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The Dissection Debate

LindseyAranson, Staff Reporter

One of the most interesting classes offered at Chattahoochee is one of the least popular. Despite its relevance to various scientific fields including biology and healthcare, only fifteen students take Human Anatomy and Physiology (HAP), which covers all the systems in the human body and how they work together. Because HAP will not be offered for the 2017-2018 school year, these fifteen students will likely be the last at Chattahoochee to participate in this honors class’s memorable end-of-year lab—a cat dissection.

After months of studying the inner workings of the body, the hands-on experience of dissection cements students’ understanding of not only where structures are located, but also how they function.   While animal rights organizations like PETA argue that virtual dissections “have proved to be as good as, and often superior to, [traditional] dissection as a learning tool,” the National Association of Biology Teachers “acknowledges that no alternative can substitute for the actual experience of dissection…and urges teachers to be aware of the limitations of [digital] alternatives.”

Mr. Leet, the HAP teacher, finds that students engage more with true dissections than virtual simulations. “There’s only so many times in a person’s life they can actually cut something open [to] see what’s on the inside,” says Leet, discussing why he teaches cat dissections. “I think that it gets students excited if they want to be doctors. Even if they didn’t think about being a doctor, it might give them the idea, ‘Hey, I might like doing this. I might want to work towards it.’”

For students who want to study healthcare or biology, the tactile experience of traditional dissection is far more informative than a computer simulation. “If you’re planning on going into a field in medicine…you’re not going to be able to see everything. A lot of what you’re going to find [will] be through touch rather than just seeing,” explains Katherine Dunn (SR). While examining the superficial muscles of their feline cadaver, Dunn and her lab partners Emily Macko (SR) and Rachel Thomas (SR) discovered that their cat’s ribs were broken just by feeling the bones through the tissue. The group contends that no virtual alternative can compare to this firsthand learning: “Holding it in your hand is a lot different than watching it on a screen,” Macko insists.  Where computer animations of muscle movements leave students confused and disengaged, manipulating muscles by hand and watching them move instills understanding and wonderment at the complexities of the body.

Because cats share many anatomical structures with humans, this firsthand knowledge is extremely valuable for aspiring healthcare professionals. However, not all students in the HAP class plan to attend medical school. “Dissection is important to know about animals and people when it’s for your job,” acknowledged Elizabeth Noble (SR), “but as a high schooler, I don’t think it’s necessary for my education because this is not what I’m pursuing.”  Noble, a proud cat owner, believes dissection is unethical if it is not absolutely necessary for a specific career path. “It’s not something that’s for my high school anatomy class. It’s not for my career, it’s not what I’m going to school for…I don’t think a bunch of high schoolers should just be able to cut up cats in school.”

Noble’s lab partner Selma Rafiq (SR) was also reluctant to participate in the lab. “[Dissection is] disrespecting the body because we’re taking it apart,” she says, “and I feel like [animals] should be buried.” Responding to the notion that animal dissection is disrespectful, Leet says respect is something he’s “strict” about in the lab. The science teacher demands that “there’s no joking around” in his classroom— “We’re [dissecting cats] to learn something. It’s different from just cutting them up to mutilate them for entertainment.” Although students take pictures of the cat for a muscle and organ identification project, Leet is adamant that pictures are not to be posted on social media. “[Dissection teachers] should do just what Mr. Leet is doing,” said student Celia Imhoff (SR). “[He] make[s] sure that everyone is doing things safely and respectfully.”

However, much of the concern with animal experimentation lies not with the actual act of dissection, but with the suffering the cats endure before they even reach the lab. According to PETA, cats used for dissection may be “stolen or abandoned companion animals” who are gassed and “injected with formaldehyde without first being checked for vital signs.” These claims are unsupported, but animal suppliers like Carolina do obtain euthanized cats from shelters. Carolina, Chattahoochee’s source for preserved cats, emphasizes that these cats “would be destined for the landfill” if they didn’t furnish them for dissection, yet animal rights activists maintain that the purchase of euthanized cats ignores and furthers the problem of kill shelters.

While the neglect faced by euthanized animals in shelters is certainly horrific, PETA’s extreme accusations of animal torture are not rooted by solid evidence. “Animal activists prey on the emotions of pet owners,” responds Carolina, who is “proud to have an outstanding USDA inspection and compliance record.” PETA’s emotional targeting can be most clearly seen on their page PETA Kids, aimed at elementary school children: “EVERY animal used for classroom dissection was once alive and didn’t want to die. I mean, come on!” the page asserts with forced childlike colloquialism. “Would you want to end up on a dissection tray for a classroom experiment? No way, José.”

Countering this argument, Rachel Thomas argues that dissection is “not a fate no human would choose. People donate their bodies…to be cadavers in medical schools.” In fact, Mr. Leet emphasizes that students who want to be doctors and surgeons “will be using human cadavers” in college. “A cat is slightly different [from a human], but it’s analogous with a lot of the same structures…I think [cat dissection] does inform [students] to build on that in college.”

Still, for students uncomfortable with dissection, Mr. Leet does offer an alternate assignment. “If [students] have any [reservations]  about doing this before we start, I’ll say, ‘it’s okay, there is an online thing we can do,’” he says. “However, I hope they would give it a shot because once they start, I think they would find it super interesting.” Seeing that no one opted for the virtual dissection, Mr. Leet was correct. “I hope the students…get something out of it. I hope they get a passion for the human body and how anatomy and physiology work.”

From my experience in Mr. Leet’s HAP class, I would definitely argue for the educational benefits of dissection. Before this lab, it was difficult for me to envision the textures, sizes and locations of anatomical structures—and while I don’t plan on entering a medical field, I feel that understanding the body is important for anyone who has one (that would be everyone). At the same time, however, it is important to consider whether these educational benefits outweigh the potential harm to animals. This is certainly a controversial issue, and it’s up to us to enforce proper regulations and respect for all life.

Sleeping Nine to Five

LindseyAranson, Staff Reporter

We’re all familiar with Benjamin Franklin’s rhyming advice, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” But maybe if Ben had discovered electricity sooner, he would have spent his nights studying by electric light or playing Candy Crush on his iPhone instead of sleeping—exactly like a modern teenager.

Because of a hormonal shift in adolescents’ internal clock, teenagers like me are biologically programmed to fall asleep sometime after 11 p.m. and wake nine hours later. When these night owls have to rise before dawn for school, it becomes impossible to maintain a healthy sleep schedule.

With this in mind, I thought about what Ben Franklin was promising me if I trained myself to wake up early. I was pretty sure he knew what he was talking about when it came to “healthy, wealthy and wise” since he lived into his eighties, was America’s first millionaire and invented everything from the lightning rod to the flexible urinary catheter.  Even with the odds stacked against me, I decided to put Franklin’s advice to the test for one school week. Here’s how it went.

Day 1

On Sunday night, I was ready to set my experiment in motion. The iPhone’s Bedtime feature says that “[going] to bed and waking up at the same times every day are keys to healthy sleep,” so I planned to wake up at 5 a.m. each day. With some sophisticated mental math, I calculated that I’d need to go to bed at 9 p.m. to get seven hours of sleep. I set an alarm on my phone and placed it on my bedside table.

“Healthy, wealthy and wise, here I come!” I thought as I jumped into bed at 9:00.

“I can’t wait to get an early start on my day tomorrow!” I mused at 9:08.

“I’m feeling tired already,” I reassured myself at 9:33.

“…sheep number seventy-four, sheep number seventy-five…” I counted at 9:54.

Minutes went by. Then hours. I drifted off eventually, but for some reason, my alarm sounded at 6:30 a.m. instead of five, only fifteen minutes earlier than usual! Although I didn’t remember it, I must have unlocked my phone, opened the clock app and changed the alarm sometime during the night, all while in a half-asleep fog. It seemed that my experiment would be met with some resistance from my adolescent brain. I had to take things up a notch.

Day 2

After reading a few articles online, I learned that going to bed and waking up at the same time each night can actually make it harder to sleep, since various daily factors like exercise and diet can change the amount of sleep you need each night. It’s better to wake up at the same time each day, but go to bed whenever you feel tired. Your body will learn that your wakeup time is non-negotiable, and will adjust what time you get tired each night depending on how much sleep you need.

This time, I set up a brand new alarm clock on my desk across the room, so I’d have to get out of bed to turn it off. There would be no more sleep-shenanigans sabotaging my 5 a.m. wakeup time. I also put my phone on the other side of the room, because I’d read that the blue light from TV and phone screens can simulate daylight and delay feelings of sleepiness. I got in bed at nine again, but instead of staring at the ceiling waiting for sleep, I curled up with one of my brother’s books, “Ready Player One.” I knew I was ready to fall asleep when I couldn’t read a paragraph without closing my eyes.

My clock has one of those alarms that gets louder and louder when you don’t turn it off, so when it went off at five, it took me a minute to realize it wasn’t part of my dream. As the obnoxious beeping increased in volume, I remembered that I brought this upon myself. Reluctantly, I leapt out of bed and into the shower. After that, I tried to get ahead on some schoolwork, but was too tired to get anything done until I had consumed a healthy dose of caffeine.

So far, the only benefit that I could see of waking up early was being the first one to shower. While the rest of my family was still fast asleep, and would be for at least another ninety minutes, I had all the hot water to myself. On top of that, showering three hours before first period gave my hair time to dry before facing the cold winter commute to school, thereby reducing my risk of developing a head cold. Looks like I had the “healthy” part of Franklin’s saying down.

Day 3

Surprisingly, two days of my experiment didn’t make me feel any more tired than usual throughout the school day. I even went out for a rare bike ride around my neighborhood when I got home on Tuesday. Intending to do my homework the next morning, I spent my evening watching “The Bachelor” with my family and got in bed at nine p.m. After reading for about thirty minutes, I was ready to fall asleep.

That morning, I actually woke up before my alarm. I spent the next hour drifting in and out of sleep, finally getting out of bed at 4:55 to preemptively silence the annoying alarm clock. I was more tired than I had been the day before, so I got back in bed to play on my phone for another hour. Considering that I’d hardly done any morning studying in my first days of this experiment, it seemed like the “wise” part of Ben Franklin’s saying might take longer than I thought.

Day 4

I was so tired from waking up at four on Wednesday that I got in bed at 8:30 and fell asleep by nine. In the morning, I got out of bed and showered at five, but fell back asleep with my overhead light on around six. At this point, I felt like the worm the early bird ate for breakfast—dead.

After a long day of nearly dozing off in class, I came home extremely frustrated and cranky. I was irritable and dreading my next early morning, especially since there was no school on Friday. I even felt like lashing out at a certain Founding Father for deceiving me about the consequences of waking up early.

“Do you call this healthy?!” I imagined myself questioning Franklin as I deleted my nutrition app in a stress-induced carb frenzy. Now that I thought about it, waking up early to become “wealthy” seemed hypocritical coming from a guy whose nickname is Poor Richard, even if he is on the $100 bill. Not to mention, Franklin’s Daylight Savings Time still costs America $434 million a year due to lost sleep and decreased productivity. And how can anyone be “wise” when they’re too tired to form a complete sentence?!

Fed up with Ben’s lies, I defiantly cancelled my alarm for Friday morning. I wouldn’t take any more advice from a three-hundred-year-old wannabe president dumb enough to fly a kite in a lightning storm.

Day 5

When I opened my eyes on Friday morning, it was 4:58. It seemed my body had finally accustomed to waking up at the same early time each day.

“Does this make me a morning person?” I wondered, realizing that if I could train myself to wake up every day at five, early risers aren’t born—they’re made. I lay in bed for a few moments, debating whether I should get out of bed or not.

I had the whole day ahead of me, and I could spend this early morning time however I wanted. I could study, read, take a walk, do an art project, surf the web, or roll over and go back to sleep. Maybe Franklin had a point—waking up early gives you time to focus on improving yourself and do what you want to do before the obligations of the day begin.

From this experiment, I learned that waking up at 5 a.m. is not necessarily the best way for a teenager to be productive. As for my bedtime routine, I’m going to keep limiting late-night screen time to get quality sleep so that I can get up even just a little bit earlier. Still, “early” is relative. Rolling over and closing my eyes, I decided that I could get things done by starting my day at seven instead of rising before the sun or sleeping in until noon.



Kenkare’s Club Combats Crime

LindseyAranson, Staff Reporter

In 2014, Miss USA Nia Sanchez received harsh backlash on social media for her assertion that women can prevent sexual assault if they are “confident and…able to defend [themselves].” Although a Canadian research study proved that the risk of rape can be cut in half after one twelve-hour “resistance” course, Sanchez’s argument branded her a victim-blaming antifeminist among twitter “feminists” who feel that instead of teaching women self-defense to prevent rape, society should focus on changing rapists’ behavior.

Combating those who see women’s self-defense as controversial, Chattahoochee student Pallavi Kenkare (SR) aims to raise awareness of this issue. While she acknowledges that “the important thing is to change the [perpetrators’] behavior,” she recognizes the “sad reality” that eliminating all sexual assault is “not going to happen in a year or so; it’s a huge cultural change that’s going to happen over time.” According to Kenkare’s extensive research on the subject, one in six women will be raped in her lifetime and one in four will be subjected to domestic abuse. In fact, “women ages 15 through 44 worldwide are more likely to die or be injured by male violence than from of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined.” Evidently, “teaching men not to rape” is as useless as “teaching burglars not to steal”; even though society as a whole regards these crimes as legal and moral violations, some people will commit them anyway. As Charles C.W. Cooke put it in the National Review, telling people to put locks on their doors does not cultivate “theft culture.” Protecting the president with Secret Service does not encourage “assassination culture.” So how does teaching women to defend themselves foster rape culture?

Kenkare asserts that the “threat of physical and sexual abuse faced by young girls [and women]” is extremely real and “deeply concern[ing].”  Upon learning that her close friend from summer camp had been raped on the streets of New York City when she was only twelve years old, Pallavi sprung to action by proposing a school-supported self-defense program to Chattahoochee High School officials with the “ultimate goal [of making] self-defense a permanent part of the Fulton County curriculum.” Determined to promote self-defense within schools, Kenkare single-handedly founded the Women’s Self-Defense Club and organized a seminar taught last spring by the Johns Creek Police Department.

Due to Pallavi’s efforts, the seminar was a great success. In addition to “explain[ing] mental awareness…in [various] situations, [a JDPD officer used] a rubber dummy [to] demonstrate [basic] self-defense techniques.” Then, the girls were able to test what they had learned on the police officers. When it comes to self-defense moves, it’s good practice to perform them in a sequence of threes, yelling “No, no, no!” Aside from calling attention to your situation to ward off attackers, yelling “no, no, no” “helps control your breathing so that you won’t be out of breath when you run away.”

For people found in situations where they need to use self-defense, Kenkare stresses to “always keep fighting back and don’t stop trying.” Using basic moves such as elbowing and kneeing can “definitely” protect someone even from a bigger or stronger assailant. “It doesn’t need to knock [the attacker] out,” Kenkare explains, “it just needs to give you enough time to get away and find help.” She emphasizes that while mace and pepper spray “can be useful and conducive to your safety,” knowing self-defense “gives you much more of an air of confidence” when it comes to acting in threatening situations. “The more confident you are, the less likelihood of something like this happening to you,” she says.

Starting in January 2017, the Women’s Self-Defense Club will meet monthly, with a Johns Creek Police Department seminar in March. Although “girls…logistically need to be more prepared [for sexual assault],” Kenkare adds that “boys are welcome, too.” Anyone can benefit from self-defense, so don’t wait until it is too late to learn.

The Scoop on Poop at Hooch

LindseyAranson, Staff Reporter

Oh, no—it’s coming. You shouldn’t have had Starbucks this morning! Maybe you can hold it until the bell rings, so that all the noise in the hallway between classes will drown out the sound of your shameful plops. On the other hand, if you go now, no one will be in the bathroom to recognize your shoes, and there won’t be any pressure to finish in less than six minutes. But if you take a long time during the class period, you’ll have to face the embarrassment of returning to class with everyone knowing what you’ve done! And you’re nowhere near the main restrooms! You’ll have to step over wet toilet paper on the floor and wipe urine off the cold seat. Everyone’s looking at you as dread fills your lower intestine. Do you ask for the bathroom pass?

Pooping at school is an issue I have struggled with since second grade, when I was sure the bathrooms were haunted. There may not be any toilet paper ghosts at Chattahoochee, but pooping during the school day is more than just going to the bathroom and doing your business; it’s facing the judgement of your peers in a smelly cave puddled with mysterious liquids. Knowing I couldn’t be the only one withholding my bowel movements, I conducted a survey of 112 Chattahoochee students to find out what other students think about this pressing issue.

Instead of just using the school restrooms, 29 percent of CHS students prefer to squirm in their seats praying that no one notices their gurgling stomach and escaping gas. Another 38 percent only go in absolute emergencies. With three-fourths of the student body extremely reluctant to poop at school, it is clear that something needs to be done to improve the pooping condition—we can’t hold it much longer!

One of the biggest aversions to pooping at school, chosen by 37 percent of students, is the foul condition of some of the bathrooms. The bathrooms nearest to the atrium are kept clean and stocked with soap and paper towels, but others are littered with wet toilet paper and stink of unflushed excrement. The sinks, which may have paper towels and food blocking the drains, require a hand on the grimy faucet at all times to keep the burning or freezing water running. There are obscenities written on the stalls, some of which don’t even lock properly. And that’s just what I’ve seen in the girls’ bathrooms. Judging from the responses of an alarming 51 percent of males, the boys’ bathrooms must be kept in even worse condition. To improve the school bathrooms, we need to place a larger emphasis on keeping them clean. Although it seems unlikely, even a sign that says “Please clean up after yourself” could go a long way. As for the smell and toilet water on the floor, there could be an option to anonymously report nasty clogs. If everyone did their part to keep the bathroom clean, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to poop at school.

For many students, especially girls, the school bathrooms represent judgement. While 25 percent of girls ranked the gross bathrooms as the worst part of pooping at school, nearly half of the females surveyed are most troubled by being heard by others in the bathroom—an issue that bothers only 15 percent of boys. One girl responded, “It just sucks being nervous someone will hear you and then will laugh about it while you are there or will silently judge you.” We shouldn’t have to feel this anxious about our natural body functions. Everyone poops, and according to my survey, most students don’t even care if someone else is pooping in the bathroom. Instead of feeling embarrassed returning to class after a ten-minute poop, we should be proud of facing our fears of judgement and wear our poop on our sleeves. Well, maybe not on our sleeves.

So next time you feel the urge, don’t be afraid to do something as natural as eating and drinking. The school bathrooms may not be as ideal as your home bowl, but they are definitely better than feeling uncomfortable for the whole day.



The Most Underrated Players on the Football Field

LindseyAranson, Staff Reporter

Some of Chattahoochee’s hardest-working athletes are all part of the same team. From sweltering July to frigid November, they dedicate themselves to representing Hooch on the football field. This team, the epitome of the “Chattahoochee Way,” puts everything they have into what they do. They run drills over and over, spend hours exercising each week in practice and devote their weekends to competing in stadiums near and far—all while skillfully playing musical instruments and gracefully marching in time.

Marching band is as physically demanding, time-consuming and school-spirited as any other sport at Hooch; yet unlike football, basketball, lacrosse and other sports, marching band does not get the respect it deserves. Many Chattahoochee students dismiss marching band as a lame hobby because they are ignorant of the immense amount of physical, athletic work that goes into the band’s seven-minute show. Three-hour practices on Mondays and Wednesdays, seven-hour games on Fridays, and twelve-hour competitions on some Saturdays require the marching band to dedicate up to 25 hours per week to their sport: roughly ten hours more than varsity football, according to the team’s calendar.

By the end of the season, the marching band will have spent approximately 370 hours perfecting their show “To the Moon & Back,” but tuba section leader Jack Arndt (SR) doesn’t expect Hooch students to appreciate the band’s hard work. “Nobody really realizes that those seven glorious minutes have had a couple hundred hours go into them,” he says. When the band plays the last note of the show at their final competition, all of that work—all of the sunburns, blistered feet, pulled muscles and bruises— “all of that work is in that moment,” reflects percussionist Jared Cook (SR). “We made that show amazing.”

It’s absolutely awe-inspiring to watch as the band synchronizes to march in complex formations and the elegant color guard effortlessly catches their waving flags; yet most Chattahoochee students wouldn’t know because they would rather stand in line for snacks or talk under the bleachers during halftime instead of experience a beautiful performance. While hundreds of students come to Cougar Stadium to cheer on the football team on Friday nights, they ignore or complain about the marching band.

“Everyone’s all hyped about the football team, they’re standing up and they’re cheering,” explains Cook, “but as soon as it’s time for the marching band show, everyone just sits down.” Arndt confirms, “Most of the crowd…literally turn[s] away from the field during our shows…it [does] hurt a bit.”

Though they bleed blue and gold, the band was ignored even at the most school pride-oriented event of the year: Homecoming. On September 16, most of the audience had left by the time the band went on after the homecoming game, leaving plenty of room in the bleachers for proud band parents to watch a fantastic show. After the show, the horn line kept rehearsing on the field even as the stadium lights went out. Moreover, the band could not unwind at the homecoming dance the next day because it was carelessly scheduled at the same time the band would perform at the Fulton County Band Exhibition, a twelve-hour day of rehearsing and performing.

The marching band has even been blamed for the football team’s losses. “[When the team lost], they would turn around and say, ‘You guys [the band] were playing too loud. That must be why we lost, because you were distracting us,’” Arndt recalls of his sophomore year. Even when treated unfairly, “we [the band] would still come out, and we would still play for [the football team] every single game.”

Other than being wrongly blamed for football losses, sometimes the band is even laughed at by their peers. For instance, when tuba player Matt Page (SO) tripped over his instrument while marching backwards during a complicated segment of last year’s “Lion King,” Arndt says that “[the students] were just laughing at Matt, and he had just crushed his horn!” This disrespect from the audience is considered typical by Arndt: “We don’t get a lot of sympathy from the student section,” he shrugs. But the marching band deserves so much more than sympathy—they deserve the same respect, admiration and pride that Chattahoochee has for its football team.

Without the marching band, football games would be quiet and lackluster; rather than treat band members as scapegoats and outcasts, football fans should embrace the band as the core of the Hooch Family, because that’s exactly what marching band is: a family. “We all get along so well,” says Cook. “Some people are hardcore into [football], some people are hardcore into video games, and those people have their own little group to share that interest. Some people think that we’re ‘band geeks’—which we totally are—but this is what brings us together. This is what makes us friends.”