegmund, CCSD’s Coordinator of Virtual and Extended Learning, said. “Your courses are on a website. There is a teacher there to answer your questions. There's a teacher there who's posting and designing the work. There's a teacher who's evaluating your work, but you're not meeting synchronously.” Synchronous distance learning differs from virtual learning because it is just that — synchronous. Teachers and students meet on a Zoom call at the same time and place every day. Virtual learning on the other hand, happens whenever and wherever the student chooses. A teacher assigns and grades work and remains available to students when needed, but a teacher does not sit with the student

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virtually as they complete their work. CCSD’s virtual learning option, Clarke Virtual Academy, is delivered through Georgia Virtual Learning. Founded in 2005, Georgia Virtual Learning now has several sub-programs such as Georgia Virtual School and PartnerUp. CCSD began their partnership with PartnerUp the first semester of the 2021-22 school year. Clarke Virtual Academy offers students the opportunity to learn virtually if they choose. It also offers students access to courses through Georgia Virtual School that may not be available at their schools, such as Japanese and art theory. There are currently around 120 students enrolled and two teachers from Cedar, according to Siegmund. Cedar teachers who also teach for Clarke Virtual Academy have what is called an extended day, a plan where teachers get paid an extra class period for either teaching during their planning period or, for example, teaching an extra class as part of Clarke Virtual Academy. “I chose virtual because of COVID and because I was in a lot of drama and stuff,” Cooper said. “I just feel like (in-person school) takes away from me being focused.” Virtual learning aims to include and address the needs of students who struggle with the in-person environment. “In person learning (or) traditional school is really good for most people, but it's not really good for everybody,” Siegmund said. “The norm works for most people, but there needs to be other options for people who that norm is not working for.” In virtual learning, there is not a specific time to

Design by Megan Wise

meet with a teacher for every class. In fact, teachers only meet with students for one hour a week, and this time is optional. Students choose when they work on their assignments, but this freedom to work whenever they please and the lack of direct supervision over when students work brings its own challenges. Though Cooper is currently learning virtually, she misses aspects of traditional school. “I prefer in-person school because there is a teacher there,” said Cooper. With flexibility comes the need for responsibility, according to Clarke Virtual Academy teacher Alicia Harvey. “You have to be really self motivated to do online learning because you don't have a teacher in the room and you don't see somebody that can just come in and check on you,” Harvey said. Sometimes, the relationship between teachers and students is limited by virtual learning. It can be hard to connect with students, Harvey says. “I’m limited with the ways that I can reach out to them,” Harvey said. “(I) absolutely prefer in-person.” Although virtual learning is not everyone’s preference, Siegmund believes it is important that a virtual option is available. “It's a type of literacy that I think people need because it's very likely that (we) are going to have more virtual learning experiences in our future,” Siegmund said. “I think it's important for students to get that exposure.”


ACADEMIC ACCOUNTABILITY:

does cheating linger after virtual learning? A

An 1. a swers 2. c 8. b 3. c 9. d 4. b 10. a 5. a 11. a 6. d 12. c 7. a 13. b 14. d

By Ruby Calkin

cademic dishonesty usually stirs images of students scribbling answers on their arms or tucking phones under tables. But for some students during online learning, cheating became as easy as turning off their camera. “Why did the students cheat more last year? Opportunity,” Caroline Bharucha, world language department, said. In a survey of Cedar Shoals students conducted by BluePrints Magazine, 50% of participants said that cheating was much easier during virtual learning than during in-person learning. The survey was completed by 116 students. Due to its ease, freshman Jaleah Maxwell says that cheating during online learning was commonplace for her peers.

Art by Megan Wise

Design by Ellie Crane

But she also says she never engaged in it even when the option was tempting, making her part of the 15% of survey respondents who said they never cheated during online learning. “It was hard because it was so easy to cheat. But I didn’t want to because cheating is wrong,” Maxwell said. “I guess because I’ve grown up in a household where you don’t cheat or lie.” Sophomore Samirah Burrell thinks that for some students cheating became a habit during online school and has made testing more difficult for them this year. “If they got dependent on it, now since they can’t do it as easily anymore it makes it (testing) harder,” Burrell said.

Carly Chandler, science department, sees cheating as a byproduct of the pressure students feel to make good grades. “I know there’s so much pressure on teenagers right now to get A’s so I get sympathetic for that,” said Chandler. “But I feel really strongly that (cheating) is super negative.” World history teacher Beth Mendenhall thinks that there’s a variety of reasons why students cheat. “I think sometimes they aren’t confident and they don’t think they can do it. I think sometimes they’re being lazy,” Mendenhall said. “Sometimes they have pressure to be right and they don’t want to be wrong.” Bharucha points to the pandemic’s emotional toll on students as part of the reason for the decision to cheat during online learning. “When you feel like everything else is lost, then what difference does it make? ‘I’m gonna try to survive and stay afloat’ — cheating is part of that,” Bharucha said. “I think students and teachers were all at a loss. I didn’t love virtual teaching at all, because it’s very difficult.” Junior Mary Frances Beeson says some students developed a pattern of dishonesty because learning and staying academically engaged became significantly harder in the almost year and a half EASY WAY OUT: Freshman Mercy Thang sits at her desk completing a geometry worksheet. She sees cheating as a damaging most students spent learning way some students cut corners. “I think it limits the capability to learn. For example I think on tests when people cheat it virtually. It also left some studoesn’t show the teacher how much they’ve learned,” Thang said. “It’s an easy way out.” Photo by Delia McElhannon.

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dents feeling like they had to play the role of their own teachers. “You can’t talk to the How often did you cheat before school moved to online learning? teacher. When you’re onHow often did you cheat during online learning? line you just kind of have you and the internet’s one 1.7% million responses,” Beeson Always 6% said. 3.4% To Bharucha, cheating Often 18.1% is a significant issue when it becomes a habit because 19% it sets students up for Sometimes 38.8% future failure. 44% “If you end up Rarely choosing to cheat (after 22.4% high school), and you get 31.9% caught cheating, there’s a Never 14.7% lot of risk. You’re talking 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% expulsion, you’re talking Percentage of responses scholarships being taken away, you’re talking about Infographic by Marcus Welch a huge loss. Not like you’re “I noticed some students did try (to to use the system,” said Zimpfer. “I always in high school, where we put the safety net cheat) or probably did succeed, whereas felt like it was my job to not make it easy. under everybody. We slap you on the hand on the majority of my French tests, I had Because if it’s easy everybody will do it.” and tell you ‘I’m going to give you a zero,’” a lot less (cheating) than what another Like Zimpfer, Bharucha thinks that Bharucha said. teacher might expect,” Bharucha said. creating assessments to be difficult to According to the survey, cheating Cynthia Hoover, math department, did cheat on is important in order to prevent increased amongst students during virtual notice a significant increase in cheating lingering cheating habits from online learning. Only 4% of respondents said they during online learning. She found that learning. Mendenhall has a similar view, often cheated before school moved to a testing virtually made it much easier for and designs her class to center around virtual platform. This number rose to 18% her students to cheat using websites and projects instead of multiple choice assesswho responded they often cheated during calculators found on the internet. ments. online learning. Converse to the increase “You can go to tutorial sites where “We tried to avoid opportunities found in the survey, Chandler perceived they’ll work your problem. There’s so for it. But I didn’t really have very much no difference. many calculators all the way up to calcuevidence that students were cheating,” “I did not notice a change in cheating lus. It’s easy to find online directions when Mendenhall said. “I don’t really assume because I build on my own lessons. I really we allow you unlimited time to work. students are cheating. There are opportudo read through everybody’s responses, so And that’s what happened; we had to leave nities, but I assume that students want to I’m very aware of people cheating. I didn’t extra time for everybody, so people had learn.” notice an uptick in cheating virtual or extra time to go find things,” Hoover said. Despite Mendenhall’s tendency to in-person,” Chandler said. Chemistry teacher Mary Zimpfer feels look for the best in students, cheating Alicia Harvey, English department, it’s her responsibility as a teacher to preis something she and other teachers also didn’t see an increase in cheating. vent her students from becoming habitual inevitably handle. When Bharucha noHowever she thinks cheating, especially cheaters. To limit cheating when testing tices a student cheating in her class, after plagiarism, is a prevalent issue. in-person she monitors students, moves discipline, the next thing she does is have “It wasn’t necessarily any worse during their seating arrangements and makes a conversation. virtual than it was any other time. It’s not multiple versions of tests. During online “When I find somebody cheating on like it’s gotten better now that we’re back learning she took added measures to slow the test. I’ll go up to them and tell them (in-person),” Harvey said. “It’s always been the increase in academic dishonesty she to stop. But then the next conversation is a big problem ever since kids have had saw, especially when it came to balancing ‘Okay, what do we need to do to get you access to the internet.” chemical equations. up to speed’,” said Bharucha. “I think it’s Bharucha noticed a slight increase in “If I give you an equation to balance better for people, while you’re in high her students cheating during online learnyou just copy and paste it in the search line school, to develop good habits and learn ing, but she believes that teaching French and it comes up immediately. Everybody how to handle and solve all these problems gives her the luxury of often being able was acing that so then I changed it. So that you’re faced with. If you cheat, you’re to tell when her students are dishonest. gold three wasn’t gold three anymore, it not even investing in yourself.” French is very complicated, she says, and was vibranium three. I just made up stuff. it’s difficult to produce a correct answer Then people were like ‘How am I supeven when using a translator. posed to do this?’ Well, you’re supposed

Cheating frequency before and after online learning

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READING REPRESENTATION: CCSD libraries broaden perspectives

OPTIONAL READING: Cedar Shoals Media Specialist Kerry Hogan speaks with a student in the library. While she has received complaints before about books in the library, she says they are usually resolved with communication. “Because no one here is required to read anything, you can always ask for something else, that’s been our saving grace,” Hogan said. Photo by Jackie Wright. By Jackie Wright

F

rom classics to children’s literature, the American Library Association tracks hundreds of attempts to remove books from shelves and curricula across the country every year. Out of this vastly undercounted figure, most challenges do not result in bans. But as censorship takes a more prominent place on Georgia’s political stage, legislative agendas follow suit and Clarke County School District media specialists have concerns. “Not just within Georgia, but nationally people are looking closely at libraries and librarians and what our role is and assumptions about what we do and don’t do,” Andy Plemmons, David C. Barrow Elementary School media specialist, said. “So in a very stressful time, it’s even more stressful.” According to the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom, 273 books were challenged or banned in 2020. However the ALA estimates 82-97% of book challenges remain unreported. In recent CCSD history though, book bans have not been an issue. Plemmons, who has worked at Barrow for 14 years, says he has never even received a formal complaint about a book. If CCSD community members take issue with a book in the library or classroom, they can file a complaint and their school’s media committee, composed of the media

center specialists, teachers, community representatives and students (in secondary schools) will meet to read and discuss the book in question. According to Cedar Shoals High School Media Specialist Kerry Hogan, conflicts are usually resolved at the committee level. “Whenever there’s a challenge, we sit down together, we all have to read the book. We all look at it and we have a meeting to talk about it whether or not we think it’s legit. Then we came to an understanding and agreement about what we would do going forward,” she said. New Georgia legislation could disrupt this chain of communication. In the Georgia General Assembly, the Senate in February and House of Representatives on March 25 passed Senate Bill 226. At the time of publishing, Gov. Brian Kemp had not yet signed the bill. But if he does the law would institute a new process for responding to complaints. Upon receiving a complaint, school principals would determine whether material is “harmful to minors” or not and then how to restrict or remove the material. If the party who filed the complaint is not satisfied, they can appeal the principal’s decision to the local superintendent. “This new legislation is different in that it takes it out of our hands and puts it in

Design by Jackie Wright

somebody else’s hands who may not know all the things that we do to protect everyone’s rights,” Hogan said. She says redirecting the authority on which books are appropriate makes it more likely for books to be removed without adequate reason. “So few principals know what their media specialists do, but honestly they have much bigger things to worry about than their media centers,” Hogan said. “If an angry parent comes to a principal who just wants to make this go away it would be much easier just to pull the book for some person or to not have it in the collection in the first place.” Plemmons has unease about how his role might change if the Senate Bill or similar legislation passes. “What I’m fearful of is what could happen at the state level that could mandate that these books be taken out, and override all of the expertise and all of the requests of families and students to erase people in our community, which is so harmful,” Plemmons said. “I know that I may not have control over that, and yet I still have to somehow be supportive of students who can’t find themselves and can’t find their families in the books in the library.” Of the ALA’s list of the top ten most challenged books in 2020, the top two were

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“George” by Alex Gino and “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Retitled “Melissa,” Gino’s elementary and middle school level novel tells the story of a transgender middle school student who shares her identity by playing Charlotte in her school’s production of “Charlotte’s Web.” According to the ALA, the book has been challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with religious viewpoints and sexual references. Published in 2016, it has been on ALA’s most challenged lists since 2017. “Stamped,” a history of racism and antiracism in the United States directed toward younger readers, was published in 2020. Its critics have challenged the book because of its storytelling focus on racism as well as Kendi’s public statements. In CCSD, Hogan says she is less nervous that books about Black history like “Stamped” will be challenged. “I don’t worry about what is happening in some counties where particular books are not allowed to be taught, the list of books like ‘Stamped from the Beginning.’ That book is not going to get banned in CCSD, that is not the issue here,” she said. Rather, she says books about LGBTQIA+ people are at risk of censorship because the district has already seen formal complaints about them. In fact, in the 2018-19 school

year, Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School in CCSD received a complaint about Gino’s book, but it remained on the shelves after the media committee vote. In some districts, including CCSD, complaints cited a page of “Melissa” in which Melissa’s older brother references a “dirty magazine.” Neither Melissa nor her brother explicitly look at pornography or even possess it in the story, but the reference alone was the basis of criticism. “It was a different avenue at trying to get the book out of schools,” Plemmons said. In March, Gino came to Athens to attend the Georgia Conference on Children’s literature as a keynote speaker and visit local schools including Clarke Middle School and Clarke Central High School. “Middle school is a time when we’re really starting to figure out who we are as people, and how we interact with the world when we have more agency to make decisions,” Gino said. “But when you’re 10, 12 years old, you’re developing friendships and connections that are distinct from your family and are really your own. That age deserves tools to make sense of this bizarre world we’re in.” Thus, Gino says, limiting access to books makes life harder for young readers. “Everyone has the right to choose their own reading, including young people,” Gino said. “To not read something doesn’t make

you not who you are. It makes it just harder to find it.” In filtering which books are available to students, school librarians use district and local criteria to determine which books stay on the shelves and which ones to order. “We try to put books into the library that match the curriculum, but it also is a place where kids can come and get books that are just to read for fun,” Plemmons said. “I try to make sure there’s different ability levels of books, that their representation features various ethnicities, beliefs, cultures, religions within our community and beyond. It’s important for kids to see themselves in the books that are in the library, but also to learn about people and beliefs that are beyond our walls.” In the Cedar media center, Hogan says she chooses books based on reviews and student interest. She orders books recommended by resources like The New York Times book reviews, the School Library Journal, Horn Book Inc. and the American Library Association. Then she looks at circulation data on student interests to determine which genres are popular and which ones may lack interesting books. If a student requests a book that is not in the library already, Hogan says she usually orders it. At Barrow, Plemmons consults reviews

BOOK BUDGET PROJECT: Andy Plemmons stands among Barrow Elementary School’s collection of books. As media specialist, he leads students in choosing books to buy for the library and funds the project with the normal library budget, grant money and book fair profits. “It worked. I saw how powerful that was for kids to be able to make decisions about books in the library,” Plemmons said. Photo by Jackie Wright.

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information can be harmful, she says. “The danger is that we are erasing and not validating people. Basically we’re saying that you’re not important and that you’re not equal and that your viewpoints are less important, which is making people second class citizens, which I think is a dangerous, dangerous thing to do,” Hogan said. Dr. Petros Panaou is the chair of the Georgia Conference on Children’s Literature, a co-editor of a journal on international children’s literature called “Bookbird” and a clinical associate professor in the department of language and literacy education at the University of Georgia. He sees the importance of representation through children’s literature on an international scale. “In Bookbird, we’ve got articles from different counMELISSA’S STORY: Alex Gino talks about their first book, “Melissa,” in their keynote speech at the Georgia Conference on Chiltries about LGBTQ stories dren’s Literature. The book about a girl named Melissa was originally titled “George,” but it is in the process of being renamed that are being published. You to match the name the transgender main character came to identify with: Melissa. “My stories seem to be about friendship, and my stories seem to be about listening to each other and seeing each other,” Gino said. Photo by Jackie Wright. can see different approaches and different representations,” and circulation data to fill the shelves, as Panaou said. “That’s wonderful. It’s helping books as they can. well as direct student input through the people who work in countries that are not as “I try to talk to kids about the imporannual Book Budget Project he started a accepting of LGBTQ stories. It helps them tance of knowing what you’re comfortable decade ago. see how it’s being done elsewhere and how with and what you’re not comfortable with. “I would observe kids coming into the it could probably influence their population If you find a book and you start it and you library, and they would walk around at the for children as well.” realize this is not something you’re comshelves and I would go around and say, Panaou says the alternative to banfortable reading, it’s okay to put it back,” he ‘What about this?’ They would just kind of ning challenging books is giving children said. walk faster away from me,” he said. “Then opportunities to explore many perspectives Once Plemmons made it a point to scatthey would end up leaving the library with together. He borrows a phrase from Cathy ter nationally challenged books like “The nothing and so it really bothered me that Short, a colleague from the University of 1619 Project: Born on the Water” and “And there was this library with 10,000 books Arizona. Tango Makes Three” among the sample and kids were leaving with no book in their “Her slogan is ‘Never read a book alone,’” books. Without specifying which ones, he hand.” Panaou said. “Never read just this one book. told students that people across the country Plemmons wrote a grant and met with Also read another book and another book, were trying to censor some of the books on the students he saw leaving the library so that you don’t stay with one representathe tables. without books to shop for titles they would “​​That really piqued their interest. Several tion. But also never read the book alone in be excited to read. Now third through the sense of: read it with other readers and of them did try some of the ones that were fifth grade students meet every year with talk about it and reach your interpretation banned and nobody really had any convendors like Avid Bookshop and Capstone and response to that book through other cerns about the books as far as the kids go,” Publishing to choose books for the library. readers.” Plemmons said. “In general that’s what you Each year they order between 100 and 200 According to Plemmons, librarians’ job see, that the kids are not the ones that have new books. is to balance their shelves with books that a problem with the books. It’s usually adults “I try to talk to the kids about how this represent students both in and outside of and the fear around the unknown.” is not my library. Yes, I’m in charge of it, the community served by the library. At the high school level, Hogan aims and a big part of my role is adding books to “It’s important for kids to be able to see to supply students with the materials they the library, but it’s ours,” Plemmons said. “I themselves in books and see things that they need to explore for themselves. think that kids should have a voice in what may be wrestling with in their own lives,” he “We call people young adults for a reagoes onto the shelves as well.” son. You’ve already made up your mind on a said. “But also it’s important for kids to read In addition to the Book Budget Project, about other people in the world and what lot of things,” Hogan said. “It’s not for me to Plemmons conducts activities like the First their culture is like, what their family maketry to convince you of anything, but it is for Page Challenge to help students find books up is like, what issues they wrestle with, me to try to provide resources on anything to read already in the library. Students sit at because the more that we read the more that you want to know more about, or any tables covered with books from every genre empathy we can have for one another.” topic or subject that interests you.” and read the first few pages of as many The consequences of limiting access to

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NO EASY SOLUTION: educators face unparalleled challenges

I

By Violet Calkin

t’s 2:05 p.m. The fourth period tardy bell sings as Josh Campbell, English department, turns from writing on the whiteboard to face his class. Per usual, one out of four students are present, and Campbell questions if he should start class now or waste instructional time waiting for students to trickle in. He sighs — he’ll wait. Across the hall, a dozen loitering students crowd the staircase, skipping class. Science teacher Randy Priest, unable to climb upstairs to retrieve his copies, returns to his room with an exasperated shake of his head. He sits down to send yet another follow-up inquiry about the issue. Why not, he thinks, add a note about the smell of marijuana slipping in from the hallway? Like Campbell’s, his class is mostly empty. He has time to type one more line. For many in the profession, teaching has become synonymous with martyrdom. The United States faces a looming educator shortage and rampant burnout has gained the national media’s attention for plaguing both rookie and veteran of the classroom. At Cedar Shoals, educators are navigating the onerous multitask of instructing weary students, diffusing a myriad of challenges and persevering through their own subsequent struggles amid the ongoing pandemic.

Attendance and discipline In his classes of 15-20 students, Campbell estimates just three or four in each are passing. He draws parallels between the corresponding trends of behavioral issues — chiefly skipping class — and lack of productivity. “We spend all of our days rehabilitating kids

44 | cedarblueprints.com

instead of teaching. You can’t do your job as a teacher,” Campbell said. According to the Georgia Department of Education, 48% of Cedar students were chronically absent — meaning they missed 10% or more enrolled days — in the 2020-21 school year. A major uptick from the 2018-19 school year’s chronic absence rate of 29%, this data warrants a grain of salt because of last year’s virtual setting. Attendance has improved since students returned to the building, says Principal Antonio Derricotte, but it continues to cause him headaches. “We seemingly have three schools in one,” Derricotte said. “We have what I call the National School of Excellence: those students go to class, do their work and they’re rocking it. We have a school out here in the hallways where we have students that still have not come to the realization that ‘Hall Walking 1101’ is not a course we offer. And we have those students that truly are habitual violators and don’t do anything truancy wise — they aren’t here, we can’t find them, we don’t really know anything about them.” BluePrints Magazine conducted a survey of 62 classroom teachers at Cedar Shoals from Feb. 14-25 through Google Forms. 74% of respondents reported that student behavioral issues this school year required more of their time or energy than previous years. 50% said that student behavior this year has a significantly more negative impact on their ability to teach than in years previous, and 31% report a somewhat more negative impact. Hannah Doolittle, a second year teacher in the English department, says managing behavior in her classroom isn’t an issue. Rather, disorderly conduct in the hallways frequently disrupts instruction.

Art by Eva Lucero Design by Ellie Crane

“I can’t count the number of times where I’ve had to stop teaching to step out into the hallway to make sure that there’s not a fight happening or to tell some kids to go to class because they’re being loud,” Doolittle said. A recent anatomy test in Priest’s class displayed the ramifications of chronic skipping explicitly. Students who consistently attend scored an average of 90, whereas those frequently absent earned an average of 12. “At this point, it’s not worth it for me to put in an effort to catch up the people who are deciding to miss my class,” Priest said. “If you’re here, you’re going to get the notes and you’re going to do well in my class. If you’re not, you will fail.”

Learning loss and low productivity Despite being in-person, the 2021-22 school year has not escaped COVID-19’s fracturing grasp. Teachers are picking up the pieces of rampant learning loss associated with virtual learning. An analysis by McKinsey & Company of their international teacher survey indicated that by March of 2021, ninth through 12th graders lost 1.7 months of learning. Minority and low-income students suffered the greatest academic deficit — an alarming harbinger for the majority of Cedar’s students. Priest, a second year teacher, feels the continuing impact of last year’s virtual model acutely. He says some of his physics students passed algebra but came to him with no knowledge of the subject. “They don’t know how to work a calculator. They don’t know the simple functions of multiply and divide. F=MA, three variables — they don’t know how to solve for A,” Priest said. “I don’t have


a degree in math education, I’m not an algebra teacher. I’ve had to become one.” McKinsey anticipates that learning losses due to the pandemic will be broad and overwhelming. Without ‘immediate and sustained interventions,’ unfinished learning could decrease the lifetime earnings of K-12 students from $110,000 to $61,000 on average. “Kids are really dependent right now,” Priest said.“The past two years we’ve been saying make sure you give grace, have patience. I agree, but it comes to a point where we’re doing detrimental things to these students.” Additionally, quarantining has inhibited many students and left teachers scrambling, particularly at the beginning of semesters. Priest tries to keep classwork organized, but he finds that lack of motivation has plagued quarantined students. “There’s no Zoom link anymore, so students don’t say, ‘I’m at least going to show up to this class.’ It’s, ‘I’ll catch up when I come back.’ But they come back, and they do not catch up,” Priest said. In the BluePrints survey, 60% of respondents reported that student quarantining has been either substantially or very disruptive to their work. Respondents reported that their own quarantines or coworkers’ were less burdensome. Dr. Maureen Warner, a Spanish teacher in her first semester at Cedar, estimates that her Spanish II students who took Spanish I virtually last year retained about half of the curriculum. Subsequently, Warner dedicates significant class time to making up for learning loss — though she considers COVID-19 a convenient justification for lack of participation rather than a cause. “They were online; they were doing whatever they wanted. The teacher was there, but the students didn’t interact,” Warner said. “COVID was the perfect excuse not to participate.”

Burnout and mental health issues Warner’s brief experience at Cedar has come at the detriment of her well-being. She plans to relocate to Putnam County High School next year, and says the commute is well worth it if it means feeling supported as an educator. “Who wants to be not taken seriously when you’re giving students the best that you can? It gets you really stressed out and it burns you out,” Warner said. “There comes a moment where you say, ‘Well, I guess I need to go.’” 79% of respondents to BluePrints’ survey reported that they have experienced burnout in the last year. 74% say they feel either substantially or much more frustrated with their jobs compared to before the pandemic, and 58% report that they lack or severely lack mental health support at work. As a result of burnout, Doolittle finds herself reusing old lesson plans rather than generating new ones. “When you’re burned out, it can be very difficult to access that creative piece of your brain,” Doolittle said. “Decision fatigue is so real for teachers — sometimes by the end of the day I can’t make a decision to save my life.” COVID-19 itself is a significant cause of anxiety. In the BluePrints survey, 84% of respondents said they found the pandemic either substantially or extremely challenging, frustrating or stressful. Priest, who takes care of his immunocompromised

grandmother, has experienced significant angst door,” Derricotte said. “It does weigh on you. How around COVID-19, particularly recently with do you keep everyone safe when some people don’t CCSD’s decision to make masks optional. even realize the greater dynamic of what we’re “I worry about COVID maybe 20 times an dealing with? You can’t leave this here (at work), hour,” Priest said. “Most people are kind of getting believe me.” lax on COVID, which I understand, but I teach Dr. Melissa Pérez Rhym, Associate Principal science. If I get COVID I will probably be fine, of Instruction, says one of her primary responsibut I could give it to somebody in my life that will bilities is bearing the burdens of teachers so they most likely die if they get it.” can focus on their classrooms. But with so many However, teachers’ opinions on mask policies external forces — personal and economic stress, and COVID-19 precautions are not standardized. tragedies surrounding COVID-19, the loss of Campbell was pleased at the mask policy reversal. staff members — this role is overwhelming, if not “Masks are overkill, optional should have impossible. always happened. If you’re vaccinated, why do you “That’s where it’s difficult as an administrator: have to act like everyone else?” Campbell said. “I the things that are beyond the building,” Pérez think a lot of people have started to realize that.” said. “I see myself as a fixer, and I can’t fix those Greg Huberty, a math teacher in his 33rd things. That’s sometimes difficult to accept.” year at Cedar, associates burnout less with recent pressures surrounding COVID-19 and more with Support and communication the teaching profession in general. He’s learned that flexibility and humility are crucial to make BluePrints’ survey yielded mixed results on the teaching a career. issue of support from school level administration. “I did a lot of mentor teaching to student teach- While 46% of respondents said they did not or did ers, and I would tell them the same thing: ‘Don’t not at all feel supported by Cedar administration, take yourself too seriously, because the kids don’t. 41% reported the opposite — they felt substanYou burn yourself out that way,’” Huberty said. tially or extremely supported. Conversely, 86% of Though she still suffers from burnout, Doolitrespondents reported they did not or did not at all tle’s mental health has improved considerably since feel supported by CCSD administrators. in-person instruction resumed. Doolittle recognizes how the ample responsi“Last year I felt very powerless. But now that I am able to actually see and work alongside kids I’m like, ‘Oh, I am actually helping students learn,” Doolittle said. “Coming back to the building reminded me why I am a teacher: to work with 9.7% students.” 4.8% Cedar’s administration found themselves 14.5% When asked to rate the impact responsible for the transition back to in-person that self quarantining had on instruction and its teachers’ ability to do their subsequent challenges. jobs, 69% of polled teachers They are certainly not exempt from burnout, said it had no impact on their 1.6% Derricotte says, and it’s work. difficult not to internal69.4% ize the struggles of his 27.4% students and staff. 8.1% “You see how students are struggling to deal with 6.5% day-to-day interactions when Unlike teacher quarantining, all they want to do is be a 92% of polled teachers said that student. You hear the heart of our teachers and how all student quarantining disrupted they want to do is teach their work. 27% said it was and not have to worry extremely disruptive. about students run25.8% ning in the hallway 12.9% 32.3% banging on their

Effects of quarantining on teachers

14.5%

While 34% of teachers say coworker quarantining has been extremely or substantially disruptive of their work, 44% report it has been minimally or not at all disruptive.

21% 29% 22.6%

Infographic by Marcus Welch

*Teachers were asked to rate the disruptiveness of quarantining on a 1-5 scale with one being no impact and five being very disruptive. 1 2 3 5 4

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already is a shortage. I’m “There already overworked. What happens when I

just as tied as ours, aren’t they?’ They are,” Derricotte said. “It’s not about the blame game, but people have to understand: we don’t create policies at the school. We’re just here to execute the policies, ​​but that’s when a lot of people get upset.” Debbie Flaherty, math department, recalls a disruptive lapse of communication from January when Cedar shifted to a virtual model for a few days. Teachers were given one day to prepare for a Zoom class 40 minutes shorter than normal classes. Similarly, belated notice of schedule changes for events such as assemblies or tests grates on Huberty. The sanctity of instructional time is not always kept, he says. Nevertheless, 78% of respondents to BluePrints’ survey reported that they feel substantially or extremely supported by their co-workers. “I have felt so supported in my first year at Cedar by Cedar teachers,” Priest said. “There’s a community if I ever have an issue. It’s not just my neighbors, I can go to pretty much anybody and say ‘Hey, I’m having this issue, can you help?’ and every time they’ll say absolutely.”

have to teach three classes at once or whatever crazy solution they come up with to face the fact that we don’t have enough teachers? - Randy Priest, science department

bilities and the chaotic nature of the building keep administration busy. “They are constantly putting out fires. They’re just being dragged in five million different directions,” Doolittle said. Similarly, Campbell knows his administration has teachers’ best interests at heart. He feels his biggest concern, discipline, is being made a priority, and says that administration does an excellent job of letting students know they’re cared for in the event of a behavioral issue. Still, he thinks the necessary changes aren’t being prioritized. “They (administration) are always willing to listen, but teachers are getting frustrated because it seems that not much is being done about behavior that’s effective. It’s wrong to say there’s nothing being done about it, but it’s clear that what is being done is not effective,” Campbell said. Cedar’s administration has faced the tribulations of COVID-19 while still in its youth — Derricotte began his role in March 2020, just days before the COVID-19 lockdown ensued. His associate and assistant principals joined Cedar’s administration in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. “Because there’s not a lot of experience, that’s always going to have some growing pains,” Huberty said. “The conversations that I’ve had with the administrators have been fruitful for the most part. You’re never going to please everybody all the time.” Derricotte says administrators provide their personal cell phone numbers to teachers and attempt to be as approachable as possible. “When I first started teaching years ago, it seemed like the administrator gave me keys to the door and said ‘See you in 180 days.’ I’ve never wanted anyone else to feel that way, so we try to make sure that we do our due diligence to check on people,” Derricotte said. The teachers who feel most supported, he says, are probably those who are comfortable expressing their concerns by calling an administrator or stopping by the front office. Conversely, teachers who rely on email communication or are more shy about voicing their opinions are likely those who feel unsupported. Still, administrators’ inability to be completely transparent in the event of a disciplinary complaint can breed frustration. “We can’t just divulge all information about any student in the building to teachers. That becomes hard sometimes because teachers just want to see the situation dealt with, while we’re having to go through all the steps to exhaust all opportunities

46 | cedarblueprints.com

to support the student before we move on,” Derricotte said. “On the outside looking in, it seems like we just allow students to do whatever they want. That’s just not the case.” As a new teacher, Priest feels as though he hardly knows his administrators. He says he has not received a response to his repeated inquiries about safety concerns but continues to receive emails about when his lesson plans will be turned in. “I understand why the priorities are where they are: because my boss has a boss and that boss isn’t in the school. It’s hard for these administrators to say, ‘I’m going to focus on this thing that teachers really care about right now,’ because they don’t want to lose their job,” Priest said. Derricotte is unsurprised by the surveyed teachers’ feelings about support from district leadership. Some teachers, he says, are habitually wary of the district. “A lot of people, no matter what’s said or done, they just don’t trust our district. When we try to explain how things are done, we’ll have somebody say, ‘That’s a district policy, isn’t it? Your hands are

Potential policy changes Attendance related disruptions — and seemingly lax ramifications for them — are paramount among teachers’ complaints. A sense of dissatisfaction with current policy is pervasive. “If I’m a student and I can skip every day and not have a thing happen to me, why would I not continue?” Priest said. “Lack of consequences escalates problems.” As for solutions, Priest would appreciate more adults with authority in the building. “I don’t think hiring more security is the answer, but a bigger presence of adults that can

Sources of support for teachers I feel supported by the CCSD community. 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0%

I feel supported by my coworkers. 30% 20% 10% 0%

1 2 3 4 5

I feel supported by my school administration. 20% 15%

1 2 3 4 5

I feel supported by the CCSD administration.

40% 30%

10% 5%

20% 10% 0%

0%

1 2 3 4 5 1 Not at all

1 2 3 4 5 2 Slightly

4 Substantially

3 Somewhat 5 Very much so

Infographic by Marcus Welch


actually do something would help,” Priest said. “If I go out in the hall, and I see a person smoking a vape pen right in front of me, and I say no and they don’t care, what do I do?” To Campbell, fixing attendance is simple. He calls for a strict attendance policy with standardized penalties regardless of extenuating circumstances. Decreasing the number of absences it takes to get a disciplinary response, automatically removing absentee students from the building and increasing the time they’re made to stay home would be ideal, he says. “If the disciplinary policy was more strict, every teacher in this building would feel supported,” Campbell said. “If they’re not going to do the work here, what’s the difference if they sit at home?” Campbell’s logic is far from unique. Administrators are familiar with his suggestion and many others, and acknowledging teachers’ complaints and suggestions within the bounds of their jobs creates a challenging dichotomy. Ultimately, they have no control over disciplinary policy, attendance related or otherwise. Cedar follows the CCSD Student Code of Conduct for all disciplinary actions. Attendance related infractions are considered the lowest severity level and follow a progressive disciplinary model. Essentially, Pérez explains, the process begins at three unexcused absences, when a teacher calls the student’s guardian. At five, a letter is sent home. If the issue continues, teachers can refer the absentee to a student review team made up of counselors, administrators and Cedar’s social worker. The group looks into potential reasons for truancy and interventions to help. A multitude of options, such as referral to Saturday School, can be utilized. In the fall semester, an intervention took place in which a group of absentee students was moved to a virtual instruction model. Discipline rates dropped dramatically, Derricotte says, but spiked again when the students returned to the building in January. Such a response has not been implemented thus far in the second semester. “In a perfect world, people would want us to just say, ‘Hey, you’re out of here.’ But you can’t just kick students out of school. That’s not a viable solution,” Derricotte said. “You have to give grace and try to support students.” According to Pérez, analysis by the review team is an individualized and in-depth process. She says the underlying hardships are sometimes staggering. “The range of things that we find out when we’re talking to these students sometimes breaks your heart,” Pérez said. “I understand the frustration that it’s disruptive to your school environment, but it’s also not in the best interest of most students to have a blanket policy of ‘You haven’t been here, you’re out.’” One issue with such a policy is that Georgia’s Compulsory Attendance Law prohibits schools from unenrolling students under 16 for attendance infractions. In addition, Pérez points to the multitude of services at Cedar that students rely on, including the social worker, mental health counselor and graduation coach. “There’s so many reasons why students miss

Frustration, burnout and alternatives 79% of surveyed teachers claimed they have experienced burnout as a result of their jobs in the past year.

42% of surveyed teachers feel much more frustrated with their jobs compared to before the pandemic.

58% of surveyed teachers feel that they have little or no mental health support at work.

44% of surveyed teachers said they are more likely to retire or leave teaching early compared to before the pandemic. Infographic by Marcus Welch

school. It’s a balance of accountability, empathy, understanding and grace. It’s hard to get that right all the time,” Pérez said. While the code of conduct is not entirely effective, Derricotte and Pérez recognize its necessity. It allows for due process regardless of personal feelings and ensures fairness, they say. If an administrator is addressing a situation not clearly defined in the Code, they reach out to district leadership for assistance. Still, inability to control policy can be taxing. But conversations with district administrators about potential changes recently began, Derricotte says. Cedar administrators’ main goal is to emphasize the importance of implementing avenues for students who might find success in an alternative environment. “The challenge is: how do we motivate students or how do we find options that are appealing or meaningful to them? We need to explore those options,” Pérez said.

Sustainability of the teaching profession Priest plans to leave teaching after this year to get a master’s degree in natural resources with emphasis on environmental education. “Teaching kids is a great joy of mine, but the teaching profession is kind of on fire,” Priest said. “I like my job a lot, but teaching right now — it’s not sustainable.” 44% of respondents to BluePrints’ survey reported that they are more likely to retire or leave teaching early than they were before the pandemic. Similarly, 40% said that stress or adverse circumstances related to the pandemic have led them to question their abilities as a teacher. The threat of a teacher shortage in the U.S. — which was looming even before the COVID-19 pandemic — is potentially devastating, experts say. At Cedar, 78% of survey respondents said that they find increased demands due to staff shortages substantially or extremely challenging, frustrating or stressful. “There already is a shortage. I’m already overworked,” Priest said. “What happens when I have to teach three classes at once or whatever crazy solution they come up with to face the fact that we don’t have enough teachers?” Warner’s upcoming departure saddens her,

but the tumult of her job is too much to bear. The frequent cold calls she receives from schools with vacancies indicate the rampancy of resignations like hers. “I like teaching in lower income schools because you can impact lives. But at this rate, it’s a lost cause. I cannot see the future here,” Warner said. “I need support. The administration needs support as well.” Huberty has a robust career behind him but worries for the future. Being a teacher has changed considerably — and detrimentally — in his time in education. “You can do a lot of different things with a lot less headaches for a lot more money. You think, ‘I break my back for this and I’m not getting any respect and I’m not making money. Why do I keep doing this?’” Huberty said. “There’s a lot more eyes on you than ever before. There’s politicians or board members or district personnel that don’t understand what it is to be a teacher telling you what you’re supposed to be doing, and that can get really frustrating.” Derricotte recalls troubling conversations with friends about colleges near them who have closed their education departments because of lack of interest. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education reports that between 2008-09 and 2018-19, the number of graduates from teacher preparation programs dropped by nearly one third. And while national data isn’t yet available for pandemic years, alarm bells are sounding. AACTE has found that 20% of their member institutions experienced a decline in new undergraduate enrollment of 11% or more in both fall 2020 and 2021. This phenomenon begs the question: what will happen, at Cedar and nationwide, when the number of students filling classrooms overwhelms the dwindling few educators willing to instruct them? “It makes sense when you turn on national news and you see people hurling chairs across a classroom and blood pouring out of teachers’ faces — why would anyone want to do that? When you see students fight because they don’t know how to channel their emotions or mental health situations, why would anyone want to deal with that?” Derricotte said. “You have to be honest with yourself — education is in a state of emergency.”

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Cara Thompson carathompsonrealty@gmail.com (706) 248 - 4543

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