Category Archives: Local News

Hope for the Democrats

MaddieYashinsky, Sports Editor

Jon Ossoff, who is currently running a firm specializing in anti-corruption investigations, was one of five Democrats running in a special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district. On Jan. 5, 2017, Ossoff announced his candidacy for the special election after previous seat holder, Tom Price announced that he had been named Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary. Ossoff quickly became the most desirable democratic candidate in the race. He was endorsed by prominent figures such as congressman Hank Johnson and John Lewis as well as state House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams. Ossoff has raised over $8.3 million by early April of 2017.

Ossoff fell just short of capturing a House seat in a longtime conservative area of Georgia. Ossoff received 48.1% of the vote. He needed to get 50% in order to win outright. He and Republican candidate Karen Handel, who received 19.8% will now face off in a runoff election in June.

It wasn’t the election results however that made this special election such a popular topic of discussion. Rather, It was the statistics leading up to it that impacted the Republicans living in the area. The election is seen by many as an early test of how the first few months of Donald Trump’s presidency may have shifted the opinions or voter enthusiasm of educated suburban voters who live in swing districts. Trump under-performed in districts with demographics similar to the 6th during the 2016 election, having won the 6th District by only 1 percentage point. Fulton county Georgia has always been primarily Republican. In 2012 Mitt Romney won by 23 points in this district, and Republican Rep. Tom Price was re-elected with nearly 62% of the vote in 2016 here before being named Trump’s health and human services secretary.

“There is no doubt that this is already a victory for the ages,” Ossoff told supporters the night of the election. “That no matter what the outcome is tonight- whether we take it all or whether we fight on — we have survived the odds. We have shattered expectations. We are changing the world. Your voices are going to ring out across this state and across this country.” Many supporters of Ossoff and what the campaign stood for coined the phrase “Flip the 6th” as the election was being held.

Helping Refugees at Home

Sireesh Ramesh, Staff Reporter

The Syrian refugee crisis has grown into one of the biggest political questions of the decade. Politicians and citizens alike have become strangled in vicious political debate over what to do with the millions wanting refuge. While many are questioning how to handle the Syrians seeking asylum abroad, organizations like the City Hope Community have begun with the refugees already in America. Founded in 2006, the charity began as a tutoring center for the minority of refugees living in Georgia. As the Syrian civil war worsened, the organization started getting more and more families from the war-torn nation. I met with Ellen Kim, one of the organization’s leaders, who told me about the focus of the program.  


“A lot of refugees come here not knowing any English.  One of our most important programs is helping the kids learn English as fast as possible,” Ellen emphasized. But tutoring families is not the only thing City Hope has done to help incoming refugees. After three months, government assistance for refugees cuts off, and then the burden of providing for the family falls on the parents’ shoulders. This becomes especially hard when most parents, still trying to learn English, are unable to find a job. City Hope helps these families by applying for food stamps and providing money after the three-month window ends. One of the refugee families gave me insight on how the organization impacted their lives.


The Qhadij family lives in a 200-square-foot apartment. The space can only manage to fit a closet-sized kitchen, bathroom, and couch covered in stains from the antics of five young children . A haphazard mix of paper is scattered across the carpet floor, its drawings matching those etched in dark crayon on the walls. “It’s been a hard transition,” the mother explains in her newly learned English doused in phonemes of Arabic. “[The City Hope Community] has really helped make everything a little bit easier,” she says, staring admiringly at Ellen. The family fled from Syria when their village was bombed by incoming ISIS militants. They escaped to the deserts of Jordan, moving aimlessly from camp to camp, before finally gaining refugee status in America three years later. The oldest of the five kids, Abdul, chimes in. Despite his lack of fluency in English, Abdul paints his words with color, creating vibrant expressions with each sentence, “I see on the news that many people don’t want me, us, Syrians here, but [City Hope] makes me feel like I belong.”


A Poetry Slam for Maya Angelou

Sireesh Ramesh, Staff Reporter

Maya Angelou defined the voice of an entire generation. Among the movement working hard to tear down the systemic barriers of race, Maya Angelou came forward as its loudest voice. Her poem, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, would gain national acclaim, its fiery language boldly expressing the sentiments of many African Americans at the time. Many of today’s most influential people – including the Clintons and Oprah Winfrey – credit that poem with instilling a greater understanding of barriers in America. Although Angelou passed away in 2014, her legacy is still palpable. Youth across America have found their voice in the lyrical poetry of Angelou. Because of her ability to connect to the younger generation, GPB partnered with youth organizations that helped impoverished children in Atlanta to host its first poetry slam in the memory of Maya Angelou. Named “And Still I Rise” to reference both Angelou’s most powerful poem and her undeterred determination, the program attracted teens from all over Atlanta.

The event was planned to start in a workshop at five in the morning in a small, black GPB studio dotted with rusty filing cabinets and precarious stacks of paper. At around 4:30, teens began to drizzle into the classroom, their eyes bouncing around the room under dark pouches from a nervous night’s sleep. Once the hum of a clock quieted the talkative crowd, the world–renowned poet Natasha Trethewey walked to the front of the class. Her steely eyes held an intimidating presence in the room that she kept for a few seconds before melting it with a warm smile and a light–hearted introduction. “Poetry was everything to me. Like a lot of you guys, I didn’t have much growing up. I know how important this is to you, and today we’ll work hard to make sure you’ll leave with something more.” As Trethewey’s introduction bled into a lecture on poetry, students sifted through their packed bags for their uniquely designed poetry journals. Some were leather bound and small, others were large and worn to a yellow tinge. Yet, what they all had in common were pages and pages saturated in ink from burgeoning ideas, thoughts and poems.

After the four hour workshop, twelve teens were chosen to present their work in front of an audience at the Georgia Broadcasting Center. The works at the slam ranged from heartfelt pieces on domestic abuse to more whimsical poetry on the quirks of life. But, what became evident after every performance was that each poet had an undeterred need for their voice to be heard. No presenter retreated to the mundane recitations many have become accustomed to hearing in a classroom. These performers used sudden crescendos, expressive hand gestures and even some improvised dancing to show the emotive qualities of their poetry in their own way.
Among the twelve contestants, Jhoanna Anderson came out on top. A senior in Cartersville High School, Anderson–like many youth in Atlanta – found poetry through the works of Maya Angelou. Anderson’s lips unconsciously curled into a smile as she recalled the days when she would “sneak Maya’s poetry books into her room and read them through the night.” Her lyrical piece ,‘Fatherless,’ was partly inspired by Angelou’s own poems on her struggles with the inner city life. “What really touched me about Maya was that she grew up in the same conditions as me and still managed to be so successful.” Looking down at her first place prize, a pocket-sized certificate that grants her a meeting with a publishing agent, Anderson remarks, “Maybe I too will be as successful as her one day.”

LDS Seminary at CHS

FernandaMorote, Staff Reporter

Students at Chattahoochee High School come from all over the world and religions spread far and wide. Students of common religions sometimes come together, and as for the Latter-Day Saints community, they join every morning before school for a scripture-study class which now takes place on campus. Seminary, a church-organized institution, is available for all high-school-age members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to the official LDS website, the purpose of seminary is to “help youth . . . understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple, and prepare themselves, their families, and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven.”

At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, seminary took place at 6:30 a.m. with Kathy Roos and Karen Hawkins. Upon parents’ and students’ insistence, Mark Hillam, the Seminary Supervisor of the Roswell Georgia Stake, began the endeavor of getting seminary to take place at school. This process, lasting six months, included “[reaching] out to Principal Corrigan and [meeting] all the insurance and registration requirements with Fulton County” before being able to work with the teachers to adjust to the new environment. As an aid to the initiative, Hillam asked parents and students to write letters to Mr. Corrigan “about how moving the class to the school would be a great benefit.” According to Hillam, “things moved quickly” after students vocalized their desire to have seminary at school, and the class officially moved onto campus on November 29, 2016.

Because of this sudden change of venue, the teachers have noted differences in the class. Hawkins and Roos say that they “don’t have the same teaching materials available” and are concerned that “students may not be as comfortable at school as at home.” In spite of their worries, daily attendance has increased by about 30%.

“The convenience of having seminary at school is only having to make one trip from home to school instead of home to seminary and then to school,” says Caroline Urbanawiz (SO). Although comforts of couches, blankets and hot chocolate are no longer available, the benefits trump the costs. Because of the early time, students no longer have to leave class early in order to get to school in time for a 7:30 a.m. study session or club meeting.

The 17 LDS students have class in M1506, located in the trailers in the Senior parking lot, from 6:30-7:20 a.m. every morning that school is in session. Students need to be aware of all of the activities happening at their school, especially in a community so closely-knit as the Hooch Family.

10th Annual Johns Creek Founders Day Parade

FernandaMorote, Staff Reporter

In celebration of Johns Creek’s tenth year of cityhood, the Founders Day Parade will take place on Dec. 3 at 10:00 a.m. on State Bridge Road between the Kimball Bridge and West Morton road. The theme for this year’s parade is “10-year Anniversary: Be the Exception.”

Johns Creek has a history that began in the early 19th century; it was originally a series of trading posts along the Chattahoochee river consisting of a small community of farmers. Nearly 200 years later, a legislative campaign was started with the purpose of founding the city of Johns Creek. This goal was realized on Dec. 1, 2006.  To celebrate the first year of cityhood, the tradition of the Johns Creek Founders Day Parade began.

Each year, residents of Johns Creek gather on the edges of State Bridge Road, watching their friends and neighbors march by. An official statement made by the City of Johns Creek says that “the parade has grown to more than 80 units and thousands of participants.” The groups marching in the parade must send in an application before Nov. 10. These groups include local businesses, boy and girl scout troops, religious groups, the local police, schools, teachers, and marching bands.

Furthermore, rival high schools march together non-competitively to celebrate their city. Teachers of the Year gather in a bus to wave at their former students. Homer the Brave enthusiastically bounces about, giving out hugs and taking selfies with spectators. Shriners, members of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, a charitable organization, drive around in miniature cars. And to top it all off, Santa rides on the back of an enormous fire truck as the final spectacle.

Ghost Out Week Kicks Off With Realistic Crash Scene

On April 12, As part of the week-long Ghost Out event, Chattahoochee’s PTSA hosted an accident scene reenactment in the school parking lot in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Drama students Emily Simes (SR) and Willis Hao (SR) played the leading roles in the first scene along with Johns Creek Police officers and firefighters depicting a fatal car paccident.

Ghost Out is a national program, initiated originally to teach students about the perils of drunk driving and other destructive decisions. Every four years, participating schools host a week-long educational campaign to provide students with a “real world” experience in the hope that they will change their behaviors.

Student Grace Juby[JR] stated “It really made me think about my own habits and how I really need to change my mindset.” This was the goal the PTSA was aiming to achieve, because texting and driving is such an overwhelming problem with today’s teens. According to the NHTSA, “Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of driv­ers who were distracted at the time of the crashes.” Inexperienced drivers tell themselves that it won’t happen to them because they already know how to drive, when in reality it can happen to anyone with the decision to reply to a text or a snapchat.

Students have evidently shown concern for this issue as the “Ghost Out” week drew to a close. As more and more juniors and seniors see the effects of these destructive decisions, they will stay away from or at least decrease their rate of driving with distractions, increasing safety on the road for youth and all drivers.

Ghost Week-The Thrilling Conclusion

Editor-in-Chief- Dallas Shook

Sports Editor- Nabeel Khan

Staff Reporter- Brandon Ware

“I have your life in my hands.” This quote, from the trial’s judge, was perhaps the most powerful statement from this past week’s mock texting and driving case. Thursday wrapped up this week’s “Ghost Out” storyline that followed Lisa – an 18-year-old that killed two people while texting and driving. The court scene that took place on Thursday was integral to this week’s safe driving efforts because many may not understand the possible legal implications of their irresponsible actions behind the wheel.

The trial began with Lisa’s mom pleading with the judge – telling him how Lisa is a great child and student who just made one mistake. The portrayal was so powerful because Lisa’s actions were not as severe as drinking and driving, but her life could still be ruined by this single mistake.

The prosecutor indicated that the state wanted Lisa to be sentenced to 45 years in jail for her actions, followed by the defendant saying Lisa should only get nine years in jail. Finally, the judge recapped all of Lisa’s wrong doings, describing how her actions killed two innocent people.

His words “I have your life in my hands” highlighted the complete lack of control Lisa had over her own future. Rather than revealing an actual decision to Lisa’s case, the judge and defendant spoke to the crowd about how they are real members of the court – and how this case was not as fictional as it may seem. Real people have been placed in these situations time and time again due to one mistake, and they hoped the message sank in.

While the case was supposed to be the focus of the events on Thursday, Andi Dorfman’s return to her high school seemed to get the most attention. Dorfman, famous for her role on both “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” is also an assistant district attorney with the Fulton County School System.

Dorfman told The Speculator it felt “weird” coming back to her old high school,  and she went on to add, “I honestly did not know what to expect, but they kept the place up really nicely. It’s great with the new atrium.”

Aside from the homecoming aspect for Dorfman, she felt this week’s impact was very important for students and was glad to be a part of it. “Ghost Week is really important to me as an assistant district attorney. I was just telling everyone that I saw so many crazy cases, but the worst of all must have been the cases in which kids that I knew were basically going away to jail because of one decision that they made, and that was to get behind the wheel.”