the messenger northview high school volume 12 issue 7
how six individuals are overcoming their day-today challenges, making their struggles seem not so much like â€œdisâ€?-abilities anymore pg. 24
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Editor-in-Chief: Sam Quinn Managing Editor: Nancy Coleman News Editor: Meredith McBee Sports Editor: Noah Gray Features Editor: Marri Kang Opinions Editor: Rachel Williams Photo Editor: Hui Lin Business Manager: Meredith Keisler Faculty Adviser: Chris Yarbrough Staff Writers: Shelby Bradley, milika dhru, Andrew Gottlieb, Sneha Gubbala, Meredith Keisler, Nabila Khan, Bryan Liang, Hui Lin, Jessica Ma, Lindsey Moon, Brittney Neser, Annie Pennington, Nik Radtke, Tarun Ramesh, Hend Rasheed, Ryan Siatkowski, Andrew Teodorescu, Maggie Xia, Sophia Choi, Tiffany Xu, Connie Xu Cover Design: Sam Quinn Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (770) 497-3828 ext. 176 Website: nhsmessenger.com Address: 10625 Parsons Road, Johns Creek, GA 30097 The Messenger is a student publication published for and distributed to students, faculty, staff, and the Northview community to promote readership of the studentsâ€™ current events and issues. The statements and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the entire staff or those of Northview High School, its students, faculty, staff, or administration. Content is controlled and edited by staff editors, with a high-priority on celebrating the achievements of its readers as well as events occurring within the circulation. The staff will publish only legally protected speech, adhering to the legal definitions of libel, obscenity, and the invasion of privacy. Photo credits in this issue: Page 6-7: Hui Lin/Staff
page 28: Hui LIn/staff
Page 13: Hui Lin/staff
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Page 14-15: Hui Lin/Staff
page 31: lisa matsumura/
page 16: hui lin/staff
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page 22: Brittney Neser/staff
page 36: Tiffany Xu/ STAFF
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[ contents ]
2 masthead 5 editorâ€™s letter 6 photo of the month 8 news 14 sports 24 cover story 40 opinions 42 face-off 46 staff editorial 47 comments
[articles] 8 able act offers financial aid to disabled citizens /Jessica ma 10 ican shine organization helps children with disabilities learn to ride a bike/ marri kang 13 new changes affect next year's bell schedule / tarun ramesh 14 girls soccer team prepares for the playoffs/ Nik radtke 16 four key senior girls lead soccer team to success /Nik radtke 18 baseball /ryan siatkowski 20 lacrosse /Noah Gray 24 Cover story: the messenger looks at six members of the northview community and the obstacles they have faced: 26 Nick brown / sam quinn 30 lisa matsumura / rachel williams 32 cavan miller / nancy coleman 34 melissa muench / noah gray 37 marc and sonia nadel / marri kang 40 the wrong use of "retarded" / andrew teodorescu 42 face-off: how young is too young to prepare for the sat? / maggie xia and noah gray 44 should special education students be taught in a separate classroom environment? /sneha gubbala 46 Staff Editorial 47 comments / andrew teodorescu
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EDITOR from inception to
Examining the history and process of producing a thematic issue
SAM QUINN, Editor-in-Chief
s early as last November, The Messenger Staff had set for itself the goal of producing a thematic issue—a special edition that would be the narrative zenith of our feature-writing ability. We were faced with the task of choosing a topic to ground our investigations, a sort of central theme that would bind our stories. For this we considered such topics as cheating and bullying, education and even natural disasters. In the end, however, it was the notion of disabilities, or more precisely, overcoming disabilities, which seemed most appealing, unique, and persuasive. We believed disabilities were, moreover, underrepresented in high school journalism. We queried the Northview community for stories, and resolved upon the those of six individuals—represented across five articles—which would comprise the anchoring centerpiece for our thematic edition. These individuals are Nicholas Brown, Lisa Matsumura, Cavan Miller, Melissa Muench, and Marc and Sonia Nadel. We chose these stories because we felt that they were those which most needed expression. Their voices needed to be heard, and as we worked toward the completion of our issue, we began to see just how unique those voices truly were. Many of those stories—as well as the interviews and research that made them possible—have been in the works since January, and the exceptional individuals whom we’ve featured have worked with us over the past four months to make this issue a reality. As a staff, we decided that the content of this issue—and our vision for it—was simply too expansive to be contained in 32 pages. We were in agreement that we should enlarge the issue to 48 pages—a first in the history of The Messenger—and thereby afford ourselves the opportunity for true detail, which we felt was too often absent from our writing. There was a time not so long ago, when we were only 24 pages of partial color, and the notion of a 48 page high school publication was beyond our comprehension. We’ve improved on many fronts since those days, but I think the most important part of all this is not at all that our designs became cleaner or our typography more professional. Those things are transitory—nice, to be sure, but fleeting. Instead, what we have learned over the past few years has changed our mode of thought. It changed how we tackle stories, how we feature individuals, and how we envision the future of our publication.
This issue is proof of that. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. once famously wrote, “Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions,” which is often shortened into more succinct aphorisms. Yet Holmes spoke the truth. While it’s true that our old 24 page issues can’t—in my opinion—hold a candle to what we’re doing now, that’s not really what matters. What matters isn’t the product, but the journey. And while that’s incredibly cliché to say, let alone write for a print publication, it’s spot on as far as I can tell. Next semester, the work of this school year will be—hopefully—as the 24 page issues are to us now. I can only hope that we’ll keep improving, and never stop. What matters, then, is the mindset. What matters are the seeds sown. It disheartens me to think that, in a matter of weeks, I’ll leave this staff of exceptional writers, photographers, and graphic artists. I know not what the future will bring, but I don’t perceive any universe in which it’s not astonishing. We have one more issue—our traditional senior issue, which tallies the places to which our senior class members will travel in pursuit of their educations and careers. Page 5 of that issue will be my last high school column, my last formalized expression of thought. Concerning thoughts—I have some. But those are for a later occasion. In the meantime, I’d like to extend my thanks to the individuals and their families who made this issue possible. We owe this issue to you. And I hope everyone else will enjoy this thematic edition of The Northview Messenger newsmagazine.
Sam Quinn, Editor-in-Chief
the messenger | 5
by leaps and bounds Senior Avery Sather, 2, dribbles past a North Springs defender on April 3, 2014. The Northview Varsity girls won the game 7-0.
ABLE TO THRIVE ABLE Act promises financial benefits to families affected by disabilities JESSICA MA // Staff Writer
such benefits to $2,000 and less than $700 monthly income, and that limit has not been adjusted since its introduction in 1964. Moore predicts that the United States government’s financial problems will cause further cuts in benefits for individuals with disabilities, making them more dependent on other sources of aid. “The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, the Medicaid program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources,” said David Tolleson, Executive Director of the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC), the oldest national organization to provide free information regarding individuals with Down syndrome and advocate for appropriate legislation at the federal level. “For individuals with disabilities, the savings accounts allowed by ABLE will provide those with financial means more choices in life and fuller participation in the life of their communities.” As the father of a daughter with Down syndrome, Moore’s firsthand experience with the financial struggles involved in raising a child with a disability drives his advocacy of the ABLE Act. “We do not rely on any government benefits. Addition“THE SAVINGS ACCOUNTS ALLOWED BY ABLE WILL PROVIDE ally, there are services and therapies she needs that are not THOSE WITH FINANCIAL MEANS MORE CHOICES IN LIFE AND fully covered by health insurance,” said Moore. “While we FULLER PARTICIPATION IN THE LIFE OF THEIR COMMUNITIES.” do hope that she will one day be able to attend a secondary school, there is no guarantee she will be capable […] or that – David Tolleson there will be a program available to her.” Tolleson, whose teenage son has autism, finds his Atlanta (DSAA), a non-profit organization that provides assistance to indi- family in a similar situation. viduals and families affected by Down syndrome. “They have no access to the “I assume that he will outlive me by decades and that he will require government support. The ABLE Act would allow our son to have a many saving vehicles available to everyone else.” According to Moore, no tax-advantaged savings mechanisms currently exist savings account greater than the current resource limit of $2000,” said for disabled individuals that will not affect Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security Tolleson. “This would help him be able to avoid substandard housing; be benefits, and the government provides no tax concessions to families raising chil- involved in community activities, including continuing education and/or dren with disabilities. The law currently limits the assets of individuals receiving job training; purchase medical services not reimbursed through Medicaid,
ollowing its proposal in Congress last February, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013 has attracted widespread attention and support from the disabled rights community. Its passage would alleviate the financial struggles of disabled individuals and their families. According to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), the ABLE Act intends to amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986. The ABLE Act would allow disabled individuals to create tax-advantaged savings accounts and use them to cover certain costs, such as education, housing, and transportation. On February 13, 2013, the ABLE Act bills were referred to Congressional committees after being introduced by Representative Ander Crenshaw and Senator Robert Casey Jr. “Most individuals with disability depend on some level of government assistance due to lack of job opportunity and discriminatory wage practices,” said Brian Moore, Board President of the Down Syndrome Association of
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such as more frequent dental care, assistive technology, psychological or psychiatric services; and, maybe even take the occasional vacation!” The passage of the ABLE Act would change the lives of similar families affected by disabilities across the United States. Currently, however, the ABLE Act only exists as two separate bills, one in the United States House of Representatives and one in the United States Senate. According to Moore, ABLE Act supporters await a “score” – an estimate of the cost of the ABLE Act if it were passed – from the Congressional Budget Office. “Once the bill is scored, it can be voted on by each of the committees it was referred to,” said Moore. “When a bill passes committee(s), it is then printed and filed […] then can be brought to vote by the full chamber, if the majority party chooses to do [so].” The ABLE Act currently has over 345 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 68 in the Senate, according to Tolleson. However, the ABLE Act faces some opposition due to its nature as a stand-alone bill rather than a part of comprehensive tax reform, and due to misunderstandings of its intentions and policies. “While I truly support our local efforts to do more to support these families, I am concerned about adding another special tax break to our already convoluted income tax code,” said Representative Rob Woodall, a member of the Committee on the Budget. “If politicians want to spend money on a cause, they should do it openly in a spending bill, rather than bury it in the tax code.” “Some members of Congress were not aware that ABLE Act doesn’t provide a ‘free ride,’” said Moore. “Government benefits do start to be affected once an ABLE account reaches $100,000 in value.” The bill also requires all remaining assets to be returned to the government after the beneficiary’s death.
20 1 IN 68 1 IN 691
HOW A BILL BECOMES
A LAW A bill is addressed by a member of the Senate and is sent to a committee for review.
A bill is addressed by a member of the House of Representatives and is sent to a committee for review.
The committee improves upon and votes on the bill.
The committee improves upon and votes on the bill.
Bill proceeds to full house for amending and approval.
Bill proceeds to full house for amending and approval.
THE PERCENTAGE OF AMERICANS WHO CURRENTLY HAVE DISABILITIES NUMBER OF CHILDREN ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM IN THE US NUMBER OF CHILDREN WITH DOWN SYNDROME IN THE US
Although the ABLE Act faces some Congressional opposition and has yet to undergo the long legislative procedure that lies ahead, Moore remains optimistic about its future success and passage. “These bills have more sponsors than any other single piece of proposed legislation,” said Moore. “Both Congress and the general public appear to be extremely supportive.” Kentucky Senator and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell also supports the ABLE Act and its potential to assist individuals and families struggling with disabilities. “I have heard from parents across […] the nation who have children with disabilities and find it difficult to encourage their independence and save money for the future,” said McConnell. “I look forward to working to help get this legislation through the Senate and enacted into law.” According to Tolleson, one in 68 children are born with autism in the United States, and members of the “Baby Boomer” generation are approaching their later years, making the ABLE Act more necessary than ever before. “In the past, nearly 20% of the population had a physical and/or intellectual disability, which is in keeping with the [current] national average of 1 in 5 people,” said Tolleson. “It will become increasingly important that we find ways for the public and private sectors to share costs in a manner that is both fiscally responsible and that allows those with disabilities to be respected and fully included within society.”
Bill must pass through both chambers before passing.
A conference committee meets to resolve any issues between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Both chambers vote on the final bill.
President signs the bill into law.
President vetoes the bill and returns it to Congress.
Congress can override the veto with a two-thirds vote.
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shine Volunteer organization enables children to ride past disabilities
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MARRI KANG, Features Editor
ike riding is a staple of childhood, yet many children with disabilities may never get the opportunity to learn. iCan Shine, formerly Lose the Training Wheels, aims to do away with this by providing these children with the resources they need in order to ride along with the other kids. iCan Shine spans over 30 states and across two countries with the goal of teaching people with disabilities how to ride a two wheel bike. They host bike camps across the nation year-round with the help of local organizations. “They get the facility, local volunteers and the riders and we collaborate with those local organizations to conduct the bike camp,” said CoFounder and Director of Finance and Administration, Jeffrey Sullivan. Sullivan first got involved with the program after watching his own son complete a bike camp in 2009. “I thought it was pretty neat and I was still in the transition phase of careers and I just found it that I wanted to do something related to my son’s disabilities so I decided to host a bike camp in Philadelphia,” he said. He began to host a multitude of other camps in the Philadelphia area in the following years, leading to the organization eventually hiring him as one of their two full time management employees. Now he works with iCan Shine to collaborate with organizations all over the country to bring this bike camp to the children that need it, even including one in Atlanta. Vanessa Champlin, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta, brought the program to Georgia after finding out about it online. Although there was already one camp prior to her involvement, registration spots often filled out within hours of opening.
This June, the DSAA will bring the camp to Northview, with about 40 children participating. Most of the volunteers will be Northview students. “It’s hosted by a group of volunteers and not sponsored by a specific disability organization. After talking with that camps host, I knew I wanted to hold another for our members. It took two years to make the camp a reality, but we are so excited to be the second camp in Atlanta in 2014!” she said. Champlin chose iCan Shine over other programs due to their unique goal. “People with Down syndrome have varying degrees of decreased motor skills, and many never learn to ride a bike,” she said. “Not only does bike riding offer health and self-esteem befits, having bike skills can allow people with disabilities freedom later in life. Many older people with disabilities use bikes to go to work, meet up with friends, do shopping, etc.” Sullivan cited similar benefits of the camps. “[The program is] really just an inclusion opportunity for the younger kids that are still like wanting to go out and wanting to interact with the kids and the neighborhood. They all ride bikes and, you know, if you’re not, it’s kinda hard to fit in. It’s really inclusion, self-esteem, confidence, and the opportunity to be more independent,” he said. But this is not the last of iCan Shine’s endeavors. The main reason for the switch from Lose the Training Wheels to iCan Shine was due to the fact that the program no longer focused around solely bikes. “…we had a slight change in our mission. We wanted to expand the services that we were providing from just bike riding to other activities, recreational activities, such as swimming,” said Sullivan. In addition to these new changes and the bike camps already sprawled across North America, the future of iCan Shine and especially the children that it helps looks bright.
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Bell schedule changes to ring in new school year Changes to school day will take effect in August and will start and end the school day ten minutes earlier.
TARUN RAMESH, Staff Writer
n an attempt to maximize efficiency, the FCBOE enacted a new standardized bell schedule for the 2014-2015 school year. The new bell schedule will shift all Fulton County school timings in order to coordinate bus transportation between elementary, middle, and high schools. Northview’s new school schedule will be from 8:20 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the middle school schedule will be from 8:55 a.m. to 4:05 p.m., and the elementary school schedule will be from 7:40 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.. In an email sent to all district principles, Patrick Burke, a district administrator, highlighted the new bell schedule and how he hopes it will achieve multiple goals to improve Fulton County and establish it as a one of the premier districts in Georgia. “The team is attempting to maximize efficiency, align transportation resources within learning communities, and build onto and leverage the recent reorganization to support schools,” wrote Burke. He then explained how changing the bell schedule will allow the department to meet these goals. “By standardizing times, the ability to easily handle all issues is maximized and the county can choose the fastest and most effective mechanism,” said sophomore Mohak Chadha. Chadha supports the new bell change and believes it will allow the district to standardize all operations to create a more effective system when dealing with student transportation. Northview will not receive a drastic change in timings, but the extra ten minutes after school can have an impact on students’ schedules. “The extra ten minutes after school will allow for more time to participate in extracurriculars and also more time to relax before homework,” said Chadha. The ten minutes will also allow students to have more daylight and maximize their efficiency out of school.
“I would rather sacrifice ten minutes of sleep for ten extra minutes of daylight,” said Chadha. The FCBOE has recently received heavy fire after its slow response to the freak snow storm that ravaged Georgia in late January. Chadha believes that the new standardized schedule will be able to improve efficiency and create a standardized emergency protocol that can help prevent unexpected threats. “I think this is a step in the right direction especially considering the snow incident that had caused massive delays a few weeks back,” said Chadha. The snow issue also had a key factor in showing to the Board that the current system had many flaws that could easily lead to major problems throughout the district. “The snow incident seems to have brought to the attention many issues that need to be fixed in order to prevent such a problem from occurring again,” said Chadha. Burke is optimistic for the future of the new system. “We expect significant savings through this alignment, directing more dollars to classrooms rather than fuel tanks,” said Burke. By reorganizing the system, Burke believes that Fulton County will be able to cut costs through a more standardized schedule. Chadha also believes that the new schedule can benefit the county. “The new system will allow the county to be more efficient with the money,” said Chadha. Not everyone, however, shares their optimism. “Traffic, lack of flexibility, disapproval, and a rush of buses will make the new system fail,” said freshman Joseph Zhang. Chadha however thinks the buses will be able to keep up. “I think the buses can still keep up with the schedule because there is still sufficient time for buses to cycle between elementary, middle, and high school,” said Chadha. “This is a step in the right direction.”
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Eyes on the Prize
Northview’s Varsity soccer team aims for its first state championship as playoffs begin NIK RADTKE, Staff Writer
his year, the Northview girls’ Varsity soccer team has its eyes set on the state championship. Having been a powerhouse in years past and with four seniors leading the team, the dream of winning the state championship seems an attainable goal. In 2010 and 2012, the team maneuvered its way through the playoffs, reaching the AAAAA state championship game, where it eventually lost. Last year, the Lady Titans were dangerous too, as they reached the elite eight round of the state playoffs. And this year, the team seems just as strong as ever. “It’s been a collective team effort. Each team member has bought into and trusted our philosophy,” said head coach Jennifer Barr. “We are a more technically sound team.” said senior Alexa Sather. “I think it’s important to have chemistry on and off the field so that we can mentally connect in games.” The girls clinched a playoff spot as early as April 1 when they defeated Riverwood. On the field, the team has been running on all cylinders throughout the majority of the season, dominating most of its opponents. The team is led by four senior captains, Alexa Sather, Avery Sather, Sara Calzone, and Jordan Salvador, who keep things running smoothly while injecting their talent into the game. Salvador, named the 2013 AAAAA Player of the Year and future player for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has especially held down the back line during the season as a defender. “Our captains have helped set the tone by keeping our practices tough,” said Barr. Barr also emphasized the relationship within the girls’ soccer family, believing it has been an integral part of the team’s success. “I think they are close and it helps because, the more they trust each other, the more they rely on each other, thus contributing to the complete team concept,” she said. “We are as close knit as you can get honestly. We are all so supportive of each other and we have so much fun on and off the field,” said senior Avery Sather. With a tight-knit relationship and ample experience, they are as prepared as ever for the playoffs. “We as upperclassmen know what to expect. We’ve been here the past 3 or 4 years and we know how important each game is. We know how to mentally prepare
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Sophomore Erin Rhodes, 3, shoots on goal again North Springs. Right: Senior Avery Sather, 2, dribbles past a Spartan defender.
and we know what works and what doesn’t work in getting ready for each game. And because we are experienced with playoffs, the underclassmen feed off of us and it works out,” said Avery. “Every game we have played leading up to playoffs has prepared us in some way. We are very prepared thanks to Coach Barr and Coach McCombe,” said Avery. Although the Titans have performed well this year, tough teams will be awaiting the team come playoff time, which helps to motivate the team. “The most dangerous teams will definitely be Macintosh, White Water, Stars Mill, and Northgate,” said Salvador. “Past success gives us confidence in those big games. It also gives us extra experience so we know how to handle those excellent teams.” With this in mind, the Lady Titans finished the regular season 9-1 in the region, with the only hiccup coming against Pope in the final game on April 18. After losing in penalty kicks, the Titans finished with the second overall seed from their conference 7 in AAAAA heading into the playoffs. On April 30, the team made its first step in its state championship run by beating Villa Rica 5-1, headed by sophomore Erin Rhodes who tallied 2 goals. “I think we played well, but it’s not typical soccer. Everything was over the top,” said Barr. “Our boom balls over the top allowed us to score two goals, so it wasn’t pretty soccer, but we scored. We got the win so we’re pleased.” The team will face North Atlanta next with a spot in the elite eight on the line.
Down and just out
Titan boys Varsity soccer team ends up and down season outside of playoff contention, however its future is bright NIK RADTKE, Staff Writer
his year’s boys Varsity soccer team finished just outside of playoff contention. It was a difficult year because of a new head coach, a brand new philosophy, and a few new players as well. However, the team played well and was only one game out of qualifying for the state playoffs. The talent and experience were there, however everything could not mend in time for a shot at the postseason. They finished with a conference record of 5-5 and an overall record of 7-8. Some players that performed well this season were senior Brandon Dean and junior Deibyd Contreras. Head coach Nathan Harrell came in this year from Lambert with a brand new philosophy in hopes of getting the boys Varsity soccer team back on the map. “I think the biggest thing is trying to create a soccer culture within the program, and those things take time. There are going to be some growing pains, but I think that we’re adjusting well,” said Harrell. There were many seniors on the team this year, so there are many gaps to fill for next year. However, Harrell believes there is a lot of talent in the underclassmen and things are looking positive. “We have a good number of guys that are playing well for us that are young. We have some that are coming up through the JV program and middle school next year,” said Harrell. “We should continue to improve and in the long run we can build upon our team.”
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THE CORE FOUR
Four seniors head a dynasty for their last year together at Northview NIK RADTKE, Staff Writer
sisterhood would be an understatement for the relationship these four girls have with each other. Seniors Alexa Sather, Jordan Salvador, Sara Calzone, and Avery Sather (left to right) have all been playing soccer together since their sophomore years here at Northview High School and they all are currently team captains. However, their friendship began much earlier than that. “We’ve played together since we were little kids, so we are very close. We know each other’s tendencies so well and we all have pretty much the same mindset. We are teammates but, more than that, we are best friends and that helps us gel on the field,” said Avery. They began as underclassmen themselves behind many other great players but soon took the helm and continued a dynasty. Over the years, playing together has helped them be the best they can so that their senior season would be their best yet. “We have experienced every win and loss together. We know each other’s’ potential on the field so we push each other to reach them,” said Alexa. “We all help push each other to do our best and I try to always play my best for them. We all balance each other out. I think all of us together help set an upbeat team atmosphere and we try to get people to want to work hard every day,” said
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Salvador. “They’re my best friends and we can tell exactly what each other are thinking without even talking.” Certain traditions have developed on the field as well that help everyone on the team play the best that they can. “We do this thing where you pick someone on our team before the game and throughout the game we pick each other up and just say encouraging things and this helps tremendously,” said Avery. “It gives people confidence in themselves and confidence in our team. We push each other as well so that we can work hard and get things done.” All these girls have done in their years playing together is strengthen the bond between themselves and the entire soccer family. “It’s such a blessing to be able to play with my 3 best friends for 4 years. We connect so well off the field that it comes naturally when we step on the field to play. I love those girls and I play for them!” said Alexa. “We’re all sisters. There’s no other way to explain it really,” said Salvador. “We are as close knit as you can get, honestly. We are all so supportive of each other and we have so much fun on and off the field,” said Avery. With their high school careers coming to an end, the four captains are leaving everything they have on the field with and for each other.
Senior Hank Clayman delivers a pitch in a region game against Riverwood on March 13. The Titans lost 2-5.
Just a bit outside
Titan Baseball falls short of comeback season RYAN SIATKOWSKI, Staff Writer
It is very rare that a team that starts 2-7 turns the season around completely and finishes 15-11. This is why, even though the Northview Varsity baseball team narrowly missed the playoffs, it ended the season in a noble way. Often a team full of great athletes is a sure sign of a successful team. However, that is not always the case. This year’s team included ten seniors, two of which have signed to play collegiate baseball. The Titans were predicted to do great things from the start, but baseball is not about how strong your roster is or how good a team should be. Baseball games are won and lost on the field. “For a time there it was looking pretty bleak,” head coach Aaron Wilkens said. “We started out the region very poorly, but then the players stuck together and made the remainder of the season important and overcame adversity to show joy in playing a game.” Although it is easy for a team to drift apart during adversity, it is also possible that the team can rekindle the flame and turn the season around. This rough patch would not ruin the season. After an upsetting loss to North Springs, an almost overnight revolution occurred, and nothing can bring together a team like winning. “Our win over Pope, that set us off on the right path for the second time around, and we had won 3-2 that game and really had a close battle at the end,” said senior David Ehmen, who finished with a 6-2 record as a starting pitcher and a 1.66 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 59 innings.
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Little did the team know that this small string of wins would stack up and give the team momentum, and before they knew it, they were in the middle of a eight game winning streak and back in the playoff picture. This period of success included a 17-1 win over Osborne and a walk off grand slam by D.J. Pearson over top seed Sprayberry. “The eight game winning streak was probably the most fun I have had playing baseball in my life,” said senior Hank Clayman. However, even after wins over the top four teams in the region, it was too little too late. The Titans were forced to win four games in four days, but were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after splitting their last four games. “Setting aside wins and losses, that is what is really important—that I have brothers on this team that I am always going to have there for me,” said Clayman. Looking towards next year, the team will lose ten major contributors including the majority of their pitching staff. Like any sport, baseball takes a large offseason effort to come back a better team. “The biggest thing we are all going to have to work on is the pitching staff...We have to replace Ehmen, Hank, Jake [Brown], and Keith [Power],” said junior Bryce Jones. Next year the team will look to Pearson, and Tommy Trautwein to step up and fill the gaps that have been left. After this season of ups and downs, next year’s team has large cleats to fill.
126 total runs
8 game winning streak ]
christian skoedjt, junior ss hank clayman, senior pitcher
.285 batting average .360 batting average 5 stolen bases 13 stolen bases 5 home runs 2 home runs n b o y s t ea .380 obp .490 obp 22 rBI 21 rbi 6-2 4-2 1.66 era 2.25 era 1 no-hitter n u m b e r s 1.35 whip 71 strikeouts 46 strikeouts 59 innings pitched 49.2 innings pitched
david ehman, senior pitcher jack ryan, senior catcher
[ 15-11 overall record
Junior Christian Skoedjt tags out a Riverwood runner at second base.
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sprinting into state Boys Varsity lacrosse team gears up for state playoffs after a record-setting regular season NOAH GRAY, Sports Editor
Junior Justin Westbrook runs past a Cambridge defender during a region game on April 15, 2014. The Titans won by a score of 18 to 3. Westbrook has scored 20 goals throughout the season.
tate championship. The two words that just about every high school athlete has on his mind come May. While a state championship is always the goal, few teams can realistically compete for the title. The Northview Varsity lacrosse boys, however, are not lying when they say a ring is what they are after. State championship. That’s the goal for the Northview’s boys lacrosse team. Coming off an appearance in last year’s state championship game, the team knew it would be returning strong players, and, over the course of the season, it has carried a swagger with it to every game, intimidating opponents before the subsequent beatdown. With this brand of lacrosse, the Titans have notched an impressive regular season record, with 17 wins and 1 loss. The single loss came at the hands of rival Johns Creek on April 22 by a tight score of 14 to 11. While the loss did end any shot the Titans had at an undefeated season, it helped the team regroup for the start of the state playoffs. “I don’t want to say we needed it but it told us we aren’t undefeatable. Nobody likes to lose but we needed the loss kind of. We were getting complacent.” said senior defenseman and captain Connor Segraves. “That loss was pretty devastating,” said head coach Brian Rawlin. “In a lot of ways, there’s nothing you can do to rebound from that. We can even win a state title and Johns Creek will still brag that they were the team that beat us, the only team that beat us, since now that was our only loss going into the playoffs. But as a result of that, we realized that we have to come out focused and ready to play hard and we can’t take anybody for granted, not that we took them for granted. It’s just that we have to play hard every single game.” Although the Titans fell to the rival Gladiators, they have proven their talent and drive in a number of tough games throughout the season, beating Pope, Blessed Trinity, and Lambert in close, hard-fought victories, each with its own ups and downs. The game against Pope proved especially important to the character of the team as the Titans fell behind early 5-2. “It did not look good at all and the team and the personality that developed was perseverance and a never-give-up kind of attitude. I think our team learned resiliency. We have a never say die attitude and the kids believe that they can come back from any deficit,” said Rawlin. Even with all these important wins throughout the course of the season, everyone on the team agrees that the biggest victory of the regular season was against Westminster, a perennial power-house and the team that defeated the Titans in the state championship game last season. “The Westminster game was big. Winning against the team we lost to in the [state championship] game was good to get revenge and prove to everyone that we were better than last year,” said junior Justin Westbrook. “I think when we beat Westminster in the regular season, we got a lot
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of confidence,” added Segraves. “We beat them by one and that’s who we lost to in last year’s championship. It told us we can beat them and, if we meet them again, we’ll be able to.” However, the majority of the games for the team have not been this close or impactful. With an average margin of victory of 10 goals, scoring 15 goals a game while letting in just five, most of the contests have been relatively uneventful, easy wins for the Titans, which has actually been somewhat problematic for the team. “We play a lot of teams that are still developing lacrosse programs so we usually win by a lot,” said Rawlin. “Then every once in a while, we play competitive teams and so we have to remember to bring our best game. It’s been up and down, not so much in our ability, but in our effort because we have to rise to the occasion no matter who we play. So far it’s been a little bit like a roller coaster season based on the talent we’ve been going up against.” Nevertheless, the team has used last year’s success and eventual heartbreaking disappointment to motivate itself, even if some of the competition has been lackluster. “It definitely motivated us throughout the offseason. We really wanted to work hard to get back there. But it’s not enough just to get back there; we want to win,” said Westbrook. Lead by 11 seniors, the team has both the skill and the experience to reach the title game and win it, but the abundance of seniors also means the window is tighter for success in future seasons, underscoring the importance of performing well this year. “I thought last year it was state championship or bust. If we don’t win this year it will be a disappointment. This is our last legitimate chance to win a state championship for a few years,” said Westbrook. On defense, Segraves and fellow senior Jon Robertson have carried the team while senior goalie and captain Connor Redmond has held down the goal while keeping the Titans in games so well that he will continue playing lacrosse in college next year at Salisbury University. On offense, Max Lovingood and Ben Fleck have contributed the majority of the goals, scoring 59 and 51 goals Sophomore Colin Sather carries the ball against respectively, while injured senior captain Andrew Berry and Cambridge. Sather has 12 goals on the season. senior James Potts have provided essential leadership to focus and guide the team. With all these weapons on both sides of the ball, the Titans just seem to have our better players don’t have four quarters of experience so there are a few games this year where they’ve had to play all four quarters and they’re just not used to it more talent than their opponents. “We have unbelievable talent. We’ve got some of the best shooters because sometimes they only play a half and then we let the third and fourth team around. We have a bunch of kids who could be all state and a couple guys come in and play. So really, conditioning is our only adversary at this point. I don’t think another team can beat us; I only think that our conditioning can. We who are All-Americans,” said Rawlin. This mix of athleticism and experience helped the team attain a 17-1 have the skill and talent to win the state championship. We just need to make sure overall record and a perfect, undefeated 10-0 record in their area. The we have the legs for.” Titans now face the next stretch of their title chase as they begin the With this in mind, the Titans must string together four consecutive wins in the state playoffs as the number one seed, putting a target on their back. But, playoffs to attain their championships aspirations, which they are confident about. “We have the attitude that we can and should win. We feel pretty confident like all things this season, they are up to the challenge. Given their record-setting regular season, the team has few weaknesses it must about our ability to win,” said Rawlin. fix before playoffs get underway. However, one area for improvement is condition- “I think we’re going to the championship and we’re going to get a ring,” said Segraves. ing for the Titans, which could be their Achilles’ Heel. “Our weakness is our conditioning since we don’t play teams usually all four State championship. Two little words that have united 30 teammates under one quarters because some of the competition is not that great,” said Rawlin. “Some of common goal.
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A lterations +
3651 Peachtree Parkway No. 3 Suwanne 30024
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stories of hope
a glimpse at the lives of six members of the northview community - their trials and triumphs, fears and desires, pasts and futures
nick brown : 26 lisa matsumura : 30 cavan miller : 32 melissa muench : 34 the nadels : 37 cover story | the messenger | 25
n i ck
brow n Sam Quinn, Editorin-Chief
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he police arrived about two minutes “Some of the firefighters and paramedics that cut him out of the car didn’t have after the accident. That much was any hope that he’d even live,” said Mrs. Brown. “And they were even showing my anticipated, but on that night—the husband a fatality worksheet at the site of the accident.” night of October 19, 1998—it was in Nick entered the emergency room at around 8 p.m. “There were at least eight fact one of very few things of which people waiting for his gurney to get there, so they could start working on him,” said Mrs. Brown. “And there was one person that was assigned to me as the parent, Kevin Brown could be certain. With them came a host of other and at first they took me into the room where they were trying to figure everything emergency responders. Firemen be- out—because his pupil was blown, and there were just a lot of different questions, gan to cut through what was once the and they kept doing CAT scans, and they couldn’t do an MRI yet because you have back window of a silver Honda Civic. to be in the tube for like an hour and a half or so and he was not that stable at all.” Inside was the unconscious body The ER management soon moved Mrs. Brown to the so-called ‘quiet room.’ of three-year-old Nicholas Edward “[They] brought a chaplain, and things—things like that. And that’s where I met Brown. Paramedics stood ready to as- Dr. Hudgins.” Dr. Roger Hudgins was a nationally renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who hapsist with a gurney. Jann Brown, Nick’s mother, had received a hurried phone call a few minutes pened to be at Scottish Rite on the night of the accident. Hudgins was the bridge before. She had been at home, catching up on some work, when she began to realize between the ER team and Mrs. Brown, and one of the sole sources of confidence for a woman beset by tragedy. just how long her husband had been away at the grocery store. “Kevin called me and said, ‘We’ve been in an accident. It’s bad. Nicholas is “Just the posturing of a doctor, to get down like a catcher would while playing baseball, to talk to me—and he was the first one who told me that [Nick had] a traubreathing—can you come?’” said Mrs. Brown. She rushed into the family van and hastened toward the intersection of Medlock matic brain injury,” said Mrs. Brown. “And I didn’t know what that meant.” Bridge road and Parsons road, where she saw the totaled remnants of her husband’s That was the lasting legacy of the accident. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are common in auto accidents like Nick’s, when translational collision forces can bruise Civic and paramedics in the rain crowding around her young son. “‘When I saw him he was just—like asleep. His shoe was off—the impact was the brain and shear ligaments in the brain stem. Nick’s bruising was widespread, and he had sustained severe damage to a ligament which supports the upper vertebral incredible,” said Mrs. Brown. Nick had been positioned on a toddler’s booster chair in the center of the column near the medulla. back seat. The Browns’ vehicle had been hit from the side, so the majority of the The prognosis was so bleak that many of the doctors that had received his collision force was directed laterally, causing Nick’s head to roll and snap violently. gurney were unsure Nick would even survive. If he did manage, they supposed that he would be severely disabled, unable to perform “The heads of little ones are so much bigger even the most basic of tasks—such as chewing and than their bodies, so that’s why it was especially swallowing. impactful on Nick,” said Mrs. Brown. “Kevin was “Kevin called me and For hours, Mr. Brown was unsure whether his bruised, […]—adult-type stuff.” said, ‘We’ve been in son was even alive, having stayed behind to fill out the hospital an accident. It’s bad. police reports. While the police themselves were at last ferrying Mr. Brown to Scottish Rite, Mrs. The rolling of Nick’s head caused severe brain Nicholas is breathing— Brown was faced with the daunting late-night task hemorrhages, which prompted swift action from can you come?’” of breaking the news to family members. the paramedics. While Mr. Brown stayed behind - Jann Brown “[It was] ‘who do I call next, who do I break the at the scene of the accident, Mrs. Brown, having news to—my parents or [Kevin’s] mom’—I had to parked and deserted her van on the side of the think straight. I had to get in touch with our church, road, accompanied the paramedics in the ambulance, during which ride they induced a medical coma to diminish brain swelling. and there were so many things that needed to happen, and the gentleman that was Mrs. Brown had reflexively elected for her son to be treated at Children’s’ Healthcare there for me—that one person that was there, assigned to me—stayed with me the of Atlanta’s Scottish Rite facility, at which she had actually registered her son earlier whole time as I recall, and helped me get the phone numbers and make those calls that week. Scottish Rite was one of the first hospitals in America to induce comas in and just was there right with me.” The doctors were puzzled by the CAT scans. The atmosphere was one of unchild victims of emergency situations. “Now it’s kind of a standard practice,” said Mr. Brown. “And some [doctors] easy confusion. Mrs. Brown was consequently relocated to the ICU waiting room— which would become her home for 11 days and nights—whereupon someone sugdon’t do that, so you have more problems later on.” gested that she page her husband. He, having just arrived at the hospital, was at last None of the emergency responders were optimistic.
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able to reunite with his wife and catch a glimpse of his son, whom he had not seen for several agonizing hours. Nick’s blood pressure plunged the next night, and he once again tottered on the brink of death. The doctors spent nearly three hours stabilizing him while the Browns prayed for the survival of their son. “You’re just in shock when something like that happens, and the shock does not wear off for months,” said Mrs. Brown. “We could go in and visit [Nick] pretty much around the clock, but it was really hard to go in and stay with him because it was just horrific. But we went through it.” rehabilitation After being stabilized, Nick received neck surgery to mend his hyperextended ligaments. He then had to wear a series of medical devices—such as a cervical collar and the much larger, much more intrusive halo device—which further affected his road to recovery. With the prognosis improved after the surgery, Nick had to learn to walk again with the heavy halo device, and then had to relearn it weeks later—after their hospital stay—when the device was finally removed. This rehabilitation was a part of an all-inclusive physical and occupational therapy program Nick received during inpatient treatment. “The therapies he had while there were intensive. He’d have speech therapy for half an hour, then he’d have physical therapy for an hour. They had a Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit (CIRU), and we lived there for a month—at the hospital—as a part of Scottish Rite.”
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Fortunately, Scottish Rite’s pediatric CIRU was one of the best of its kind in the entire country. With the help of its first-rate pediatric therapists, Nick began to make significant, swift progress. As a part of the inpatient rehab program, Nick had to go through swallow studies, in which his radiologists monitored the progress of food and drink as is passed through his body. It was a checkpoint—Nick’s esophagus had to be declared well enough before he could eat again. “Nick was on liquids for about a month. It was a good day when he passed swallow studies. The therapist said, ‘OK, he can eat again! Do you want vanilla ice cream? Chocolate ice cream? Strawberry?’ He wanted to enjoy all of life again.” Nick later tore through what was supposed to be another three-month program in a mere three days, proving that he was more than ready for outpatient care. After six long weeks in the hospital, Nick finally returned home in December of 1998. In the time between his return from the hospital and starting kindergarten two years later, Nick underwent a series of daily occupational therapies aiming to restore his speech and improve his physical and mental condition. When he entered the public school system, his speech therapies were supplanted by those of Fulton County Schools, and he spent time in programs at Medlock Bridge Elementary School, Wilson Creek Elementary School, and River Trail Middle School, as well as, presently, Northview. a new diagnosis On October 12, 2000, only a week from the two-year anniversary of the accident, tragedy once again marred Nick’s life. Doctors diagnosed him with type 1 diabetes, and theorized that it was not a coincidence. Two years is the traditional time it takes for the pancreas to destroy most of its insulin-producing islet cells, and Nick’s doctors believed that his TBI was the impelling force in that self-imposed destruction. Lacking the ability to produce insulin on his own, Nick’s life was suddenly transformed by the presence of a diabetic insulin regimen, consisting of five shots every day. For a kindergartner, this was an intimidating change, but Nick managed, in part because of the efforts of the Medlock Bridge clinic staff. Sharon Bradford and Jean Apps ran the Medlock Bridge clinic, and they worked closely with Nick to manage his daily routine and sugar intake. Over time, Nick accrued a growing measure of autonomy, which was facilitated by his first-grade adoption of an insulin pump—a continuous, variable source of sustained insulin that acts much like an external pancreas—instead of the five-time daily shots which he had endured for the past year. “With managing needles and syringes, I’m still—iffy with that,” said Nick. However, Nick can himself carry out the majority of the required infusions and measurements, as well as the compulsory blood checks he performs five to eight times a day. With the presence of such a routine, Nick formed an iron bond with Bradford and Apps. “We had a sticker chart—whenever he came in he’d get a sticker. And Ms. Bradford and I—we kept that sticker chart for years. [Nick was] well into middle school by the time we finally got the courage to take it down,” said Apps. “I think he just touches so many lives he comes in contact with.” Nick’s first grade teacher, Ms. Gerri Dvoskin, was another adult with whom Apps’ words ring true. While Nick struggled with onset diabetes and mental challenges born of the TBI, he was unwilling to give up, and neither was Dvoskin. “She was a godsend to our family,” said Mrs. Brown. “In fact, through her class and her additional tutoring, she is who taught Nick how to read. He still attributes his success in that arena to Ms. Dvoskin.” Dvoskin’s brother had diabetes, and her time mentoring the diabetic Nick had a profound influence on her relationship with her sibling. When Nick was redistricted to Wilson Creek in 2004, Dvoskin followed, so Nick as well as his brother Luke enjoyed seeing her for the remainder of their time in elementary school. Bradford and Apps, too, crossed paths with an older Nick. When Nick reached Northview in 2009, Bradford was managing the clinic. Bradford eventually moved back to Medlock Bridge and Apps took a part-time job in the Northview clinic. It is Apps who now aids Nick with the management of his diabetes.
“He doesn’t complain, so his blood sugar might be low or it might be high which is rare,” said Apps. “He’s usually in a good range, but he won’t complain. I’ll say, ‘So, what was your blood sugar this morning?’—66 or something like that. Or even at lunch, he’ll say 296, and I’ll ask ‘How are you feeling?’ A lot of people might feel headachy or shaky or just kinda out of sorts, but he never complains … [He’s] always just so pleasant, so easy to deal with, which has really made the struggles in his life seem so much smaller. You’d never think he was struggling.” a displaced family On June 12, 2007, while Nick was in middle school, the family once again met the cold face of tragedy. “We were out to eat—we were actually going to pick up a new grill we bought … It turns out they didn’t have the grill, so … we decided to go out to eat,” said Nick. “We were on our way home, and we noticed our house was on fire, with smoke billowing out the top, so my parents ran into the house, and their thoughts were ‘get the insulin, get my infusions.’” “That’s all we saved,” said Mrs. Brown. Nick and Luke were told to stay in the car. They could merely watch as the conflagration consumed the entire upper floor of their Glenhurst home and damaged much of the rest. With their home ruined, the Browns looked to the community for a temporary residence. Thanks to the creative thinking of a woman named Peggy Kilfeather, the Browns found repose in the model home of the Aylesbury Farms apartment complex. They lived there for 5 months before their Glenhurst home could be fully rebuilt.
Rather spontaneously, Nick decided of his own volition to take up running every morning. It melds with his daily routine. “I wake up at 6:40, and I get ready, then I go downstairs and check my blood. Then I eat breakfast and figure out how many carbs I’ve got and deliver insulin,” said Nick. He then leaves for school and arrives ready to run at around 7:45 every day, at which point he makes several laps around the building proper. Nick’s rationale for running in the mornings might seem mundane at face value. “Running kind of gave me something to do,” said Nick, but as his mother explained, it represents more than just everyday exercise. “It was one of all the things that [he wasn’t] supposed to be able to do after the accident,” said Mrs. Brown. Many of Nick’s doctors were in agreement that he’d have the utmost difficulty performing even the most basic of tasks—such as chewing, swallowing, and walking—that there was simply no way he’d ever again be able to master the complex system of synchronous movements involved in running. “It’s a victory for me to be able to run,” said Nick. As an unintended but serendipitous sideeffect, Nick’s running has had far-reaching consequences in his management of diabetes. Running has helped Nick’s body keep his unstable blood sugar levels within an acceptable range. “It’s all over the place, no matter what you do, but it just helps manage it better,” said Mrs. Brown.
it's a victory f o r me t o be a b le t o run.
northview and beyond Born of the inferno and Nick’s family’s absence was his burgeoning love for—of all things—skits, which he used to express his thoughts in a creative way. In that atmosphere of despair, Nick made a habit of constructing short skits to the elation of his brother and family. “[In the skits], [the characters] finally realize they just wanted to be needed—or whatever,” said Nick. “But I enjoyed it because it made [Luke] laugh, and I enjoy hearing him laugh.” From this came a passion for theater. Nick’s TBI prevented him from acting, but he rather liked the idea of designing a set, and therefore resolved to take Technical Theatre while in high school. “I like the environment there,” said Nick, who moreover enjoys Paul McClain as a drama teacher. “He’s just a good teacher. Everybody likes him. He’ll kind of light up the room when he walks in.” While he’s partial to theater, Nick has set no definitive goals for himself outside of high school. Because he and his family opted for Northview’s five year plan—meaning Nick is now in his second year as a senior—Nick has had more time over which to spread an academic workload and prepare himself for college, attending which was always an intense desire. To this end, Nick prepared for the ACT COMPASS exam, which would determine his readiness for college. He took the exam in March and passed all three components—math, verbal, and writing. Because of this success, Nick will attend Georgia Gwinnett College in the coming fall. “I really don’t know what I want to study yet, I just kind of like the atmosphere there, so I was planning on taking a few classes and seeing what I like and what I find interesting.” Looking toward the future—toward graduation and the college lifestyle—has afforded Nick the opportunity to reflect on what he’s done in high school.
Nick has not forgotten his circumstances— where he came from, so to speak. Everything from his mannerisms to his fashion sense reflect his personality. He often wears shirts that convey a Christian message. “I’ve got a whole collection of Christian shirts. I wear them around school, and it’s a sideline preaching kind of thing,” said Nick. “It’s kind of like my ministry.” To complement these, he wears fingerless gloves, not only because he finds them interesting but also because they help diminish the pathological risk to his immune system posed by type 1 diabetes. But Nick was never one for phases or trends. “[He was] born older. [He’s] never had a time when [he’s] revolted against us. [He’s] kind of our own age level,” said Mr. Brown. Notwithstanding this fact, Mrs. Brown, after witnessing her son grow through five years of high school, has begun to understand what it means to be the parent of a young adult with special needs. “High school is a time when you’re trying to get your kid ready to fly out on their own, and I think the trickiest part of that is that you’ve got to know how much to be an advocate for your kid. You have to be an advocate—nobody else is going to do it for you,” said Mrs. Brown. “So you have to appropriately back off from that, and let them become who they’re meant to be, let them advocate for themselves. … I think every parent of a child who has special needs—they have their own journey. But for ours, it seems like God’s been with us all through it. We’ve made the best decisions we could. Nick’s an exceptional young man—he happens to be ours—but he’s a gift. And it’s neat to come to this point where he’s had his last IEP meeting, getting ready to graduate, and to see how he’s taken things on his own, like the insulin infusions and all that kind of stuff. There’s a lot of things he’s taken up on his own, and I think giving him wings is the most important thing we can do as parents.” Despite all his trials, Nick weathers things with calm demeanor, always. “You deal with things as they come. Take things day by day. Pick up where you left off, pretty much.” “He just perseveres,” said Apps. “That’s a good word,” said Mrs. Brown. “Perseveres.”
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matsumura rachel williams, opinions editor
hen senior Lisa Matsumura was seven years old, she was completely unresponsive for four hours. “I was extremely lucky that I didn’t drown because [I was in] the tub with water to my chest area…My nurses and doctors told my parents that it was a miracle that I survived,” she said of the incident. After the episode, Matsumura went through several MRIs and CT scans and was eventually diagnosed with a brain mass attached to the left hemisphere of her brain, near the hippocampus. The mass began to seriously affect her when she reached middle school.
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“During middle school was when I started having really bad symptoms. I lost vision in my right eye and half of my left eye, and that grew over the years. At first it began with half of my right eye and I would just randomly lose my vision, it would just come out of nowhere, and it totally regressed to the point where I couldn’t see out of my right eye and half of my left eye,” she said. Matsumura also suffered from severe headaches and migraines in addition to her vision-loss episodes, and the effects of these reached the point where simply moving her body caused her serious pain. Before her freshman year at Northview, she started visiting the hospital more often and receiving more tests to check any changes in the mass. Her diagnosis changed from brain mass to brain tumor in May of her junior year. “I was shocked, but I wasn’t, like, crying and all of that. It was almost like a relief that they finally figured out what it was, that they diagnosed it more than just a mass
in my brain. It was definitely hard because it’s never easy to hear that kind of stuff,” being around all that many people at once. I hadn’t talked to people in two months, she said. “I was more worried for my parents and my sister, because I didn’t want so it was scary but just seeing everyone asking how I was doing and really comforting me gave me hope that I wasn’t going through them to go through all of the hospital stuff, but it this alone. There were people that were rooting for was just a lot on me when I thought about college me to come back to school. It was scary at first, and school and sports and being able to do all the but now that I’m back it’s a good feeling,” she said. things that I usually do.” With help from her friends, Matsumura Matsumura’s doctors classified the tumor as was able to assimilate back into school easily; a low-grade glioma. Tumors of this classification she was even elected Prom Queen by the memare often benign, like the one that Matsumura had. bers of the senior class. Though it was not cancerous, Matsumura’s tumor Brian Rawlin, a teacher Matsumura forged still made her sacrifice several activities. a close bond with during her high school ca “For my senior year, I had to give up volleyreer, believed that Matsumura easily transiball, swimming, diving, and track. I’d done all tioned back into school. of these things all three years [of high school], “I don’t even know if it was a transition and some of them I did in middle school, so it because it was so smooth… there wasn’t really was really hard having to completely cut off all much of a transition necessary because she’s of these sports,” she said. an outgoing, caring, nice, spontaneous person Matsumura’s sister Ayaka, a student at the Uniwho people like and that wasn’t any different versity of Georgia, stayed with her through her diwhen she came back,” he said. agnosis and operation. Matsumura has had some side effects to the “I couldn’t believe the lively teenager I surgery: she is in speech therapy, has lost vision called my sister had a low grade glioma. A brain in half of both eyes, and has some trouble with cancer of all cancers. I had faith that she would memory. Despite these effects, she still has a be fine, that she would be stronger because of positive outlook on her experience. this experience,” Ayaka said. “I find this entire journey a blessing in dis Matsumura underwent surgery in November guise,” she said. “I’ve learned that life isn’t just 2013, just two days after her eighteenth birthday. given to you. It’s a blessing in all different perShe was in the operating room for seven hours, spectives. I shouldn’t be alive; there must be a from 8:40 AM until 5:30 PM. She stayed at the reason why my life wasn’t taken away from me hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, for anwhen I was taking that bath.” other week following her surgery, during which her Ayaka believes that this experience has helped friends and family visited her. her sister more than hindered her and has given her “It made me anxious because for the first few an opportunity for the future. nights she was in the Intensive Care Unit. She was “It’s given her motivation and confidence that always so excited to see me for some reason and it she can achieve what she puts her mind to. Instead made me really happy that seeing a person could of feeling sorry for herself, she constantly uplifts bring her so much joy when she just went through people and uses her story to help others. This a major surgery…her vivacity never ceases to experience will definitely be part of the beautiful amaze me,” Ayaka said. woman she’s becoming,” she said. While she was in the hospital, Matsumura Matsumura plans to use this experience with found motivation in her fellow patients. one of her favorite activities: volunteering. She “I just saw so many little kids having the same plans to become more involved at Children’s diagnosis, the same thing or maybe even worse. Healthcare of Atlanta and help younger patients The fact that I’m 18 and I got my brain tumor rethrough the same problems she had. moved, but there are people who are 5 or 6 and “When you go through something like this, seeing them go through what I went through at you can’t use it as an excuse for people to pity you. their young age made me realize that life in general I don’t want to use it to a point where people are is very fragile, and it made me realize that if they Above: Matsumura’s tumor was classified as a feeling sorry for me, but I want to use it to show can make it through then I can too,” she said. benign low grade glioma, which is a slow-growing that even [with] big things like this, you can get The surgery removed as much of the brain cancer of the glial cells. She received her diagnosis tumor as possible, but some of the tumor had toward the end of her junior year, and had the tumor through it, and it shouldn’t affect you that much as long as you have faith,” she said. to remain in Matsumura’s brain or she would removed last November in a seven-hour surgery. Though she still has some tests to go through have lost all ability to walk, talk, and memorize. After her week in the hospital, Matsumura was house-bound for two months. before she can be declared completely safe and healthy, Matsumura wishes to use “It was pretty much just sleeping, medicine, making sure I ate a lot. When I was her knowledge to help others. in the hospital I completely lost my appetite, so when I got home I had to slowly “The people who surround me every day mean more to me than I can put into words because they allow me to be thankful for my life. I don’t ask a lot, start eating again,” she said. Matsumura returned to finish her senior year at Northview after winter break. but if there’s one thing I could ever ask of from those who are reading this is to realize how fragile your life and the lives of those around you are,” she said. Returning to school for her was difficult, but rewarding. “The first week [back] was the scariest thing I’ve ever gone through; it was scary “Strength through difficulties.”
The fact That [... ] there are people who are 5 or 6 and seeing them go through what I went through at their young age made me realize that life in general is very fragile, and [ ...] that if they can make it through then I can too.
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miller nancy coleman, managing editor
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avan Miller was three years old when his parents first discovered something unusual. “For the first eight years of my life, we had no idea what I had. My parents noticed something was different when I was three because I ran weird. It was sort of a gallop, almost. So they took me to a few specialists and got me checked out in a bunch of different places and no one had any idea what was going on,” said Miller, a senior at Northview. Doctors continued to test Miller with little results. “At one point, this led to the most excruciatingly painful thing that has ever happened to me. That is, there is a test called an EMG [Electromyogram] where they stick needles in your muscles and then zap electricity through the needles to see what kind of reaction your muscles have...and interestingly enough, my reaction was pain,” Miller said. “So that test was inconclusive.” After years of searching, Miller and his family finally found the answer. They visited a specialist at Johns Hopkins who happened to be a leading expert on Miller’s disability: Spinal Muscular Atrophy, type three. SMA is a genetic disorder that weakens voluntary muscles in the arms and legs. Types one and two affect infants and children, and type three can be seen in children anywhere from three to 17 years old. An abnormal or missing survival motor neuron gene 1 (SMN1) causes SMA. This neuron produces vital proteins for other motor neurons, so when production of this protein is insufficient, the motor neurons in the spinal cord begin to degenerate and do not function properly. This results in weak arm and leg muscles, which makes walking and other physical actions difficult. For Miller, his symptoms have grown progressively worse over time. While he can still walk for short periods of time with a cane, he now has a motorized wheelchair that he started using his sophomore year to help him. “It’s been pretty rapid in terms of my growing inability to do physical things. Like, I was able to stand up from the floor by myself until not too long ago. It hasn’t really been that big of an adjustment for me because my stamina has always been low and my interests have always been pretty sedentary ones, so the only real adjustment is that now I have a rolly chair all the time, always, and none of you do,” said Miller.
Despite his handicap, Miller is still an active participant in the theater program at Northview. Most recently, he worked as a waiter in the dessert theatre show Till Death Do Us Part in May and played Mr. Welch in the March musical Damn Yankees. In December, he starred as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Miller is also an avid member of Improv Club; he acted in January’s Theatre Sports IX. “I love making people laugh,” Miller said. “That’s like my favorite thing to do in general, so I get to do that all the time to tons of people.” For the most part, Miller’s acting work is unaffected by his disability. During some shows, he utilizes his cane or wheelchair to help him move around the stage; his character in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying last year stayed in a wheelchair and he used a cane in Damn Yankees. “I can’t take parts that I would be able to otherwise--anything that involves falling on stage has to be either written around or I just cant do that part,” said Miller. “In general though, my biggest problem is probably that by the time the show is over I am so exhausted that it is hard to walk out and greet everybody outside of the theater, which is one of my favorite parts of the whole thing. So that’s kind of a bummer. Other than that though, I pretty much just try to use a cane whenever I can on stage and if I can’t...well, it’s a lot of practice. So we can work around whatever problems I have usually.” Miller started doing theater when he was in seventh grade at the Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Conservatory. His best friend and fellow Northview senior Griffin Wilkens invited him to be in an improv program with him there, and they have been acting together ever since. “To have the knowledge that I put Cavan on the track towards superstardom via the theater makes me feel good, right in the heart,” Wilkens said jokingly. Miller and Wilkens plan on attending GCSU in the fall together. Miller hopes to continue acting in college and to explore other sides of entertainment. “I might do creative writing, I might do theater. I might double major. Honestly, I love to write because I like to make things that are funny and that’s one of the ways to do that and, as we have previously discussed, I love doing theater, so it’s pretty much a no-brainer. I’m hoping to get a career just in the entertainment industry somewhere,” Miller said. Miller is self-motivated—or, rather, motivated by the desire to be awesome. “Some days I wake up, and I’m like ‘ugh, I can’t possibly be any more awesome. What am I doing with my life? Trying to improve on perfection?’ And then I’ll like trip over my own feet and fall against a wall with my face at a 90-degree angle, and I’ll have to call for my mom to help me up, and I’ll say, ‘never mind. Still got stuff to work on.’”
The only real adjustment is that now I have a rolly chair all the time, always, and none of you do.
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muench noah gray, sports editor
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tatistics and probabilities don’t seem to apply much to Northview sophomore Melissa Muench. Not only is Melissa an identical twin, which comprises only about 0.35% of the U.S. population, but ever since age 9, she has lived with type I diabetes, an even rarer occurrence for children under the age of 20. Sure, everyone is unique, but this timeless adage proves especially applicable to Melissa. And that’s just one side to the obstacleriddled, yet inspirational life Me-
lissa leads every day. To most kids who walk by Melissa in the halls, these things aren’t immediately noticeable. She’s soft spoken and rather unassuming (like most teenagers tend to be) and most of her interests are relatively standard. However, anyone who talks to Melissa for just a few short minutes can easily gain insight into her less than ordinary life. Born on April 14, 1998, Melissa’s life immediately began in unique circumstances as she was born just minutes before her identical twin sister, Lexa. Technically that makes Melissa the big sister, but their relationship defies any preconceived notions about what being a big sister should or shouldn’t be. The two are each other’s best friends, role models, and influences. “She’s always there for me and she’s like my other half,” said Lexa when describing Melissa. “We have the best relationship ever. Every time one of us needs something, we go to each other and that’s the first person we talk to. It’s awesome because we always have each other’s backs and no matter what, we’re always there for each other.” As if some sort of twin telepathy was involved, Melissa echoed Lexa’s thoughts about their relationship. “It’s really helpful because whenever we’re doing something, you always have somebody that will back you up. If you get in a fight with one of your friends, they might not back you up, but your sister, like no matter how mad you are, you’re gonna back her up. That’s just the way it is,” said Melissa. Along with their two older brothers Jim and Kevin, the Muench family has been united for over 16 years over a love for each other and a passion for sports. “They were around sports with their brothers,” said their father, Randy Muench. “Melissa and Lexa have been naturally athletic since the day they were born. They could play catch when they were three and a half with their brothers and me. They’ve always just been naturally athletic.” Since this initial interest in sports began for Melissa and Lexa, it has developed into a devotion that consumes the majority of their free time and their interest, as both have competed on the same club and school softball and basketball teams since
elementary school. While both girls may share the same interests, team colors, and even DNA, there is one cross that Melissa has to bare that no one in her family, not even her sister, will ever have to know and that few children throughout the country must face. Ever since she was nine years old, Melissa has had to deal with the daily difficulties and long-term obstacles that living with type I diabetes presents. Type I diabetes, which comprises only about 5-10% of all people with diabetes, is an unpreventable illness that occurs when the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, which is needed to absorb sugar to create energy for a person. Often times, the condition can remain dormant in patients and go unnoticed, even if symptoms might be present. That’s what happened to Melissa until July 10, 2007. July 10. That’s the day her life would forever change. Like Melissa herself, the day began rather unassumingly, like any other. Melissa was at home while Lexa was at the mall, when Melissa began to feel some discomfort. “My head was really hurting and I was shaking and signs of low blood sugar are when you shake and you get confused a lot. I was feeling low and I just decided to drink a bottle of Coke and my blood sugar went back to normal and I just felt completely fine,” said Melissa. “Like one second I was feeling awful and then I drink a Coke and now I’m fine. My parents took me to the doctor and the doctor ran these tests and they figured out I had type I.” The news came as a complete shock to the Muench family and Melissa, who before this had never experienced any signs of diabetes. “Oh my gosh, It was awful. I remember just crying because you’re a little girl and you figure out that you’re going to have to take shots for the rest of your life. That’s pretty upsetting. It was the fear of the shots and how people were going to treat me because I don’t want to be treated differently just because I have a condition that can’t be cured yet,” said Melissa recalling her diagnosis. Her sister Lexa shared similar feelings recounting that life-changing day. “I was shocked; that couldn’t happen to my sister. If that happens to her, it can happen to anyone. I thought it was going to be over soon, but it just doesn’t go away,” said Lexa. Although both girls were just nine years old and had little knowledge about the severity of the situation, they could sense the tension in the family and would soon learn just what it meant to have type I diabetes. In one of the most intimate moments the family has ever experienced, the Muenches gathered around the kitchen table to discuss the diagnosis, the disease, and how to move forward. “We actually all sat around the kitchen table and every one of us took a shot to see what it was like and we did it together,” said Randy Muench. “We knew she was going have to take all these and she was taking 10 a day, or whatever it was. We had a nurse bring over a little thing of saline and everybody had to take one. It was really interesting because nobody wants to, of course, but in our effort to know what Melissa was going through, I said to everybody else ‘We just gotta do this and show her that we can all do it too.’ She doesn’t really know what’s really going on but we all had to show her, so everybody did and it’s not pleasant. We only had to do it once.
Since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve noticed everyone expects me to give up and [...] no, I’m not.
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She’s done it 10,000 times.” This was the first opportunity the family had to truly understand what life would be like for Melissa going forward, even if it was just for a moment. Since then, the family has had other opportunities to experience first-hand the difficulties of diabetes. Melissa has introduced them to an app that sends text messages every time a diabetic person must test their blood sugar, which gives insight to the obstacle-ridden life of a diabetic that consists of micromanaging one’s body, counting carbs, testing blood sugar, and regulating meals. “That’s what she has to go through and she wants me to know what it’s like,” said Lexa. And the physical challenges are only half the battle that Melissa must face. The other is the social struggle, fighting stigmas people have towards diabetes. “People don’t really know about type I. They know about type II so they always make assumptions that I don’t eat healthy or something.” said Melissa. “You’re born with type I and you get type II by eating bad. Type I’s are the healthiest people. They’re complete opposites but they have the same name which makes it really difficult.” Melissa has experienced bullying on multiple occasions due to her condition, but her younger sister is usually there to protect her. “Every day, she has to test and everyone’s always looking at her, wondering what it is. It makes her really self-conscious and if someone she doesn’t know is staring at her, I kind of push them away and tell them please don’t stare, you’re making her unconformable,” said Lexa. “She really appreciates that. I want her to feel like a regular person, not like she’s different. She is different but I don’t want her to feel like that.” Even with all the obstacles she faces, Melissa refused to give up playing softball, which she began playing competitively only a year or so before her diagnosis. “It seems like, since I was diagnosed, I’ve noticed everyone expects me to give up and I’m like ‘No, I’m not.’ Usually for Type I’s, when you get diagnosed you just want to push through all that and show everyone that you can do everything and that you are normal, that you just have to test your blood sugar,” she said. Since, she has continued playing softball and even picked up basketball while in sixth grade, driven by a love of sports and an unrivaled competitiveness, something her sister, parents, and coaches all mentioned when asked to describe what motivates Melissa. And when she came to Northview last year, Melissa expected nothing but success, immediately making an impression on the coaching staff of both the softball and basketball teams, making both Varsity teams as a freshman. And of course, like everything else in her life, Melissa was accompanied by her twin sister. Both have been dual Varsity teammates for the last two years and will likely continue the trend for the rest of their high school years. While she enjoys playing with her sister and the rest of her teammates at Northview, Melissa faces struggles on the baseball diamond and the basketball court that other athletes don’t have to deal with because of her diabetes. Often subject to mood swings, lack of energy, and confusion, Melissa’s life as an athlete is especially taxing as she plays catcher and pitcher in softball and guard in basketball, positions that require a special balance between poise and enthusiasm. But she hasn’t let that get in her way. “I know that I have some limitations just because that’s the reality of it. But I’m always going to try my best and keep going,” she said. In addition to being a member of both Varsity teams, feats in their own right, Melissa was named an All-Region honoree and MVP for softball this past season while continuing to be a leading contributor to the basketball team, earning all-tournament honors in the West Forsyth Wolverine Christmas Classic tournament, as well as being a leader in the classroom. “She wants to show other people that she is normal and that she can do what everybody else can. She performs well and this has just made her stronger. She loves to win,” added Lexa, who was named Offensive MVP for this past softball season. Like most athletes, sports continue to provide the Muenches with
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a way to learn, enjoy, and grow, which has been especially important for Melissa, helping her overcome her illness. “Sports teach you that if you want to get better at something, you got to practice. Hope is not a strategy,” said Randy. “You have to work at it on a Tuesday in February when nobody’s watching so that you can be successful against Creekview in September. That’s what they both do and that’s what makes us so proud of them.” Muench is referring to a game Northview played last softball season against Creekview, who finished fourth in the entire state of Georgia by season’s end. Dealing with her usual struggles caused by diabetes, Melissa pitched eight innings, hit a double and a triple while driving in three runs, and lead her team to a memorable victory. “That was because of the work she had done for five years—diabetes or not. Everything she did contributed to that day and that’s what she likes about sports and that’s what we like about sports. You go out there and fight everyday so you can have a couple of those moments,” said Randy. For Melissa, a twin sister and dual Varsity athlete, diabetes has provided her with another, albeit difficult, aspect that makes her unique and she’s used it as a way to grow. “I think that she knows more than most people at this young age, that not everything that happens to you is good. It’s just the randomness of this world. But she’s also proven that you can try to make it better and hopefully that’s what she’ll continue to do,” said Randy Muench. “I would love to not have Type 1 diabetes, but it has definitely made me a stronger person. It makes me learn how to cope with different obstacles in my life,” added Melissa. “Before Type 1, I was scared and didn’t know it was coming. But now, it really has made me a stronger person.”
Muench goes up for a layup in a game against Osborne on January 10., 2014. Muench led the team in 3-point percentage at 45%.
na dels marri kang, features editor
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T hey met at a wheelchair tennis tournament in 1993. Sonia Nadel’s friend had brought her along to watch competitive tennis matches and was later introduced to one of the players, Marc Nadel. She started to take lessons from him and, after 3 years, they married each other. Before such a fortunate event could occur, however, both of the Nadels had to overcome obstacles of their own. Sonia Nadel was injured at 13 years old. It started when she accepted a ride home one evening with her friends. Unfortunately, the driver had been drinking that evening. “We were in a car on the way home one evening and the car flipped and we were thrown from the car,” she said. Of the four people in the car at the time, three were thrown out and one remained in the vehicle. Unfortunately, the driver was killed while the other two passengers came out of the accident without any permanent injuries. Nadel, however, sustained a spinal cord injury which resulted in her paralysis. On the other hand, Marc Nadel was a junior in college at Georgia Southern when he was injured. He was with his then current girlfriend and about six other people when it occurred. “[Her] ex-boyfriend flipped out one day at nineteen and came into the room – started shooting,” he said. The assailant shot at Nadel and his girlfriend before turning the gun on himself. Although his girlfriend recovered, the bullet tumbled and perforated Marc Nadel’s spine, causing permanent damage to the spinal cord. Despite the life-changing nature of these events, the Nadels learned how to step up and overcome them. “The years following – I would say anywhere from two to five years – are an adjustment period to an accident like that,” said Sonia Nadel. “And then, at some point, people choose to either get on with their lives or to stay stuck in a situation that maybe is not as productive for them.” Marc Nadel held a similar viewpoint on the subject. “But that first year is like going through an identity crisis; trying to figure out who you are as you kind of see who you were and then, when you come to the grips that you can’t change your physical condition, you either move on or you get stuck in a rut,” he said. “You either learn to hit the curveball or take a seat on the bench.” Although both came to terms with their conditions after they occurred, there were other obstacles that they had to face together such as the arrival of their twin children Sam and Emily Nadel. “There was definitely apprehension on my part before they were born, thinking about the logistics of ‘oh how am I going to do this’, but
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when they got here, it just made sense what to do,” said Sonia Nadel. From that point on, she began to find ways around issues such as picking up the children from the floor through basic problem solving and changing the way she approached things. “I think they’ve adjusted to us just as much as we’ve adjusted to them,” said Marc Nadel. And the Nadels are as well-adjusted as they come. “I just take it as something that’s normal. It doesn’t seem different to me,” said Emily Nadel in regards to her parents’ disabilities. Both Sonia and Mark Nadel cite the community of Johns Creek as one of the reasons that their children adapted so quickly. They were drawn to the area as it was more progressive and had other families with goals similar to theirs. Yet, despite the how community has accepted them in Georgia, other areas are not as tolerant. “When we go home to Sonia’s hometown, it’s a small town, it’s not progressive enough. The first thing they say when they see me with her is, ‘you guys in a race?’” said Marc Nadel. Despite issues such as these, the Nadels still find hope in the way that society has started to approach people with disabilities. Marc Nadel recalled how this attitude appeared around his workplace.
“I remember when [Sonia and the kids] used to come to the office in a Volvo Wagon and she would load both kids into the car and herself into the car and people were like, ‘how did she do all that?’” he said. His wife commented on this shift in mindsets. “I think we live in a society – especially within the past 10 to 15 years – that has dramatically changed in terms of the outlook of people with disabilities and making it a more inclusive society for people to be in the work force and have families and…play recreational sports or competitive sports. I hope we live in a different world than we did 15 to 20 years ago when it comes to people with disabilities, for sure,” she said. After having overcome their own disabilities, Sonia and Mark Nadel consider self-motivation a vital aspect of coming to terms with disabilities and adjusting back into normal life. “Use your resources. There are a lot of resources in a city this size, even in the suburbs around the city. It’s still a very progressive area with a lot of untapped resources and a lot of people with a lot of knowledge and not to limit themselves to not finding the answers [when you have questions]. Don’t sit around and choose not to find out,” she said. Her husband also had similar advice to offer to those going through a similar situation.
“You’ve got to have the motivation to do it yourself. Otherwise, I’ve seen other people who are in our position who basically let other people do everything for them…and it just gets down to your personality,” he said. “What do you want to do? You want to be independent or have someone to help you out all the time. And, you know, sometimes we do need help. The kids are a help when we need [things out of our reach], but for the most part, it’s pretty normalized.” As for the future, Sonia Nadel has a hopeful outlook on how society is changing. “For the most part, people that I meet on a day to day basis are not stand offish and I think that is a reflection of what’s to come in the future, with the way that people are more accepting and willing to see the person and not the chair. Those are critical things with other people with disabilities or disabilities to come to be able to have successful lives…for the rest of the people around them to look and see the person and not a disability,” she said. And this issue of seeing beyond the wheelchair is an important one to her husband as well. “Focus on the individual, not the chair,” he said. “One of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten was ‘you look so darn normal.’”
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That’s not retarded The outdated “r-word” no longer contributes anything beneficial to society; it must be eliminated
ANDREW TEODORESCU, Staff Writer
n March 3, 2014, the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign celebrated its fifth annual National Awareness Day. Since creating the “R-Word Pledge” in 2009, a movement to end all use of the word “retarded” in America, the campaign has actively worked towards eliminating the use of the “r-word” in America. While it does not deal with a major political or economic issue, the campaign addresses an even greater one: social exclusion. The word “retarded,” used as a synonym for “stupid” in colloquial language, is not like other derogative remarks like “idiot” or “moron.” It has an affected audience—whether they are intentionally targeted or not. The words “idiot” and “moron” are arbitrary and do not create an immediate mental picture. However, the word “retard” does tend to create a mental image of a person with Down syndrome or other similar intellectual disabilities. Due to its unfair interchangeability with “stupid” and words of a demeaning nature, the word “retard” has been tossed into the cultural melting pot of popular words in America. As with all derogative terms, the use of the word “retard” lowers the perceived status of those with the condition—in this case, the intellectually disabled. It has a unique sting that perpetuates exclusion. Nobody wants to be called a retard. Nobody. With the casual, colloquial use of the word in today’s society, uninformed people can begin to believe that the intellectually disabled are truly of lesser worth than “normal” people. The vicious cycle of the spread and use of the word “retard” has led to the intellectually disabled being viewed as different, unfortunate, and unwanted by many Americans. John Franklin Stephens, an American man with Down syndrome once wrote in the Denver Post, “The hardest thing about having an intellectual disability is the loneliness…We are aware when all the rest of you stop and just look at us…It means the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you want to be…We are someone that is not your kind.”
In the past few decades, Americans have significantly tightened up on the use of slurs targeted at specific races, sexes, or sexual orientation. In today’s world, it is safe to say that most Americans have low tolerance for slang aimed at minority groups. However, the same can unfortunately not be said for the use of the word “retarded.” The toleration of mocking serious disabilities in our progressive era is explainable. The affected community is significantly smaller than other minority groups; according to the CDC, less than three percent of Americans have an intellectual disability. Another explanation is that, unlike the LGBT community, people with intellectual disabilities do not have any serious, concrete issues to protest against—their rights are not necessarily limited. Movements such as the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign are often the only movements that call for cultural change on a scale that would benefit the social acceptance of the intellectually disabled. One may argue that is in the spirit of America to have the freedom of speech. Having the ability to express oneself freely, even with the most offensive of words, without penalty, is undoubtedly an American concept. However, inclusion and opportunity are perhaps even stronger American ideals. Offensive slurs and slangs must be eliminated in order to include everyone in American society. Without inclusion, the opportunities to interact with other Americans politically, economically, socially, intellectually, and artistically are arguably dulled down. Even in clinical terminology, the word “retarded” is outdated. Rosa’s Law, passed by Congress in 2010, officially replaced “retarded” with “intellectual disabled.” Considering that it is incorrect when used clinically and destructive when used socially, the word “retarded” has no productive use in America anymore. Whether used with cruel intentions or with good intentions, it subordinates the intellectually disabled. The good news is that it is easily replaceable. Using the words “stupid,” “dumb,” “idiotic,” or “moronic” is not exactly ideal, but it sure is better than the alternative.
dumb. ludicrous. ignorant. stupid. irresponsible. unintelligent. crazy. moronic. careless. nonsensical. idiotic. childish. irrational. ridiculous. brainless. pointless. illogical. unnecessary. dull. foolish. 40 | opinions
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FACE off: Opinions
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is sat prep before high school okay? NO: Childhood should be spent doing enriching activities, not SAT prep. NOAH GRAY, Sports Editor
ating at Panera the other day, I happened to glance up mid-bite and noticed something that was truly frightening. I noticed a kid, about 4 and a half feet tall and no older than 12 years, being prepped for the SAT. The SAT that is nearly 5 years away. Seriously? Don’t get me wrong, the SAT is an important aspect of the college admissions process which is supposed to set our lives up for success, but the test has become so overblown recently that it has acquired more folklore qualities than real qualities. Rumors exist about how to cheat the system, achieve a perfect 2400, and ride off into the sunset. However, the SAT is just one aspect of college admissions, which some people seem to forget. Along with grades, course rigor, extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendations, the SAT is just one slice of the pie that must be met to achieve college admission. So, inherently the SAT carries at most about 15 percent of the weight into the college admissions process, and even this is misleading. Schools value four years of hard work, dedication, and leaving a legacy way more than performing well on four hours on a Saturday morning that may or may not reflect a person’s intelligence. The fact that the SAT faces declining participation, losing test takers to the rival ACT and has been forced to make sweeping changes to its format further underscore the intense scrutiny the test has been placed under in recent years.
With all this said, I return to my victim from Panera. For at least 5 years (likely more), this kid will be spending hours a week memorizing vocab, mastering useless math formulas, and creating a one-fit-for-all essay skeleton that will ensure a perfect 12 on the essay portion of the test. I can’t even begin to express how upsetting this was to see and even more frustrating after I thought about it. Being with friends, pursuing interests, and goofing off like all kids should be able to do will be lost forever on this poor soul, who never had a say in the matter. Call it a consequence of having a so-called “tiger” parent (coined by Amy Chua in her controversial book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother), my Panera victim never stood a chance. When kids are young, we should be encouraging them to pursue their interests, not shoving overhyped test prep down their throats. I understand that many people may disagree. “Every advantage is needed in this particularly cutthroat environment,” they’ll say, something I understand but still oppose. Taking time to nurture a child’s interest, relationships, and curiosity are far more beneficial over the course of a lifetime than a four hour test, and we need to realize this. To parents, don’t throw the most important years of your child’s life away in an effort to boost an SAT score by a couple of points. To students, enjoy your time and live the life you want to live. Simply put, the SAT is stupid and putting a 12 year old in a class to prep for it is even stupider.
yes: Every advantage should be taken.
MAGGIE XIA, Staff Writer
he SAT is widely known as one of the most important exams a student will ever take, a prime indicator of acceptance into prestigious universities which leads to job opportunities and so on and so forth. The SAT may be the most important test anyone has ever taken. The emphasis put on the SAT has become so strong that the standardized test preparatory classes around the country are becoming a highly profitable means of business. With SAT prep classes flourishing, many parents are finding that it is a good idea to plan ahead and enroll their children early, sometimes before their child enters high school. There are some who argue that too much pressure is put on the children, that it is too stressful for students to start preparing for such an exam. Those who feel that early preparation is not necessary are not making a smart move. The SAT is not easy. For the average student, the layout and content of the SAT takes some time to adjust to. The three sections of the test each provide different levels of difficulty in its questions. In the reading and writing sections in particular, early test preparation could be the key to a high score. The passages and vocabulary present in the reading section are not usually seen during an average student’s education leading up the test. Considering that each year the vocabulary choices change, the most effective, perhaps the only way to boost one’s chances of doing well on the vocabulary questions, is to start early and memorize the words from the copious SAT vocabulary books printed each
year. The reading passages which constitute the majority of the reading section are mostly scientific, analysis excerpts, with the rare appearance of narratives. In other words, these passages and the questions that accompany them take some time to get used to, and practice is the only way to do well. This applies for the rest of the exam sections as well. Time is on the side of those who start SAT prep early. With the valuable advantage of time also comes a less stressed attitude towards the test. Being introduced to the test at a young age during SAT prep lets the student set a leisurely and calm pace because the test is far on the horizon. The student gets to improve his SAT skills gradually since there is no rush to take the real test. Continued practice helps the student develop a familiarity with the test. This proves to be an advantage for the student; a sense of preparedness and a general knowledge of what to expect keeps the nerves down and helps the student work calmly through the exam. Another added bonus to familiarity with the SAT is that the tests, although containing different passages and questions, focus on the same types of questions and concepts each year. Students who take SAT prep have a distinct advantage, and the longer they take a class, the more prepared they are. It is never entirely too early to start SAT preparation. Students need a comfortable and gradual approach in preparation for the SAT, so that by the time the real test comes, the stress will be minimal and the outcome will be favorable.
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special education needs a makeover
SNEHA GUBBALA, Staff Writer
isabilities. People everywhere suffer from them, including high school students. Students with disabilities oftentimes need a different type of approach when it comes to reaching their full potential. However, this does not mean that these students with special needs should be excluded from their peers; they simply deserve the right to an educational process tailored to their needs. It is true that if disabled students are integrated into mainstream classrooms, they would be able to learn in a more natural environment than a self-contained classroom. It also allows special education students to learn important life skills, especially socialization. However, there is always the possibility, especially among middle-school aged children, for excessive bullying. Children can be cruel, especially to other children. It is also unrealistic to assume that integrating special education students into mainstream classes will help these students receive the proper education. Students with special needs deserve to learn in a classroom where their disabilities will be respected and they will be provided with the education that will help them to succeed. Of course, this is what the current special education programs already hope to achieve. However, these programs in public schools, while necessary, are inherently flawed. Perhaps due to the unintentionally ableist nature of society, oftentimes the special education teachers hired by
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public schools are not the most qualified for the position. In some extreme cases, these so called educators can even be abusive towards the special needs students. In a recent video released by WSB-TV, a paraprofessional is shown physically and verbally abusing a special education student. Although she will be reprimanded and will suffer the consequences of her actions, this paraprofessional is only one person in the nearly hundreds of other special education teachers that abuse their students. Story upon story is released, illuminating the dark side of public school’s special education programs. The only way to prevent future occurrences such as this is for school administrators to become more selective in their hiring processes for special education teachers. It is imperative that the people who are hired as paraprofessionals and special education teachers are as qualified as possible and pass extensive background checks. If this is not done, then students with special needs will not receive their rights to education, nor their rights to humanity. If society is as progressive as it claims to be, then special education students should not have to suffer through these constant abuses. Every student has a right to learn and every person has a right to safety. If these rights are forgotten or ignored for students with disabilities, then the probability of even more rights being lost is inherently higher.
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Starting in 2011, the United States Department of Justice led an investigation on the Toyota Motor Corporation’s headquarters located in Toyota City, Japan, for four years following a criminal wire fraud charge against the company. The investigation revealed that Toyota knew of faulty parts that caused cars to suddenly accelerate. On March 19, 2014, Toyota agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $1.2 billion, making it the largest penalty an automobile company has had to pay in American history. In February of 2014, General Motors issued a recall of 1.6 million cars due to their faulty ignition switches, which have been linked to at least 12 automobile deaths. Both companies knew about the cars’ defects, yet they chose to keep quiet about them instead of fixing them and ensuring public safety. In the case of GM, the company knew that the ignition switches on its cars have at times been unresponsive since 2001. These scandals go to show that the American government has not been thorough with their implementations of public safety regulations for automobiles. At this point we ask ourselves whether we are truly safe when we are driving in our cars and demand better safety regulation by both motor companies and our government. In 2010, a bill called the Motor Vehicle Safety Act was killed in the United States Congress. The bill, if it had become law, would have
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doubled the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s budget so more money would have gone toward scrutinizing automobiles for faults and publicizing information about possible defects and potential recalls to the American public. Since the bill was killed, the government was not given the money needed to extensively check the safety of the increasingly innovative technology of the automobile industry, leading to inadequate inspections of automobiles. Current law only allows the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to charge companies fines of up to $35 million, far less than Toyota’s criminal penalty of $1.2 billion issued by the Department of Justice. Additionally, if an automobile company is found to have been keeping quiet about faulty parts, it may not necessarily be subject to a criminal investigation or be charged with crime. However, there should not be a limit on the fines that the company must pay, as the furthest precautions should be taken to ensure the wellbeing of the public. Congress will soon hold hearings regarding GM’s failure to warn the public of its automobiles’ defects, recall the cars, and make repairs for almost 15 years. If the blunders of car companies in the past have not knocked sense into Congress, these GM hearings should certainly be a wake up call to pass better legislation to allocate more funds to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to keep the public informed and safe.
comments: stay classy, georgia
Is the Georgian ban against offering in-state tuition to illegal immigrants un-American?
ANDREW TEODORESCU, Columnist
s a child, I was never held accountable for my parents’ actions. I was not responsible for assigning my own bedtime, or enrolling myself in school, or getting to my friends’ houses on time. My parents took responsibility for all of that. It’s not only because they had to, but also because I was not able to. In fact, I don’t believe that I have ever seen an eight-year-old file his tax returns or move across the country for a better job position. It’s not unlikely… it’s impossible. Until the age of eighteen, a child’s parents either influence of entirely control every major life decision for the child. It is outrageous that the children of illegal immigrants are not given access to in-state tuition in Georgia. These children— or rather, these ambitious, educated, dedicated students—are being held responsible for their parents’ illegal actions. In nearly every single case, the children of illegal immigrants have no choice of where they live. A kid can’t just hike back to his home country with a couple of dollars in his pocket and a pack of Skittles; it is not up to him. Unfortunately, that is not how the United States government sees it. Yes, unlawfully crossing United States borders is technically a federal offense, but the adults who commit this crime should be the ones held accountable—not the children. In fact, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are currently pushing for more laws that grant amnesty to illegal immigrant minors. Along with Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, and South Carolina, Georgia is one of only six states that have passed legislation that bans unauthorized immigrant students from in-state tuition benefits. California, New York, and Texas—along with fifteen other states—currently have legislation that allow equal eligibility for in-state tuition for the same group in question. Although the other twenty-six states have not passed legislation siding with either approach, they are technically required to prohibit granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrant students due to a federal act passed in 1996. At the very least, these ‘neutral’ states should strongly
consider passing legislation similar to those passed in California and New York. As for the six states with banning legislation, including our very own, they should be ashamed of themselves. I am sure that state officials calculated the economic impact of passing freeing legislation. We are in nearly eighteen trillion dollars of debt as a country. Establishing policy built on the American ideals of equality and opportunity really could not cause much damage United States interests. The unauthorized immigrant students who apply for instate colleges are usually future contributing citizens to the United States. Most immigrant families move to the United States so that their children will have an opportunity for a better education and, ultimately, a better life. It’s not often that an illegal immigrant student will reap the benefits of an in-state tuition only to return to his country for work. This means that the human capital generated by providing these driven students with an in-state tuition will most likely benefit the United States economy in the decades to come. The point is that these individuals are not their parents. They did not willingly cross United States borders illegally and commit a federal offense with knowledge of their actions. Even if they did, they came here to learn, grow, and improve. Simply overcoming the hardships of growing up in an immigrant family is impressive enough; let alone doing it while focusing on an education. For many less-fortunate illegal immigrant students, there are only two options in regards to a higher education: in-state tuition or no tuition. Tuition prices in our country are rising so quickly that many people absolutely need scholarships or in-state tuition in order to have a limited supply of student loans. In many cases, robbing an illegal immigrant student of in-state tuition means robbing him of a solid means of higher education. Robbing a person of higher education in today’s world also means suffocating their economic freedom and opportunities. However, we could not expect much else from a state ranked 37th in public education. Quality.
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