Category Archives: Seniors

Dispelling the Myths of High School

CarolineKurzawa, Staff Reporter

As senior year comes to a close, I have come to realize how much of what I believed about high school turned out to be a myth, whether it was about the academic or social aspects. Below, I have laid out what I believe to be the top ten high school myths.

You have more freedom in high school.

While this may be partly true, you are still viewed as a child who needs guidance and discipline, so don’t get your hopes up about high school being a free for all. It’s still a structured learning environment.

Your friend group will stay together forever.

This can be true, but more often than not, people drift apart once they begin taking different classes or become interested in other things.

It’s the best time of your life.

High school has some highlights, but it’s a stepping stone for another part of your life. It’s there to transition you to the next step, whether it’s college, a job or joining the military. The best parts of your life will probably happen after high school.

High school grades determine your college choices.

Yes, how well you do in school matters, but it is not the deciding factor as to whether or not you will attend your dream school. Most of the time your extracurriculars and personal essays also matter a great deal.

Every grade matters.

No, they don’t. This is not to say that you shouldn’t try to maintain good grades. It simply means that maybe not doing as well as you wanted to on a quiz or a test is okay now and then. It tells you what you need to work on.

The teachers want you to fail.

It’s the exact opposite. It’s their job to see you succeed. It’s what they want the most. Sure, some teachers are harder to approach than others if you’re looking for extra help, but they still want the best for you.

You’ll miss it when you graduate.

Most likely, no. You won’t miss it because you are in the next step of your life. High school did what it could for you, and you just won’t miss the lockers or smell of teenage stink.

There aren’t cliques.

Cliques are unavoidable, but sometimes they’re not a bad thing. A lot of the time, a clique is a group of friends who have either known each other for a long time or have bonded over a common interest.

It’s about the same workload you’re already used to.

One thing I was definitely not ready for when I started high school was the amount of work, and not just homework, but projects and class work too. I don’t know why no one tells you how much work high school can be, but it’s a bunch, especially if you are taking an honors or AP class.

It’s the worst.

No, it’s not the worst. Sure, there are some things that are not the most fun, but for the most part, most people will find either a class or an extracurricular that excites them and makes them want to wake up in the morning. The hard part is figuring out what that is because without something to be passionate about, high school can be four, long years of waiting.



It’s Garbage Day!

GraceSassaman, Staff Reporter

Minimalism is not a radical, unachievable lifestyle. Minimalists can’t usually fit all of their belongings into a single backpack; they can own furniture, full bookshelves, technology and more than a week’s worth of clothing. A key ingredient to minimalism is deciding which of your belongings are necessities and which are not.

This is especially relevant to seniors who will shortly be sharing a crowded dorm with another person. Whether you like it or not, you won’t be able to bring everything you own to college, and your parents probably don’t want to keep your clutter stored away either.

Many people are dismissive of the idea of minimalism and are hesitant to cut down so drastically, but you can start simply. A beginner’s tip is to throw away duplicates. Do you really need a hairbrush for your bathroom, one for your car and another for your purse? Throw those boys away.

Another way to slowly transition into a simpler lifestyle is by being more mindful with your purchases. It’s easy to fall for the convenience and inexpensiveness of those sweaters encountered at the mall, but before you buy another mediocre item, remember that the cheap polyester blend unravels after two washes. If you just save your money for a little bit longer, you can buy the perfect piece that you love. Minimalism is about owning solely the things that you treasure. If you truly think you treasure everything you own, then you can keep all your stuff.

Of course, everyone’s most prized possessions are different. But when you start cutting down, it’s easier to get rid of more. Most people are willing to donate a pile of clothes every year, especially seasonal ones. Maybe you don’t really need that Christmas sweater just in case you’re invited to a tacky sweater party. Just-in-case possessions are great to feel secure, but they usually just collect dust. But who knows? Maybe you will need that lone sock, just in case its long-lost match rolls out of the dryer in a few years.

Not only will minimizing simplify your living space, but it will also encourage you be more thankful for what you have. The goal is not to own the bare necessities for survival; it’s to keep only the belongings that add value to your life–which is a different amount for different people. It is liberating to cut down on possessions. There’s no wrong way to downsize. It’ll make it easier to clean your future dorm and save you money from mindless purchases in the long run.

In My Life – The Story of Senior Year

AndrewSearles – Staff Reporter

As the sun rose peacefully from the eastern horizon, his alarm erupted into a violent commotion. Groaning, Paul rolled over and smashed the snooze button. “It’s too cold for all this,” he uttered, falling deeper and deeper back into sleep with each word.


The door is smashed open. “What are you still doing in bed?”

“I’m sorry, mother. I’m getting up.”

“You know you have important things to do! You do want to graduate, don’t you?”

“Of course, mother.”


He pulls into the parking lot, finds an empty spot, turns off the engine, locks the car and walks into class. He is 15 minutes late, but the rows that would normally be filled with students are barren. Only one other person is in the room.


“Glad you could make it, Paul. I take it you haven’t heard what your final project will be?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Well, Paul, it’s simple enough. I want you to get out of my room. Oh, and don’t come back.”

“Excuse me? Have I done something to upset you?”

“No, no. This is just the most productive thing you could be doing with your time. There’s nothing for you here. Just go. Don’t look back. We wouldn’t want you turning into a pillar of salt.”


And with that he was off. He was freed, and by the very hands of his keeper. He looked down at his shirt, saw the Red Sox logo and was reminded of the freedom he felt being in New England. No taxation without representation? he thought. How about “No education without new information.” He chuckled and rode off towards the sun.


But wait here just a minute. This ain’t no cowboy movie! This is real life. This is senior year. Learn to accept it. Learn to tolerate it. Learn to live a little bit. Learn to love it.


This is the way the world ends.

This is the way the world ends.

This is the way  the world ends.

Not with a bang, but with an absence.


Searles out. Drops mic, walks away.

Free Periods are Free No More

Coming next year is a big change for Chattahoochee seniors taking classes at GPC–students will no longer have the luxury of a free period. In the past, school administration has been able to use a course number that is not associated with a grade in order to give dual-enrollment students a period for travel time. This is no more. This decision is not one that was made by Chattahoochee but by the state. The reason for the change is that having students who are not enrolled for a full day of school affects schools funding.

“We received direction from our district who received direction from the state, to require students who are not full-time dual enrolled students, which would be four or more classes at GPC, to have a full schedule,” stated Mrs. Christopher, the Assistant Principal.

As for the travel time that it takes students to drive from GPC to Chattahoochee, Mrs. Christopher commented that they will take it on a case-by-case basis when deciding what time is appropriate for students to arrive.

Some may have also heard that the school is limiting the number of online classes each student may take; however, this is not the case. According to Mrs. Christopher, the school receives enough funding for 200 online courses per semester; the school must pay for any additional courses on their own. The school will not deny any student from taking online courses; however, acceptance into online courses using add/drop forms will be limited in the fall of 2016. Next year big changes are coming and seniors should prepare to adapt.

Senioritis Season


The Centers for Disease Control is advising all high school seniors to be cautious this season as a new epidemic ravages the nation. This viral infection, Senioritis, attacks the nervous system, incapacitating seniors. In some cases, students only lose the ability to focus for long periods of time, but in extreme cases, students are unable to even get out of bed.


“We’ve seen it before, but it’s never seemed quite so rampant,” says CDC Director Tommy Freedan. “This year, we are estimating that upwards of 95% of high school seniors are going to be infected.”


Scientists have not yet determined the disease’s exact origins, but many experts hypothesize that it all began with the birds. “It really started when birds began aerily transmitting the disease.” explains Dr. Bob Webster, an epidemiologist at St. Jude’s who was the first to find a connection between bird flu and human flu. “It really is similar to the bird flu. The difference is the mode of transmission. The bird flu is spread through direct contact, but Senioritis is spread when the birds tweet. This tweeting is the root cause of senioritis.”


Doctors in Iowa were the first to come across the epidemic this year. High school seniors from all across the county were staying home sick, unable to work. The bedridden teenagers just wanted to be left alone. The schools were almost a quarter empty. Some teachers reported that they didn’t have any students show up to their class for the entire day.


While this epidemic has parents feeling very anxious, most of the infected are not even worried about it. “I feel awful, but it’s senior year. It doesn’t really matter,” says one infected teen. Doctors are only hoping that all of the infected can recover by August, when the students leave for college.

The Seniors Have Something to Say


2016 should be quite an exciting year for the senior class. In May, we will graduate and move on to the next phase in our lives. But the excitement of 2016 will also continue through November. Most of the senior class will be able to vote for the first time in a presidential election.

Surprisingly, only 45 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2012 election. However, at Chattahoochee, many seniors are excited to participate in the political process. “It’s super exciting. I’ve been watching all the debates and reading the news about the candidates,” says Ahana Gaurav (SR). With candidates like Donald Trump stealing the nation’s attention, it’s not surprising to see that our senior class has stayed up to date with the latest election news.

The senior class is ready to see changes in our nation. Samira Kanetkar (SR) wants to see a more balanced budget: “The debt has really gotten out of hand. It’s just scary to think that we will all have to pay off this trillion-dollar debt.” While many seniors are concerned with both our nation’s debt and the high price of a college education, Henry Smith (SR) sees another problem with how we are spending our money: “Campaign finance is one of the biggest issues going into this election. I like Bernie Sanders because he doesn’t support Super-PACs. Big money should not play a role in politics.”

The senior class has been most influenced politically by their family and their education. “I plan to vote for a Democrat,” says Kenneth Garrett (SR), “because my whole family votes for Democrats.”  But for other students, school has had a bigger influence than family. “My political views have gone in the opposite direction of my parents’,” says Jill Riley (SR). “The longer I’ve been in school, the more liberal I’ve become.”

Voting for the first time is a milestone in our lives. We finally get to help write the history books. Our vote can decide the election. Our activism can inspire others.  Finally, we have a voice in our nation’s politics. Finally, we have power.


Mr. Abelkop Interview part 1: High School and College


Mr. Abelkop is the debate coach for Chattahoochee. He is also an alumnus of the school.

Speculator(S): When did you graduate?

Abelkop(A): I graduated in the 2004-2005 school year. That would be about ten years ago.

S: Did you participate in any sports or clubs?

A: Debate. That’s about it. I started off as both a student in marching band and debate, and after the first semester I chose to focus solely on debate.

S: Were you able to balance debate with your school work?

A: Yeah, I actually was pretty good at that. It is something that poses a challenge to a lot of students that do debate. They have a hard time balancing the amount of work debate takes with the amount of work that their classes take, especially since most of the debaters are in honors and AP classes. I never found it too difficult. I was a fairly organized person, so I just kept to-do lists. Teachers were very flexible with assignments—if I was out for a debate tournament they would allow me that time to make it up.

S: Any memories at Chattahoochee?

A: I remember debate tournaments and the debate team back then. The debate team used to be in F122. I also remember Ms. Cooney’s lit class. It’s sort of a funny thing because a lot of teachers that taught me are still teaching here. I had Ms. Cooney, Ms. Hunt, Ms. Engelberth, Ms. McMillan, Ms. Nevins… there’s a good seven or eight teachers that taught me that are still teaching here now. And the majority of them remember me. It’s weird, going from being their student to now being their colleague. But it’s fun too.

S: Any struggles in high school?

A: I struggled a lot through high school figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I think that’s the biggest question mark that hangs over every high schooler’s head. The next few years after high school are going to determine the future path that you take, and making sure that you make a decision that you can live with and that you’re happy with is hard. And I definitely could have gone down a few different paths. It’s interesting to think about where I would be today if I had taken one of those paths. I applied to a whole lot of colleges, and some of them had debate programs and were very debate-focused, while other schools weren’t. It would have been interesting if I had chosen to go to a school and not debated in college, and focused more on college life. Debate takes a lot of time—the traveling, the preparations…you have to do so much research and be prepared to argue every possible contingency related to the topic, so work never ends. It’s constant work, and so because of that, for high school and college, you don’t have much else. You have your school life, you have your debate life, a little bit of a social life, and that’s it. It just takes up so much time. And the same is true for college. I have no idea what my life would have been like had I not done debate in high school or had I not done debate in college.

S: What was your major in college?

A: I majored in international relations. It’s a great field. It’s all about the way countries interact with each other in the international system, and that’s very much related to debate because a lot of the topics we argue about are related to domestic and foreign policies that deal with how countries interact.

S: You probably could have gotten a different career, although you didn’t exactly do that.

A: Yeah, I was thinking about that for a long time, and was thinking about it even after college. Because I majored in international relations I considered going into D.C.—think tank politics—to some degree. I actually have a lot of friends that have gone down that path. My debate partner at Chattahoochee is a fellow at the Center for Strategic International Studies and he’s writing all about U.S nuclear policy. That was a path that I definitely thought about going down. Ultimately, I have no regrets. I’m very happy with where I’m at now, so we’ll see.