Category Archives: Reviews

Educational Architecture: Chattahoochee High School

RobertHunter, Staff Reporter

There is a great disparity between society’s view of education and the environment created for students: the architecture of many schools is simply subpar. Chattahoochee High School is no exception.

In the late 1980s, Fulton County Schools planned to build four new high schools, Tri-Cities, Creekside, Roswell and Chattahoochee, for the growing district. To limit the cost of the new buildings, the same basic layout would be site-adapted for each school, rather than having an architecture firm develop four separate concepts. The proposed design was made of dull, sand and dirt-colored bricks arranged in stripes and featured a large classroom block in which parallel and perpendicular halls traversed the section much like the grid structure of a city. To the north and skewed to the side of this block was a large, circular gym with an incredibly stout dome. These two pieces of the building were lazily connected by a gym lobby. A main hall extended to the side, offering access to the cafeteria and library before stumbling upon the main entrance–formed of two long, gable roofs side-by-side perpendicular to the main hall to create an open canopy structure. Continuing on, two more halls protruded to the north, housing various electives classrooms, and an administrative wing was tacked on to the south. The furthest of those two halls was bisected perpendicularly by another hall that continued in the same direction of the main hall. This last wing included an auditorium and mixed-use classrooms. The only part that extended vertically from the one-story building was a series of health and physical education classrooms as well as an auxiliary gym arranged in a square pattern underneath the cafeteria. Admittedly, even writing this out is confusing, as the various elements lack cohesiveness and seem to be sloppily connected.

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This is an early floor plan of Chattahoochee from 2007, when proposals were made for a classroom extension and new band room.

This standardization of architecture makes Chattahoochee feel out of place, as there is nothing about the design that connects it with the environment. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact architectural style for the building –probably because there isn’t one. The best descriptors would be either International Style–as the design emphasizes large, flat surfaces–or Brutalism–as the overall exterior, while made of brick and not concrete, creates the same imposing, discomforting mood. However, disregard for the vernacular architecture isn’t uncommon in suburbia. In fact, it’s quite normal, though not in any way acceptable.

Driving down the narrow, slow, two-lane road to the school almost feels as if the architects didn’t want anyone to see the building. Even though reality is that this road was supposed to continue on to connect with Parsons Road, the lack of accessibility is a major downside. Many neighborhood entrances and trees line the sides of the street, but as one approaches the school, the foliage gives way to a meadow of asphalt and geometric shapes that form the west side. Such a relative emphasis on the western auditorium and elective wing gives the impression that the bulk of the school lies there. However, this is not true. As we turn into the student drop-off circle at the entrance, the stout, lengthy, uniform wall to the east implies that perhaps there are, in fact, academic classrooms in the building.

All good pieces of architecture connect, relate and interact with the site; they circulate people between the building, street and surrounding landscape. Yet, here is a building that actively pulls away from the street, one that forces barriers between us and the world–as seen by the vast parking lots and driveways that separate land with seas of asphalt.

Modern schools are often jokingly referred to as “prisons,” and it’s easy to see why. The exterior alone depresses people with its lifeless sand and dirt colored bricks. The sides lack any form of ornamentation, and windows are as rare as good architecture in suburbia. Walking through the entrance is like going underground; it’s nearly impossible to tell what time of day it is while inside. There are two adverse effects to this subterranean atmosphere. Firstly, cell reception is rare, further emphasizing the “institutional” aspect to the building, and secondly, much more energy is consumed controlling the climate inside rather than utilizing natural aspects of the site. The main hall is clad in the same bricks as the exterior, but here, the dismal, fluorescent lights make the mood even more dispiriting. Just as little thought went into the rest of the interior design: locker breaks are sporadically placed, sections of cinder block are placed in the middle of the halls which inhibit circulation and the breaks between various building additions that happened over the years are not smoothed over.

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The institutional, subterranean atmosphere is present throughout the building.

The school’s relationship with the site is minimal, but even the circulation between various spaces inside is questionable. For one, the main hall stops short of the last two halls, forcing traffic through the upper F Hall intersection and creating major congestion. Likewise, class changes before and after lunch are especially hectic because of the massive onslaught of people forcing their way out of the cafeteria and into the classroom block. Moreover, the placement of the CT Hall in the middle of the A Hall drives home the notion that Chattahoochee is a maze-like mess of competing components.

The one simple part of the design is that it’s composed of four basic geometric shapes: circles, squares, rectangles and triangles. The circular, dome-capped gym is an innovative element evoking images of large stadiums or even the Colosseum, albeit without the arches. However, the curved walls clash with the rigid lines of the rest of the building. The gym lobby’s north wall ends up bending so that the northeast corner extends awkwardly beyond the normal foot traffic area. The connection from the gym to the cafeteria is also graceless, as the sliver of lower ceiling between the two forms a hall of gawky, varying width. Lastly, the curved wall in the media center, though it makes the space interesting, is completely unnecessary and looks foreign compared to the hard lines near the entrance.

Though efforts were made to improve the aesthetics (gable skylights in the intersections, colonnade-like sides in the cafeteria and a well designed gallery space as an auditorium lobby), this building is quite strictly utilitarian. There is no life here, only masses and forms. It speaks to a very conservative model of education, one in which the teacher lectures and the only job for students is to listen and scurry around between classes. The few examples of flexible classrooms are results of later renovations. This explains the lack of communal spaces in the building. Very scarcely are there places to sit, catch up with friends or work on homework, and even in the areas that have some sort of seating, it is always very limited.

More recent developments look promising, however. Towering almost two stories over the original building, the new entrance stands as a stark yet welcome contrast. The breadth of the arched roof, monumental nature of the stone pillars and liveliness of the glass curtain walls draped around stand as a testament to what Chattahoochee truly values, even though the rest of the building might not always align with it. Its greatest asset is the addition of more communal space. Though the administration doesn’t quite allow the entrance to function like this, the school desperately needs it to. The uplifting environment it creates and the way it connects with the site is almost analogous to Le Corbusier’s concept of raising buildings on “pilotis.” Again, it’s not about what it is, but rather what it could be.

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“Towering almost two stories over the original building, the new entrance stands as a stark yet welcome contrast.”

In addition, the new lecture design and layout in G125 brings an air of freshness, new paint colors throughout the building lighten the atmosphere and the current media center is both innovative and successful. The greatest outlook comes from the art hall, where student work and instillations adorn the walls bringing splashes of color and vibrancy. This truly sets an example for the rest of the building. Perhaps we should not think of Chattahoochee’s architecture as a dismal failure (not that it isn’t) but more as a blank canvas: a chance for opportunity. These institutional, cinder block walls could be so much more.

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Flavor Juicery vs The Juice Bar

BridgetHoffmann, Staff Reporter

Flavor Juicery and The Juice Bar both look like the average shop on the outside but each offers its own unique variety. Both shops include so much more than juice and smoothies, with menus that include acai bowls, sandwiches and even oats.

To get down to the food itself, though, I feel like The Juice Bar’s speciality is smoothies and Flavor Juicery hit the nail on the head for desserts. The Aloha Smoothie Bowl with coconut water is the bomb, and the Strawberry Shortcake bowl at Flavor Juicery has a special place in my heart and really draws me in. Also, Flavor Juicery has this amazing toast – I always ask for the extra avocado.

This recent trend of restaurants going healthy is different but inviting. The trend started in Los Angeles when an assortment of restaurants and juicery stands started popping up around town. Both The Juice Bar and Flavor Juicery have wellness shots that are filled with vitamins and nutrients essential for becoming healthier. These restaurants made me watch my diet and made me appreciate juice bars and smoothie bars more in general.

Additionally, these juice bars also offer a variety of juices for a cleanse. A juice cleanse is a type of diet that involves consuming juice for five to seven days to lose weight and detoxify the body. The juices are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds which boosts the immune system and help people feel more energetic. These juices also help the gut work more efficiently and improve digestion. I have personally never done it, but it sounds like a perfect idea to do before spring break and vacations to avoid the gym. I find myself trying new combinations of fruits and vegetables combined I never thought I would like thanks to these juice bars.

The prices are relatively affordable at both shops; I ordered a smoothie for $7 at most. I would recommend them both to anyone, especially if you are looking for something sweet on a diet.

Prom 2018: Benz There, Done That!

OliviaErickson, Noodlehead-in-Chief and GraceSassaman, Future Dawg

Prom is always a nice coming-of-age event for upperclassmen and a last hurrah for seniors to conclude their high school lives. Chattahoochee High School students were incredibly lucky this year that the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a sophisticated yet sporty venue that appealed to students and teachers alike was the venue this year. As groups of students filed off of their party buses and Ubers, a brilliant sunset greeted our eyes just to the right of the entrance.

While some parts of this year’s prom were predictable, such as the long lines for photos and the whole dance floor participating in the Cha-Cha Slide, Prom 2018 otherwise pleasantly surprised everyone who attended because of the incredible atmosphere.

The scintillating dance floor and enthusiastic DJ gratified partiers and dancers, and the lounge area with couches was an excellent place to take a break from censored 2008 pop hits. If attendees grew tired of the loud music and indoor setting, they also had the option to step out and peer onto the beautiful new stadium field. The ceiling of the stadium was lit with lights every color of the rainbow, and it proved to be the most extravagant and beautiful decoration at the dance.

Our personal favorite hallmark of the night was the Sublime Doughnuts catering. Tables of desserts were stocked and restocked with mouthwatering banana- cream-filled donuts and chocolate cupcakes. The doughnuts donned the name of our beloved city, ATL, so they were equally as aesthetically pleasing as they were palate pleasing.

After much snacking and posing for pictures, this year’s Prom King and Queen were announced. Henry Green and Erin Pitt, despite being each other’s exes, were crowned Prom King and Queen. It was only a little bit awkward because Caroline Saleb was one of the contestants, who is actually currently in a relationship with Green.

It’s easy to have a love-hate relationship with prom because of the overhype, but Prom 2018 was hyped just enough, and everyone had an enjoyable time.

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.

The Insanity of Hooch One Acts

CarolineKurzawa, Staff Reporter

The Chattahoochee High School One Acts took place Oct. 12-14 at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium. The One Acts showcase included two shows: “It’s a Wonderful Neverland” by Patrick Greene and “The Insanity of Mary Girard” by Lanie Robertson. A One Act is not the same as a musical in that there are no musical interludes or large song breaks. Additionally, One Acts run about an hour long, but for competition pieces, the time must be shaved down to fifty-five minutes.

The first show of the night, “It’s a Wonderful Neverland,” was a blend between the classic tale of Peter Pan and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Tinkerbell’s cousin, Stinkerbell, played by Gavin Van Beveren, leads Peter Pan through what his life would have looked like if he had never come to Neverland. The show was light and heartfelt, and Van Beveren’s performance as Stinkerbell stole the show with his quick wit and deep character development.

The second show, “The Insanity of Mary Girard,” contained very mature content such as domestic  abuse and rape, and young members of the audience were asked to leave before the show began. “Mary Girard” is based on a true story and takes place during the 1700s at a mental asylum in Pennsylvania. Mary Girard is declared mentally insane after her husband discovers she is pregnant with another man’s child, confusing the symptoms of pregnancy with those of insanity. Throughout the show, figments of Mary’s imagination play past patients of the asylum and ghosts of her past. The show reaches its climax when Mary has a confrontation with her husband in which he accuses her of never properly filling the role of a wife and bearing his children. A pseudo-rape scene occurs, and Mary seems hopeless and defenseless. However, Mary stands up for herself and tells her husband that she was unable to bear his children because he is impotent and void of feeling. Mary eventually submits to her hallucinations, going insane, and ends the show manically laughing in a torture chair while the lights dim and the stage fills with an eerie red glow.

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“Mary Girard” was riveting from beginning to end. Kayleigh Cook’s portrayal of Mary Girard was hauntingly beautiful, raw and incredibly well done. The entire cast seemed to share a special chemistry that allowed them to immerse themselves in the show and create magic, even with the darkest of material.

However, the cast of “Mary Girard” is not finished yet. They go to competition with this piece on Oct. 28 at Johns Creek High School. Teema Yassine, who portrayed a nurse, feels “really good” about their chances at competition and believes that there were “several small things” that brought the show to “a completely different level.”

The Modern Sirens of Coast Modern

TaisFerreira, Staff Writer

When one is asked what their definition of a concert is, the answer most likely describes an upscale venue, hundreds of people and a well-known band performing. And while many do prefer a large-scale concert, numerous others lean towards smaller venues. Smaller venues provide the audience with a more intimate feel with the performers and calmer environments that allow the sound to be clearer. Smaller venues in Atlanta usually consist of The Tabernacle, The Loft, Vinyl and Terminal West. These venues host a variety of aspiring bands and artists.

On September 30, Coast Modern, an American indie band that originated in Los Angeles, California, performed at The Vinyl. The band is a duo of Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp as lead singer and guitarist respectively.

Due to the concert taking place at the Vinyl, tickets were only $15 per person and all ages were welcomed. Arriving to the venue was an easy ride through a few highways, and parking was located within the same building as the concert room. Upon walking into the concert room, a bouncer checks identifications to permit entrance into the concert. The room had a relaxing environment to it with the lights dim and the stage paired with soft blue lighting along the curtains.

The concert started off with an opening show by Trash Panda, a three man psychedelic rock band. After a 40-minute opening rock performance, Coast Modern started setting up their drums on stage before coming out. They started off with singing their most popular songs from their most recently launched album. Both singers were accompanied by an extra guitarist and drummer that added to the overall rich and deep toned bass. Coast Modern sang for about an hour and when the crowd requested an encore, they quickly ran out and happily provided a final song. Overall the artists performed with clear voices and took advantage of the intimate atmosphere the small venue provided and it created a captivated crowd.

Freshman 15, More Like Freshman 50

Cookout- Here’s the thing, Cookout is possibly the best thing since sliced bread. If you are a broke college student, this is one of the best places for you. Why you ask? Because of the $5 Cookout Tray. This tray consists of one entrée aka burger, two sides, and your choice of drink. It’s an extra dollar for a fancy shake, but it’s well worth the splurge. The serving sizes are a bit on the smaller size, but whose complaining when it costs five dollars. Little suggestion on my end…get the cheer wine!

Wendy’s- Hold the phone because things just got interesting. Wendy’s changed the game a couple years ago by introducing college students to a little something called the 4 for $4 meal. What does this include you ask? Well this godly deal gives you a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, four all white-meat chicken nuggets, small fries and a drink. Ask any college student and I guarantee they are obsessed with this deal. Also if you want to mix it up a little I would highly suggest spending a little extra money on a frosty and dipping your fries. And for those of you who aren’t about to have such a plain meal, you can head to the Right Price Right Size Menu. There they have cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, nuggets, salads, chicken wraps, frosty’s, tea and lemonade. All-in-all no human college student can resist a Wendy’s.

Sonic- My last money saving fast food restaurant is none other than Sonic. During the afternoon Sonic has what they call “Happy Hour”. From 2:00pm-4:00pm enjoy half off drinks, teas and slushes. You can also grab your choice of corndogs, mozzarella sticks, onion rings and tots for just $0.99. Not to mention the Late Night Happy Hour that goes on after 8:00pm. This includes half off on all shakes at the Sonic Drive-In after eight. Sonic also constantly has new deals, the most current being Sonic Tuesday Special. Starting May 1, 2017 every Tuesday from 5:00pm-close all single-patty cheeseburgers are half price. My final deal that makes me fixated on Sonic is their $3 Breakfast Before 10am. You can get a breakfast burrito and a cup of Green Mountain Coffee or a fountain drink for $3. Not only that but it’s guaranteed to be ready for you in two minutes. What more could you ask for?

Buffalo Wild Wings- Let’s be real, I’m crazy about fast food. Sadly, I can’t write down every single restaurant that I would visit on the weekly. This is one of my favorites though. So why do I love Buffalo Wild Wings so much you ask? One thing…WINGS! Who doesn’t like some buffalo wings late at night? Plus, not trying to be the girl to tell you that cheap food is the best food, but ½ Price Wing Tuesday is an existing thing. For those wing haters, they also have salads, burgers, wraps and a little something called Buffalo Loaded Tots. They also have some of the most interesting drinks like any Red Bull you can think of, blueberry mint lemonade, black cherry limeade and something they call ginger lemonade. This place has it all and there isn’t a lot I need to tell you to convince you that this should be your new craving.

Panda Express- Buckle your seatbelts because you are about to be cultured. Sure, Panda Express isn’t exactly “real” Chinese food, but it’s as close to being Chinese as Taco Bell is to being Mexican. I’m not even in college yet and I already go to Panda Express on the weekly. They have plates and bowls for food. A plate consists of two entrees and your choice of side and a bowl has one entrée and one side. And let me tell you right now, just looking at the menu online makes me crave some orange chicken and tea. Panda Express literally goes all out with the Chinese theme. They have milk tea, fruit tea and lemonade tea (isn’t that just lemonade). I for one think it’s great to prep college students for what their twenties’ dinner will be like because I guarantee you’re going to want to get use to yummy take out now. Plus, this is like ramen that tastes good and you can never go wrong with that.