Category Archives: News

Construction and Changes in Johns Creek

LydiaZermuehlen, Editorials Editor

As more and more people take residence in the Johns Creek and Alpharetta area, a big problem is being created: traffic. With so many people in the city and on the roads, the streets are being pushed to their limits.

The City Council of Johns Creek has taken action by expanding some of the roads. Kimball Bridge Road is the first to go under construction, being transformed from a simple two-lane street into a four-lane road with sidewalks and medians. The construction on Kimball Bridge is not yet complete and will not be for some time.

While Kimball Bridge has been under construction, it has created more traffic. With confusing, not-quite lanes, cars move slowly so as to not fall off what has been paved. Having the construction in an incomplete state makes the road tricky to maneuver.

Those living in the Johns Creek and Alpharetta area, should know that Kimball Bridge Road is not the last road that will go under expansive construction. The City Council of Johns Creek announced on their website that Haynes Bridge Road will soon undergo construction as well. From Old Alabama Road to Mansell Road, Haynes Bridge will be paved and widened. Residents should prepare for traffic and most likely rethink their daily commutes.

One road that experiences overwhelming traffic daily that is not being expanded is Taylor Road. Two separate schools, Taylor Road Middle School and Chattahoochee High School, are at the end of Taylor Road. There is no other road that leads to these two schools and Taylor Road  itself is a dead end street. Taylor Road is a relatively small two-lane road that is over a mile long and creates horrific traffic during the morning hours and in the afternoon. Parents, students and teachers all have to sit for over 20 minutes in mile-long traffic to reach their destination.

Parents and students are angry and irritated about the amount of traffic on Taylor Road. Bobby Maples (SR) said the traffic on Taylor Road, “makes Kimball Bridge look like an open highway.” Ask anyone in either school about their thoughts on the traffic and it is a rant waiting to happen.


Qatar: A Diplomatic Crisis

(From left) Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Saudi King Salman, United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa.—AFP.  Via Dawn

NicRasool, Features and News Editor

As of 2017, the State of Qatar has lost all diplomatic ties with numerous Middle Eastern and Arab states including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This was due to accusations leveled against Qatar by a Saudi-led coalition–which includes the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Bahrain and Egypt–claiming that Qatar has been funding and supporting terrorist organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaeda. They were also accused of having far too close a relationship with Iran–something the Saudi government passionately despises.

Qatar has denied all accusations. They cite their support of the United States in the War on Terror, and the Al Udeid Air Base, one of the United States Central Command bases, built in Qatar as evidence of their work against terrorism.

But this did not satisfy the Coalition.

They began a blockade against Qatar. All flights from member-states to Qatar ended, and any Qatari planes were banned from flying over their airspace. All Qatar-flagged ships were banned from entering any Coalition state’s port, and ships were barred from sailing to Qatar which resulted in some shipping companies, such as China Ocean Shipping Company, to abandon the state altogether. All access to Qatari news agencies, like “Al Jazeera”, were blocked, and any social media posts that showed sympathy or support toward Qatar were made illegal. Saudi Arabia, which shares boundaries with Qatar, has even blocked shipments from crossing the border, including food, water and other essential supplies.

Qatar receives almost 80 percent of their foodstuffs from Gulf neighbours, most of whom are a part of the Coalition, which leaves the nation unable to sustain itself. Qatar is also relatively tiny, having only one land border with Saudi Arabia, meaning its farms are unable to provide for the nation.

In response to the blockade, the Qatari government has formed stronger ties with nearby allied states Iran and Turkey. Iran has been sending food supplies to Qatar and allowing the Qataris access to their airspace; Turkey has built a military base within Qatar and has pledged troops and weaponry to the state.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a political and economic alliance between Qatar, Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the U.A.E., was also impacted by this diplomatic crisis. Each nation’s head-of-state usually attends all GCC Summits. However, at the recent summit in Kuwait, a neutral party in the Diplomatic Crisis, Qatar’s king, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was the only head-of-state there as the others had only sent government officials–a blatant snub towards the Qataris.

Recently, Qatar has been isolating itself , leaving the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and their emir missing the Arab League Summit, and many are wondering how they will respond to the upcoming GCC Summit, held in Saudi Arabia, and if they might make an attempt at snubbing the Saudis in return.

On a macro-scale, the Diplomatic Crisis is an incredibly tense and stressful situation; however, on a micro-scale, it’s been more or less business as usual. According to a source who lived in Qatar when the blockade began, “By the fourth day, Qatar started buying food-related products from Iran and Turkey, and it fixed the entire problem. People now don’t care about Saudi.”  Though people are no longer panicking, tension continues to grow amongst G.C.C. members and the Middle East as the blockade continues.

While it’s unlikely that this will end any time soon–or even that it will end peacefully–the international community hopes for a peaceful resolution and for an end to tensions.

Renewed Interclub Council Promises to Shake Up CHS

Pictured: Assistant Principal Garin Berry (left) helps Liam Smith (SR) at a meeting of the Interclub Council on Dec. 12, 2018. (Photo: Nic Rasool)

EthanBenn, Editor-in-Chief

It’s a problem that many students seem to have: overlapping club meetings. What may have been one meeting Tuesday morning has become three or four – all at the same time – that students have to run back and forth from. This overlap increases frustration and confusion between various clubs at Chattahoochee High School; however, Assistant Principal Garin Berry and the Interclub Council have decided to tackle this issue.

The Interclub Council is tasked with improving communication between extracurricular programs and organizing schoolwide student-run initiatives: in essence, the Interclub Council is quite like a student council. Rather than students, the ICC’s members consist of clubs, elective courses with extracurricular activities, as well as academic and athletic teams.

Though Chattahoochee High School has individual Class Councils for each grade level, the goals of the Interclub Council are less focused on different classes than they are on the entire Hooch community. Though, like Class Council, “a diverse group across different interests can serve as a catalyst in school improvement and Hooch culture initiatives,” said Mr. Berry.

Rather than split school resources between a variety of club initiatives, “the ICC can leverage all the clubs’ focus on one fundraiser or one improvement,” according to Mr. Berry. While CHS “had an ICC on a small scale two to three years ago, it was effective only for the clubs that participated.” Greater student involvement this year, however, appears promising for both the Council and Chattahoochee.

Already, the Interclub Council is hard at work planning new initiatives and discussing how to better cooperate and collaborate between clubs for events like can drives, memorials and flyer campaigns. Representatives have also discussed the need for anti-bullying, mental health, anxiety, substance abuse and school improvement programs at Chattahoochee. Currently, uniting the various clubs and PTSA behind a specific cause has been a way to “start small.”

Furthermore, the Interclub Council has allowed some students with no prior experience in student governance to have a platform to voice their own opinions on what changes Chattahoochee needs. To Mr. Berry, the ICC provides a chance for members “to develop the capacity to fill leadership positions they don’t have within their organization.”

When asked about the future of the Interclub Council and how it might change CHS for the better, Mr. Berry commented, “I hope the ICC can make a schoolwide improvement in terms of culture. We have many amazing staff members, families and faculty to make this a special place, but being a special place doesn’t mean we don’t have obstacles – we have to continue to work to overcome those obstacles.”


CCRPI Scores Put Hooch at Top of County, Full Interview

EthanBenn, Editor-in-Chief

This is a followup to the article of the same title in the December edition of The Speculator. Principal Duncan had much to share about Chattahoochee High School’s academic achievements, and our interview below has been edited for clarity.

Q What can you tell us about Chattahoochee’s CCRPI (College and Career Readiness Performance Index) scores this year?

A Chattahoochee is always among the highest scoring schools in the county, and each year the state continues to modify the instrument to try to get it right. What Hooch has done differently – it’s unique approach – gets us to the top as opposed to other schools. CCRPI’s not like an SAT or ACT score, it’s not just pure achievement. With CCRPI, there’s looking at your End of Course Tests but also how all students are moving up the spectrum of learning. I think our faculty has embraced that, with opportunities to get help before and after school: the willingness of our staff to help our students is essential.

Q How do you feel to be at the head of such a high-achieving school? Do you have anything to say to the student body or faculty?

A Chattahoochee has always been high achieving, but there’s lots of other great schools. We’re seeing more competition as more and more schools are following our lead. Of course, I’m extremely proud of our continued great scores.

Q Where do you think Chattahoochee can improve its scores, since “closing gaps” and “readiness” are both slightly behind? What programs could students see in the future?

A While that appears to present the greatest opportunity, CHS is doing well compared to the rest of the state. It’s always a challenge: how do you lift the ones who struggle the most? We’ll be trying to break down our students into groups to see how we’re communicating with certain demographics. We’ll be making a more targeted effort to make sure all parents know about extra opportunities. When students are here at school, they all have the same opportunities for communication. And when communities know what’s happening, their students do better, too. How do you improve on an A+? But, we can focus on areas in the school that aren’t in CCRPI – we would see greater gains there.

Q What are your hopes for Chattahoochee’s rankings in the future?

A I want us to always be ranked highly, but – honestly – that’s not my priority. I have other concerns about how our students will adjust and succeed. I think the social-emotional area is where we need to focus; there’s a lot of new challenges that go beyond academic success: that’s where I want to put a focus. It’s important that we find a way for every student to be attached to CHS. It might not be one program, but breaking down individual students’ needs and seeing if they have meaningful relationships, are in clubs and are engaged. We have a lot of great things in place, but they aren’t always being used. We, the faculty, also wants to make sure that clubs are effective. Many parents have contacted me about their students not fitting in. I want to build what we have to make it as strong as it can be. People should to look back at high school as their best four years. Students’ happiness is not a datapoint, but the relations they have at Hooch in an environment and culture: kids aren’t datapoints. We have some amazing kids here, kids that will succeed without us, but we have some kids that will fail and fall behind without us. I want to identify that and see what we could do for all of our students.


The Hidden Truth of Tear Gassing Migrants

GiovanaDeOliveira, Staff Reporter

The use of tear gas by Border Control to disperse illegal migrants has occurred since the Jimmy Carter era. But what makes it okay to fire tear gas into the borders of another country?

There are strict rules and regulations made for the use of tear gas, but the U.S. has overstepped its limits on how and where tear gas can be used. In fact, it is legal for police and federal authorities to use tear gas domestically in riot-control situations, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. But the question is, how far is too far? Have the U.S. officials overstepped their boundaries by using tear gas on an international border with young children that aren’t even old enough to walk on their own?

The media and liberal activists reported and criticized that kids were involved walking through the border as well. This isn’t just an issue that seems to be morally wrong, but legally troubling as well. President Trump denied the fact that children were involved, but footage showed that there were in fact two children fleeing from the toxic gasses with their mother. The woman and her children were not involved with the flock of migrants that were attempting to cross the border; they were solely trying to get away from the violent use of tear gas that crossed into Mexican territory. The use of these chemicals is both dangerous and a violation of another country’s territory.

There are many dangerous aspects of the use of tear gas, and the effects — a burning sensation in the eyes, difficulty breathing, excruciating chest pains, excessive saliva and skin irritation — kick in after around 30 seconds of being exposed. The use of tear gas itself is not illegal; however, when it has passed the border of another country, its use becomes unlawful.

This is cruel and unjust brutality against migrants, and the use of these violent tactics by the U.S. border patrol should be prohibited and condemned. Other safer alternatives would be more beneficial to the U.S. to limit let illegal immigrants  instead of harsh chemicals that can have long-term effects.

To Exempt, or Not to Exempt

The weather is getting colder outside, the days are going by quicker and finals are right around the corner: it’s that time of the year again. Time to run on loads of caffeine to get through a night full of studies and come back in the morning feeling prepared, that is, until the caffeine wears off. And then – boom –  the exhaustion hits. But what if students didn’t need to go through this amount of stress? What if the students who worked their hardest throughout the year didn’t have to worry about taking a test that may make or break their grade?  What if both lower and upper classmen were able to exempt a final for the classes that they have at least an 85 or higher in? That would not only help the students focus on the classes that they need to pass, but also alleviate some of their stress.

Let’s be real for a second; we all know that there’s quite a handful of seniors that are taking some less challenging classes due to senioritis, and that’s completely normal. If that is what’s going on, we have to keep in mind the lower classmen and juniors that are constantly working and studying for their AP and Honors courses. Some may even be working harder than seniors to maintain an A-plus average in their classes. And for what? To take a test on the entire course that could very easily demolish their grade. Other schools such as Johns Creek High School allow the freshmen to exempt one final, the sophomores to exempt two finals, and so on based on grade level. As long as the students meet the criteria, they are allowed to exempt the finals.  It would definitely help the students that are stressed, and we are all aware that stress leads to numerous complications for students, such as depression and anxiety. In addition, why would students who have a perfectly decent grade in a class be forced to take a test that could potentially end up harming their average?

I, and many others, don’t see the reason why students should be obligated to take finals if they have worked the entire semester to maintain an A-plus average in the class. Keeping an A in most classes, especially in AP and Honors courses, is difficult enough as it is. Giving us a test that covers the entire semester is just more work added to the load. Our brains don’t have a switch that just magically returns all of the information we’ve learned. It takes time to reboot our brains, yet we don’t even have that much time because we’re too busy with another final to study for. Now, I might be biased because I’m a student, but that automatically makes me and other students more knowledgeable to the situation than any teacher. I think I speak for some students when I say that not only should seniors be able to exempt finals, but lower classmen as well.


2018 Midterms | Chattahoochee Speculator On Air |


On this special episode of the Chattahoochee Speculator on Air, Robert Hunter and special guest Ethan Benn dive into the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. From their importance on the federal, state and local levels, to the candidates running for office in Georgia and even student perspectives, the Election Special will give The CHS Speculator listeners everything they need to know for election day.
Special thanks to Alex Sotomayor and Molly Cleary for their interviews.

Music: Purple Planet Music