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

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 .

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.”

Opinion: Does Wealth Determine Your Success?

No matter race, gender or class, everyone wants to be successful. However, what does success mean in simple terms?

Success means achieving or accomplishing a goal. This goal could be getting a high paying job or it could be being fulfilled in life through various ways. When asked the question of whether success comes from wealth or wellbeing, two upcoming college freshmen said that happiness was the most important factor in their lives. Coming from their own personal experiences, Olivia and Ivy said their situation may not be the same for everyone, but their wellbeing mattered the most.

Billionaire entrepreneur and businessman Richard Branson wayed into the debate as well. While the founder of Virgin Records has billions of dollars, he disagrees with the widely known statement “money equals happiness”.

“Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people they associate with,” he wrote. “In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are.”

Entrepreneur and television personality Mark Cuban also offers his opinion on the topic.

“To me, success is waking up in the morning with a smile on your face, knowing it’s going to be a great day,” he said.

Additionally, it is evident that not all successful people have millions of dollars lying around. Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. While his paintings are now worth millions, he did not have that much money while he was alive. Despite this, Van Gogh is deemed successful and is one of the most influential artists of the 21st century. 

On the other hand, money can lead you to live a better lifestyle, which contributes to becoming successful. A research study at Binghamton University in New York found that success materialism (wealth and material possessions are a sign of success in life) positively influences life satisfaction by boosting a person’s economic satisfaction. 

While this may be true, many successful people had a hard upbringing and became successful through their own determination. Oprah Winfrey, for example, grew up in poverty. This obstacle did not stop her from working hard and becoming one of the most inspiring talk-show hosts in America. This just goes to show that having money does not drive peoples’ actions. Ambitions, dreams and goals are the reason people get to where they want to go. 

In simple terms, having money does not mean you are successful. On the other hand, having no money doesn’t mean you are not successful. Success is a personal achievement that has no limits. 

Joe Dennis Blog 2

ATHENS, GEORGIA- Joe Dennis is one known for his intelligence towards journalism and his wise knowledge for young students interested in journalism. 

“I really like journalism” said Joe Dennis while talking to a group of young high school kids at a journalism camp located at the University of Georgia held June of 2022. “I’ve always had a heart to look out for the people that have been forgotten.” 

For one week in June, a group of 20 kids gathered around a table to learn from Joe Dennis himself. On their first day of camp, Joe had decided that the students may conduct an interview about him. Around their table, each kid had a chance to ask Joe whatever questions they had liked. Along with all the journalism questions, Joe had reflected many questions back to his childhood, especially his culture. 

“It feels right to me” is what Joe said when talking about his family gatherings. “It is interesting how that impacted my childhood.” 

Dennis had revealed that he comes from a Filipino family. Both his mother and his sister had immigrated over to the United States while his father was born in Michigan. Joe was raised in Chicago and moved down to Georgia with his wife. When talking about memories from his childhood, Dennis said that he was embarrassed of his culture, this was until he was older. He is now proud of being Filipino and likes to incorporate it into his children’s life. Including this part of his life is an important step for Joe, and so his religion, 

“I was Catholic” said Joe, but then had stated, “I was too Catholict out”. 

Raised as a Catholic, Joe had stopped after meeting his wife. Due to their beliefs being different, they both decided to find a religion that could share some of the same beliefs and values, especially when it came to raising their children. When it came to the decision, they had both decided to be Methodists. Joe had mentioned that raising kids with the same values and beliefs is very important. 

“I’ve taught hundreds of kids that are now in media”. 

Due to his amazing teaching and his knowledge, Joe has led many kids to become the greatest people they were meant to be. He led this young group of journalism kids to broaden their worlds and to view it in a bigger picture. Even with his comedic teaching methods, Joe still continues to impact kids in and out of school. He is a person that takes pride in himself and shows how to be confident. 

“Which is what I am”

Blog #2

With this being her first year here, Heaven navigates through the challenges of journalism.

“The toughest would be just learning a whole new skill and expecting to be good at it. Like wanting assignments to be turned in within three weeks, when three weeks ago I didn’t know what journalism was.”

Heaven originally came from Eastern Michigan University, where she received her bachelor’s in literature language and writing. Before she became invested in journalism, theater arts and communication was one of her main priority. Over a period of time her interest began to shift when she realizes what she really wanted to devote her time too.

“To answer your question was because a door open and why not, walk through it.” she said.

Heaven wanted to continue her path on mass communication, due to the fact that she minored in it back at Eastern Michigan. Her goal was to continue that pathway and continue learning about communications.

“I wanted to go to school for mass communication, you know I did my minor in communications.” she said.

Heaven explains how switching from a theatre and literature background to a journalistic background can be difficult. Especially because of those two different paths involve different types of writing. she then goes on and explains about different experienced that she had which helped her learn more about herself in this field.

“My advice to you, which i’m still struggling with, don’t be afraid to get told that you are doing something wrong.”


My name is Sebastian. I was born in Decatur, Georgia and moved to Oconee County when I was 6.

I’ve played the saxophone since 6th grade — I like the instrument because it’s a great medium to express some of my favorite music, which is jazz.

I started wrestling a couple years ago, and I wrestle in the 160 class (though that’s not what I weigh right now). I’m okay at wrestling, but better at saxophone.

I am at journalism camp to try to learn more about reporting. Reporting is something I’ve always thought was cool from watching the reporters on TV, because they where in dangerous situations like war zones and natural disasters.

Other than journalism, I’ve thought about being a lawyer – my dad was a lawyer, and the show, “Better Call Saul,” makes it look cool — he leads an interesting life. If he wasn’t a lawyer, no one would know who Saul Goodman was. Even though my dad’s life isn’t as perilous as Saul’s, he has just as many enemies.