BLUEPRINTS VOLUME XX ISSUE 1 NOVEMBER 2021
TRACING TRIALS P. 34
INEQUITIES OF STANDARDIZED TESTING P. 43
CCSD GIFTED PROGRAM P. 40 CedarBlueprints.com | 1
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. Corrections of errors and omissions will appear in the next issue. Submit letters to the editor to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-Editors-in-Chief Jackie Wright and Violet Calkin 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
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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, Tumelo Johnson, Eva Lucero, Delia McElhannon, Lilly McGreevy, Brendon Milsap, London Moore, Landon Neace, Ikeoluwa Ojo, Aissatou Sarr, Marcus Welch Adviser Marc Ginsberg BluePrints Magazine Cedar Shoals High School 1300 Cedar Shoals Drive Athens, GA 30605 Phone: (706) 546-5375, Ext. 21314
TABLE OF CONTENTS VIEWPOINTS
Cover photo by Isabella Morgan
5 Nailed it! 8 Handling hyperactivity
SPORTS 12 Maganda signs with Wofford 14 Running to his own beat 16 Player spotlight
Photo courtesy of William Wise
VARIETY 18 Reviews 20 CLB vs. Donda
NEWS 22 Right to pads 32 Vaccine drive
Photo by Zaya Roberson
FEATURES 25 27 30 38 46
Anxiety in the air Abolitionist teaching New faces Students’ mental health Eviction protections expire
Photo by Melanie Frick
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
edar Shoals has the reputation of a bad school. It wasn’t always like this though. In the past Cedar was on top and seen as a good school for academics, but times changed as did the students in the school. It’s 2021 and students have returned to school after the COVID-19 lockdown, but things aren’t the same. It’s been forgotten that behavior in school and out of school need to be separated. The school year has just started and there have been more than five fights already. Many students don’t feel safe anymore. Along with that, many feel they are being robbed of school experiences. For example, since the violence has gotten so out of control administrators have decided to limit bathroom passes for students to prevent kids from being in the hallway for too long. Administrators have taken into consideration what needs to be done to control this behavior, but the majority of students who haven’t done anything have to deal with the consequences of other students’ actions. Overall, I hope that normality in school returns so students can feel safe and have fun in their learning environment.
- Yajayra Sanchez-Herrarte, 10th grade
e can all agree that COVID-19 has ruined a whole year for all of us. Last year seniors could not graduate where Cedar Shoals always hosted their graduations (Stegeman Coliseum). All of us had a hard time doing school virtually. Some students had a hard time learning things, others did not have the proper resources. Also, teachers could not teach what they planned for face to face. No school should mandate the COVID-19 vaccine because some students may have medical conditions the school does not know about that stop them from getting the vaccine. What if the medication that they take interferes with the vaccine and affects how it works? What if the vaccine worsens the situation with their medical condition? Some students’ bodies can reject the vaccine and get them even more sick. It is not even just the teenagers that are sick, what about the elementary kids that are sick too? Another reason why it should not be mandatory is because you can still get COVID-19 and pass it on to people. Whether you are fully vaccinated or not you can still get COVID-19. If you have the vaccine and then you get COVID-19 and go to school you can still pass it on. The people you hang out with, the people you talk to and even your classmates can get sick. You can still get sick, though it might not be as bad as someone who is not fully vaccinated. The last reason is that kids under 18 need their parents to sign off for them to get vaccinated. Some parents do not want their kids to get it because they do not think it’s safe. I think the vaccine should not be mandated in any school.
accine mandates are important because many teens are taking COVID-19 as a joke. In school wearing masks is mandatory, but many students take off their masks and risk everyone’s lives. This July in Clarke County School District there were four COVID-19 cases and one precautionary quarantine among students and staff. From Aug. 6 to Aug. 12, following our return to school, there were 98 cases and 417 quarantines. Then from Aug. 13 to Aug. 19, there were 119 cases and 563 quarantines. Instead of going down, these numbers are just going up and up. Only a small percentage of people in school are vaccinated. If there were a higher percentage there would be fewer COVID-19 cases. Vaccinated people have less chance of getting the virus, which means less chance of transmitting the virus. The teenagers who don’t want to get the vaccine are the kids who don’t want to learn and are causing a distraction in our school. If they would make vaccines mandatory for school we would have less distractions for the kids who actually want to learn. Making vaccines mandatory would also help the staff in many ways. Staff wouldn’t be scared of going to school and give full lessons for eight hours. If vaccines were mandatory there could be a smaller number of students in school, but parents want their kids to go to school so they would make them get the vaccine to be permitted back in school.
- Olga Pena Avalos, 10th grade
We want to hear from you! Submit your letter to the editor to email@example.com to be considered for our next edition.
- Alexa Ruiz, 11th grade
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s a young girl in this society, I believe that I should be able to express myself in what I wear, do and believe in. I have had to face many judgements, especially since I have a bigger bust. On Oct. 5 I was dress-coded for wearing a gray tank top under my white top, which was a bit seethrough — the reason I wore a gray tank top under. After the bell rang, the teacher pulled me aside and said what I was wearing was too inappropriate and I was provoking the boys. I was triggered but stayed quiet. Then he made my close friend give me a jacket to “cover-up” since I was dressed inappropriately. No one said anything before he did, and I was very uncomfortable for the rest of the day because I felt like an object people — specifically boys — were looking at. I shouldn’t have to cover up because I am dressed “inappropriately.” I should be able to wear something without feeling uncomfortable or that someone is being distracted by me. I have been dress-coded many times at Cedar Shoals. Though this is just my experience with this situation, it has happened many times and is still not dealt with. If a teacher is “provoked” by a student they should not be one.
- Nayla Villafana, 10th grade
NAILED IT! starting my business at 16
f someone would have told me “When you turn 16 you’re going to have a whole business running,” I would have laughed at them. I never imagined myself doing something that an adult would be doing. When I was 13 years old I wanted to learn how to do nails just for fun. Little did I know that it would be 10 times harder than I imagined. The reason why I started was because of my mom. My mom studied cosmetology back in Mexico, learning how to do everything from hair to nails. My mom has the book knowledge but not the hands on experience. She had really old material. She had old acrylic, old nail polishes, old nail tips and much more. She mentioned to me that the brush she was using was 10 years old, and she took care of it well enough that it looked new. She had a few acrylic powders, a lot of nail polish and some rusty hand files. The same day I had my first class with her was the same day I tried to quit. Starting something new, whether that be a business or a hobby, is not easy. We
can all talk, but we never really know how hard it’s going to be. I knew this was going to be hard. I knew that I was going to get more noes than yeses. I knew that everyone was going to give me a piece of their mind. I knew I was going to feel judged and unsupported at times. But I didn’t care. I knew I was capable of doing it, so I took the risk. My mother is not typical. She is a very clean, up tight, do-things-right-or-don’tdo-them-at-all type of woman. I had to beg her to teach me about fingernails. I remember telling her that within six months I wanted to be “badass at doing nails.” We started over spring break in March 2020 before the pandemic became a reality. She still had that old material from the time I was 13. My mom only started buying new material after I used up the old stuff. Buying new material was essential. Not because it was “new material” but because I needed material that was good and easy to work with. She bought a new nail bush, new color acrylics and new nail polishes. The old material had
CONCENTRATE: Velazquez-Ayala finishes a client’s nails in her home office. “Starting something new, whether that be a business or a hobby, is not easy. We can all talk, but we never really know how hard it’s going to be,” Ayala said. Photo provided by Yennifer Velazquez-Ayala.
Yennifer Velazquez-Ayala WJAG-TV reporter become very difficult to work with. The nail brush was intact but some of the bristles were coming out. Acrylic powders have expiration dates. The acrylics we had were long overdue. In any business to succeed you have to buy good material and this may be pricey. In the nail world nothing is cheap. My mom has high expectations and wants me to learn how to do things on the first try. Anybody who attempts to do nails knows that it takes a lot of patience. One day my mom was teaching me how to apply acrylic, which is one of the hardest parts to master when doing nails. You have to learn how to work the acrylic, not let the acrylic work you. There’s a liquid to powder ratio that you have to master to pick up a bead. If your bead is too wet it overflows the nail, and if the bead is too dry then the powder hardens really fast. Learning how to stabilize the bead can become very frustrating. This is where having patience with yourself comes into play. When I first started I would pick up the bead and then place it on the nail and brush it down. I would always leave the nail lopsided. I couldn’t brush it down smoothly all at once. My mom kept yelling at me because I was doing it wrong. At one point my mom got so mad that she told me to quit. She was mad that I wasn’t mastering it. In conditions like that it was very hard to learn and to stay motivated. I decided not to quit. I started working for free because at that time my work on customers’ nails wasn’t worthy of anybody’s money. I kept pushing. I felt embarrassed to let some clients go with nails that were ugly.
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Some appointments ran over three hours. started getting noticed and clients started up enough money to build a small room How was I taking three hours on nails to DM and book appointments. I felt so on my front porch. It was like adding a that I was ashamed to look at? My mom much joy in my heart. All of those nights new bedroom. This felt like the biggest would correct me all the time. She would that I wanted to give up, all of the stress, accomplishment I have ever made. I was tell me that if I was going to do a half all of the arguing with my mom, all of able to do the unimaginable. I finally had done job then I shouldn’t be doing it at the money spent and all of the material a space meant for nails. The inside of my all. She would also say that if I did the thrown to the trash. All of those ugly sets house no longer smelled like nail polish job right the first time I wouldn’t have were finally paying off. and Monomer. I was able to have space to go back to it and do it a second time. for everything and organize it. I no lonShe kept telling me to pay ger needed the boxes that a lot of attention to the I had to cram everything details. I remember a look into. Although I did this on her face that seemed on my own, I couldn’t have disappointed and worried. done it without my parents’ Those scowls were the fuel support. They invested I needed to keep going. I in me when I had $30. didn’t want to be a disapAlthough my mom was pointment. very hard on me I couldn’t I was determined to have done it without her. right my wrongs. I looked I wanted it so bad that all back at every nail set I did, the breakdowns were going and as bad as I felt I looked to be totally worth it, and at my errors. Their shape it’s safe to say that it was. wasn’t all the same, the cuFast forward to almost a ticle area would overflow. year into nails. It’s smooth The nails were lopsided. I now, but I am still looking had to face my demons so at my mistakes and fixing that I wouldn’t commit the them. My mistakes are no same errors again. longer visible, but in my Fast forward to May eyes I want my nails to 2020. We were a month look and feel professioninto the pandemic. Stores al, although my clients were closing down and already think that. I grew a people were going crazy passion and love for what over toilet paper. You I do. Those two things are would think that no one key when starting a busiwould want to get their ness. Times get hard and nails done during these if you’re passionate about hard times. Wrong, girls it you won’t give up too STEADY STAMINA: Ayala’s business started to grow, and so did her ability to work still wanted to get their easily. Then you need love, at a higher speed and focus. “I gained momentum. I became faster at doing nails. I started to take up to five appointments a day,” Ayala said. Photo provided by Yennifer nails done, just not at nail but this comes easy beVelazquez-Ayala. salons where it would be cause after failure, struggle, crowded. I set up a little station in my I gained momentum. I became faster frustration and even discouragement you own room. I had a very small black table, at doing nails. I started to take up to five will notice that because of those things two chairs and a lamp. I used to store my appointments a day. I ended those days you have grown and created something material in boxes where I could reach fast exhausted but went to sleep happy. I that is now part of you. How could you for anything that I need. I tried staying still made small errors, but now it didn’t not love that? organized. I placed all the color acrylics eat me up alive. I was working in my together and all the nail tips together in room. I saved every penny and bought another box. good material on my own. I bought a I made an Instagram business page. full collection of Valentino color acrylI finally started working. I was charging ics, Monomers, nail-on art like stickers, $20 dollars for every set I did. That is jewels, butterflies and hearts. I stopped a very low price. The nails I was doing depending on my parents financially as were worth $30 and up at any nail salon. far as running my nail business. I didn’t I still took two hours to do a simple set, even care that I was working in my room: but this time around I felt as if my work my personal space. was worth something. Little by little I Fast forward to September. I saved
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ince I was a child, thinking was like a motor that never stopped and kept getting faster. You’re given these small Ava Maddox opportunities as a Art Director kid that determine whether they become memories or not. However, thinking back to this motor analogy, I realize that thinking so fast could make my memory untouched in places, and that I can’t remember as much as my other classmates
of time, I can grow irritable doing any kind of work, and sometimes I speak and do things so fast that I can’t even remember what I just said or did. The struggle drains me, causing burnout and isolation. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is described to impact attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, but hyperactivity can alter due to motivation or interests. Memorizing all of “Phantom of the Opera” and hyperfixation on the musical was more important to me than the Pythagorean Theorem. With ADHD I can ramble, yet I completely zone out
nation. These few things have contributed to my failing grades, and quarantine made my struggle to learn much more intense. Without being in an environment where I felt fit to learn, ADHD made it harder to grasp what took place in the virtual classroom. This problem contributes to the states of anxiety I mention, and these events have caused breakdowns and panic under pressure to focus more. Since focusing is inevitably hard to do, my train of thought only focuses on the thought of focusing rather than paying attention, and I miss everything that
With ADHD, people have the expectation that you’re going to get distracted by a squirrel or that you’re going to have some kind of ‘special’ ability. or peers. I consider it an accomplishment to be halfway through this educational experience. However, I did not consider failing classes during the pandemic an accomplishment. With ADHD, people have the expectation that you’re going to get distracted by a squirrel or that you’re going to have some kind of “special” ability. According to the media’s portrayal of autism, it may allow people to calculate numbers quickly. Conversely, with ADHD there are no supposed special traits nor superpowers. Instead the brain gets left behind. I constantly feel like I’m running out
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when it comes to anything with vital academic importance. I have thoughts while writing this that make me talk about various experiences and struggles, but the subjects are never in order nor are they thoroughly explained because my thought process constantly switches between different subjects. This happens as a result of not wanting to forget any points I am meaning to make. I tend to overspeak, and I talk fast. My life constantly moves in and out of anxiety, with no way to tell my story without feeling stigmatized or annoying. ADHD affects students through constant burnout, inability to focus and procrasti-
has been said or discussed. This creates a cycle which makes work more anxiety inducing and difficult. These occasions can lead to low self-esteem, depression and confusion. I wish some teachers knew that, but I don’t expect everyone to know everything. ADHD is a barrier between myself and others, further distancing me from everyone. It’s irritable, and I have exquisite social skills that come off as “too much.” However, my ability to focus extremely hard and ability to not focus at all have a strange alchemy. Academics have never been my strong suit, yet art and creativity have. My ability to focus on subjects
always varies. I tend to zone out and think of things that I am currently hyper focused on. These things that I hyperfocus on can change my train of thought and distract me from school or interactions. In return, I appear lazy or ignorant, which is never my intention. ADHD also leads to impulsive behavioral traits. I often find myself saying inappropriate things out loud or impulsive shopping. The impulsivity of these thoughts and actions distract me from my day’s initial plan and cause an emotional reaction of stress or depression. Another major factor of ADHD is discouragement. With ADHD I could be enjoying a project and in the middle of it randomly give up due to self consciousness. I can be neglectful and forget to continue with projects or assignments. This affects both my grades and my workplace. Most teachers do not thor-
oughly understand ADHD. Low grades can actively demonstrate the lack of motivation in kids with ADHD and the lack of speed or understanding of the subject. This lack of motivation, as well as depression and low self esteem, can cause constant mood swings. Along with the discouragement of oneself, people with ADHD attempt to mentally plan their days so they can prepare. If plans are changed, they can easily become distraught or angry, resulting in overall sadness and confusion. Besides constantly placing the blame on themselves, the stigma of ADHD makes everything worse. ADHD is a real thing. Regardless of how common, people need to realize that it is a serious issue that affects many lives. Due to my own ADHD, I have not been able to read a book in four years. My inattention to math has grown exponentially over time. There are so many things that my ADHD
has affected, including negative judgements of my character. I have been labeled as the r-word, chatterbox, idiot, moron and many more names. This behavior and stigma needs to be halted. There is no need for this sort of treatment, and in the end it hurts people. I hope when this pandemic ends I can feel able to focus again, but also, I hope that isolation and recent current events can help people realize that kindness is important. We should all accept one another, rather than turn each other away.
Art by Ava Maddox CedarBlueprints.com | 9
n Dec. 11, 2020, I had hope. Pfizer had released the COVID-19 vaccine. My eyes, strained from reading too many Melanie Frick news reports about rising cases Web Editor and spending countless hours on Zoom, looked to my parents who had just read the news. Smiles spread across our faces, as we dreamed life might return to normal. It wouldn’t be long before this hope was diminished. I was still 15 at the time of the vaccine’s release, but by March 31, 2021, I was standing in line to get my first shot at the Oglethorpe Recreational Center. I was eager to get the vaccine after waiting until enough residents 65 and older had gotten their chance first. It felt like a no-brainer. I wondered if those who were vaccinated might not have to wear masks when we went back to school in August. After my second dose, I felt invincible. I even dabbled in going to grocery stores without a mask. Looking back, that feels irresponsible, but with reason to believe I was safe from getting and spreading the virus, I didn’t see why I should wear one. The delta variant quickly diminished this confidence. Clarke County School District mandated masks for the 2021-22 school year amidst spiking COVID-19 cases that brought hospitals to maximum capacity. For the week of Sept. 6, CCSD high schools paused for a week of virtual instruction with 526 new district cases in the last 30 days at the time. With only 44% of Athens Clarke County residents fully vaccinated, and University of Georgia (UGA) students back in town without mask or vaccination requirements, there are ample opportunities for Athens cases
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Headline art by Ava Maddox
to rise. What scares me the most about these statistics is how full hospitals are. People have had to travel out of state to find hospitals with available beds. A man from Cullman, Alabama died of a cardiac emergency in Mississippi after hospital staff initially contacted 43 hospitals that had full ICUs. My heart is wrenched for hospital staff who work tirelessly day after day for unvaccinated people who refuse the resources to protect themselves from this virus. Over the past couple of months, I have heard many different theories as to how the vaccine is ineffective or harmful to our health. I’ve heard peers discuss vaccinated people who have still gotten COVID-19. They fail to acknowledge that after initially contracting the virus, unvaccinated people are more than twice as likely to be reinfected with COVID-19 as vaccinated peers. Additionally, getting vaccinated reduces one’s chance of becoming severely ill, getting hospitalized or dying. There are many other vaccines we receive that do not guarantee us 100% immunity from getting sick, like the flu shot which I and many others receive every year. Unfortunately, I see how much misinformation contributes to vaccine hesitancy, including myths about the vaccine containing microchips, magnetizing people or altering DNA. None of these theories have data to back them up, and they have all been disproven by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A prevalent hesitancy that I can understand comes from people worrying that because the vaccine is so “new,” there will eventually be side effects. But data shows that adverse side effects from vaccines almost always “show up within the first two weeks, and certainly by the first two months,” according to Dr. Ashish
Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, as quoted across various media sources. It’s unfortunate that this vaccine has become so highly politicized because it hasn’t always been this way. In 1990, when a measles outbreak swept across UGA, staff and students under the age of 24 were required to get vaccinated. Those who didn’t comply were simply banished from school, and paychecks were withheld from staff. Students were eager to get it taken care of, waiting in long lines to get their shot. It was the logical thing to do, but the times were different. I’m not extremely nervous about dying from COVID-19, primarily because as of Sept. 27, 2021, 86% of reported fully vaccinated deaths were people 65 or older. What does scare me, especially with delta being more than twice as contagious as previous variants, is getting COVID-19 from an unvaccinated peer and unknowingly passing it to my 86-year-old grandmother. My wish going forward is that my community wakes up. It’s not hard to see the severity of the pandemic if one takes the time to check hospitalization statistics or listen to medical professionals. I’ve had to let go of the hope that life will go back to normal. Instead, my generation just hopes that we can eventually live in safety. I reminisce on the days when we were able to attend AthFest, not wear masks or visit our relatives without worry. If everyone wore masks consistently and got vaccinated, we might finally be able to wake up from this nightmare.
Graphic by Megan Wise
Vaccine incentives are beneficial Headline art by Ava Maddox
hio gave away a million dollars and full-ride college scholarships, California had “$50,000 Fridays” where 30 people Melany Mathis won $50,000 each Viewpoints Editor and other states are giving out free vacations. These vaccine incentives are positive, moral and definitely beneficial. According to the Ohio Department of Health, their lottery increased vaccination rates in the state by 28% in less than a week. Other programs have also proved to be effective, including local ones in Athens. The University of Georgia is running a lottery of 100 cash prizes of $1,000 for students, faculty and staff who are fully vaccinated. The first 50 winners were announced Sept. 15, with the rest announced on Sept. 30 and Oct. 15. This contest was an opportunity for people who got vaccinated in the past few months to receive an incentive, too. According to an article published on Sept. 1 by UGA Today, participation in the university’s vaccination program more than doubled after the announcement of vaccine incentives for UGA students, faculty and staff. Athens-Clarke County recently implemented a program that gives people a $100 gift card per dose for getting vaccinated, starting on Sept. 3 with 2,000 gift cards available. Since then, the county commission voted for additional funding to the program, which will add 1,000 gift cards (500 for the first dose, 500 for the second). People who either live, work or go to school in Athens are eligible, including 12-17 year olds. For educators and staff, Clarke County
School District is giving fully vaccinated employees a one time payment of $500 to those who show proof of vaccination by Dec. 1. Experts say that if the United States wants to reach herd immunity — the point at which a population becomes immune to a disease — at least 80% of Americans need to be vaccinated. The Delta variant caused this percentage to rise. According to a survey conducted by Kaiser Health News, only a third of parents of children ages 5-11 would vaccinate their child “right away” after a vaccine is approved for the age group. As of Oct. 12, approximately 56.6% of Americans and 46.5% of Georgians are fully vaccinated. The vaccine itself is an incentive, as it protects us and keeps ourselves, families and others safe and healthy. The thought of someone getting severely sick or even dying from this virus should be incentive enough to get the vaccine. Yet still, anti-vaxxers spread dangerously false information that is problematic for people’s health and safety. One of their main arguments is that, “vaccinated people are still getting COVID, so what’s the point?”
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unvaccinated people are five times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 and 29 times more likely to be hospitalized for it than those who are fully vaccinated. Others argue incentives are bribery
and “morally wrong.” A bribe is defined as something that’s illegal or dishonest, and these incentives are neither. No one is being forced. Rather it’s simply a benefit that’s being offered. Incentives aren’t “morally wrong,” especially when people’s livelihoods are at risk. People need to consider that the choices they make don’t just impact themselves. These incentives are also beneficial to disadvantaged communities. Incentives help people who have to take time off work, find childcare or get transportation. If they’re paid to get the vaccine, they are less worried about these logistics and can focus on keeping themselves and families safe and healthy. While I wish we lived in a world where people don’t have to be offered incentives to do something that will keep our communities safer, that sadly isn’t the case. At this point, anything that proves effective to getting Americans to get vaccinated is a good thing. This pandemic has gone on far too long. If gift cards, lotteries and scholarships help our country move forward, then it’s well worth it.
Graphics by Ava Maddox
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FROM WHIT TO WOFFORD By Jacob Weiszer
t eight years old, Enock Maganda walked into a classroom buzzing with activity. It was the first day of school at Whit Davis Elementary and friends were reuniting after summer vacation. Maganda had just moved to Athens from his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina and felt isolated from the rest of the group. Yet, he had one thing in common with many of his classmates: soccer. The son of Tanzanian immigrants, Maganda fell in love with the game at a young age. “I have been around the game ever since I was little, as many of my family members used to play,” Maganda said. “Whenever I play, I feel like nothing else is going on, It’s just me and the ball.” Maganda grew up watching Messi and Ronaldinho, two FC Barcelona legends. He also looks up to his uncle, Melchizedek Mashiku, who played soccer at Cedar Shoals from 2012-16.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING: Senior Enock Maganda poses outside of Whit Davis Elementary School. He is thankful for everyone who has helped him. “Seeing so many familiar faces at my signing meant a lot to me because everyone in attendance has helped me not only in my soccer career but throughout my life,” Maganda said. Photo by Jacob Weiszer.
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While Maganda started playing at the age of 10, he had never played on a club team before moving to Georgia. That changed when he joined Athens United, where he was coached by Cedar Shoals Head Coach Brian Lukasewitz. “The way Enock shows up to practice in 100 degree heat and is ready to put in the work speaks volumes about his work ethic,” Lukasewitz said. Maganda moved on from Athens United in 2018 when he joined United Futbol Academy in Atlanta. At the time, the league played in the United States Developmental Academy (DA), one of the top youth leagues in the country. The league dissolved in 2019 so Maganda joined his current club, Gwinnett Soccer Academy, to play in the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL). In addition to club soccer, Maganda captained the Hilsman Middle School soccer team in 2018, played on the Tanzanian U17 National
Team in that year and has captained the Cedar Shoals Varsity team for the past two seasons. In addition to being named the offensive MVP for the Jaguars in each of the past two seasons, Maganda was named to the United Soccer Coaches Association Georgia High School Boys Soccer First Team and was selected to participate in the Southeast All-American High School Soccer Showcase in 2020. He was also named to the First Team 8-AAAA All-Region, First Team All-Area by the Athens Banner Herald and Divarsity’s Georgia High School Soccer AllStar Team this year. While Maganda has had many highlights in his career, not everything has come easy. In a soccer match against East Hall last year, the Jaguars were down by one in the closing seconds of the game. Maganda drew a penalty and stepped up to try to convert from the spot. Coming into the match,
GOING DOWN IN HISTORY: Maganda celebrates after scoring a goal against Clarke Central last season. Assistant Coach Conor Naughton emphasizes the legacy that Maganda leaves behind. “Enock is going to go down as one of the most decorated players in our program’s history,” Naughton said. Photo from BluePrints Archives.
Maganda had never missed a penalty kick in his soccer career. His penalty was saved and the Jaguars lost the game. Cedar Shoals Assistant Coach Conor Naughton recalls fondly what would soon unfold. “He (Maganda) was pretty down on himself so I texted him the next morning to try to cheer him up. He then told me that after everyone went home, Enock got back in the car and drove back to the field. He then spent 30 minutes taking penalties in the dark at 11:30 at night.” Maganda doesn’t just excel on the pitch but also in the classroom. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his high school career, is in the top 5% of his class and is a member of the school’s Beta Club and National Honors Society Chapters. He is also dual enrolling at the University of Georgia this year. “Enock is a great example of what we try to develop in our student-athletes,” Cedar Shoals Athletic Director L’Dreco Thomas said. “He excels not only on the field but also in the classroom.” On Aug. 20, Maganda signed to continue his academic and athletic career at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Maganda committed to Wofford this spring after receiving offers from several other NCAA Division One programs including three Ivy league institutions. “I chose Wofford because of the location
and I really connected with the coaches,” Maganda said. “The program is in a rebuilding process so I know when I get to campus, I will be a key player who can make a difference.” Wofford competes as a member of the Southern Conference. Maganda is the first men’s soccer player from Cedar Shoals to sign with a Division One school since Cade Jones signed with East Tennessee State in 2008.
Maganda plans on majoring in biology or sports medicine with the hopes of becoming an athletic trainer. “I not only want to have a successful athletic career but I want to make sure that by the time I’m graduating, I have a solid foundation for whatever I choose to pursue,” Maganda said. “If I am presented with the opportunity to play professionally with a good team, that is definitely something I would consider.”
OFFICIALLY A TERRIER: Maganda signs with Wofford College to play soccer. He has high hopes for his time in Spartanburg, South Carolina. “I hope to be a four year starter and score a bunch of goals, but I also want to have a positive impact on the rest of the team,” Maganda said. Photo by Patrick Redmond.
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RUNNING TO HIS OWN BEAT SETTING THE BAR HIGH: Blake poses for a picture in his cross country uniform. He has improved his personal record times every year since he started running for Cedar and is aiming higher this season. “I expect to run a 19-minute three mile this season and even dip into 18 minutes if I keep improving like I hope I will,” Blake said. Photo by Isabella Morgan. By Jacob Weiszer
hen he is not running down the final stretch or pinning his opponent to the mat, you can find junior Obayemi Blake playing drums in the Classic City Sound marching band. The St. Thomas native’s love for the drums stems from hanging out with his dad’s drumming group when he was younger. Blake is now in his third year as a percussionist for the marching band and enjoys editing music when he has time, which is hard to come by while playing three varsity sports. “My dad’s drumming group, Echo People, inspired me to pick up the drums,” Blake said. “They played Afro-Caribbean music on conga drums and even though I was too young to understand the concept, looking back at it makes it seem pretty cool. My dad would go on to help me learn the basics of the conga drum and has encouraged me to continue pursuing my passion for music.” Before his current schedule of four time consuming extracurriculars, Blake practiced martial arts beginning when he was six years old. When the wrestling team needed more students, Blake was an obvious choice.
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Blake excelled in his freshman season, qualifying as an individual for the state sectional tournament in the 113 pound weight class. The match was one of Blake’s favorite moments at Cedar. “During the sectionals tournament, I faced off against a wrestler from Walnut Grove. This wrestler was one of the best in the state and I had already lost to him a few weeks earlier at the regional tournament,” Blake said. “The match
came down to the wire and I was able to pin him in the final seconds to secure a spot in the state tournament.” He failed to qualify for the state tournament last season but hopes to return this year. Blake started running cross country in eighth grade when his friends convinced him to join the Hilsman Middle School team. While he initially started running for fun, he began to take it more seriously as he gained experience.
SOMETHING NEW: Blake runs at Unicoi State Park during a meet in the 2021 season. He looks forward to participating in track events. “I would like to be able to run short distance events so that I’m not just a one-sided runner,” Blake said. Photo courtesy of William Wise.
“I started becoming really competitive more explosive, I had to change my strat- is his character. and actually trained to run faster. Once I egy to run more aggressively rather than “He is definitely a leader by example,” started enjoying it, I knew I had to conjust laying low.” Echols said. “Whatever you need him to tinue in high school,” Blake said. While working through this shift do he does without question. If we had a In the past two seasons, Blake imin his approach, Blake performed well team full of Obas, that would be great.” proved his 5k time by three minutes last season. He placed second in the Kemmerer admires Blake’s determiand finished both races this season in 4x800-meter relay at the North Oconee nation day in and day out to be a leader just over 20 minutes. Jesse Kemmerer, meet with a time of 9:49. He also finished for the program. assistant cross country coach at Cedar fifth in the 800-meter and 1600-meter “Oba does everything 100%,” KemShoals, expects Blake to take another step races at the Apalachee meet with times of merer said. “He never quits, he always forward this season. 2:31 and 5:37 respectively. finishes strong and never takes a rep “Blake has shown tremendous Blake’s coaches and teammates say one off. He embodies what our team is all improvement this season which has a of his biggest additions to their program about in that he leads by example and is lot to do with gainsomeone our younger ing experience as he runners can look up to.” is now in his third Sophomore Jonathan season,” Kemmerer Williams, a teammate said. “I would like for on the track and cross him to run 19 minute country teams, believes 5k’s which he should that Blake’s work ethic surpass this week and plays a large role in his then just keep improvathletic success. ing his personal record “Oba is a hard worktime.” ing athlete who puts in As he started to the work even when he’s hit his stride, Blake sore, tired or not feeling wanted to try out new up to it,” Williams said. events and run year“What makes him so round. He joined the successful is his ability track team last season to keep himself focused, and left an immediate even if he didn’t run impression. as fast as he hoped. “I knew he was a His work ethic makes hard working man everyone around him who was very rebetter.” spectful and listens to TAKING CONTROL: Blake takes down a Spartan opponent in a 2020 wrestling match. He enjoys While balancing coaches. He definitely defeating an opponent as an underdog. “I like to go into the match with the mindset that it’s my game three sports, marching to win, I have something to prove,” Blake said. Photo by Alexis Lemus from BluePrints archives. lived up to those exband and martial arts may be difficult, Blake pectations,” Track and Field Head Coach says that everyone needs to find what Thrandon Echols said. works best for them. Blake altered his technique from cross “It’s mainly just a time thing,” Blake country to improve his track times. said. “Sometimes it can get really “There was a little bit hectic but I have to determine of adjustment because which activities to prioritize track has so many different to stay efficient. I don’t events,” Blake said. “I always need to practice had to focus more on every sport each my speed than day so I try to just endurance. split it up.” To become
Graphics by Megan Wise
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FALL SPORTS STARS By Enock Maganda
JONATHAN WILLIAMS CROSS COUNTRY 2 YEARS
Photo courtesy of William Wise
PRE-GAME TRADITION Hyping each other up and encouraging teammates to break personal records FAVORITE CEDAR MEMORY Late night bus trips after meets and watching teammates break personal records
“Jonathan puts 100% effort into everything that he does, he’s always cheering on his fellow teammates. When you have that mentality of putting others first you’re going to be a good athlete, student, as well as person in general and I think that’s exactly what Jonathan is.” - Jesse Kemmerer, assistant cross country coach
FOOTBALL 12 YEARS
PRE-GAME TRADITION Listening to music with the team and eating sweets, usually Skittles FAVORITE CEDAR MEMORY Going to the state championship with the basketball team sophomore year Photo by Patrick Redmond
“Jah is a really important member to our team on and off the field. Aside from all of the individual accolades he has acquired he always puts the team first.” - Leroy Ryals, head football coach 16 | CedarBlueprints.com
RAIDERS 4 YEARS
Eating Waffle House, hyping up the team and listening to music on the bus
FAVORITE CEDAR MEMORY
Volunteering for the Special Olympics
Photo from BluePrints Archives
“The sign of a great leader is shown by their ability to help the weakest people, and that’s what Jose has done throughout his time at Cedar Shoals.” - Anton Jenkins, JROTC First Sergeant and head Raider coach
VOLLEYBALL 6 YEARS
Making TikTok videos with the team before games
FAVORITE CEDAR MEMORY
Cheering at the 2020 boys basketball state championship
“Kori’s energy is contagious on and off the court. She’s a vocal person and brings positivity that the girls feed off of which makes her a great leader and a valuable member of the team.” - Jessica Colquitt, head volleyball coach Photo by Haydee Vilchiz-Alvear
SOFTBALL 4 YEARS
Singing with the team and hyping them up before games
FAVORITE CEDAR MEMORY
Going to the Cedar vs. Central basketball games
Photo By Emma McElhannon
“La’Kayla’s leadership skills and ability to be resilient through adversity have made her a successful student athlete.” - Brittany Ritter, head softball coach CedarBlueprints.com |
WHAT’S ON DECK? Graphics by Aiden Dowling and Ava Maddox
The rating is done out of 5, with Ace being 5 and Joker being 1.
LUCIFER Everyone’s favorite devil-detective duo has returned to Netflix for their last season. The final season follows Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) as he battles his anxiety about taking up his newly earned throne in heaven. As Lucifer and Chloe (Lauren German) prepare for their move to the Silver City, they are surprised by a visitor from their future with a determination to kill. Throughout the previous five seasons, Ellis has proved an expert at showing the struggles of grief and self doubt, and this skill was masterfully used in this season. The audience follows Lucifer’s journey as he battles with his future self and ultimately shocks himself with realization about his purpose and future. The season also features quality settings including an animated element and brings heaven and hell to reality. The show skillfully uses symbolism with white, pristine sets depicting heaven, and the shadowy scenes full of locked doors depicting hell. Many other characters make shocking discoveries. Chloe ultimately decides that being a detective is her calling along with being with the ones she cares about. The writers never leave the audience bored as the season also features a beautiful wedding, ghostly visitors and traveling through a scrambled mind. -Tory Ratajczak
Through the film adaptation of the Tony-Award winning broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” director Stephen Chbosky (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Wonder”) has once again developed a coming-of-age story with more than enough cringe-worthy scenes. Even with 30-year-old actors playing high-schoolers, the cast pulls off the awkward teen vibe. Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) embodies anxiety, and other characters like Alana Beck (Amandla Stenberg) represent the overachieving, go-getters. The story starts with Evan writing a letter to himself with graphics of medication surrounding him and a broken arm. Evan jumps straight into song as he discusses feeling alone and unseen. No novice when it comes to singing, Platt’s falsetto proves his vocal range. His skills are not surprising, as Platt played Evan in the original 2016 broadway musical. Evan is stuck in his own head as his singing is depicted to only the audience, the other characters oblivious. The movie explores mental illness carefully with the song “The Anonymous Ones.” Stenberg uses light vocals to convey tear-jerking lyrics with deep meaning behind them. The plot truly begins with a complete misunderstanding between Evan and Connor’s family. After Connor takes his own life, his mother (Amy Adams) and stepfather (Danny Pino) misconstrue Evan as being Connor’s best friend. Failing to correct them, Evan comes up with an elaborate lie about all the memories he and Connor shared. This deception even goes as far as the creation of “The Connor Project:” a fundraiser for student mental health awareness. This movie revolves around forgiving not only others, but yourself as well. Even more relevant is social media, which heavily influences the perceptions that the characters have. Rumors are spread through Instagram which certainly does not help Evan with his crisis. With all the plot buildup, the ending is a disappointment. The pacing feels abrupt as Evan vows to do better after mistakes that hurt others. The audience lacks closure, but after nearly two hours of attempting to side with Evan, this ending makes him hard to forgive. -Kira Law
With over-the-top dramatic acting, suspense, and even a little romance, Netflix’s newest Korean drama “Squid Game’’ exemplifies a well rounded K-Drama with the addition of psychological horror, making it a unique show. “Squid Game” is like “Saw” but with likable characters. 456 contestants down on their luck and in debt are chosen to be on a show where they play classic schoolyard games like ‘redlight, greenlight’ or ‘tug of war’ for 45.6 billion Korean won, the equivalent of $38,309,508.48. But there is a twist. If you lose, you die. Whether it’s a bullet through the skull or a towering drop, players who are unable to beat the game meet their untimely demise. Lee Jung-jae’s leading man Seong Gi-Hun embodies his own internal self confliction, forcing the viewers to choose between their morals or mortality. Sea-Byeok’s (Jung Ho-yeon) character development throughout the show from a loner to part of a team makes viewers fall in love with her. Overall character developments through trauma affect every player, bettering some while turning others into killers. With an interesting plot and a colorful set like a dollhouse from hell, “Squid Game” immerses fans into a horror-filled, childish world where who you team up with can decide whether you live or die. -Emma McElhannon
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Ciné showed horror movies throughout the month of October. Graphic by Megan Wise
Perfect for Athens townies craving safe cinema, Ciné Drive In Tuesdays are a unique entertainment option. Sept. 14’s showing of “Legally Blonde” was nothing less than charming. Spoiled California girl Elle Woods’ antics as an underqualified Harvard Law student were illuminated by a vast screen with impeccable sound quality through radio station 95.1 FM., making for a theater-equivalent experience. The stars above and cool September evening air beat an indoor theater any day. Ciné made the right choice of location at the General Time building off Chase Street, shielded from distractions of excess noise and traffic. A spacious lot left room for the multiple convertibles reminiscent of the time when drive-ins were at their prime. Sedan drivers set up chairs in their designated spot with a hand held radio, and families in SUVs backed in and popped the trunk to lay on blankets to watch the film. A quick survey of the scene exhibited families and friends together amid an idyllic sunset: chatting, laughing, and in the case of the car behind us, discussing the merits of skipping class for movie-going. Supporting local businesses is worth the steep price of $30 for up to three people and $50 for up to five people in one vehicle, so future attendees would be wise to invite friends to tag along and split the check. Refreshments, including a food truck, and bathrooms were available, just like at a downtown Ciné show. Staff were helpful and kept the show running smoothly. Another plus was that they didn’t police outside food. The variety in movie selection — from “Legally Blonde” to “Creed” to “ET” — provides a show for everyone. With these amenities, the lovely outdoor setting and nostalgia of the adaptation of old-school movie viewing, I prefer the drive-in experience. -Violet Calkin
LIL NAS X
Horror legend James Wan returns to the big screen with his newest thriller and crime drama. Leaving behind Ed and Lorraine Warren of “The Conjuring” and “Annabeth” series, Wan’s “Malignant” features fresh characters, fears and horror experiences. This time there are no haunted houses, cursed dolls or possessed children. Madison (Annabelle Wallis) just wants to have a baby to pull together her abusive marriage. After an argument with her husband Derek (Jake Abels) over her two former miscarriages he slams her head into a wall, causing her previously conjoined evil twin known as Gabriel (Marina Mazepa) to awaken with the ability to possess her and kill without her knowledge. As a fetus, Madison partially absorbed her twin. Now a parasite on the back of her head, its distorted face, complete with flailing arms and an exposed ribcage, looks like the baby from “Eraserhead” got put in a dehydrator. Much like Wan’s “The Conjuring” and ”Insidious,” viewers follow the main character looking into every dark corner preparing to be scared. The house follows in Wan’s footsteps, set in a gothic, colonial style with cracked, cigarette stained walls. The jump scares and pop-ups infamous in Wan’s former movies are scarce in “Malignant,” replaced by much more gore. Bloodshed is nothing new with Wan’s films. His directorial debut of the indie-turned-blockbuster film franchise of “Saw” never lacked in the gore department, depicting disturbing scenes that have been described as “torture porn.” While “Malignant” does not present torture, it doesn’t lack blood either. Watching Gabriel massacre people is not as scary as it sounds. He flips Madison’s arms around and runs backwards, making him look awkward until you see his terrifying face: a bloody mess with teeth and hair, making viewers look on in disgust. “Malignant” favors special effects over gritty camera quality. When Madison sees Gabriel’s brutal murders, the room seems to melt into the scene of the murder in a smooth transition without looking over-edited. That is before a golden sword wielding madman who kills people with no mercy takes over the scene. Combining horror genres together with a crime and family drama twist, “Malignant” is a truly unique James Wan film that pays homage to his past horror hits. -Emma McElhannon
MONTERO Released on Sept. 17, “Montero” is popstar Lil Nas X’s debut album. Nas held nothing back with features including Jack Harlow, Doja Cat, Elton John, Megan Thee Stallion and Miley Cyrus. Montero’s tracklist starts out very strong with songs like “Call Me By Your Name” and “INDUSTRY BABY” featuring Jack Harlow, maintaining its upbeat pop feel and lyrics about the celebrity lifestyle. While Nas talks about his romantic struggles throughout the album, “Montero” takes a dark turn halfway through as Nas begins to describe his past experiences with bullying, mental health struggles and exploration of his sexuality. The second half of the album humanizes Nas, and strengthens the bond with his fans. While most of the album is epic, a handful of tracks drag behind the rest of the album. The worst of these songs is “SCOOP” featuring Doja Cat. Nas delivers a catchy chorus and Doja Cat’s lyrics match the rest of the song, but their voices clash heavily, creating awkward transitions. Another problematic track is “ONE OF ME.” This track features Elton John, but he’s not really featured. John’s talent feels wasted on this track because his only contribution is background piano. Although a few lackluster tracks hold “Montero” back, Lil Nas X delivers a top-notch album as his debut project. -Marcus Welch
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Attempting to compare Kanye West’s “Donda” and Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” is a musical clash of the titans. Released less than a week apart, “Donda” is Kanye West’s 10th studio album and a tribute to his mother, while “Certified Lover Boy” is Drake’s highly anticipated sixth album. Both Drake and Kanye boast solid lineups with at least an hour and a half of music each — “Donda” being just shy of two hours. When it comes to musical comparisons, Drake and Kanye are constantly pitted against each other. With a feud dating back to 2011, the two rappers have taken shots at each other countless times, causing a rift between their fans. As fans of both Kanye and Drake voice their opinions, BluePrints writers Aissatou Sarr and Aiden Dowling weigh in on the music.
Certified Lover Boy By Aissatou Sarr
hen Drake announced the release date of highly anticipated “Certified Lover Boy” — just days after Kanye West’s “Donda” came out — fans were surprised. There was already controversy between the rival pair. They usually reference each other in their songs. On “Donda” Kanye rapped, “Move out of the way of my release / Why can’t losers lose in peace? Ain’t nobody ‘round me losing sleep, better find God ‘fore he finds me.” The drama between Kanye and Drake has been running for several years but it has reached its climax. After Kanye’s shady line Drake responded on Trippie Redd’s “Betrayal” with “All these fools I’m beefin’ that I barely know / Ye ain’t changing sh!t for me, it’s set in stone.” This rivalry is a key concept for both albums. Kanye then referenced Drake during his second “Donda” listening party on Aug. 5. After Drake dropped “CLB” fans noticed a line on one of the songs, “7 am On Bridle Path” that relates to Kanye doxxing his Toronto home. “You know the fourth level of jealousy is called media. Give the address to your driver make it your destination / ‘stead of just a post out of desperation.” Listeners then realized that Bridle Path is the name of Drake’s Toronto neighborhood. Regarding the actual album, its description says, “Drake describes the album as ‘ a combination of toxic masculinity and acceptance which is inevitably heartbreaking’ while dedicating it to his late friend Nadia Ntull and Instagram model Mercedes Morr.” Drake’s album also talks about his view of marriage and how he’s jus-
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Graphics by Aiden Dowling
tifying his playboy persona. The album cover displays a variety of pregnant woman emojis of different skin tones and colored shirts that are meant to represent his cultural diversity in his current lifestyle. “Certified Lover Boy” has 21 songs including, “Way 2 Sexy,” “Champagne Poetry,” “Yebba’s Heartbreak” and “N 2 Deep.” Despite efforts to create a buzz with his rivalry with Kanye, it feels like just another Drake album. “Girls want Girls” sounds just like “Time Flies” from his “Dark Lane Demo Tapes” mixtape. The same goes for “Fountains” which sounds just like “One Dance.” It was promoted heavily for almost a year and a half and fans were expecting something new, but it all feels repetitive. The samples and features sometimes overshadow Drake himself. A track like “You Only Live Twice” with Lil’ Wayne carrying the song is another example of how Drake’s guests are more appealing than he is on “CLB.”
Other songs are just redundant across his career catalog. Drake has rapped about his multiple partners, and if it’s not about his them then it’s about his social status. Listeners can feel “Donda” but for “CLB” it’s harder to understand the emotions until you understand the lyrics. It’s upbeat and the flow is fast, but once you hear the lyrics it’s eye-opening. In “Champagne Poetry” though the sample was slow and soft, Drake seemed to be rapping about his money and his success until you look the lyrics up and see: “My parent’s divorce is on me / My therapist's voice is making the choices for me / And I always censor myself 'cause no matter what, they reporting on me.” Fans also think that since Drake has the numbers and the hits he no longer takes risks. “Way 2 Sexy” and “Yebba’s Heartbreak” are the only two unique songs out of the 21. They don’t have the regular beat and monotone rapping. “Yebba’s Heartbreak” is soft and slow and “Way 2 Sexy” is extremely upbeat and more like a club song. Drake’s album may seem disappointing creatively, but some songs are catchy and the lyricism is unique. The album shows his personality when it comes to his relationships and his views on love. Drake is unmarried but he’s had a lot of partners to understand his unorthodox views. This album offers a take on his definition of romantic relationships. Ever since “Certified Lover Boy” dropped, fans have been comparing it to “Donda,” because of how the release dates are so close to each other. You can’t compare the two, though. They both have different views on music. Drake makes hits and Kanye makes art.
Kanye West’s DONDA By Aiden Dowling ell, “Donda” happened. Whether you’re a die-hard Kanye West fan or a skeptical hater, no one can deny Kanye makes everything an experience. Kanye’s 10th studio album, “Donda” serves as a tribute to his late mother Donda C. West. Whether you went to the first listening party, the second, or the third, or even just tuned into all three from home, you didn’t get the listening party you expected. While you didn’t actually get to listen to the whole album as you hoped, you were given an unforgettable experience. Fans grew tired of getting their hopes up until, unbeknownst to Kanye, the album dropped on Sunday, Aug. 29. Kanye came out quickly saying Universal released it without his permission. The first listening party took place July 2 in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium with Kanye showing up late as usual. Donning an all red outfit with a mask over his face, Kanye sat in the middle of the 42,000 in attendance. The album played through the stadium PA, confirming collabs such as Jay-Z, Lil Durk, Playboi Carti, Pop Smoke and more. Throughout the listening party, Kanye never said a word, and after the album failed to drop following the listening party, fans were upset. Next, Kanye announced his stay inside the Mercedes-Benz stadium until he finished “Donda.” He stayed in a bare, monotonous room with no windows that fans related to a prison cell. It didn’t come cheap, costing him $1 million per day to stay in the stadium. On Aug. 5, Kanye hosted his second live listening party from Mercedes-Benz, preceded by a pre-show livestream from inside of Kanye’s new living space. He featured artists going in and out, partook in a quick nap, a workout and finished by staring into the camera, all while wearing masks. The second show confirmed collabs such as Kid Cudi, Young Thug, The Weeknd and more. This listening party was more lively on Kanye’s end, finishing off with the signature moment
Kanye shared the original Donda album cover in July 2020.
from the entire Donda experience. While “No Child Left Behind” played in the background, Kanye elevated from the ground on wires and began ascending toward the open roof of the stadium. After, “Donda” was still nowhere to be found on streaming services, leaving fans disappointed yet again. The final listening party took place on Aug. 26, preluded with leaked photos of his childhood home being built in the center of Chicago’s Soldier Field. The show consisted of Kanye standing in front of the home with questionable accomplices Da Baby and Marilyn Manson, both of whom just hopped out of their own controversies. One of the first shocks of the night was Jay-Z’s verse on “Jail” being swapped out for Da Baby’s. The show continued with the three standing on the porch of Kanye’s home, not saying a word. Later on in the night, Kanye lit himself on fire from inside the home. After engulfing himself in flames, Kanye walked out of the house before it was extinguished. The last thing you could call the third listening party was boring. Before even hearing the album, Kanye left a strong impression on anyone tuning in. Half of the songs had been heard in some capacity, with a majority undergoing heavy edits. “Donda” follows the same trend as his latest albums: less methodical and more messy. With Kanye’s earlier albums, clear intent was put into song structure and design. However, “Donda” is a rollercoaster, a constant battle for the listener to decide whether they like it or not. The first half of the album offers a confusing spread of greatness and mediocrity. One of the first songs to stick out is “Jail.” The first track in over five years featuring Kanye and Jay-Z together makes a strong impression. The song focuses on Kanye’s downward spiral of divorce and increasingly tarnished public image. With lyrics like “You made a choice that’s your bad, single life ain’t so bad,” Kanye’s references to his current situation in life become obvious. On a melancholy album, “Jail” fits right in with strong bass and light vocals,
The second album cover adapted a Louise Bourgeois painting from 2007, the year of Donda’s passing.
notably quieter than the beat. Similar to the feel of “Jail,” “MOON” featuring Kid Cudi and Don Toliver. The song includes beautifully calm vocals and an etheric beat. The song underwent many controversial changes throughout the listening parties, stripping away Kanye and Kid Cudi’s parts during the third. Thankfully, the official release features all parts and the ultimate version of this song. The album slowly gains speed throughout the first 15 songs, finishing off with “Donda,” a direct tribute toward his deceased mother. The song begins with a strong piano beat, while Kanye and Stalone sing in a choir-like fashion. The song swaps between singing and old clips of Donda West, serving as an interlude to the album, similar to how “Donda Chant” serves as the prelude. The second half of the album shifts away from “The Life of Pablo” and older Kanye West songs toward more choir-like singing from “JESUS IS KING.” On “Lord I Need You” featuring the Sunday Service Choir, Kanye reminisces on his relationship with Kim Kardashian, rapping “But you came here to show that you still in love with me; Startin’ to feel like you ain’t been happy for me lately, darlin.” These lyrics suggest Kim Kardashian’s attendance of all three listening parties to support her estranged husband. “Donda” isn’t for everyone, and neither is Kanye. He’s eccentric with undeniable talent. Many songs throughout the “Donda” tracklist explore sensitive topics of Kanye’s personal life, making it one of his most vulnerable albums. Everything about “Donda” is messy, following Kanye’s trend with his latest album releases like “Life Of Pablo” and “ye”. However, “Donda” and Kanye alike are impossible to ignore, and the lows and highs of “Donda” work together to create something that could only be provided by Kanye.
The final album cover was revealed with Donda’s release on all streaming services.
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Headline art by Ava Maddox
Right t o Pads: STUDENT-LED PROJECT ADDS FEMININE PRODUCTS TO CEDAR RESTROOMS By Ikeoluwa Ojo
n Aug. 23 Jamyria Wise walked through the front doors of Cedar Shoals High School with two baskets full of menstrual products and a plan. After noticing Clarke Central’s “period project” on social media, the sophomore decided that Cedar menstruators deserved a similar effort. “It’s important for the girls to have options. Everyone does not use the same product,” Wise said. With help from her mother, Wise gathered supplies and set out baskets containing various sizes of pads and tampons in the two main restrooms. She used her Instagram to highlight her initiative and joined forces with friends Laryn Cross, Jakeria Adkins, Amaya Mitchell, Jada Thomas and Mariah Mathis to expand the project to all Cedar restrooms and share the workload. “We’ve been friends since middle school, we’re always together so of course it made sense for us to work on this project together too,” Thomas said. Together the girls refill empty baskets as well as accepting and tracking
RAISING AWARENESS: Project members (from left to right) Jada Thomas, Jamyria Wise, Laryn Thomas, Mariah Mathis, Jakeria Adkins and Amaya Mitchell stand in front of Cedar Shoals on Sept. 29. The group has been working together since late August. “We’re just happy to be helping girls out,” Mathis said. Photo by Isabella Morgan.
of teen menstruators feel to bring donations from faculty, studentsembarrassed and make sure that one gets filled up each menstrual products wellwishers in the form of cash, menday,” Cross said. to the strual products or through Cash App. restroom. Family communication special“The basket in the C200 restroom runs out very fast so we always have to
69% of teen menstruators feel embarrassed to bring menstrual products to the restroom.
ist Courtni Reese learned about the
1 in 5 teen menstruators have struggled to afford mentstrual products or were unable to purchase them at all. Infographics by Ikeoluwa Ojo and Marcus Welch
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project through a Facebook post by Wise’s mother and reached out to them to offer her support and advice. Since their first meeting, the group often receives guidance from Reese. “Having the baskets in the restrooms just helps alleviate a lot of the embarrassment that people feel with periods, which shouldn’t be there in the first place but that’s just society,” Reese said. After one of their strategizing sessions, the group created an Instagram account @cs.femininehygeineawareness where they post information about restock dates and facts about menstruation. PADS PLEASE: Two hands hold menstruation products over a basket that states “Take what you need” in a Cedar Shoals restroom. Similar baskets were placed in restrooms throughout the school by a group of sophomore students. A caption on a recent post products are so expensive so it’s awesome of them to put them in all the restrooms, especially for emerfrom their account reads “Men- “(Menstrual) gencies,” junior Ella Johnson said. Photo by Zaya Roberson. struation is a NATURAL bodily function and there’s nothing two girls who are trying to be funny,” “They weren’t thinking about their shameful about it.” Thomas said. classmates who might actually need Cedar Shoals Nurse Eve Bisard supAfter making posts on their Insthe products when they were wasting ports the girls’ efforts and hopes that tagram pleading with the pad perpepeople’s money and resources,” Cross permanent changes are made to the trators to no avail, the girls removed said. Cedar Shoals restrooms to reduce the the baskets in the restrooms on the Regardless of the complications that number of students who stop by her freshman hall with the hopes of one come up, the five girls continue with office for menstrual products. day returning them. their project with the ultimate goal of “I probably get around 10-12 girls a day asking for pads, somethe Clarke County School Lorem times it’s the same ones. I District taking over and Menstrual Product Costs ipsum Ages 13-19 dolor sit don’t know if this is due to making menstrual prodamet, TAMPONS LoremPADS ipsum financial issues at home or ucts permanently available consectetuer them not monitoring their in each restroom. adipisc$10.79, before $9.99, before taxes ing elit, cycle. So hopefully the bas“Students shouldn’t be taxes for a generic for a generic pack sed diam kets keep the students from responsible for filling up nonumof 36 at CVS pack of 38 at CVS my nibh having to come up here,” these baskets or raising euismod Bisard said. money for them, but for tincidunt ut about about about about about about Despite having support now we are,” Wise said. laoreet from Cedar faculty and dolore magna pads pads pads tampons tampons tampons most students, the group per cycle per year per day per cycle per day per year aliquam erat often find themselves volutpat. $69.93, before taxes for seven $124.48, before taxes for 12 dealing with the misuse of Ut wisi packs of the same generic pack packs of the same generic pack enim ad the menstrual products, of 38 at CVS, which is about 12 of 36 at CVS, which is about 12 minim cycles or one years worth of cycles or one years worth of particularly on the freshveniam, pads. tampons. quis man hallway. nostrud exerci “We see products tation thrown everywhere or $906.36 ullamcor$489.51 per being stuck on the mirfor seven years of pads (13-19) for seven years of tampons (13-19) suscipit rors. It’s annoying because lobortis Infographics by Ikeoluwa Ojo and Marcus Welch it’s probably just one or
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Headline art by Ava Maddox Graphic by Zaya Roberson and Aiden Dowling
A new mentor for peer leaders
By Ikeoluwa Ojo
rom discussions about race and gender discrimination to school spirit initiatives, the Cedar Shoals peer leadership program has become a household name throughout Athens with 154 alumni by the end of the 2021 spring semester. Formerly known as the Freshman Academy Mentors, the program was originally established as an after-school mentorship club between upperclassmen and freshmen in 2016. “12 students came to me with the idea of the club. They wanted to help change the culture and climate of Cedar Shoals,” former peer leadership teacher Katie Johnson said. After two years of working with the club and then three years with the class, Johnson has moved to a new position at Clarke Middle School as Spectrum coordinator for 8th grade and peer leadership director. “There is going to be a peer leader group in every grade of Clarke Middle. For the first time within Clarke County I’m not teaching my curriculum. I am training other teachers to run their own peer leadership programs,” Johnson said. Before she left, she passed off the keys of room D101 to local hip-hop artist and event promoter William “Montu” Miller, a new addition to Cedar’s staff and the new program leader. “I was ecstatic when Montu got the position because he is a great leader in the community,” Johnson said. The long term Athens resident and University of Georgia graduate moved from Clarke Central High School, where he worked as a paraprofessional with the special education department. “My time as a parapro allowed me to really get sharp, because I’m
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not coming straight out of undergrad into the classroom,” Miller said. The start of each class begins with students filling in a starter with previous knowledge they have on the daily topic or answering a question prompt. One starter prompt asks “Why do you think learning about different cultures is important?” Next, class continues with a short video on the topic and then group discussion, followed by the completion of an assignment. Miller believes the type of organization that teaching the course requires differs from his previous job experiences. “When I was on stage, doing some mentoring or out in the community I was freestyling, but here I have to be organized.” Miller said. New like Miller, this school year is sophomore Ethan Oliver’s first time with the Cedar Peer Leadership program. Oliver joined after hearing about the class from friends. “I like the course very much. I get to talk with my classmates about real world problems and I’m learning how to speak clearly to an audience,” Oliver said. He enjoys Miller’s teaching style in addition to the class discussions. “I think Mr. Montu is the best teacher I’ve
ever had. He’s never spoken to us sternly, he’s always clear with us and lets us do our own thing,” Oliver said. Miller hopes to create bonds with students and plans to continue the freshman mentoring aspect of the program while emphasizing leadership outside of school. “I would love to take the peer leadership class outside of the classroom and see leaders in action. For example: business leaders, government leaders, or even go to a Board of Education meeting,” Miller said. Getting students involved with local leadership is high on Miller’s list of priorities for the course. “I just want them (the students) to see good models of leadership in our community,” Miller said. Senior Arlin Juarez believes her two years in peer leadership with Johnson improved her self confidence. “When I first started the program I was really shy. I would stay all the way in the back and not speak to anyone. Ms. Johnson broke me out of that shell,” Juarez said. She hopes that Montu will have the same effect on the new peer leaders. “He just needs to get more comfortable with us and break students out of their shells,” Juarez said. Overall, Miller hopes the course will beneficially impact all aspects of students’ lives, specifically their relations with the community. “I want this to be more than a class that is contained in these four walls, I want this to be something community wide,” Miller said.
AN ANXIOUS RETURN: As students return back to in-person learning, some are met with heightened anxieties surrounding academic pressure, COVID-19 and social interactions. Some students are finding social activities more difficult this year. “Being around kids and knowing that I want to talk to them, but not knowing how, it makes me really frustrated. It’s that constant being pulled back from everyone else,” sophomore India Collins said. Art by Eva Lucero.
By Ruby Calkin
tudents flood into the open doors of a bustling school with hair done, new backpacks and first-day nerves. But for some, it’s much more than jitters. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in three teenagers will struggle with anxiety at some point between the ages of 13 and 18. For students who struggle with social anxiety, going back to school can be a trigger. This year these challenges have only become more relevant as students return to school buildings after months of online learning. “It’s just such a difference being around so many people versus being at home all by yourself just kind of doing what you want. And then you see all these people, and it’s like ‘Woah,’” freshman Morraea Brandenburg said. Cedar Shoals counselor Sharon Sellers sees the emotional toll the pandemic has taken on students over the past year and their return to school. “It’s a transition. Your body automat-
ically goes into, ‘What can I do to create some normalcy for myself?’” Sellers said. “That is always going to happen, but then you add this element of school, where there are so many expectations. It is especially different this time around, just because school has looked different the last year and a half. So it will definitely add to the pressures of just being a student.” Some Cedar Shoals students went back to in-person learning near the end of last school year, but others haven’t been at school since March 2020. “Transferring from seeing probably no one at all to a lot of people every day, it was a very sudden change for me. So I think the most difficult thing is how quickly it happened,” freshman Lorelei Smith said. Sophomore India Collins also feels that the stress of this year’s transition was heightened by the pandemic. “I was just used to being in an environment with a lot of people. I was used to the distraction, and because of COVID
I had a more settled, calm environment. Now we’re back to in person, and it’s just hitting you really bad,” Collins said. After a peaceful summer with relaxed mask policies and optimistic event planning, COVID-19 cases have surged in Athens-Clarke County. There were no newly confirmed cases on July 1, but there were 192 cases confirmed on Sept. 3 alone. In the first 24 days of September, there were 35 cases confirmed among Cedar Shoals students and staff. This spike could result in a tumultuous school year. “Anytime we think we have a plan in place, something else happens. The world gives us another change to adjust to. So I think the biggest concern there is just fear and what we don’t know, fearing what else is coming down the pipe,” Sellers said. For Collins, going back to school also brings worries of being left behind academically.
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“It’s a lot of work. Last year, we didn’t really have any due dates. But now we do have due dates, and a couple of math courses are harder than the others. It’s just times ten,” Collins said. To ease anxiety, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends taking restorative breaks, getting enough sleep and talking to others. “You’ve got to learn to break away. I don’t care what life is dealing, I guarantee you have to learn to break away,” Sellers said. “A lot of times when someone is experiencing anxiety they become obsessed with the thing that is causing anxiety. Be able to break free of that, allow yourself to have some breaks.” Sellers encourages families to play a role in their child’s downtime. “Parents can definitely help the kids
“It’s just such a difference being around so many people versus being at home all by yourself doing what you want. And then you see all these people, and it’s like ‘Woah.’” -Morraea Brandenburg, 9th grade
Infographic by Ruby Calkin and Melanie Frick
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disconnect and use it as a time to recharge. Disconnecting doesn’t necessarily mean going on vacation, it’s just being intentional about ‘We need a break from this to recharge.’” To cope with anxiety, Smith takes walks, talks to friends and spends time alone at the end of the day. One of the main ways Brandenburg copes is by talking to others. “Expressing how I feel and letting out my feelings helps me feel better,” Brandenburg said. Collins says she has been telling her mom and a friend about her struggles, although she is still looking for ways to better manage her anxiety. Smith shares this search for more effective coping strategies. “I might lack some knowledge of a good way to cope sometimes. Sometimes the ways I cope can seem more as trying to escape, even though it might seem like it’s coping. I think (I’m) just needing more information on the positive ways to cope,” Smith said. In-person school has already been paused once this year, and it’s possible this will happen again. Although many students who experience social anxiety enjoyed virtual learning like Brandenburg, Collins and Smith, the shifts to and from different learning models could prove to be anxiety inducing for some.
This school year may end up having a few “first days of school”. “I feel like once you’re in the environment, like if you’re scared of something and you go do it, eventually you’re not going to be scared, because you get used to it. I would say I’m kind of in the transition right now where I’m not so scared to be around people, because I’m getting used to it,” Brandenburg said. What’s most important right now, Sellers says, is to “grant yourself some grace — guilt-free grace.”
ANXIETY TO ANGER: Lorelei Smith, freshman, stands outside the Cedar Shoals academic building. She noticed that going back to school was causing her anxiety because she became more irritable. “I’ll get really angry at everyone. Then, really sad,” Smith said. “Over- stimulus of everything, just makes anger and sadness stand out a lot.” Photo by Ruby Calkin.
ABOLITIONIST TEACHING: A NEW PERSPECTIVE By Lilly McGreevy
acilitating conversations about racism in the classroom can be controversial and intimidating. Given the range of theories about when and how to have these discussions, some teachers might avoid the subject altogether. Dr. Bettina Love, Athletic Association Professor in Education at the University of Georgia and co-founder of Abolitionist Teaching Network, says this avoidance of racial discussions is destructive to students and their communities. “Abolitionist teaching is really about trying to create a school system that is loving, just and affirming to all students, not just Black and brown students, and to think about the policies, rules and procedures that are oppressive and unjust,” Love said. She believes educators should emphasize not only the importance of discussing racism and injustices, but they must also show students that they — their cultures, their skin colors, their personalities — are beautiful inside and out. “Abolitionist teaching is not about trying to reform a school system. It’s trying to say the school system needs to be dismantled so it can benefit all students,” Love said.
Jadzia Hutchings, Cedar Shoals math department, feels that school systems do not always have priorities that align with student needs. “I think people aren’t doing abolitionist teaching or anti-racist teaching because they don’t feel the space for it. They’re too busy checking off all of those minimum boxes,” Hutchings said. “I think the public school system doesn’t trust its teachers enough. If we give an easy curriculum to a bunch of teachers that we can’t really trust, we at least know that something got done.” BluePrints Magazine conducted a survey to ask faculty if they think it is their responsibility to have open discussions about racism in their classroom, if they plan on discussing racial injustice in their classroom and whether or not they are confident in facilitating these conversations. The survey went out to 121 staff members and 65 classroom teachers completed it. Although 70% of respondents said that they are somewhat confident in their ability to discuss racism and many said that they actively provide materials to spark these conversations, students still express that they cannot remember having any discussion about systemic racism, racial injustice or police brutality
throughout their years in school. Senior Chloe Christian recalls bringing up recent protests to dismantle systemic racism and attempted to provoke a class discussion, but she was not acknowledged. “(The teacher) ignored what I was really talking about and continued on with the lesson. I gave her the benefit of the doubt because she was in the middle of a lesson, but it’s not something to ignore,” Christian said. Junior Marcus Welch believes that teachers want to have these conversations, and they think that they are having these discussions while in reality they are not. “I think everyone wants to feel like they’re doing their part to make things better. Maybe teachers are feeling like they’re doing a lot for their students when it comes to talking about these sorts of things. But when it really boils down to it, they aren’t doing as much they feel like they are,” Welch said. From his experience, he recommends that teachers avoid shutting down conversations about race. “If you aren’t going to be the one to initiate the conversation, but the conversation somehow starts, don’t stop it,” Welch said. Freshman India Collins says that some space for discussion about racism has been
“I feel like they should probably say some more stuff about it because they tried to hide it from us growing up. We should learn about it at a younger age instead of them lying to us about how it was back then.” - Tumari Collins, 11th grade
“It (racism) is just one of those things that if it’s not talked about, it’s just going to get worse. It needs to happen whether everybody likes it or not. I don’t feel like I want to sit down and talk with a teacher for 20 minutes about racism, but sometimes it’s needed to make the world a better place.” - Ethan Greene, 10th grade
“Over there (Renteria’s last school) we were just told to not talk about it, they would tell us that there are certain times to talk about it. We never got the time to talk about it, they would just push it away. Here, yesterday we talked about sexuality, and we were able to have a discussion about it. They let us express ourselves.” - Diana Renteria, 9th grade
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NEWS IN EVERYDAY LIFE: Freshman Karmen Carter reads the Washington Post. She believes talking about what is happening in the news will help students. “Kids need to know that this teacher has my back, they understand what life is about, they understand what I am going through,” Carter said. Photo by Lilly McGreevy.
opened in her film class, but it has not been brought up in her other classes. “We do discuss it and the importance of it in my film class,” Collins said. “Sadly I think the only time when we talked about it (in other classes) was Black History Month, and it was only for a day or two. I don’t think we talked about it as much as we should.” Ana Mowrer, sophmore, has found that there have not been any discussions about racial injustice, police brutality and systemic racism this year in her classes. She recalls conversations about racism, but only in a historical context. “It’s more history wise; it’s not current racism. But we have talked about the injustices in the past with Jim Crow laws, but not really in a systemic sense,” Mowrer said. “I think a lot of teachers aren’t educated on it, or they don’t feel comfortable talking about it.” Even though these students voice disappointment, many recognize the difficulty for teachers to facilitate these conversations. Cedar teachers talk about the difficulty of discussing racism and political events when they are still processing racism in America and its devastating effects. Additionally, it’s hard to find the balance of what is ethical to say according to school regulations and society’s standards. “We have to take this in, and every single week now there are reports of physical abuse, of people being murdered. We have the right as a person, not just as a teacher, to be completely freaked out by all of this. Because it’s a lot,”
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Caroline Bharucha, world language department, said. Some teachers are struggling with how to teach their curriculum virtually and support students from afar. “We come with our own flaws. We come with our own sets of knowledge, our own culture, traditions, beliefs, etc. You’re asking teachers not only to teach the curriculum, because that’s our job, but then you also ask us to now become social workers, activists, so many things. We have to have the right to grow as well,” Bharucha said. Teachers should not have to feel like they are on their own. Love believes that if teachers had more training on constructive discussions with students about race and culture, then it would be easier to implement abolitionist teaching. “A teacher is only going to teach what he or she or they know. We folx (sic) who teach teachers need to expose them to these conversations earlier in their teacher education program. If we don’t teach them how to have these conversations, how to engage with people, how to be critical of the system, they’re not all of a sudden going to know how to do this,” Love said. Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘folx’ as “folks used especially to explicitly signal the inclusion of groups commonly marginalized.” Hutchings believes in implementing abolitionist teaching into more classrooms at Cedar, making sure students have the opportunity to
bring up topics that relate to their lives. “I want my students to feel like they’re heard. If the things they want to talk about are racial injustice, then we have room for that and we make space for that. I don’t think that it’s okay to never let the conversation come up,” Hutchings said. Brittany Moore, English department, notes the difficulty in finding balance between staying impartial while having a positive impact on students. “It is a responsibility of teachers to help students navigate the real world — even if that world is contentious and politically charged,” Moore said. “It is also an ethical responsibility of teachers to not push their personal politics. Bias also exists in absence.” Moore emhasizes the importance of raising these issues, because silence can be destructive. Avoidance starts as early as elementary school. That absence of truth deeply affected freshman Karmen Carter, who recalls learning a whitewashed and watered-down version of slavery. When her mom asked her what she learned about slavery in school, Carter recalls responding, “Oh that’s not that bad.” In response, Carter’s mom showed her “Roots,” a novel adapted into a screenplay written by Alex Haley. It tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th century African abducted from his native land to be enslaved and violently abused by American slave owners. The story follows Kinte’s life and descendants down to Haley.
When Carter saw “Roots,” she realized that her teachers had withheld the truth. “I remember being so betrayed, like my teachers lied to my face. In my mind, I was like, ‘Well, how am I ever going to trust them again?’ That trust was completely broken. Yeah, it’s school regulation, it’s county regulation, but once you lose a child’s trust, it’s really hard to earn it back. Teachers should fight for that. They should fight for that choice,” Carter said. Love agrees that teachers should advocate for teaching the full history of oppression in America. She says glossing over injustice “lowers a student’s self-esteem, because they don’t see themselves, they don’t see their history, they don’t see their language.” While some students are disappointed in the education system, others believe that it is not always the teacher’s responsibility to facilitate discussions concerning systemic racism. “It’s not really in their job description,” Robert Chatmon, an 8th grader at Hilsman Middle School, said. Chatmon says that every time a teacher opens their mouth to say something political or controversial they have to decide whether it’s worth it. “There are many things that teachers would like to say on this matter, but they can’t because their job is in the way. That’s what teachers have to debate with every time they open their mouth. I just know it’s hard,” Chatmon said. The consequences for sharing their political views have led to teachers being fired in some places. In Dallas, Texas, a teacher was fired for refusing to replace a face mask that read “Black Lives Matter” and depicted an LGBTQ flag. Paige McGaughey, a Gwinnett County middle school teacher, was criticized by parents and her school’s Human Resources Department for having a Black Lives Matter poster in her classroom. At Cedar Shoals, the BluePrints survey results show that the majority of faculty respon-
Graphic by Lilly McGreevy and Ikeoluwa Ojo
dents want to have these conversations with students. Still, student perceptions of 4% 46% 50% their own experiences in classrooms indicate that teachers may need more support. Love offers solutions for building commu nal, civically engaged
schools and equitable classrooms. To com bat systemic racism, she says, communities have to reimagine the educational system itself. “One of the first steps is to think very deeply about how States have proposed banning we fund schools Critcal Race Theory in classrooms and inequalities in schools. A big reason
why teachers feel like they can’t (implement abolitionist teaching) States have banned Critical Race Theory in classrooms is because they have Art by Eva Lucero standardized tests now, and they have to teach to the test. We’ve Black history. I want them to learn about Irish got to replace standardized testing with a rich people, I want to learn about Jewish people, I curriculum that’s not created by curriculum want them to learn about Hispanic people.” companies, but by communities,” Love said. In tackling conversations about systemWhile reenvisioning a richer curriculum ic racism, Love says that educators should created by communities will be a long process, go beyond tragedies that recieve national there are ways that teachers can integrate Love’s attention. Rather, to create classrooms where practices into their daily lessons now. students are loved and taught to respect each “We’ve got to get to a point where we’re goother’s cultures, skin colors and personalities, ing to tell history from multiple perspectives, she urges teachers to focus on the humanity of from multiple viewpoints. This is how you have people of color. a society that critically thinks when you expose “I want students to know about racism, them to multiple points of view, multiple but I also want students to know about the ways of thinking, multiple histories, multiple contributions of Black people, Indigenous perspectives,” Love said. “I don’t just want people and brown people. I want them to know about their creativity, their love and joy — why people are beautiful, why people are loving, why people are kind,” Love said. “Telling people about Black people dying, telling people about Black people and injustice, that does expose them to these issues, but what’s going to make them understand Black people’s humanity is to show them who we are.” Teachers may still experience internal struggles in approaching these conversations. However, inviting dialogue is a step in creating a safe, loving and affirming environment for students with different cultural backgrounds. “The real change of this country is going to be thinking about how we get together and think about systematic change,” Love said. “We do that together in community.”
TEACHERS CONFIDENCE ON DISCUSSING RACE
High school teachers were asked: How confident are you in facilitating conversations about race with students? 65 responded. No teachers chose: Not confident at all. Infographic by Tory Ratajczak
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Headline art by Ava Maddox
From different places By Melanie Frick and Tory Ratajczak
icking off the 2021-22 school year, Cedar Shoals welcomed new staff into the building. Cedar Shoals’ new ninth grade English teacher Madison Steen did not have an average childhood. With her father in the military, Steen was born in Bamberg, Germany, and spent the majority of her childhood traveling across Europe. When Steen’s family returned to Alabama, readjusting to American life was difficult. “Going into fourth grade, I could not read or write above a first or second grade level. My teacher realized that if she read to me, I would get all of the comprehension questions correct, but if I had to read it myself, I couldn’t do it. She realized that it was more reading itself and not a comprehension issue with my learning disability. So they sent me to get tested for dyslexia,” Steen said. After Steen was diagnosed with dyslexia, her school was able to offer her services with a 504 plan. However, fitting in did not feel any easier. “I was usually friends with those kids that were in the gifted groups. So understanding that I was behind in my ability to read even though I understood just as
JAG PRIDE: Madison Steen poses for a portrait in the Cedar Shoals courtyard. Growing up with her father in the military, Steen has been to many different countries. “We would just hop and follow, so we’ve been to Germany, Italy, London, France, Croatia and Czechoslovakia. It was a fun experience and I did my study abroad in Italy. I also went to the Netherlands for a while and hung out there,” Steen said. Photo by Isabella Morgan.
much as they did definitely played into my insecurity. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to go into English education, to help the kids who I felt like when I was younger,” Steen said. Due to her insecurities around reading and writing at a young age, Steen never imagined herself in an English profession,
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let alone teaching students who require individualized education programs and 504s for learning disabilities. It was not until Steen attended college that this changed. “There was a professor at the University of Alabama, Karen Spector. She made it possible for me to fall in love with teaching, being dyslexic. I was in her class and it was to the point where I was pretty much ready to drop out of secondary education,” Steen said. “She (Spector) was talking about how most people have the potential to be good at math, but somebody along the way told them that they couldn’t do it, and that’s why they think that they’re not
FINALLY FACE TO FACE: Powell talks with her students during independent reading. After a frustrating experience online, Powell is looking forward to connecting with her students. “A priority is always having good relationships, and I kind of realized like that’s what teaching is about,” Powell said. Photo by Tory Ratajczak.
good at it. Somebody told them, ‘You can’t do calculus,’ and then they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re right, I can’t do calculus.’ The reason why we need teachers with learning disabilities is so evident in the classroom. We have students who truly struggle the same way that we do,” Steen said. Ninth grade literature teacher Makayla Powell officially joined the Cedar Shoals family this year after student teaching last year. On March 15, Powell finally got to meet the students she had been teaching online for eight months face to face. Powell was a senior at the University of Georgia during the 2020-21 school year and began her student teaching experience last September over Zoom. Powell was initially a linguistics major, but realized teaching English was her passion. “I really liked language,” Powell said. “I don’t know what I thought teaching was about before, but I just kind of had this realization that I could be a teacher and it wasn’t a career path that was so weird and far away.” Once Powell realized she wanted to teach, she knew that she would pursue literature. “I would get in trouble sometimes because I would read books when we weren’t supposed to in class,” Powell said. “That’s what informs so much of my teaching: bringing kids to love books. When I was younger, my family moved around a lot, and it was difficult for me to feel grounded a lot of times. You don’t have all of the emotional intelligence to process or understand what you’re going through and how you’re feeling. Reading helped me understand what I was going through.” While navigating the new school year as a ninth grade literature teacher, Powell understands that many of her new stu-
dents experienced the same lack of social interaction as she did last year. “Something that I’m seeing a lot with freshmen is that they are a little crazy in class, but a lot of SMILE: Azariah Partridge poses in the Cedar Shoals courtyard. Growing up, Partridge didn’t have any counselors that she felt a strong connection with, but she found direction from youth leadership groups in middle and high school. “Those really had an impact and challenged me in thinking that adolescence is a crucial time. I knew right away I wanted to work with youth,” Partridge said. “School counseling became an option when I got to UGA and was switching majors back and forth. That opened my eyes to say, ‘I think counseling is what I want to do.’” Photo by Isabella Morgan.
them haven’t seen their school friends since the end of seventh grade,” Powell said. “These relationships seemed kind of silly and maybe not as important, but when you think about how much development comes from socialization in school specifically, you realize how big of an impact not being able to just see school friends everyday has.” With seniors coming out of virtual school and beginning to start their application processes, Cedar’s new college advisor Azariah Partridge is looking forward to aiding the 2022 class along their way. “I am most excited about working really closely with this class, forming these relationships, READY TO GO: Powell is excited for her first year teaching students face to face and being a part of the Cedar family. “I am very excited to be at Cedar and have a real teaching experience. Despite all the crazy online stuff, I have felt very supported here by all the teachers, and I don’t think that I would be able to be as successful as I am in the classroom right now if it weren’t for them,” Powell said. Photo by Tory Ratajczak.
and just getting to know them on a personal level and see what they do after they graduate,” Partridge said. Fresh out of UGA with a Bachelor of Science in human development and
family science, Partridge became a part of the Georgia College Advising Corps, a cooperation that helps students in underserved high schools go to college. From there, she found the opportunity to work at Cedar Shoals. “The bigger picture is to be there for students so that they know they have someone in their corner: someone that is going to be behind them and push them and wants them to be successful, and who has all the resources for them to go off after they graduate high school — whether that is going to college, taking a gap year, going to the military or even going right into the workforce,” Partridge said. Partridge is well aware of the struggles that come with deciding what to pursue after high school. Partridge attended Darton State College for one year before transferring to West Georgia Technical College. While at WGTC, Partridge felt that her ambitions lay elsewhere, and eventually transferred to UGA. Partridge attended both Darton State College and WGTC on softball scholarships, and played club softball at UGA. “With applying there (Darton), I think my biggest drive at the time was playing softball. It may sound bad, but I didn’t really care about the work aspect just then. I was all softball, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in,” Partridge said. Today, Partridge keeps herself busy in the Cedar Shoals community as an assistant softball coach for the Lady Jags. She wants students to know that she will always have their back and encourage them. “My goal is to at least meet with 90% of the seniors here. I really want to help increase the graduation rate as well. I want students to know that you don’t have to be college bound, you don’t have to have a plan set. As long as you get your high school diploma and go off and do whatever you feel that you need to do, having this diploma, it’s gonna be life changing for you,” Partridge said.
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Local groups battle vaccine hesitancy, increase accessibility C By Violet Calkin
ommunity organizations are rallying to vaccinate Clarke County School District students and their families against COVID-19. Nurses from St. Mary’s Hospital, present in partnership with Innovative Health Institute (IHI) and Stacy Dean of Family Connection-Communities in Schools of Athens, vaccinated Cedar Shoals students during Oct. 20’s vaccine drive. Ahead of the drive, IHI experts answered student questions during the Oct. 13 lunch period. “We’re making sure everyone understands that vaccines are safe, they save lives and that over 750,000 people have died from COVID-19,” IHI owner Dr. Cshanyse Allen said. “We definitely don’t want to force anything on anyone — just give good information. That’s why we didn’t just come out and vaccinate today. We wanted to be here so they could see us, ask questions, feel comfortable and then come back to get vaccinated.” Students who got vaccinated at the drive received a $100 gift card and had their name submitted in a drawing for a $500 scholarship. A similar information session and a vaccine drive were held at Clarke Central High School on Oct. 21, where students reaped the same benefits. Though the health department is offering similar vaccine incentives, community donations funded the perks awarded to CCSD
students, according to Allen. IHI, the East Athens Development Corporation and Athens Downtown Development Authority donated. Additionally, the Athens alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta provided snacks, and student volunteers from University of Georgia Doctors Without Borders checked students in. “This is truly a community event. We just want the best for the high school students,” Allen said. “We understand the school can’t do it all, so we are here as a community partner to make sure it happens safely.” Approximately 44% of Athenians are fully vaccinated. Much of the other 56%, Allen says, are vaccine hesitant because of unfounded rumors or assumptions. “They don’t have enough information or that it’s too new — that was a common thread that we’ve heard for the past few months. My response is that this vaccine has been in development for a while and is not new,” Allen said. “We have to understand that vaccines save lives, and a lot of them (students) don’t realize that they’ve had vaccines before.” Dr. Diane Dunston, pediatrician, offered her expertise on vaccines to passing students at the information session and was present to assist at the drive. “There are many reasons for people to have vaccine hesitancy. One of the big reasons people are not getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is because it’s been so politicized,
GETTING THE SHOT: St. Mary’s hospital nurse Brenda Woods vaccinates freshman Jordan Jones at the Cedar vaccine drive, on Oct. 20. “They (students) are not just protecting themselves, they’re protecting their home. We don’t know what students have grandparents at home or siblings that have other underlying health problems,” Woods said. “It (the COVID-19 vaccine) protects everyone.” Photo by Melanie Frick.
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so much false information, too many non-experts giving advice,” Dunston said. “The strategy is to treat people with respect. Listen to their concerns, give them the proper information and then let them make a decision.” After months of lagging behind, in recent weeks the vaccination rates of Black and Hispanic people have nearly caught up to that of white people in the United States. Allen is hopeful that this trend will continue, and that unvaccinated Cedar students will be receptive to information provided by healthcare workers who are also people of color. “We just want to make sure that people of color and everybody can have someone who looks like them that they can connect with, ask questions with and that will follow you,” Allen said. “I just don’t think that there are enough providers out there that will go into places and get into different pockets and talk and educate people about vaccine hesitancy.” Misinformation is a major barrier to COVID-19 vaccination, according to Allen. She recommends seeking information from healthcare providers, the local Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and always making sure the research is up to date. The team vaccinated 28 clients at the Oct. 20 drive. Brenda Woods, a registered nurse from St. Mary’s Hospital, administered shots. “I was hoping for it to be a little bit busier, but every student that walks through that door makes me happy,” Woods said. “Before you know it those statistics go up. You can get to the end result in many different ways, as long as you get there safely.” Woods came out of retirement to work part-time vaccinating community members in multiple capacities, such as at Tuckston United Methodist Church and the county jail. “Personally, vaccinating people is a chance to realize how blessed I am. I have the opportunity to use my personal skills for the children, who are our future,” Woods said. “If you’re sick or on a ventilator, how can you go to law school, medical school? It goes beyond right now.” Second doses are scheduled for Nov. 11 at Cedar Shoals and the following day at Clarke Central. Dr. Dunston administered the vaccine to freshman Fred Lumpkin. He says his relationship with Dr. Dunston, who delivered him and played an integral role in his upbringing, motivated him to attend the drive. As for Lumpkin’s advice to other students, he says “don’t look.”
QUELLING FEARS: Dr. Diane Dunston, pediatrician and former director of the Athens Neighborhood Health Center, speaks to a student outside of the Cedar Shoals cafeteria on Oct. 13. “Every contact that we have with a person is an opportunity for us to educate them about the importance of knowledge, the importance of this vaccine, the importance of what’s really going on,” Dr. Cshanyse Allen, owner of the Innovative Healthcare Institute, said. Photo by Jackie Wright.
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COMMUNICATING WITH CONTACTS: Cedar Shoals nurse Eve Bisard works in her office. Previous to Clarke County School District hiring a team of contact tracers, she had to work from home after school hours to keep up with contact tracing. “I’m the only nurse here for 1,600 kids and 130 staff. Unfortunately I’m sure I’m probably missing some,” Bisard said before the staffing changes. Photo by Isabella Morgan.
Districtwide COVID-19 mitigation requires new hires, communication changes
By Jackie Wright
contact tracing team made up of current and retired school nurses, students in the University of Georgia College of Public Health and Clarke County School District Director of Nursing Amy Roark is at the center of COVID-19 mitigation in CCSD. “In terms of taking care of ourselves and each other, the most important thing you can do is get vaccinated, the second most important thing you can do is wear a mask,” Dr. Grace Bagwell Adams, UGA College of Public Health, said. “When you think about our approach to pandemic control, those are two legs on a threelegged stool and the third leg is testing and tracing.” Contact tracing requires collecting data on positive cases of a disease, determining close contacts of these individuals and advising contacts on how to prevent spread. CCSD has practiced contact tracing
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throughout the pandemic, but with schools returning to full in-person instruction, the process is more complex than before. High schools in particular pose their own set of challenges for tracing. At Cedar Shoals High School, contact tracing begins when school nurse Eve Bisard or another member of the district contact tracing team receives notification of a positive case. When a staff member tests positive, she communicates directly with the individual to identify and notify close contacts. If the case is a student, she confirms their test results with a guardian before proceeding. “It’s a tough job. If I get a positive case and I have 15 close contacts, that’s 20 minutes a call. If I have English as a second language families that I have to communicate with, I have to use the language line, and it’s very time consuming,” Bisard said. When she gets a report of a positive stu-
dent case, Bisard records it in a spreadsheet that the districtwide contact tracing team can access. All of the student’s teachers receive an email asking them to report the infected student’s close contacts. Whoever teachers identify will then be required to quarantine for 10 days, unless they are fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a close contact must be within six feet of a positive case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a period of 24 hours. For students in K-12 schools though, this definition excludes people between three and six feet from each other as long as both are wearing masks correctly. “I think the CDC recognized that students need to be at school, so they made an exception for classroom settings,” Roark said. “That exception is only good if both parties are wearing masks. So it’s an addi-
tional incentive from the CDC for schools to mandate masks.” The district contact tracing team uses the spreadsheet to call the guardians of positive cases, convey quarantine direc-
competent, compassionate, hard working person who is approaching the problem of the pandemic in a public school system in the best evidence-based approach she can,” Bagwell Adams said. “I think that she has
have to know and remember the names of others at their lunch table, of those they walked in the halls with and peers from any other context that may have resulted in close contact.
tions and determine close “Because students are with so contacts. many kids at the same time, a lot Until Sept. 13, when the of kids don’t know the full names tracing process became more of the people they are around. I centralized, Bisard was primarimay not be able to contact trace THE CCSD CONTACT ly responsible for communicatthe people they sit with at lunch,” TRACING PROCESS ing with the families of positive Bisard said. “There’s so many students and close contacts people in the building at the same at CSHS. She says her normal time, there’s just no way for me work day lasted from 8 a.m. to to accurately identify all close 4 p.m., but she was going home contacts the way I would like to. I at 6 p.m. After dinner she adjust can’t.” A STUDENT TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 dressed emails and phone calls She says contact tracing on busWhen a student or guardian reports a positive test result, their school nurse or a district contact tracer will enter the data into a spreadsheet into the evening. es mimics classrooms. Drivers are that the tracing team shares. If a student reports their own case, Cedar “This is my priority here: asked to enforce seating charts to Shoals nurse Eve Bisard confirms the report with a guardian. the clinic. I may get notificahelp determine close contacts later. tions in, but I’m dealing with “If there is a positive case, I’ll students with daily medicanotify transportation, and with the TRACERS COORDINATE THROUGH A tions and chronic illnesses and student ID number transportation SPREADSHEET emergencies,” Bisard said before can go back for that bus number, Contact tracers use the shared spreadsheet to record student the changes in the notification look at the video and determine information like their school and siblings. This is also where process were implemented. who was sitting in that seat based tracers record students and staff deemed close contacts.* “Sometimes I don’t get those on their seating charts,” Bisard notifications until the end of said. the day.” CSHS teacher and district bus IDENTIFYING CLOSE CONTACTS In class: Tracers use teachers' seating charts and communicate with teachers about the nature of Now 12 new hires assist in driver Brian Heredia says masks their class on the days the positive student was present On the bus: Bus seating charts and security cameras theoretically reveal which students sat contact tracing districtwide. are difficult to enforce on buses. together At home: Tracers use district records to find positive students' siblings, and communicate with the Ten are a mix of undergraduIn the mornings masking is less sibling's school nurse and guardians to determine whether the siblings had close contact. Elsewhere: The students who test positive report who they have been in contact with in the time ate and graduate students in of an issue, he says, but some they were experiencing symptoms. This is more difficult when students are around people whose names they may not know. UGA’s College of Public Health, students neglect their masks in the and the other two are clinical afternoons. assistants to share the workload “The weather tends to vary NOTIFYING CLOSE CONTACTS with existing school nurses at and the temperatures get hot on The close contacts that tracers identify are required to enter a Cedar Shoals and Clarke Centhe bus sometimes, and it makes 10-day precautionary quarantine. School nurses and district employees share the load of calling the guardians of student tral high schools. it harder to breathe through the and teacher close contacts to tell them they are required to enter a 10-day precautionary quarantine. Cedar Shoals nurse “By supplementally staffing mask,” Heredia said. “So I have Eve Bisard says these phone calls can take about 20 minutes each. our district contact tracing students that will not wear their team, we can do a lot more in masks. I understand it’s hot, but the high schools. We can make masking is one of the most effecsure that teachers are notified tive tools for making sure that the ISOLATION AND PRECAUTIONARY QUARANTINES every time they have a positive spread of COVID is prevented.” case in their classroom,” Roark Additionally, he says while Students in precautionary quarantines must stay home from school for 10 days, regardless of a negative COVID-19 test. said. “We can offer a direct line seating charts exist for the bus Students who test positive isolate at home for 10 days. of communication for teachers routes, sometimes drivers cannot to report directly to the contact implement them. *The CDC defines a close contact as a person who was within six feet of a COVID-19 infected person tracers any close contacts that “We have the seating chart, but for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over 24 hours. Infographic by Jackie Wright and Marcus Welch may have been in that classthe number of students that we been extraordinary under lots of stress.” have on our bus varies widely depending room, just trying to kind of cut some of Despite the new help, Bisard says the on the day. It’s not always the most effective the work off of the plate of the school nature of high school continues to chaltool, especially when we have other drivers nurse and redirect it to the district contact lenge her and the teams’ exhaustive contact subbing for routes. There’s no way we can tracing team.” tracing efforts. For example, students are control that because we don’t have that Roark found the UGA students to join information,” Heredia said. the team when Bagwell Adams reached out responsible for identifying their own close contacts outside of classroom settings. In He says when a student tests positive to check on CCSD. order to determine who goes into preon his route, he receives notification of a “I think the real hero here is Amy cautionary quarantine, positive students positive case but not of the student’s name Roark. I find her to be an incredibly
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or where they were sitting. Play” testing practices in high schools. considered close contacts. Bisard accesses “I’m honestly a little bit concerned about Upon school outbreaks students opt to get student vaccination records through the it, but at the same time, I just have to keep tested to stay in school, or they quarantine Georgia Registry of Immunization Transdoing my job. Kids need to get to school, for 10 days if they choose not to get tested. actions and Services (GRITS). and so that’s what I do,” Heredia said. Throughout the year students were also With roughly one fifth of Clarke County Used in combination with masks, seatrequired to take a test every 14 days if they students vaccinated, Roark says she can ing charts and social distancing, surveilwanted to participate in extracurricular only organize vaccination events when lance testing is a component of contact activities. turnout is guaranteed. tracing that ideally identifies asymptomatic However, surveillance testing in schools “Our public health colleagues in the and symptomatic cases earlier to prevent requires parental consent and rapid turncommunity are overworked right now, and spread. In Atlanta Public Schools staff are around on lab results. Delays in test results in a lot of ways probably under-resourced. required and students have So for them to come into the option to participate the schools and do a big in surveillance testing. vaccine clinic — they defiTwice weekly, staff take nitely want to do that — a rapid antigen test for but only if we have people COVID-19, and students who are going to show who opt in take tests on up and want the vaccine,” Mondays. Roark said. “In order for us to conOn the week of Oct. 18, trol the spread of the virus, CSHS and Clarke Central we have to have both tracHigh School each hosting and testing,” Bagwell ed one vaccine drive for Adams said. “Typically we students and one for staff. need testing that gets us The staff drives also supresults back pretty quickly, plied booster shots. CCSD within 24 to 48 hours, partnered with Georgia because that’s critical. In Family Connections and a best case scenario we Innovative Healthcare would be doing surveilInstitute to run these events lance testing.” and to provide information Bagwell Adams says sessions at each of the high the best practice for schools the week before the surveillance testing is drives. taking random samples of CCSD partnered with the student body to take DPH to supply vaccines saliva-based COVID-19 to teachers and students tests. Then students who at Burney-Harris-Lyons test positive and their close Middle School and Coile contacts would quarantine. Middle School during the Roark says she is purweek of Sept. 4. suing rapid testing on site Starting Sept. 3, in CCSD schools, and the Athens-Clarke County district could partner with government began offering the Department of Public BALANCING SAFETY AND SCHOOL: Bisard stands in front of the Charles J. Worthy Aca- a $100 gift card to people Health or a private comdemic Building at Cedar Shoals High School. She says this year she has prioritized sick visits who schedule their first pany to provide a “turnkey to her office and designated a quarantine room for students who show COVID-19 symptoms. shot. They can collect a “It’s my goal to make sure that everyone is safe and healthy, and I want to make sure that testing service.” second $100 gift card upon those who need to be at home quarantining and monitoring for symptoms are, and those “You really need receiving their second shot. who don’t need to be are here at school,” Bisard said. Photo by Isabella Morgan. different types of tests for At the high school drives, symptomatic testing versus students received a $100 asymptomatic testing so thinking about pose tracing challenges as positive cases gift card and entered a drawing for a $500 how to do both is really what I’m interested continue to interact with their peers until scholarship upon getting their shot. in,” Roark said. “I’m really interested in a the test result is reported. As of Oct. 15, 45% of Athens test to stay, test to play mentality, which “There is a lot that goes into the testing Clarke-County was fully vaccinated. On is where kids who are exposed to COVID piece that sounds easier than it is unfortuOct. 19, the seven day case rate per 100,000 can test to stay in school and not have to nately,” Roark said. was 98.96. There were 307 total cases in quarantine.” Vaccination against COVID-19 also inCCSD and 37 in CSHS in September, and From November 2020 to March 2021, creases the effectiveness of contact tracing so far in October there have been 58 cases the Utah Department of Public Health as it limits spread of the virus. Additionin CCSD and less than 10 at CSHS. implemented “Test to Stay” and “Test to ally, in CCSD vaccinated students are not In August 2021, CCSD rolled out a
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COVID-19 case and quarantine tracking the students isolating for COVID-19 that two days of a paid internship to catch dashboard. Bisard and the other contact week. She had already spent a week of up. She says new instructional methods tracers update the dashboard whenever August in a precautionary quarantine. should parallel contact tracing and student they confirm a positive case. The dash“School, softball, paid internship, quarantines. board shows total cases among staff and while also trying to apply for colleges and “We definitely need a virtual option students for the past 30 and seven days, meet deadlines, this is one of my hardest at all times. If a kid randomly gets sick, as well as the current have a Zoom up and percentage of staff and ready so kids can students in precauunmute themselves tionary quarantines. or leave a question Data is provided for in the chat,” Massey individual schools wrote in a text while as well as the district she was sick betotals. cause she could not While these efforts have conversations have certainly preventwithout coughing. ed further spread of “But I also have to the virus, CCSD high say that now that I schools moved to onhave COVID-19 I’ve -Dr. Grace Bagwell Adams, UGA College of Public Health line instruction from been focusing on Sept. 7-10 as part of a trying to get rid of it, 10-day pause of in-person school. On Sept. years,” Massey said. not about what my grade looks like in my 4, 6.4% of CCSD and 4.9% of CSHS stuIsolating through the week of online class. It literally hurts for me to look at my dents and staff were in precautionary quar- learning, Massey fell behind in her work computer screen.” antines. Senior La’Kayla Massey was one of while quarantining and later skipped
“The most important thing you can do is get vaccinated, the second most important thing you can do is wear a mask. When you think about our approach to pandemic control, those are two legs on a three-legged stool and the third leg is testing and tracing.”
VACCINATION PREPARATION: Ivan Ulloa stands by his son Edwin Ulloa before Edwin received his COVID-19 vaccination at the Coile Middle School drive. Both students and teachers had the option to receive doses at the drive, with some teachers getting a booster shot. “When I heard the booster shot was being offered, I got so excited. We should be vaccinated, we’re front line workers. It’s ethical,” Rosa Bang, an art teacher at CMS who received a booster shot at the drive, said. Photo by Jackie Wright.
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MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS VIRTUAL SCHOOL CAUSES STUDENTS TO STRUGGLE By Ellie Crane
efore COVID-19 caused a nationwide lockdown one year ago in the U.S., students woke up every morning to go to school and see their peers and teachers without thinking twice. While the switch to online school has its benefits, the biggest being a decline in cases, students may be experiencing struggles with their mental health and motivation. “I was happy to hear that we weren’t going back to school. I felt like I had a lot of stress on my shoulders from the previous weeks in school, and I just felt relieved to get a break,” junior Christopher Barton said about the first closure. Similar to Barton, junior Marcus Welch initially was enthusiastic about a few extra weeks of spring break, but he soon became concerned about the length of quarantine increasing with no determined return day. “In the beginning when it was just an extra week I was excited because what kid doesn’t love an extra week out of school? But as the day to return got pushed out more and more, it was less exciting and more upsetting,” Welch said. “At first I didn’t really think much of it because I only thought it was going to be for like two weeks tops, so it didn’t really bother me. But then the days started getting longer, and quarantine was extended and it started to bother me. I lost motivation, and I just felt like the days started repeating themselves,” sophomore Evelyn Martinez said. With everyday life changing so quickly the expectation to stay home and away from friends grew disorienting. “We’re social animals, and isolation isn’t a good thing for anyone’s mental health. We know that we rely on our social networks to really provide us with the support that we need to go through life day to day,” Clarke Middle School counselor Ariel Gordon said.
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Some students were apprehensive about the county’s decision to begin the school year completely virtually last year. “I know that I learn better in person, so I became stressed about my grades and getting work done. For me it’s a lot harder to get my work done when I can get up and walk away from it,” Welch said. When comparing virtual learning to in-person learning, some students found online school to be draining. “I definitely won’t say this has been a positive change for me. I’ve handled it pretty well, but I’d say in person I am happier, and things were not as overwhelming. I felt more organized with my work, but learning virtually made me a bit more anxious,” Barton said. “You go from having everything given to you
A RACING MIND: With the pressure of school online, students were overwhelmed. “As time went on and we began learning virtually it felt like everything was all over the place. In person, everything just happened naturally for me, but the next thing I know it feels like everything is coming at me at once and it got really complicated,” Christopher Barton said. Art by Ava Maddox.
through in-person learning, the teachers are here to help you, but with virtual learning it’s completely up to you.” Senior Allie Chang worries more about the inability to socialize with her peers than difficulties with school work. “I was honestly sad because we had a spring break and then this entire period where we couldn’t communicate physically with our friends,” Chang said. “Usually people would have a time where they could talk to their friends either before school or during lunch. Instead we used social media, but it’s not the same.” A June 2020 Gallup survey asked parents if they feel like their child’s mental health has been impacted by the pandemic. 29% of survey participants said that their child is “already experiencing
“We’re social animals, and isolation isn’t a good thing for anyone’s mental health. We know that we rely on our social networks to provide us with the support that we need to go through life day to day.” -Ariel Gordon, Clarke Middle School counselor harm to emotional or mental health,” and 33% said that they could continue to go longer before experiencing emotional distress. Texas A&M University conducted a survey of college students in September. Out of 2,031 participants, 48% showed a “moderate-to-severe level of depression,” 38% showed a “moderate-to-severe level of anxiety,” and 71% indicated that their
stress/anxiety levels had increased during the pandemic. “[Students] don’t like the cameras, they don’t want to be on screen, they don’t want to talk. That’s a different and new situation, and these situations are stressful. Some people are just a little more reserved or shy than others, and that can also bring stress,” Cedar Shoals counselor Peggy Johnson said.
participants said that their child is “already experiencing harm to their emotional or mental health”
said that their child could “continue to go longer before experiencing emotional distress”
Texas A&M University statistics:
showed a “moderate-to-severe level of anxiety”
participants showed a “moderate-to-severe level of depression”
indicated that their stress/anxiety levels had increased during the pandemic
While last school year was overwhelming, confusing and stressful, there are benefits to virtual-learning. Staying home and social distancing keeps COVID-19 cases down, which will hopefully bring life back to normal sooner than later. “I think what benefited me the most was that I started focusing on myself and my family more, and I got to talk to them and play with my dogs, and just have that free time to focus on myself before going to other people about their problems,” Chang said. Staying inside with families could cause tension, or like Martinez and her mom, it could lead to bonding. “My relationship with my mom definitely got better, she stopped
working for a few months so she was spending more time at home, and that really helped both of us bond more,” Martinez said. As high school students have now chosen to return to in-person learning, students are eager to get out of their houses and see one another once again. “A lot of people are not virtual learners. There’s a handful of people, maybe even the majority of people who love to learn online, and that may just be their style of learning, but that’s not everybody,” Barton said. As students and faculty have returned to a five day week of in-person learning, Johnson believes it is important to keep in mind that the past year has been difficult for many, and that some adjustments may need to be made to take care of the Cedar Shoals community. “I think we’re gonna all need to be a little more empathetic, compassionate, friendly and kind to each other, because even though we might be back in the building, some of those stressors from the pandemic are still there. That person next to you, whether you know them or not, you don’t know what they’ve gone through, and we all need to be just a little bit more mindful of that,” Johnson said.
Sources: Texas A&M University, Gallup survey from June 2020
Infographic by Ava Maddox and Megan Wise
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GROWING GIF TED: By Melanie Frick
rom 2010 to 2020, Clarke County School District’s gifted program grew by 43%, eight times greater than the growth of the student population during the same period. Still, in the last 10 years, 57% of gifted students were white or Asian in a district that is 78% Black, Hispanic and multi-racial students. Although they make up half of the CCSD student population, by 2020, only 7% of CCSD’s Black students were identified as gifted. Cedar Shoals junior Jayivey Brown is one of those students. Growing up as a minority in the program, Brown remembers the stigma that she felt. “When they would pull us out of class to go to the trailers, on multiple occasions, if it wasn’t the actual teacher coming to get us, I would get up and either my homeroom teacher or the person coming to get us would be like, ‘Sweetie sit down’ because they would be surprised that I was the one getting up because I’d be the only Black kid getting up,” Brown said. Dr. Jennifer Bogdanich, CCSD’s gifted
CCSD PROGRAM EVOLVES TO BECOME MORE INCLUSIVE
program coordinator since August 2020, says that the program strives to be as inclusive as possible through different equity initiatives. “A few of our equity initiatives are to increase participation in our gifted and advanced programming, especially for underrepresented students, by using a variety of testing measures to minimize cultural bias, implementing universal screeners to all students for early identification and recognition of talent and training all teachers to have an assets-based mindset to inform gifted identification and teaching and learning,” Bogdanich said. Whit Davis Elementary School gifted teacher Jennifer Biddle agrees the program has been working to become more equitable over the past 10 years. “We definitely still have more white folks in the gifted program, we just do. We try our best and we have more Hispanic kids than we’ve ever had before, which is great. We’re trying our best to have a diverse representation all around,” Biddle said. While the percentage of Hispanic students
in the gifted program increased by 71% over the last decade, the percentage of newly added students who are Hispanic trended downward over the 10-year period, from 22% of new gifted students in 2010 to 15% in 2020. Although CCSD’s Hispanic population has grown by 17% over the past decade, by the end of 2020, 11% were identified as gifted. Improvement initiatives CCSD’s gifted department is working to make the program more equitable. Through the Talented and Gifted Checklist, the Students of Promise program, a gifted endorsement program for teachers and equity meetings, the program is becoming more inclusive. In 2019, CCSD began using the Talented and Gifted Checklist, a new referral process which had been used in Atlanta Public Schools to decide which students to test for the gifted program. Teachers use the checklist to see if a student has gifted behavior characteristics such as leadership, creativity, advanced academic ability and motivation. Depending on the student’s evaluation, an eligibility committee will discuss whether to go forward with testing. “Instead of just saying, ‘Who in my class demonstrates these attributes? Well, let me think off the top of my head,’ it’s a more data-driven approach where every student is appreciated,” Whit Davis gifted teacher Lindsey Davis said. Separate from the gifted program, the Students of Promise program, put into place in 2005, identifies potentially gifted students in kindergarten through second grade from populations underrepresented in the gifted program and provides them with enrichment activities. Approximately 50% of the students that have completed the
RAISED HANDS: Jennifer Biddle calls on a student in her fifth-grade math class to answer a question. Biddle feels that gifted students are exposed to complex learning at a young age, prompting them to take rigorous courses later in life. She sees how this affects the racial makeup of advanced high school classes. “If they’re not exposed to all that critical thinking and really engaged in it, then they’re not going to want to do it when they grow up. They’re going to think, ‘Well all the white kids are in those programs, I don’t want to be in there.’ It follows them the whole way,” Biddle said. Photo by Melanie Frick.
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LISTENING: Biddle listens to a fifth-grade student. Although she is only able to teach a number of students each year, she recognizes the abilities of all. “It’s hard to come up with a definition for giftedness because every child is unique, and probably gifted in a certain way. Maybe it doesn’t meet our criteria, but they may be gifted because they know about motorbikes and they could build one,” Biddle said. Photo by Melanie Frick.
program qualify for the gifted program. Karen Higginbotham, a former gifted teacher at Fowler Drive Elementary School, served in one of the pilot classrooms during the implementation of the Students of Promise program. Higginbotham, who would later become a gifted coordinator for CCSD, says the program has been successful in diversifying the gifted program and enabling a wider variety of students to receive gifted learning opportunities. “There were units of study around some of the books or autobiographies we would read during that time like Oprah Winfrey, Frida Kahlo, George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King, a series of underrepresented folks who have exceeded or demonstrated the same type of strength,” Higginbotham said. “Part of the idea behind that was to build in (students) the ability to see people like
to benefit from gifted teaching. “All students benefit when their teachers are equipped with gifted instructional strategies, as these strategies increase student engagement and higher-order thinking,” Bogdanich said. Both elementary and middle school gifted teachers take part in equity meetings every month, where they look at the program’s racial makeup and different tactics being used to increase diversity. Davis says these meetings promote discussion on how to evolve the program. “We’ll open the meeting up and then we break into small groups, and I might be with a gifted teacher from J.J. Harris, Fowler or Barnett Shoals. We’re all from different schools and we’re talking about, for example, with the questionnaire, ‘How is that working for you? What obstacles are you finding?’
“One thing I wish they (the gifted program) didn’t do when we were in the gifted program was put so much pressure on us to be the model kids of our school because we were smart. That’s kind of a lot to put on a fourth grader, trying to be the top of your elementary school,” - Jayivey Brown, 11th Grade them who came from a lower socioeconomic status, who were able to overcome and be successful.” CCSD is also working to expand gifted teaching through gifted endorsement programs. Every year, 50 CCSD teachers participate in a one-year training, equivalent to four graduate-level courses, to become gifted endorsed. Currently 27% of CCSD teachers are gifted endorsed. Bogdanich says this training allows a wider range of students
qualifying score in both the mental ability and achievement categories. Additionally, those who qualify in only two categories and create a portfolio may be accepted into the program. One example of a tool used to evaluate for creativity is the Torrance Test for Creative Thinking, where students may have to use their imagination to create a story with pictures. Students must score in the 90th percentile for this category to qualify for the gifted program. The state testing guidelines provide several ways to evaluate students in the different categories, and teachers are constantly evaluating the different tests for signs of bias, according to Davis. For example, questions on some tests may rely upon prior knowledge of items that may not be present in every student’s home. “A lot of people think that we’re not equitable in our testing or that there are not enough minorities in gifted because we should have the same percentage represented that we have in school in our gifted program, and we don’t,” Biddle said. “Maybe the tests are a little biased and I wish we could really focus on those tests and change the tests we give, but the state tells us what tests we can give for the kids to qualify.” Cedar Shoals freshman Finn McGreevy tested for the gifted program without success until last year. She describes self-induced pressure to get into the program. “Every single one of my siblings had been in it, so I felt like I wasn’t living up to an expectation that my family had,” McGreevy said. “It was never really vocalized, but I was like, ‘I’m not as good as my siblings because they’re winning awards because the gifted program gave them time to work on science fair projects.’” Brown also recognizes the exclusion that students outside of the program may feel. “It kind of made certain students feel more
Graphic by Aiden Dowling
And then we’ll come back and say, ‘Has it been successful? What are your numbers?’” Davis said. Room for improvement To be accepted into the gifted program, the state of Georgia requires students to qualify in three out of four categories: motivation, creativity, mental ability and achievement — or have a
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(earlier) criteria,” Castile said. “I believe the criteria are evolving, for lack of a better word, to try to be more inclusive and allow not just more diverse kids but a greater number of kids in those courses.”
EXPERIMENTING: Students in Jennifer Biddle’s 2019 advanced math class gather around a project. Cedar sophomore Marcus Welch feels that the memories and friendships he created through the gifted program stuck with him more than other classes. “Since as long as I can remember I have been friends with the same people. It’s because I was in that gifted class and we’ve been in the same advanced and accelerated classes all the way up until now,” Welch said. Photo provided by Jennifer Biddle.
inferior because they weren’t being taken out of class to go on a QR code scavenger hunt around the school,” Brown said, referencing the kind of high-engagement activities that gifted students have taken part in. In some schools, students are pulled out of class to go to a gifted classroom during extended learning time (ELT). Other schools such as Whit Davis have moved away from ELT, helping to combat the separation between those in gifted classes and those who are not. Davis now works with students by visiting classes rather than pulling students out. “If I’ve come in to serve your classroom, I’m serving every child. I’m working in a small group with the students that are struggling to read. I’m co-teaching with a teacher,” Davis said. “I will teach the same math activity, but I’ll differentiate it for each group that comes.” Future academic achievement The gifted program in high school is partly composed of advanced content courses, classes that students can select during registration. In 2021, 728 of Cedar Shoals’ 1,400 students are enrolled in advanced content classes (not including Career Academy). The smallest of these classes is AP Chemistry with just three students. Junior Marcus Welch says that the gifted program motivated him to take more advanced classes. “It allowed me to have an easier time when it comes to getting into accelerated classes and advanced classes, and obviously that looks better. It’s almost like a domino effect. I definitely think being in the program helped
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me,” Welch said. Although the high school gifted program primarily consists of courses that students can choose to take, in middle school the state requires defined testing criteria which may limit participation. To qualify for advanced content courses in fifth through eighth grade, students are reviewed using i-Ready test results, grades and teacher recommendations. Cedar Shoals gifted coordinator Stephen Castile believes the middle school criteria may be a barrier to getting more high school students enrolled in advanced content courses. “There’s far greater criteria to be in those classes in middle school. I feel like we’re missing a good number of students in some of those advanced courses who could be doing that level of work but don’t meet the
Going forward From 2010 to 2020, the number of white students in the gifted program increased from 796 to 1,198 students, and the proportion of the gifted program that was white increased slightly from 51% to 53%. By 2020, 39% of CCSD’s white student population was identified as gifted. “It is still heavily the white students, but that leads me back to testing. That’s where it needs to start,” Biddle said. “We need to analyze those tests and talk to the state about either changing them or to the publishers about rewriting them.” Biddle also wishes that there was less emphasis on standardized testing to allow for more flexibility in teaching. “I don’t necessarily think we need more pullouts, but I wish more teachers were able to do more engaging projects in class. We are so pressured to have our students perform on these standardized tests that we feel we don’t have the time to do that,” Biddle said. Davis, who doesn’t call herself “the gifted teacher” around students, says that by interacting with all types of students and eliminating bias, CCSD can show that the gifted program is for everyone. “Giftedness is not one size fits all,” Davis said. “Human beings are complex and everyone’s so special and so different. We really need to capitalize on that in our school district.”
Talented and Gifted checklist
Students of Gifted Promise Endorsement Program Program
IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVES: CCSD implemented changes to the gifted program. Jennifer Bogdanich says an equity roadmap guides the program. “I can’t think of a time this year when we have met where there has not been a focus on ways we can be more equitable with service models, the programming, testing identification and looking at advanced content,” Bogdanich said. Graphic by Melanie Frick and Tory Ratajczak.
SHAKY HANDS: Students in CCSD and across the country participate in standardized testing many times throughout their education. “I’ve always known people who did poorly who were very strong students and for whatever reason just didn’t get how to take a standardized test,” Dr. Margaret Morgan, math department, said. “It’s an academic skill unto itself, being able to take standardized tests and for the people who just didn’t have that skill, I think it did a disservice to them.” Art by Eva Lucero.
ll American students have experienced the symptoms: sweaty palms, sudden amnesia, general angst. A pillar of education, standardized tests have evaluated student performance for decades. However, questions of testing inequity have been growing since its advent, and thanks to COVID-19, the system is one of many forced to alter in the last two years. State-sanctioned performance exams Testing is ingrained into American achievement evaluation. The average U.S. student takes 112 standardized tests throughout their educational career from pre-K to 12th grade, whereas students in other countries whose students outperform U.S. students on global exams test an average of three times. As required by the United States Department of Education, Georgia administers a set of standardized tests unique to the state every year: the Milestones. Grades three through eight take the end of grade (EOG) exams; and grades nine through 12 take the end of course (EOC) tests, but only in some classes, like biology and economics. The tests measure students’ mastery of Georgia standards, and EOCs serve as final exams that determine 20% of final grades. An additional interim exam is given during the semester to measure progress towards preparedness for the EOC. A data analysis follows each interim administration. Bryan Moore, English depart-
ment chair, has participated in the process throughout his 26 years at Cedar Shoals. Every time interim results are released, he says he and his colleagues sit down with a coach to evaluate how their students scored on curriculum standards, though he doesn’t always put much value into results they examine. “I trust more what I see of their performance in my class. Some kids aren’t good test takers, some find it hard to motivate themselves for that. If every kid took the test as seriously as possible every time that might be some valid data, but there’s too many factors that go into it that I can’t draw too many conclusions. Especially in English, because we don’t think in a multiple choice kind of way,” Moore said. “You’re basically saying a two hour test given one time is supposed to be valid data instead of the performance of a kid over 18 weeks.” The socioeconomic and racial inequalities of testing are manifested in Clarke County School District, where Black students test an average of 3.4 grade levels below white students, and racial achievement gaps are double that of the state. In a school district with 79% students of color and nearly 50% of Black families and 45% of Hispanic families living in poverty, just one third of students were proficient on the Milestones in 2019. The only test in which CCSD matched the state average was the coordinate algebra EOC, taken by eighth
graders in the accelerated program. CCSD Director of Assessment Dr. Robert Ezekiel says inequity in testing is being addressed at the district and school levels. “Schools are focusing on equity. They are also focused on teaching the standard. Looking at achievement data, we’re looking at it by race, by gender, different demographics to determine who is performing and how they perform,” Ezekiel said. “Teachers are working collaboratively to design lessons to address any achievement gaps that are going on across the whole district.” Teachers receive curriculum standards from the state department of education that determines the topics they should cover in class. From there they work together to create lessons, materials and their own classroom assessments to teach the standards. The EOC assesses these standards, but teachers play no role in designing the questions. Dr. Margaret Morgan, math department, would prefer the exam be produced by her and her colleagues. “I don’t really understand how it’s written. I don’t understand what the purpose of the questions are,” Morgan said. “A departmental final where all the teachers decide on the questions or even a district-wide final where all the teachers get together and decide what’s going to be on it, I think that would have the same level of accountability with more transparency for teachers.”
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College readiness exams the plot, and they’re really, really hard,” Moore said. “When All Georgia students I do the AP test run through take the EOCs and with the kids, I take the same interims. Additionally, in test and I struggle with some Georgia and nationwide, of those, then I’ll look at their Advanced Placement Infographic by Violet Calkin and Megan Wise explanations and I get angry students take the AP exam and indignant.” to determine if they will The AP test is significant receive college credit, and — it determines if hard work college-bound students 75% will be rewarded with a college take the SAT or ACT to credit. Moore’s more meanmeasure readiness for ingful mission of embarking higher education. into literary scholarship is a Writings by Carl 50% challenge to balance with the Brigham, inventor of the burden of standardized test SAT and AP tests, indicate preparation. a eugenicist agenda. In his “I tell the kids this class has book “A Study of Ameritwo different goals. There is can Intelligence,” Brigham 25% the goal of that AP test, but I wrote that the SAT would don’t want to make the entire avert “the continued propclass about that. I still value agation of defective strains literature and what we can in the present population,” explore and gain through that including the “infiltration 0% study,” Moore said. “It’s always of white blood into the NeBiology U.S. history Analytic geometry American literature a balance of preparing the kids gro.” He rationalized that for the test, but also finding “the Nordic race group” = White = Black = Hispanic some kind of peace with what would outperform students you’re doing and not making of color, giving reason to *Asian students made up 1% of Cedar’s student population in 2019, 100% scored proficient on all four respective tests. the whole class test prep.” deny them admission to COVID-19’s impact prestigious colleges and prevent “promiscuous “He was like, ‘Oh, I only took the SAT once intermingling” between races. I got like a 1560.’ I was like, ‘You got a what?’ In response to COVID-19’s unpredictabilA University of California Berkeley study It’s so crazy to me, the difference in grades ity, many colleges have waived standardized found that today, more than one third of varibased on economic ability,” Whitford said. “If testing for the 2021-22 admissions season, ance in a student’s SAT score can be credited you take a kid with good internet and a stable some permanently. Notable outliers the Unito their family’s income, parental education family in a nice house, and then you take a kid versity of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of and race or ethnicity. Brigham himself eventu- who has to go to the public library for internet Technology will require SAT or ACT scores. ally wrote in an unpublished manuscript that and is using a school Chromebook, and they Because of her work outside of Cedar test scores have less to do with intelligence both take the SAT, who are you going to Shoals with ULead, an organization that and more measure “a composite including expect to do better?” assists undocumented Latinx students with schooling, family background, familiarity The SAT and ACT are created, adminapplying for college and scholarships, Associwith English and everything else, relevant and istered and measured by the standards by ate Principal of Instruction Dr. Melissa Pérez irrelevant.” the College Board and ACT, Inc., which are says this is a positive change. Morgan has witnessed the socioeconomic private companies. Though unable to change “A lot of our Latinx students that are bias of the SAT as a parent the content, Cedar is addressing the achieveEnglish learners and students from lower and Cedar educator. ment gap by increasing the number of times socioeconomic status don’t have access to “I know my son didn’t learn all the math students interact with the tests. Students can SAT/ACT tutoring or the resources to take he needed to last year. He doesn’t want to sit take the PSAT in the fall and the ACT in the private classes,” Pérez said. “I’ve definitely seen down with me and have me teach it to him, spring at Cedar, in an environment they’re a discrepancy between a student’s GPA, what so I signed him up for a $1,000 SAT class,” familiar with. CCSD students also receive fee I think their ability is and what’s reflected Morgan said. “Most parents couldn’t afford to waivers for the $55 SAT, $60 ACT and $96 on their SAT and ACT score. Those students pay for that class. That’s a problem.” AP test, and a college counselor is available at usually either try to apply to score-optional She recalls a standardized test preparation both high schools to assist. schools or schools that offer scholarships that course she hosted with the College Factory. To prepare his students for the AP test, are not based on the test score that recognize “It was Saturday mornings and cost $25, Moore incorporates multiple choice questions that there is a bias in those tests.” and still the people who signed up for it were into his lessons, though he is generally adverse ULead provides tutoring and support, but much more middle, upper middle class and to using them to assess comprehension. Half Pérez has found her students are hindered by white. Definitely our lower socioeconomic of the AP Literature exam is multiple choice. the arbitrary time and financial commitments students are at a disadvantage when it comes “On the AP test, the multiple choice required of high SAT or ACT scores. to standardized testing,” Morgan said. questions can be really picky and unfair “As hard as we try to provide the prep Senior Max Whitford says he didn’t sometimes. That’s not a good way to assess books and the free tutoring to help prepare realize the disparities in CCSD until meeting how you understand literature. I just feel like students, sometimes it’s just a matter of ‘Well, students from outside the district. A converthey (College Board) don’t look holistically my family needs me to work, I don’t have the sation over the summer with a friend from at a piece, they judge things through those time available.’ It’s not a matter of ‘I don’t find Gwinnett County sticks out to him. multiple choice questions that kind of miss the test important or my family doesn’t.’ It’s a
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matter of need,” Pérez said. Boston College’s National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy has placed the value of the standardized testing market between $400 and $700 million. Parents spent $13.1 billion on test preparation in 2015, and the College Board, which creates and administers the SAT and AP exams, boasted a revenue of $1.2 billion in 2020. “The purpose of standardized tests is to make money, so I don’t know that that whole system can shift that much. When wealthier white kids do better on these tests, that’s good for them because those are the people that are going to pay for the test, those are the parents who are going to spend the money on a TI-84 (calculator). There’s no point in owning a TI84 anymore except for taking the AP exam and other standardized tests, because Desmos is a much better graphing calculator than the TI-84,” Morgan said. COVID-19 didn’t just uproot the college prep exams. Spring 2020 Milestones were cancelled. After being twice denied of waiving the Spring 2021 exams, State Superintendent Richard Woods designated the Milestones as optional, and EOCs weighed just .01% of final grades. Communication thus far indicates that Georgia students will revert back to the traditional Milestones this Spring. Pérez worries this decision might overlook lingering effects of virtual learning. “At the beginning of the school year we were operating under the assumption that everything was back to normal. We had to adjust and realize that COVID is very much still with us,” Pérez said. “I think going back to the 20% on the state’s end is in some ways a failure to recognize that we’re still in a pandemic, and that we’re still dealing with the learning losses. It isn’t considerate or sensitive
to that reality.” Junior Destiny Strickland has suffered from test anxiety throughout her educational career. Though she appreciates testing for its feedback, reduced weight for the EOC would account for students like her. “Testing has definitely made me realize the things I should spend more time on, but it has also affected my esteem and grades. If I fail a test it makes me overthink,” Strickland said. “Last year was hard for me being online, so the fact that it didn’t count as much gave me some relief. This year may be stressful considering it weighs more and will affect your grade for better or for worse.” Meghan Frick, Director of Communications for the Georgia Department of Educa-
disruptions due to the pandemic, GADOE urges interpreters to use a grain of salt when analyzing scores. GADOE is working to address learning gaps from last year, according to Frick. The content will not be different, but districts have been provided with tools to help students catch up, including formative assessments to predict Milestones scores, new Academic Recovery Specialists to assist school leaders, more summer and afterschool programs and federal relief funds specifically for remediating learning loss. Students of color were on average most impaired by COVID-19. In Fall 2020, after less than a year of virtual learning, students in school districts that predominantly serve students of color scored just 59% of the historical average in math and 77% of the historical average in reading on the iReady diagnostic examinations. McKinsey & Company estimates that students of color lost 12 to 16 months of mathematics learning from March 2020 to June 2021, whereas white students lost five to nine. Now, with Milestones returning to their full gravity, a concern arises: how CCSD students — already disadvantaged and likely to have learning gaps — will test this year and in those to come. “It’s just going to get worse. These effects are only going to become more and more prevalent as the people who were elementary online eventually get to high school and start taking standardized tests,” Whitford said. “The tests are just going to display learning gaps that we have as a school, as a county, as a nation.”
“You’re basically saying a two hour test given one time is supposed to be valid data instead of the performance of a kid over 18 weeks.” -Bryan Moore, English Department tion (GADOE), says while the state would be willing to request to waive federal testing requirements, “it is unlikely the same administration that declined last year’s waiver request would approve one this year — so we have to be prepared to administer the test.” The portion of CCSD students who opted to take the Spring 2021 EOCs ranged from 2% of U.S. history students to 49% of students taking physical science, the majority of which were advanced 8th graders who had been in-person more consistently than high schoolers. Students across Georgia showed a decrease in scores in most subjects. While this decline could be attributed to learning
Infographic by Violet Calkin and Megan Wise
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RESIDENTS AT RISK: eviction protections expire By Anna Schmidt Headline art by Ava Maddox area of residence, COVID-19 transmission Similar to Athens Area Homeless Shelomelessness in Athens-Clarke County ter, which has the capacity to serve up to was a crisis before the COVID-19 pan- rates and statements regarding best efforts to pay rental payments and more. If the criteria 14 different families simultaneously, other demic, with the number of unhoused fit the circumstances of the applicant, they emergency housing facilities such as Family Athenians outnumbering the beds in shelters. could submit an affidavit to their landlord and Promise and Salvation Army reach maximum The series of eviction moratoriums put in the Magistrate Courts. capacity daily. place throughout the pandemic by Congress Jocelyn Crumpton, a case manager for the “We do a lot of safety planning with famiand then the Centers for Disease Control Athens Area Homeless Shelter, witnessed a lies. If there is a friend or family member, you and Prevention (CDC) blocked roughly 1.55 surge in those seeking resources throughout might find that you can stay one or two nights million eviction filings. Despite these meaand then check sures, the Supreme in with us again. Court’s recent If it’s really dire refusal to renew the we’ll sometimes eviction moratoreach out to rium on Aug. 26 churches to leaves millions of see if they have Americans facing funding to help homelessness after pay for a hotel their protections room,” Crumpexpired on Oct. 3. ton said. A large part of Churches in Cedar Shoals and the Athens comHoward B. Stroud munity play an Elementary School integral role in social worker Angeproviding fundla Gay’s work over ing, resources the past 18 months such as food involved making and clothing sure that families and occasionwere aware of the ally shelter. eviction moratoDaily Bread, a rium. local community “We want to kitchen, serves make sure families an average of 135 know their rights SHORTAGE: Finding housing in Clarke County that is both affordable and will rent to an individual that is currently to 150 people and if they receive homeless is a struggle intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We need landlords that are willing to work with us. per day Monday an eviction notice There are units in Clarke County that are empty, but landlords will not decrease their rent to make it affordable for through Friday. that they know the clients,” Jocelyn Crumpton, a case manager at the Athens Area Homeless Shelter said. Art by Eva Lucero. Due to the proper docuCOVID-19 panmentation they the pandemic. demic, the program has moved to an outdoor can complete to prevent that eviction from “We never have enough space to truly grab-and-go style system. Former Daily Bread happening,” Gay said. serve all the families who need our services. Site Manager Tamala Baker says in addition to According to Gay, roughly 3% of the total Since the pandemic, there has been a rise of providing warm meals daily, the program has Cedar Shoals student population were served families accessing our services. We also serve also offered social work support. through the Homeless Education Program the surrounding counties as well because “We had a program where we had social in the 2020-21 school year. Knowing how we’re the biggest and most comprehensive services coming in and they were helping to receive eviction protection was crucial (nonprofit) shelter from here to Atlanta, so we them (the guests) get their stimulus checks information. To apply for eviction protecget people from Oglethorpe County, Clarke and get their social security and find places tion while the moratorium was still active, County, Jackson County and Madison County for them to stay,” Baker said. applicants had to first meet a list of criteria The end goal is to find these families and that included specifics regarding income level, calling us for services,” Crumpton said.
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individuals affordable housing (including utilities) that costs no more than 30% of a resident’s gross income as defined by the Housing and Urban Development Agency (HUD). However, according to a June 2020 Athens Wellbeing Project report, the majority of Athenians are spending more than what is “affordable” for them on housing. “On average, Athens households, regardless of income level or racial/ethnic group, paid a greater proportion of their monthly take-home pay than the National Housing Act’s burden limit. Low income households spent, on average, 62% of their take-home pay on housing, more than double the recommendation. 3 in 4 low-income households lacked affordable housing,” according to the report. The demand for affordable housing properties far outweighs the number of housing units available in Athens. According to Crumpton, barriers such as low credit scores, evictions on record and felonies limit the properties available to homeless families. “Most of the families we work with have evictions on their record. That’s kind of how they came into homelessness. If you have an eviction anywhere on your record from the past eight years, it is very challenging to find a landlord,” Crumpton said. “Because housing
SERVICE: Volunteers hand out to-go meals and bottled water at the Daily Bread Community Kitchen on Aug. 30. Tamala Baker, the former site manager noted that the community kitchen is run on a day-to-day basis by local churches. “We have about 50 different groups (of churches) and the calendar is set so from month to month we know who’s coming,” Baker said. Photo by Violet Calkin.
family units in total, two of the 15 different neighborhoods are dedicated housing for elderly residents. Geraldine Clarke, who has been with the Athens Housing Authority for the past 45 years and currently serves as the
Clarke said. “The idea is to just have a variety of people living together, and of course, that makes for a better community.” However, Crumpton and Gay emphasize a need for an increase in physical homes that
“On average, Athens households paid a greater proportion of their monthly take-home pay than the National Housing Act’s burden limit. Low income households spent, on average, 62% of their take-home pay on housing, more than double the recommendation. Three in four low income households lacked affordable housing.” - Athens Wellbeing Project report, June 2020 is so hard to find in Clarke County, landlords who maybe weren’t as picky have become pickier. Before, if you had an eviction maybe five years ago, they’d be willing to work with you. Now they have so many other applicants who don’t have evictions, they’re going to prioritize them over other families.” The Athens Housing Authority (AHA) operates 15 different public housing neighborhoods throughout Athens. With 1,100
Director of Resident Support, says that the current waiting list for a unit at one of these properties is approximately 2,000 applicants long. While there are no current plans to build more public housing properties, Clarke says a few mixed-income properties such as Bethel Homes and Columbia Brookside are underway in Athens. “They are not building any public housing, but the new trend is mixed-income housing,”
are accessible to low-income Athens families. “We need more affordable housing. We have very little affordable housing for families. Most of our housing is catered to (college) students,” Gay said. “Nothing wrong with that. We love our college students but at the same time, we can’t forget our natives that live here and have to make a living here every day.”
Homelessness and the affordable housing crisis in numbers 35.5% of Athens residents fall below the poverty line — more than double the national average of 12.7%
From 2000 to 2018, median income in Athens rose 28%, while average house costs rose 60%
The Epidemic of Homelessness In Athens, Alavi Monique, Spencer Frye, Nov. 2018.
Finding Home, Georgia Initative for Community Housing, Athens Team, Feb. 2019
One in five Americans struggle to pay rent Many Americans Struggle to Pay Rent, Bills, Arnold and Akala, Sept. 23
The cost per square foot of new homes is up 64% from 1998 to 2017, while the funding from the Community Development Block Grant program decreased 23% from Finding Home, Georgia Initative for 1994 to 2018 Community Housing, Athens Team, Feb. 2019
0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05
Athens housing units per capita are just roughly .13 units for every person The Epidemic of Homelessness In Athens, Alavi Monique, Spencer Frye, Nov. 2018. almost alf of the Georgia average of .21 0
Rent in Athens-Clarke County has increased 18% over the past year Athens GA Rent Prices, Zumper, Sept. 30, 2021
Infographic by Anna Schmidt and Megan Wise
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