The Wonderful World of Animals

ChrisRonzoni, Editorials Editor


The Wonderful World of Animals

          Elephants are some of the most intelligent creatures on the planet. With cognitive capabilities rivaling that of other highly intelligent animals, such as dolphins and apes, elephants are incredibly fascinating. They are extremely social and altruistic, meaning that they are greatly concerned with the well-being of others. Nothing makes this more evident than the almost human-like grief and sorrow they display at the death of a herd member — going so far as to cover the deceased with branches, leaves and dirt while remaining by their side for several days. This empathetic behavior even extends beyond their own species as there are countless documented incidents of elephants attempting to aid wounded people or even mourning deceased humans as one of their own.

However, this respectful and intelligent behavior may soon be reduced to a memory. For many decades now, illegal poaching and extensive habitat loss has created an increasingly turbulent environment for all elephant society. So much so that reports of unprovoked and lethal elephant attacks are now commonplace and rapidly increasing all over Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Biologists and other experts believe this abnormal level of aggression to be an unforeseen side-effect caused by humanity’s continued mistreatment of the species. Much like humans, young elephants need guidance and time to learn from their elders. Calves need to learn how to behave, how to communicate, what to eat and what not to eat, what’s dangerous and what’s safe. It should go without saying, but children need their parents. However, due to illegal poaching, a lot of calves become orphans at an early age and, thus, their natural development is interrupted. Not only that but, because of their intelligence and strong familial bonds, seeing their loved ones being brutally massacred and mutilated right in front of their eyes is about as traumatic as it would be for a human. These events can significantly impair normal brain development and cause hyper-aggression and unpredictable behavior similar to that of people suffering from PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Not only is humanity slowly driving the species towards extinction, but due to our ruthless means of doing so, we may also be responsible for their mental, social and intellectual decline in the process.

Let’s forget about humanity’s failures for a second; it’s just too depressing. Let’s focus on one of nature’s failures like that of the platypus, an animal that would honestly make a lot more sense if it were inspired by “Pulp Fiction” rather than the other way around. The platypus is one of the only five remaining species of monotremes. Monotremes are mammals that lay eggs, as opposed to giving live-birth. The Platypus was discovered by European explorers in 1798, and a specimen was later examined by zoologist George Shaw. Its strange features made Shaw question whether or not this was a hoax. Again, how can one not. It looks like a reversed beaver. He writes in a scientific journal from 1799 that “Of all the Mammalia yet known it seems the most extraordinary in its conformation; exhibiting the perfect resemblance of the beak of a Duck engrafted on the head of a quadruped.” He also writes, “…it naturally excites the idea of some deceptive preparation by artificial means.” In more modern terms, was this just another social experiment by some 18th century YouTube prankster or could the specimen truly be that of a real creature? Evidence for its existence and its supposed egg-laying capabilities remained highly debated topics for almost a century. Of course, we now know this Scrooge-McDuck-looking thing of an animal is more real than it first seemed.

Owls are one of the many creatures of the night that few get to truly behold. What is even more rare of a sight would be a fully functional parliament. As strange as it may seem, a parliament is a collective noun for a group of owls. Besides having a permanent “How the hell did I get here?” facial expression, owls also have a knack for necks. All 200+ owl species can rotate their necks and heads up to 270 degrees, which makes humans and owls the only two species capable of doing this. The only difference is that when humans do it, we die. Owls are able to survive such extreme neck twisting as they have 14 vertebrae while many other vertebrates have a lot fewer. For example, we humans only have a laughable seven. Like many other nocturnal species, owls do not have eyeballs; rather, they have eye-tubes. This peculiar shape allows for exceptional night vision. However, as the eyes are non-spherical they are completely fixed in their sockets which is why owls need such flexible necks.

If you live to be 90 years old you will be older than people who have yet to reach or surpass that age; you will also have spent 32 of those years asleep. Instead of dreaming about your dreams, that’s 32 years you could’ve spent awake going out to achieve those dreams. But if you’re a dolphin or a duck, sleep isn’t half as wasteful. A few select aquatic and avian species have developed what’s known as unihemispheric sleep, which is the ability to sleep with one half of the brain while the other half remains awake. This ability can be quite beneficial for different reasons. In the case of birds capable of unihemispheric sleep, such as chickens and ducks, they literally sleep with one eye open. This allows them to constantly keep an eye out for potential predators. On the other hand, various aquatic animals, such as dolphins, Aquaman and whales use this ability to surface for air even when they are half-asleep. It’s been widely scientifically unproven that if humans had this ability, we would spend this extra time speculating over what we would do if we had more time.

On the softer side of things, male humpback whales can spend more than 24 hours continuously repeating the same 10-20 minute song. So, what you hear when swimming with whales may be one of the hottest mixtapes to hit the blue market. Either that or Chewbacca is in dire need for help. The purpose behind these extensive musical performances largely remains a mystery to scientists. Researchers believe it could be to attract females, to challenge other males or a form of echolocation. What we do know is that these songs often spread amongst humpback whale society much the same way the latest pop-music can spread across the globe in our human society. It begins with a localized population of whales producing a unique string of melodies and after roughly two years’ time, the song has moved between numerous whale populations across the pacific. And the songs are often heavily remixed along the way. Each year, a new viral hit takes form and the underwater music industry continues to thrive.

Overall, our world’s animals are truly one of a kind. Why we decide to drive them to extinction through pollution, poaching or simply over-hunting is beyond the ken of many scientists and researchers. We continue to learn new things every day about our world’s animals; one can only hope they will all still be around for our future generations.


Behind The Curtain

CarolineKurzawa, Staff Reporter

The musical theatre department at Chattahoochee High School is well known for their spectacular plays and musicals, particularly the spring musical. Chattahoochee has tackled shows such as: “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “Chicago,” “Hairspray,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Grease” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” Every spring, the students and faculty of Chattahoochee as well as the local community can expect to be dazzled and amazed by Chattahoochee’s spring musical. This year, the musical theatre department has pushed new boundaries with “Follies,” a show composed by the famous Stephen Sondheim. As someone who has worked on these musicals for the past four years, I am able to give an exclusive, insider review of how a fantastic spring show comes to fruition.

Before auditions can begin, the spring musical must be approved, and the rights must be purchased by the directors. This is why it can be somewhat difficult to choose a show. First, you have to make sure the rights are available and how expensive they are. The average cost of rights is $4,500-5,000, with Disney shows costing upwards of $6,000. Shows that are currently on Broadway or on tour cannot be purchased. Additionally, it is important to consider the size of the musical theatre program when choosing a show. If it is a small program, it makes sense to choose a small show. Once the rights are secured, the show must be approved by the administration, so the show is not announced until all these factors are certain.

Many people don’t know how long the cast, crew, directors and orchestra work on the musical. The auditions usually take place around November, and the cast meets in December to read through the script together. In January, rehearsals begin: they alternate between music rehearsals, where the cast learns their songs; dance rehearsals, where they work on choreography; and blocking rehearsals, where the cast works on how they will move across the stage during scenes. Most of these rehearsals last a couple of hours, ending around 6 or 7 p.m., and the stage manager attends these as well as other crew leaders like assistant stage managers or directors’ assistants. By the end of January, the cast is expected to have mostly memorized their script and music.

In February, the rehearsals start lasting longer, the set is being built and costumes begin being made. Here at Chattahoochee, we hire a technical director to help design and build the set, but cast and crew is still expected to come to set builds on Sunday afternoons. For costumes, there are costume designers and seamstresses to make sure that costumes fit the characters and show. By this time, the crew is also attending rehearsals in order to learn the pace of the show.

This year, “Follies” required even more work and dedication than other musicals due to the complex nature of the show. It required elaborate costumes, stunning dance numbers, strong singing and acting, and intricate makeup, particularly for those who were playing older characters. On the technical side, the lighting for the show, which was fantastically done by Ireland McCreadie (JR), needed to showcase the duality of the show taking place in both the present and past.

In March, the show is just around the corner, but there are still a few more regular rehearsals before the dress rehearsals start. Once the finishing touches are put on the set, blocking and costumes, the dress rehearsals begin. For dress rehearsals, the cast must be in full makeup and costume and have microphones by 5 p.m. Once we start running the show, we don’t stop except for a 10 minute break between acts. When rehearsal finishes, the cast takes off their microphones and costumes, and the cast, crew and orchestra all eat dinner together. It’s a fun time for everyone to come together and bond over delicious food. Dress rehearsal week is busy and tiring, but it means that we are that much closer to putting on an amazing show.

On show days, the energy and excitement is high. The crew must be ready to go around 4:30 p.m., and the cast must start getting ready at 5:00 p.m. in order to be ready for warm ups at 6:20 p.m. The orchestra arrives around 6:30 p.m., so they can be tuned and ready to go for the 7:00 p.m. show. Once everyone is ready, we gather in the chorus room for warm ups and pre-show traditions. After warm ups and traditions are finished, the cast and crew gets into places backstage, and the orchestra settles in the pit. The house manager lets the stage manager know how many people are still in the lobby, and once everyone has made it to their seats, the lighting designer or assistant dims the auditorium lights, letting people know that the show is about to begin. Then, the pre-show announcement plays, and the orchestra begins to play, opening the show. Behind the scenes, the stage manager is calling cues over a radio from the tech booth in the back of the auditorium, quick changes are happening backstage and microphones are being checked and having batteries changed. Once the show is over, the company bows, and the cast, crew and orchestra go into the lobby to be greeted by family and friends.

However, the musical process does not end until after closing night because after the final show, we have strike, where the set is taken down and put away for the next year. Once this is finished, the musical season is officially over for the year, and we wait anxiously for the next exciting show to begin.

Louisville Exposed

JaydenChin, Staff Reporter

As a number one overall seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the University of Louisville Men’s basketball team was ready to win it all. After overcoming a gruesome injury to their star player Kevin Ware. The team went on to defeat Duke in the Elite Eight and the talented Wichita State team in the Final Four. On April 8, 2013, the Louisville Cardinals were set to play Michigan in the NCAA Championship. With renowned Head Coach Rick Pitino, Louisville beat Michigan 82-76 despite several lead changes and a stunning 17-point, first-half performance by sophomore Spike Albrecht who replaced star point guard Trey Burke who had picked up two early fouls.

The hard work and dedication this Louisville team put forth in their efforts to win it all will sadly go to waste as the team was informed on June 17, 2017, that they must vacate their National Championship and Final Four appearances in the wake of a sex scandal. After an NCAA investigation, it was found that a member of Louisville’s coaching staff had hired prostitutes and strippers for current players and potential recruits. On Feb. 20, 2018, the decision was upheld, and they officially vacated their glorious National Championship win as well as 123 wins between the 2012 and 2015 seasons. Further Investigations also discovered that an Adidas Executive conspired to pay $100,000 to the family of 2017 recruit Brian Bowen under the terms that he plays for Louisville and later represents Adidas when he goes pro.

After 16 years, Rick Pitino is out as Louisville’s Head Coach and the future of the team is uncertain. The 2018 NCAA Tournament is rolling around and Louisville didn’t make the cut. Will the team be able to rebuild and be a contender once again?

Freedom to Protest?

HannahKornegay, Features Editor

CarolineKurzawa, Staff Reporter

Protests by their very definition are disruptive. However, many schools won’t allow students to freely express themselves. Often times, when presented with what could be perceived as a “disruption,” schools censor and diminish planned protests to the point that they no longer resemble the original plans.

This was the case on Mar. 14 here at Chattahoochee. Because the Parkland, Fla. shooting occurred at a high school with teenagers, the effects have been widely publicized on social media. Almost immediately after the shooting took place, flyers declaring a student-led protest to take place on Wednesday, Mar. 14, exactly one month after the shooting, began to circulate. The intent of this day of protest was to urge lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws and protect students on campus. While the day could also serve as a memorial, Chattahoochee High School has already honored and grieved for the victims who lost their lives in this needless act of cruelty during a moment of silence in a pep rally that took place on Feb. 23.

A walkout planned to protest the current lack of gun control laws was warped into a second pseudo-memorial for the victims. Students were told by the administration that they were allowed to leave class at 10:00 a.m. and go to the gym to have 17 minutes of silence for the 17 victims of the shooting. While this is a thoughtful gesture for the students of Stoneman Douglas, we need action and new policies. The point of the protest was to garner the attention of lawmakers; however, it’s unclear how any attention was received when we were not allowed to leave the building. We need to be able express our thoughts and fears. There needs to be change. Seventeen minutes of silence won’t lead to change, only action will.

The walkout seemed more like a punishment than an actual protest due to the fact that teachers and administrators guarded the doors, and police officers were active on campus, monitoring the parking lot. When students tried to take action by walking out of the building, they were punished with the threat of disciplinary action.

Of course, we understand that it is the administration’s responsibility to protect their students. Therefore, they went about this in a way that we think they believed would both appease the students’ need to protest and keep them safe. So, in a way, we can understand the guarded doors and making sure that students can demonstrate in a safe and monitored area, but this simply wasn’t a protest. There was no way that it would result in change. If there were going to be a problem with having a protest during the school day on school grounds, the administration should have made arrangements for this by allowing students to demonstrate after school at another location even though this would have broken with the idea of a united, national protest.

Additionally, should walking out result in an in-school suspension or other disciplinary action? Julia Tracy (SR) attempted and was successful in walking out of the building in order to adequately express her beliefs but was stopped and told that she would be receiving “disciplinary action.” When asked how she felt about the consequence, she responded that she would wear the discipline as “a badge of honor.”

The most frustrating point of this protest is that the administration avoided giving the students what they truly asked for. Instead, they appeased the student body, hoping that they wouldn’t cause too much of a disruption or distraction. While it is understandable that the administration and teachers are here to protect students, this day did not contribute positively to the cause in the way it was intended.

Aaron Feis: A Local Hero

BrettGreenberg, Staff Reporter

Feb. 14, 2018: A day that will go down in history. At approximately 2:21 p.m EST, Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. During the shooting, beloved offensive line football coach and school resource officer, Aaron Feis, risked his life for the safety of the students and threw himself in front of the bullets sprayed out by Cruz.

Coach Aaron Feis was a figure in the whole Douglas County community, always putting others before himself and assuring he was someone that could be depended on for anything whether that be the safety of students, being the resource officer or getting his players to be successful on the football field and help them pursue their dreams of playing college football and taking the next step athletically. Local school spokeswoman, Denise Lehtio, remarked, “He died the same way he lived he put himself second. He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”

Feis’s impact was felt outside of the school as well. In a interview two days after this shooting, Chief Sherriff Scott Israel stated that he, “knew [Aaron Feis] personally, coached with him for 2 years and [Scott’s] kid played for him.” Feis has been around this community for as long as anyone can remember, graduating from Douglas High School in 1999 and coming full circle to return  and coach the football team from 2002 to 2018.

Aaron Feis is a man that will live in the hearts of all the students, parents, staff and first responders for the rest of their lives.


RIP Aaron Feis 1980-2018:

A local hero, dedicated worker, caring coach and a man of incredible character.


Is Your Favorite Team Cheating?

MatthewKohn, Sports/News Editor

A couple of months ago, news broke that the FBI was launching a wide-scale probe into the NCAA attempting to uncover the payments made to basketball student athletes. As fans waited anxiously hoping that their school or favorite players were not incriminated in these reports, the FBI initially released a small list of schools thought to be involved, but as of the past few weeks, that list as grown substantially and named specific players that illegally received money.

The list of players not only includes current college athletes, but also past players, some of whom have gone on to play in the NBA. Some notable players are Dennis Smith Jr., Kyle Lowry, Markelle Fultz, Miles Bridges, Collin Sexton and even Chattahoochee’s own Jaron Blossomgame. The list goes on to name dozens of other players from over twenty-five schools. These payments vary from large loans valued in the tens of thousands of dollars to simple payments for dinners or flights for the recruit.

The FBI is also investigating coaches. One that may be under fire is Arizona head coach Sean Miller, who was reportedly recorded on a wiretap discussing a payment of $100,000 to the wildcats star forward DeAndre Ayton. The investigation is still ongoing and more people will likely be incriminated before the FBI finishes their probe.

The NCAA has not issued any sanctions yet to the programs, but they are likely coming. However, the issue of paying recruits will likely live on for as long as student athletes are not allowed to be paid. This investigation is finally shining a national spotlight on how corrupt the NCAA actually is and raising the question of whether student athletes should be paid. After all, the NCAA reported to make over one billion dollars during the 2016-2017 year, and much of that can be credited to the exciting players across the different sports drawing fans to the games or watching them on TV. So, maybe this scandal will not only negatively affect the schools involved, but also change the entire landscape of college sports as we know it.

The Roots of Racist Stereotypes


Minorities being elected into political office does not solve racism in the US Government. This argument is beyond facile. A black president isn’t proof that racism has ended. The fact remains that the use of offensive racial terms such as “Negro” and “Oriental” in US federal law was only banned last year. This rhetoric perpetuates racism because they aren’t just used in “old” laws. Racial slurs and stereotypes against black people have real impacts. It goes beyond hurt feelings and unease. These slurs and stereotypes are used to keep black people in their place. Racial “slurs” against white people like “Cracker” also originate from slavery. The difference is that white people were the masters in charge that cracked the whip. Frankly, joking about food and spices (or lack thereof) doesn’t regularly affect the everyday lives of white people. Black people, on the other hand, face incarceration, police brutality, poverty, and housing and job discrimination at levels white people don’t face at the same scale.

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