Re-imagining Magnet Schooling

Magnet schools in America offer the opportunity for students to access more specialized public schooling outside of their ‘zoned’ school, but many still lack truly diverse and accessible engagement with the benefits of the program. 

Mary Panitz, a student in the Cambridge AICE magnet at Rockledge High School in Rockledge, Florida, reflects on the ways in which the program has benefitted her. The magnet is an international diploma program which allows students the chance to take college credit courses at the high school level. Panitz shares some of the benefits of the program. She reflects that AICE generally has smaller class sizes, centers on writing and projects rather than tests, and also has field trip opportunities. As a student who loves reading and writing, there is one huge benefit for Panitz. 

“I really like it, I think AICE, has really improved my writing because the emglish classes are phenomenal… and I find it really interesting,” said Panitz. “I think I’m better at articulating nad communicating what I’m thinking.”

Laura Alyssa Plate is a teacher in Gwinnett County, Georgia who formerly worked as a magnet teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince Georgia County in Maryland. During her time in Prince Georgia, the surrounding population was around 80% minority while the magnet system of the district was vastly dominated by white students. In 1971, the Supreme Court ruling in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg promoted the usage of busing to promote integration in public schooling, but Plate notes that the changes haven’t been truly effective. 

“The magnet program in Prince Georgia County was created as a solution to theCharlotte-Mecklenburg ruling about busing, and it has not really gotten any more equitable since then,” said Plate.  

With much lower diversity within the magnet, the school starts to feel extremely separated -almost into two different schools. The environment of the whole district facilitates the idea that students within the magnet program are better than those outside of it. Plate taught students both in and out of the magnet and finds that those within the program often look down on those outside of it. 

“They (students outside of the magnet) definitely feel like they are worthless in the eyes of the school compared to the students that are in the program,” she said. “And the students within the program often would say things like ‘Well Ms. Plate you don’t have to deal with the other kids in this school, you don’t get it’ without realizing I also taught kids outside of the program.”

Even beyond issues of racial diversity and access within magnet programs, the issue of mental health contributes to decreased involvement. Ren Lloyd, a magnet student at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia, notes that for many of the students in the magnet program, there seems to be increased mental health issues, particularly towards the end of the school year with AP testing, final exams and courses coming to an end. 

“I know a lot of my friends who, their mental health was just really bad, really low, especially towards the end of the year when you’re trying to wrap things up,” Lloyd said. 

 Even though the mental health issue seems prevalent, the program -nor the school as a whole- does not seem not to provide resources to support students with these issues. Lloyd describes every school year as a cycle of just coping with the issues. 

“ I really don’t think the program does enough to take care of that. You have school counselors, but they’re not therapists,” she said. “It’s just a lot of  ‘I’m just going to cope with it until it gets better and the school year ends’ and then it just kind of restarts the next school year.”

This strain on mental well-being is not unique to North Cobb.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an American foundation focused primarily on health, created a report on adolescent wellness and cites key factors of a child’s life which could affect their overall wellness. Among factors like poverty, racial discrimination and trauma, an ‘Excessive pressure to excel’ is noted. Students in high-achieving environments face a unique pressure to excel in studies which lends to them being deemed as “at risk” for behavioral and mental health issues, according to The Washington Post. For students of diverse racial, social and economic standing, the presence of a magnet program only doubles (or in some cases triples) down on pre-established systems adding to mental issues. 

Though the dynamics of magnet schooling can create harmful environments for students both within a magnet program and the other students in schools, there is still the possibility to improve these environments and truly provide equitable and accessible magnet programming in public schools. Plate notes that one major change, which the Prince Georgia area is currently making, is shifting away from applications to magnet programs and instead to lottery applications. She mentions the success of the magnet system in Gwinnett County which has always used a lottery system.

“They (Gwinnett County) have had great success with a lottery system without picking kids based on what their academic strengths and weaknesses are,” Plate said. 

Plate also notes that aside from magnet schooling, there are themed schools, school choice programs and other specialized programs which can allow for greater access to the subjects, classes and topics that students are truly interested in. Though she finds there is much room for reform in these programs, she is largely a supporter of magnet, themed, and otherwise specialized programs in schools.

“We need to rethink how we send kids to magnet schools,” she said. “The more opportunities we can give them to find something that they love and enjoy in an equitable way… is going to be where the most learning happens.”


UGA Football Season Preview

Coming off a dominant national championship win against Alabama a few months ago, many say the Georgia Bulldogs are poised for another impressive season, It’s time to question if they will meet the all-time high expectations, despite a record setting 15 players being drafted into the NFL

“They’re talented players and hopefully they can fill the shoes of the ones that left,” said Claude Felton, a senior associate athletic director. “There was a time when those 15 guys who got drafted weren’t known either.”

Felton provided insight into how the program is run, including the process of recruiting and rebuilding year after year. He also spoke on the funding of the program, just for being in the SEC. “We received a $50 million check from the Southeastern Conference about a month ago,” said Felton. “Other schools like Vanderbilt received the same amount.”

All teams from the SEC are equal from a funding standpoint, but where they differentiate is in what they do independently to raise funds. Students have to pay a small athletic fee per semester to contribute. For fans and alumni who want season tickets, they must donate a certain amount to be eligible for the tickets. Amazingly, standard tickets have stayed the same price for three years now, according to Felton. All this contributes to the program’s budget.

Each school is allowed 85 football scholarships, so depending on how many holes and needs there are, the signing size will vary. According to Felton, the number is usually around 25 per year.

Some important players who moved onto the NFL are Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, George Pickens, and James Cook.

“Consistency is the key thing to maintaining the level we have experienced this past year,” said Felton. “If you look at the last 4-5 years, we’ve been in many bowl games.”

In fact, the Bulldogs have not only gone to bowl games, but have made two national championship appearances in the last six years. They have posted a 6-1 record in bowl games, and a 1-1 in national championship games.

There are no guarantees, but Felton is confident in the coaching staff, players, and program to do well this upcoming season. Although Felton acknowledges the Bulldogs lost several cornerstones of the team, he feels the 2022 team should be successful..

“It’s all about recruiting really,” said Felton. “We lost some good players, but that doesn’t mean upcoming players won’t become as good as the guys who left.”

Less Cars, Higher Prices: By Charley Lamberti

I recently saw an ad in the Denver metro area for a car dealer that shocked me. Basic cars going for extreme prices. A 2022 Honda Santa Fe for $55,000, Hyundai Ioniq 5 for $60,000, and a Kia Sorento for $40,000.

How can cars be so expensive these days? Hundreds of millions of people rely on cars in their day to day lives, and many of them can’t spend very much money on a car. The nationwide chip and part shortages has Americans spending more than they can afford on regular products.

Christie Smith lives in Athens, Georgia and has been car shopping for months. “Im waiting until prices go down,” and then she said “I would get a Honda CRV, Toyota Rav 4, or Hyundai Tusan,” Smith said. Christie narrowed her search down to these cars. “Honda and Toyota had no cars on their lot.”

She explained that she could order a Honda or Toyota, however the dealers couldn’t lock in a price. If she ordered one of these, she would be locked into a contract to buy it, however not know the price until she gets the car. “Hyundai had Tusan cars in stock, but the dealer would add many fees to the price, and the car would be $8000 dollars more than the sticker price,” she said.

These are called scarcity tactics; dealers increasing the price because the cars are so hard to find. It is basic supply and demand, where low supply in addition with high demand equates to a large price. Smith currently has an eleven year old Honda CRV, that she bought new for about $27,000. Today, a Honda CRV would be around $35,000, however with the added fees, it could be $40,000.

Smith is in the same position as millions of people. A local Athens resident said that he bought his daughter a car, and it was the same model he bought his other daughter 5 years ago, and it was $5,000 dollars more than 5 years ago.

As the world opens up after experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, and more ships with microchips come into America, car prices should go down; but until we see that day, people are going to have to pay more for cars.

Baby Formula Shortage

   Since Covid-19, there has been a shortage of supplies at stores all around the world. Unexpectedly it is affecting families by not
having baby formula for their children.  

“I’ve seen some family request for donor breast milk to feed their babies “ said Britteny minor 

   Brittney Minor is an upcoming mother with her second child. As you can see people are desperate ! This shortage can be very harmful to babies that aren’t  even born yet. As we scroll through social media  we  can see that a lot of mothers are asking for money and help to get the formula they need to feed their babies.

   “It can make their stomach upset, it makes mom and dad not get enough sleep, it can also affect their nutrients and also causes pain to their stomach” -Brittany minor. These are the harmful things that babies are experiencing .

   Even family members getting affected. People are sending their family across states to go to stores that at least have some baby formula.” family members have been pitching in buying me diapers and stuff so i can be ready” -Brittany minor.

  Even though Brittany minor hasn’t had her child  she states that “I’m still scared  and worried my child won’t be able to get what it needs “.Parents are really hurting during this especially because they don’t know when this crisis will end

Flag football rises in popularity

Flag Football is becoming a more popular and entertaining sport throughout the youth of America, especially between girls the ages of 14-17.

Karleigh Gorman, former high school flag football player advocates for girls playing flag football.

“It makes me feel like I’m equal to a guy, because guys always brag about playing football and girls can’t. It makes me feel important and it makes me feel like I have a right and I am empowered,” Gorman said.

In recent years flag football has made a wide appearance across the state of Georgia becoming more popular, a club sport and an official high school sport for girls. Only 15 colleges offer competitive collegiate flag football teams, with all the colleges being National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, NAIA. Only two of those colleges are in Georgia.

Flag football opens various opportunities for people of all ages. It provides people, specifically kids, the opportunity to branch out and broaden their skills. Kieth Wenrich, the director of recreational sports, mentioned that kids can benefit from flag football in all aspects. Flag football also opens doors for girls across the country and gives them more opportunities in the sports world.

“The ways are numerous, here are a few; physical activity, team building, socialization, well-being, leadership, sportsmanship, competitiveness, friendship, critical thinking, risk management” Wenrich said.

Many girls throughout Georgia have joined local club teams and or teams provided by their schools. This past year Fulton county of Georgia added flag football sports teams to most of their high schools.       

 “I do not see it becoming an NCAA sport.” Wenrich said addressing the chances of women’s flag football becoming more than a NAIA sport.

Although flag football is becoming more and more popular, it is not apart of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA. As of now there are no future plans for flag football becoming an NCAA sport. 

Even though it is still in the beginning stages of becoming more prominent, flag football is still enjoyed throughout the community.

Blog #2

Joe dennis who is the camp director talks about his path from being a rockstar to a journalist.

“When I first moved here in Athens, Georgia I was a disk jockey on the radio,” states Joe. “So I would dress the part.”

At the beginning of Dennis’ career he majored in the music industry, but he got an opportunity and ended up majoring in journalism. Dennis’ interest sparked when he met a girl and got into journalism, but then found out how much he really enjoyed it.

Joe dennis has taught me and my class a lot about journalism and the journey and how to be the best journalist we can be . When camp ends i would take his notes and advise along with me in my journey .

Georgia baseball reaches postseason

The University of Georgia’s baseball team experienced a disappointing postseason that drove players to work harder.

Christopher Lakos, the assistant athletic director for the baseball team at the University Of Georgia, addressed the 2019 season and why the team is not getting back to that dominant 2019 form.

“Last year and this past year a lot of good players got hurt” he said.

With the amount of injured players a lot of back up players had to step up. These players had to work harder, and keep their spot on the starting roster. Most importantly help their team win. some may agree UGA may have players that will rise on the scene

Lakos added , “We have three players that will have a break out season two pitchers and one hitter. The pitchers are Liam Sullivan and Jaden Woods and the hitter is Corey Collins”.

Fans may agree that these players might have a breakout season, but the rest of the team needs to step up. In the most recent postseason the bulldogs had a record of 1-4 and got eliminated from the postseason early. The bulldogs showed a glimpse of what they capable of in a game against Hofstra University, wining the game 24-1 with 16 hits and 7 home runs.

Georgia fans have seen the bulldogs get defeated and defeat other teams, and there is only hopes for the best as the new season approaches

Banned Books: The Importance of Exposure

Across the United States, high schools have been banning many books regarding critical race theory and LGBTQ content from being taught in schools or available in school libraries. While society may be becoming more progressive in recent years, the number of banned books has increased due to politics polarizing our society.

Dr. Kevin Burke, an associate professor of English education at the University of Georgia said, “Education is about what most ought we teach, and in what ways is it best to teach it.” 

In some cases the only place students have access to literacy is from their schools. And oftentimes, by taking these books out of school curriculums and libraries this can limit what students have access to and the types of content they are exposed to. 

Dr. Sara Kajder, also an associate professor of English education at the University of Georgia stated “You’re going to have a lot of folks who can access books because of their privilege, and a lot of folks who can’t. And that leads to other implications.” 

By restricting the types of content and underrepresented characters students are able to access, this can have an effect on how students perceive themselves and others. Dr. Burke spoke about an argument used in English called mirrors and windows. 

He said, “We read things to reflect our stories back to us in mirrors and we read things that don’t reflect back to us but to understand or to think with people and places and experiences that are different from ours in windows.”

By only having books available that reflect a single perspective, this can be damaging for students who don’t fit that perspective. It can also be damaging to society as only one type of identity is validated and displayed in the media, this can further isolate those who are different. 

Dr. Kajder said “Without books that help us see the world in new and expansive ways, if we’re walking around the world just with single stories, I think its going to make it so that we have even less ability to hold multiple ideas of being true at the same time.”

It’s extremely vital for young people to be able to have access to books that they can identify with and books that validate their experiences.

 “Theres something more dangerous in that the books right now that are being challenged are books that help kids see themselves,” said Dr. Kajder “If you’ve never had that joyful experience of relating to a character and seeing yourself in that character it’s limiting. It’s so limiting.”

Some may agree that it is parents or organizations that are challenging books. When kids read books that feature homosexuallity or ethnically diverse characters on their own, its not the kids who have an issue with the content, but their authority figures. 

Dr. Kajder said, “It’s very rare that theres a student who says ‘you know what, I’m not ready for this book’, or ‘I’m disturbed and disquieted by this book’.”

“Controlling the curriculum means that you have control in lots of ways over the information people have access too or dont have access too.” Said Dr. Burke.

By saying that controversial content in books are wrong, or removing contreversial books completely, teaches students to become ignorant to other people’s experiences. This is why it’s so important to try to fight the banning of books and keep books about all types of people in the hands of students. 

Cynthia Bolton is a high school English teacher from Rockledge, Florida. She said, “If we limit the materials students read we’re really limiting their experiences, and therefore kind of preventing them from being able to really unite a society and work with those who differ from themselves.”

“I think we do kids a really big disservice if we dont teach them to find books that speak to them for whatever reason those books speak to them.”

While challenging books is dangerous, some good can also come out of it. When books are being challenged, teachers may have to advocate for why a particular book is important. 

Bolton recollected on a time where she had to respond to a parent who challenged a book that she was teaching. She had to explain why the sensitive themes and topics discussed in the book were relevant and important.

“I think it was a good experience in the sense that we had to basically justify why we were teaching the titles, and that there was value and worth to the novel.” She added.

English teachers across the United States facing backlash for books they are teaching or telling their students about may not know what to do. Dr. Burke and Dr. Kajder both agree that its vital to have community backing when these issues arise. Dr. Kajder also makes a point that challenging a book does not equal challenging a teacher.

Teachers, parents, and community members must keep up the fight to have all types of books available to students and raise awareness about how important identifying with literacy is for everyone.

Dr. Burke said “There is an ethical obligation and a professional obligation to do what is best by our students and our communities and that inherently includes teaching about racial history and injustice and inherently involves teaching about the deep humanity of minority sexualities.”

Flash to the Past: Grady Camp evolves

The beginning of Grady College high school summer camp did not start with the Georgia Center. It was an independent camp for 37 years and only coordinated journalism classes.

“We had been running the journalism academy for more than three decades as a college independently.” Dr. Joe Dennis said. “One of the goals that I had when I was a director was you getting some freedom to explore because part of the experience is getting to know the campus.”

Prior to working with The Georgia Center, the camp’s name was The Georgia Journalism Academy.This Academy was established back in 1982. Dennis was the director from 2005-2015. He explained his technique and goals on how he led this camp for 10 years. Dennis tried to give campers time to explore and have time for themselves. Freedom was needed for the classes itself, as students conducted interviews with professors, students, local businesses or citizens in Athens for research about the pieces they were writing.

“The whole camp was a journalism camp and the classes were broken down into different beats of journalism,” Dennis said. “If a couple students needed to go across campus to interview whoever, we could call up one of those eight counselors to transport them.”

The Georgia Journalism Academy was run by 8-10 undergraduate students to take care of the campers. They would live with the campers in the dorms and help transport the campers all around campus. Since it was a journalism camp, campers would go and interview people for their stories. These stories could be anything from sports to features to editorial writing. Broadcasting, photojournalism and advertising were also offered.

 “Some of the people who have gone to this camp are now in big places, who work in media in CNN, ABC,CBS, doing PR for big companies now,” Dennis said. “I think the camp was a huge influence for high school students to see what their interests are early on to help them figure out what they want to study when they get older.”

This program offered six types of different journalism genres to study and explore.The more campers learned about the majors they could study, the more it helped with their long term career choices. Real people who have experienced this camp are now a part of huge companies and are thriving in the journalism field.

“If there’s any student who’s on the fence on whether they want to be a part of journalism, they need to come to this camp because it just furthers that passion” said Jack Patterson, a former camper. “The curriculum was awesome, I learned so much from my professors.”

Patterson went to the journalism camp in 2008 and 2009, and is now a professional journalist working as a sports anchor and reporter at CBS-affiliate WRBL News 3 in Columbus, Georgia. Patterson described his time in Grady camp as “Incredible. I have friends from the camps that are friends for life.”

He also explained the activities he got to experience: bowling, go carting, exploring the campus, and a banquet in the press box at the UGA Stadium. Patterson offers some advice to current campers: “Be resilient, there will be so many no’s but you have to bounce back.”

The camp has changed significantly since Patterson attended, in part due to its partnership with the Georgia Center.

“The Georgia Center runs the logistics so the dorms, food and activities,” said Stephanie Moreno, scholastic journalism outreach coordinator for Grady.

One thing that has changed due to the partnership is the out of class activities, which are no longer run by Grady. In a sign up sheet for the camp published in 2015, it showed that camp activities included rollerskating, a cookout, a pool day, a closing banquet and other outdoor activities.

Compared to that schedule, some of this year’s campers say that the current camp feels “unorganized” and “restricted”.

“I wish I would’ve know how strict the camp would’ve been before I signed up for it,” said Adriana Acevedo, a 2022 journalism camper. “It just felt like there was so much miss communication all week.”

Hockey from the South

When people think about hockey, the first thing that often comes to mind is ice, snow and the cold — all traits of Northern cities. Most would not consider weather and Southerners. 

“The south should definitely have hockey, it’s just a great thing to have,” said former hockey player Austin Treubert.

Treubert started playing hockey at the age of 5 and stopped playing his senior year of high school. He grew up in Freehold, New Jersey so he was introduced to many opportunities in hockey. Around the age of 10, Treubert played against a team from North Carolina. This is when he realized there were teams in the South. 

Current hockey players, Matteo and Luca Salvatore, found it difficult to play hockey after moving from Canada to South Carolina. “Hockey was the only sport in Canada, it was the only thing to do,” Matteo Salvatore said. 

The set of twins started playing hockey at the young age of 3 and still continue with their careers today. “Hockey is now in a different environment for us and it was hard to adapt,” Matteo Salvatore said. “Traveling really impacted me, there should really be more places down here.”

Since hockey has started to open up more, Matteo and Luca don’t have to travel as much. Both boys would travel every weekend and miss parts of the week for hockey, “Traveling took a toll on me, having to fly then play five games a day was hard,” Luca Salvatore said. 

Sophomore David Eberly from Atlanta, who plays for the UGA Ice Dawgs, faced struggles when traveling, “I can’t explain the amount of things I missed out on due to traveling for hockey.” 

Due to his travels up north, Eberly only got one weekend off, if he was lucky. Having to travel almost every weekend can impact anyone. As more states like South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia started to have more teams, this lessened travel. 

 “We have lots of opportunities (in the South) now,” he said.

Danny Bryant, the arena general manager for the Classic Center, was very open to the idea of more southern hockey teams. Bryant said that Athens, Georgia will be announcing the arrival of their new ECHL team. This new arena will help attract more people for hockey. 

Over the past seven years, the UGA Ice Dawgs — who will play home games in the new arena — have won conference championships and have proved themselves as a competitive team. “People love the Dawgs — we always have a big crowd,” said Bryant.  “Even the students love it.”

The rise of hockey in the South has done more than add another sport for people to play and watch. It also has created a community. “I just love being in the environment it gave me and the community it created,” said Matteo Salvatore.

Matteo Salvatore has been on multiple teams at one time with so many different players. Some of them are from the North that have decided or have been recruited to play down South. Players coming from the North to the South is not uncommon. The current UGA Ice Dogs roster features 14 players from northern states, including New York, Maryland, Wisconsin and Colorado.

Regardless of where they came from, all of the players on the team have developed a strong bond and have even taught others some other skills that they know. “It was fun learning new things that other guys had learned from up north, they definitely brought some newer things” Eberly said. 

Luca Salavote, a goalie for his team, said that it was important to him when he got to show some of his skills to other players that didn’t have them. Due to the lack of camps and training facilities in the South, many native Southern hockey players missed out on opportunities to improve their game. Eberly noted that kids from New York or Maryland have a slight advantage from the other players. 

Whether from the North or South, Austin said hockey players share a common bond — their passion for the sport and their desire to share their love for it. 

“Hockey is more than just a sport, it lets people come together and be one big family,” Austin said. “It’s a community of people that love each other, I think every kid should have that.”