Category Archives: Local News

Hooch’s Response to Parkland Shooting

RithikDoddla, Staff Reporter

On Feb. 14, the United States stood in disbelief and mourned what took place in a Florida High School. A heartless 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz entered a peaceful Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and shot innocent high schoolers taking the lives of 17 victims. This had not been the first time that innocent students’ lives have been taken as the Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Columbine shootings took many lives as well. But this massacre was different. Communities, especially high schoolers, are voicing their opinions and fighting for change to prevent another similar shooting from happening. Chattahoochee High School has decided to make a few changes to ensure safety of its students as well.

Teachers are now told to keep their doors closed and locked from the outside during class. This is to help prevent an unauthorized person who has entered the building from entering the classroom. Though teachers are complaining about the hassle of having to open the door for a student trying to enter during class, the new rule is appropriate because it helps keep the students safe during class. There is also a new police officer who is patrolling the campus and hallways during school hours.

Though the main entrances by the atrium will still be unlocked, all other entrances except the ones in the cougar lair are now locked during the school day. This is because the school wants to limit the number of entry points for an intruder to enter through. Students have been complaining how they cannot enter the school from the doors by the bus canopy, but they understand that the school is taking these actions to ensure student safety.

Chattahoochee continued to prioritize safety as they asked students to congregate in the gym rather than outside during the walkout on Mar. 14. There, students were around teachers, the police officers and locked doors. Administration felt it would be dangerous for a mass of kids to be outside on school campus where any infiltrator could effortlessly come. Though not many other schools pursued stringent safety rules, Hooch was not influenced because actions to any extent would be taken to protect students.

While students and teachers continue to adjust to the new changes, they all understand that administration is prioritizing safety over anything else. No one wants the Hooch community to be victims to be victims of a massacre and these drastic modifications are being to done to keep the school safe.



Team Pitt Forever: A Tribute to Coach Pitt

CarolineKurzawa, Staff Reporter

In the process of writing this tribute, I interviewed family members, coaches, friends and members of the Chattahoochee wrestling team. When I asked people to reminisce about Coach Pitt, I was met with the same message- how much time do you have? I’m afraid I’ll never have enough time to describe his wide reaching impact and heart of gold, but I’ll try my hardest.

Courageous. Kind. Compassionate. Father. Coach. Teacher. These and many more are some of the words that can be used to describe Coach Pitt. A man with unrelenting bravery, a heart full of love and a body full of humor, Adam Pitt wrestled with cancer until the bitter end. On January 8, 2018, the match ended, and a beloved member of the Hooch Family left us with full hearts and years of memories to cherish.

Losing Coach Pitt feels more like the loss of a family member rather than that of a coach or teacher because he was the true embodiment of the mantra Hooch Family. Not only that, but the idea of Team Pitt brought many people together. The idea for Team Pitt came quickly after his diagnosis. “We knew we had to rally the troops and help the family,” said Coach Hicks, a fellow wrestling coach and friend of Adam Pitt’s. Team Pitt came to mean great courage, determination and a life well lived. The impact of Team Pitt was clearly evident at Coach Pitt’s funeral. “[There were] 1000 seats at North Point, and there were people standing. That’s a testament to how many people he impacted,” explained Coach Cavanaugh, a Chattahoochee High School wrestling coach.

First and foremost, Adam Pitt was a loving father to his three children, all former or present Chattahoochee students: Kyle, Jordan and Erin Pitt (SR), and a husband to his wife, Dana. When asked if there was anything special she and her dad used to do together, Erin shared, “when Jordan would practice wrestling, he would take me to the Discovery Mall, and we would play putt putt and get smoothies. We did that a lot.” Adam Pitt was well known for his sense of humor and famous dad jokes. “Whenever he would leave somewhere, instead of saying ‘hasta la vista,’ he would say ‘pasta vino,’” Erin elaborated on his humorous antics. Adam Pitt was a family man through and through. Erin shared how incredibly supportive and loving he was, and how he never failed to show how proud he was of her and her brothers. She knew he was always in her corner. He was the warm and loving father every child needs.

In addition to his passion for fatherhood, he had a passion for athletics, particularly wrestling, which he helped pass down through his years of coaching. Before becoming a Chattahoochee wrestling coach, he coached his children’s soccer and lacrosse teams. “He was always a coach. Born a coach,” Erin shared. According to Coach Hicks, Coach Pitt was the wrestling head coach for about six years. During his career, Coach Pitt helped young men reach their potential as athletes while also sharing wisdom. Fisher Gabrels (SR), a member of the wrestling team, shared, “he was the first coach who brought me aside and started teaching me not just about wrestling, but about life.” “Coach Pitt is forever in our hearts and will stick with us every day. Every day we should all aim to be a little more like Coach Pitt by never giving up and always finding the humor in the situation,” shared Noah Latzsch (SR), a Chattahoochee wrestler. “The wrestling program was family” to Coach Pitt, added Coach Hicks about Coach Pitt’s devotion to the Chattahoochee wrestling team.

Adam Pitt was not only a father, friend and coach, but also a teacher. He taught in the social studies department for close to twenty years and helped many students meet their academic goals in his class. Hicks shared, “in class, if a kid was struggling, he would do whatever he could [to help them to succeed].” Coach Hicks explained that a unique feature to each fantasy league Coach Pitt joined was that each team was named ‘Kuala Lumpur,’ the capital of Malaysia, a factoid he made sure everyone knew.

In the wake of his passing, many people are remembering the gravity of his impact as a teacher and coach. In his honor, the wrestling room was named ‘The Pitt,’ so the team may always remember him and his perspectives on life and coaching. Coach Hicks shared the impact Coach Pitt made upon his life, by saying, “he wanted everyone around him to be at their best. He wanted to have a good time, and he wanted to make sure everybody around him had that same experience.” Perhaps his greatest coaching motto could be summed up as, “we’re going to work hard, but we’re going to have fun,” continued Hicks.

Additionally, Coach Pitt never let his illness define him. He never lost faith. Coach Hicks explained, “he never stopped fighting, and [his family] never lost their enthusiasm for life.” Even during the most trying parts of his battle with cancer, Coach Pitt still wanted to have an active role in the wrestling team and to “be around people,” said Coach Hicks. “He didn’t want people to feel sorry for him,” continued Hicks. Noah Latzsch remarked, “his moving way to always find the light at the end of the darkest tunnels was one of the everlasting impacts he made on me.” Moving forward, “we’ll always use him as an example of how to live,” explained Hicks. Senior member of the wrestling team, Fisher Gabrels, remarked that “[the wrestling team will] remember him and be strong. We’ll do our absolute best for him.”

Losing someone like Coach Pitt is felt deep in the heart and soul. He contributed so much to Chattahoochee as a coach and teacher and to his family as a husband and father. While his life was cut short, it left us with a message that shall be carried on long after his death- Team Pitt forever.

Update on the ATL Promise Center


SireeshRamesh, Editor-in-Chief

   The Promise Center opened in late August with the hope of reversing Atlanta’s recidivism and drug problem. With over a million dollars invested in the project, the Promise Center became the source of a fair amount of praise and criticism. Was a million dollars invested in a building and a couple of programs really worth it? Couldn’t a grant for schools in Atlanta or already established non-profits in the area have been a better use of the money? Though only time would be able to tell whether the Promise Center was an effective use of the money, the investment became a case study for the Atlanta government to see if use of public funds outside of the regular programs and grants could effect change in the community.

      The Promise Center was built with a three-pronged approach in mind: diversion, intervention and prevention. The diversion aspect of the program stems from the recreation section of the center where students can participate in team sports and clubs or contribute to the center’s youth-run radio station. Intervention is provided in the opposite section of the Promise Center. The center provides character and leadership development training, healthy lifestyle programs and group counseling, all in an effort to intervene in youth’s problems before the ramifications become too serious.  The final step of the program, prevention, is carried out through the extensive education programs the center provides.

In addition to these three goals, the Promise Center hopes to heal the broken relations between police and the community. These better relations fostered between students and government could help increase school attendance and produce healthier, productive outlets for youth.

          A year after the investment, the creation of the Promise Center seems to be paying off. The center has held dozens of events, each focusing on increasing youth engagement in the area. It highlights how government can go beyond distant economic or educational policies to improve the lives of its students. Creative programs like the Atlanta promise center seem to be doing much more than any stipend or loan could have. If government focuses on spending funds outside of the standard loans and grants, it could have a much broader and more positive net effect on the community.

New Prospect Shoots for the Stars

EthanBenn, Staff Reporter

Local students at New Prospect Elementary had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on Oct. 23 to ask questions of some of the crewmembers aboard the International Space Station.

To find out more about how the event was organized and how it went, I interviewed Ms. Kathleen Searcy, a TAG teacher at New Prospect who helped organize the event. Our conversation, conducted over email, has been lightly edited below:

Benn: How was New Prospect Elementary selected for this program – via request or random chance, for example? Does NASA offer schools around the country the opportunity to question its astronauts regularly, or only for certain occasions or during certain time periods?

Searcy: Schools around the country can apply.  I did a similar event thirteen years ago at a previous school, and I sought out the opportunity for New Prospect.  I submitted a lengthy application last spring.  Typically, three to four schools are selected to talk with the crew of each ISS Expedition Crew.  No random chance here – it’s a very competitive process!
B: What went into choosing the questions, and did the students who would ask those same questions need to prepare at all? How did they prepare to ask their questions?

S: I created a website for students to learn about the astronauts, the ISS, etc. After learning, they were invited to submit a question by filling out a google form on the website. We counted 184 students who submitted nearly 400 questions. Twenty students were selected to ask their questions, and the selections were based on their questions’ uniqueness, the appropriateness of their questions, the variety of their grade levels, and each student’s ability to speak clearly.

B: Knowing that they were talking to people thousands of miles away, what were some of the students thinking and feeling? Did they want to ask more questions?

S: Actually, the astronauts are not thousands of miles away, but are rather in low-Earth orbit, approximately 240 miles up.  I’m sure the students would have loved more time with them.  There was a sense of awe and fascination during the entire event.

B: In your opinion, would more question and answer sessions between schoolchildren and professionals, regardless of the medium (i.e. in person or via the internet), be beneficial to their learning? How?

S: Talking with real-world professionals is always better than reading about it in a book or learning second-hand.  We should do it more often.

Ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade, the students asked a variety of questions of Randy Bresnik, Joe Abaca and Mark Vande Hei, all Americans living and working aboard the International Space Station (ISS). These questions ranged from lighthearted requests of “could you do a flip right now?” – the astronauts obliged, of course – to the more scientific question of “do you have internet in space?” and a more personal question of “how do your friends and family feel about you being in space?” Bresnik, Abaca and Hei took turns answering each question, but were still constrained to a time limit of around half an hour. The astronauts also demonstrated how they ate and drank in a zero-gravity environment.

The opportunity the students at New Prospect had was certainly unique, and hopefully, as said by Ms. Searcy, “[the students] were also inspired. They are our next generation of explorers!”



















Atlanta’s Million Dollar Investment to Help Its Youth

SireeshRamesh, Editor-in-Chief

For young people in Georgia, Atlanta can be a tough place to grow up. With sprawling gangs and high recidivism rates, the state capitol has been a cesspool for violence and drug-use among young people.

   The Promise Center is hoping to reverse that trend. Formally called the At-Promise Youth and Community Center, the Promise Center opened  last month with the hope that it would provide a new, positive setting and set of resources for young people in metro-Atlanta.

      The Promise Center’s website highlights a three-pronged approach: “diversion, intervention and prevention.”

The diversion aspect of the program stems from the recreation section of the center where students can participate in team sports and clubs or contribute to the center’s youth-run radio station.

Intervention is provided in the opposite section of the Promise Center. Families have the opportunity to opt-in to clinical assessments for their children as well as therapeutic sessions that could potentially curb or even halt destructive habits systemic to teens in the area. The center also provides character and leadership development training, healthy lifestyle programs and group counseling, all in an effort to intervene in youth’s problems before the ramifications become too serious.

      The final step of the program, prevention, is carried out through the extensive education programs the center provides. They range from GED preparation to STEM programs and credit recovery for students currently enrolled, but struggling, in their schools.

What is expected from this multi-million-dollar investment made by the City of Atlanta? First and foremost, the city hopes to decrease youth arrests and overall recidivism by 10%. Yet, beyond statistics, the hope is that The Promise Center can foster a new culture and spirit among Atlanta Youth. Better relations among police officers and students, increases in school attendance and healthier and more productive outlets are all goals that the Atlanta Police Department sets for their community. The Promise Center, many hope, will help them get there.

Johns Creek Mayoral Debate

EthanBenn, Staff Reporter

Of all the issues ranging from autonomous vehicles, traffic, high-density development and natural disaster preparedness to building density, zoning and land development, questions about taxes truly dominated the Johns Creek Mayoral Debate.

The debate, put on by the student-run Johns Creek Leadership Council and hosted at Chattahoochee High School, included the Mayoral candidates and City-Council candidates
running for both election and reelection on Nov. 7  this year.

Leonard “Lenny” Zaprowski and Issure C. Yang are both running for City-Council Post 1, with Zaprowski attempting to maintain his incumbent status. Vick Horton, John Bradberry and Mark Venco are all trying out for City-Council Post 3, after the previous councilwoman Cori Davenport decided against running. Stephanie Endres, the incumbent, and Chris Jackson, who was unable to attend the debate, are competing for City-Council Post 5. Mike Bodker, the incumbent,  and Alex Marchetti, who was also unable to attend, faced off for the office of the Mayor.

While they may not have mattered to the few high school students in attendance, the audience paid close attention to the candidates’ responses to questions about taxes, even leaning in and praising the candidates’ responses at times.

The crowd applauded Endres while she discussed T-SPLOST funding –  the sales taxes, technically a special-purpose local-option sales tax, meant to fund infrastructure projects and school improvements. Endres articulated that she unwillingly voted for the T-SPLOST referendum so that Johns Creek could still benefit from the resulting change. Regardless of whether or not Johns Creek had agreed, she said, local residents would have had to pay the extra sales tax.

Common among the candidates running for Post 3 was a unilateral unappreciation for raising taxes. Candidates Venco and Bradberry debated over a question about funding for a new multimillion-dollar fire station in the city’s north end, and Venco suggested looking at how fire trucks and other resources could be reused or sent to other smaller departments instead of raising taxes.

Vicki Horton promised to cut the city’s operating costs by putting an end to private contracts and deals which put private entities in charge of city services. This contracting, according to Horton, was acceptable when Johns Creek was a developing town, not a city. Horton, it seemed, was intent on using her experience as an economic development consultant to her advantage.  Candidate Venco agreed with Horton when given the opportunity to make a rebuttal.

Balancing taxes between private businesses and residents, a question of which group should make up the majority of the city’s revenue, divided candidates Yang and Zaprowski. Yang, a business owner herself, argued against “double taxing” private business owners through payroll and income taxes. Zaprowski questioned her logic, asking, “so business owners shouldn’t pay taxes?”

Generally, fiscal conservatism was a principle to which all candidates in the conservative area of Johns Creek could agree to, matching the opinions and voting preferences of
many residents who turned out for both President Donald Trump and Representative Karen Handel.

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.