By Kaytlin Tabb
Director Christopher Landon’s Freaky (2020) is a masterful, game-changer of a movie. Now I know that sounds like an overstatement, but stick with me.
This horror-comedy movie stars Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton in the roles of the Blissfield Butcher- a serial killer that strikes during Homecoming Week- and Millie Kessler- a seventeen-year-old girl. After Millie becomes The Butcher’s next victim, The Butcher’s mystical dagger accidentally switches the two souls. Millie wakes up in The Butcher’s body and The Butcher wakes in hers. Now, Millie must switch their souls back before 24 hours are up and stop The Butcher from killing more people. The film is a tribute to the slasher horror and teen genres- it contains references to classic horror and common tropes in teen movies.
Millie is the shy protagonist who has a secret crush on a jock. She’s beautiful but meek, and no one but the aforementioned jock recognizes her beauty. Millie even has the token gay best friend and black friend that gives good advice. She’s bullied relentlessly by the queen bee of the school and her carpentry teacher. In addition, her alcoholic-but-means-well mother and dead father further the number of teen cliches in the movie.
The Blissfield Butcher is the epitome of a slasher villain in horror. He has the durability, build, and mask of Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th with the air for murderous flair akin to Ghostface from Scream. He’s a silent killer, only speaking around thirty lines in the entire movie (both in his body and Millie’s), and he’s constantly out for blood. When The Butcher’s hideout is revealed, the viewers see that he frequently attacked animals and mannequins in fits of bloodlust. This trope is common- killing animals means that you’re disturbed, right? In the eyes of the serial killer genre, yes. Not much is revealed about The Butcher, yet another nod to the common trope of evil characters just being evil with no backstory to explain it.
Reading this, I make it seem as though this movie would be another run-of-the-mill cheesy slasher that is chock full of overused cliches. But that is just it, they do it perfectly with the body-swap. In having the body-swap be the main focus of this movie, Landon flips the script. Millie is suddenly confident and imposing, but it’s because she is actually a serial killer. The Butcher is suddenly apologetic and clumsy, but it’s because he is actually a scared teenager. It works, but why?
It’s the subversion of the tropes. Millie has her Teen Movie Makeover, but only because The Butcher finds her clothes to be too restrictive and her hair to be in the way. He kills the bullies in increasingly gruesome ways, he gets her Teen Movie Revenge. Millie’s friends aren’t just sidekicks, they are not expendable, they are instrumental in switching Millie and The Butcher back. Even the Sweet First Kiss between Millie and her crush occurs when Millie is in The Butcher’s male body. Her crush doesn’t wait until Millie is “pretty” again, he doesn’t wait until Millie is popular, he kisses her because he returns her affections and isn’t scared of the social backlash.
Where Newton is visibly the shy girl with doe eyes and a perpetual dislike of looking people in the eye, Vaughn is able to convey this personality in his forty years older, foot and a half larger body. Vaughn masterfully continues the characterization of Millie. He stays meek, clumsy, and confused. Additionally, Vaughn and Newton’s performances as The Blissfield Butcher leaves your skin crawling, they shift into an unsettling killer on the prowl and invokes a fight or flight response- or in some cases, freeze. Vaughn’s stalking as The Butcher is intimidating in the classic horror sense, it screams danger and violence. Newton’s stalking isn’t as threatening, but just as scary. She portrays The Butcher as being a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Despite the heavy teen genre aspects of this movie, it is not afraid to terrify its viewers. The music and pacing of its horror sequences- specifically during its cold open- leave you covering your eyes in anticipation. The gore isn’t for the faint of heart, however, be prepared for teeth-grinding brutality. It isn’t quite Saw but it is enough that you might want to steer clear after dinner.
My one critique is that there is not enough horror. Landon chooses to lean into the comedy aspect of horror-comedy, rather than a healthy balance between the two. The cold open and ending sequence are the only two truly scary parts of the movie. With immersive and truly scary moments, Landon had a perfect opportunity to use more of those scenes to contrast with the plucky shenanigans in the movie. I wished there were more instances like the beginning and end, I enjoyed the terror. However, if you do not like horror, this movie is for you. In my opinion, the horror sequences could have been dispersed along the movie and the runtime could have been extended from its hour and thirty-eight minutes to accommodate. This would have allowed for more opportunities for Millie and The Butcher to interact, showing the ways they both grew from the body-swap.
Despite these shortcomings, Freaky is criminally underrated. When asking eleven Alpharetta High School students if they’ve watched Freaky, 90.9% said they haven’t. I found this to be disheartening as I believe people, but teenagers especially, would greatly enjoy this movie.
All in all, this movie was a breath of fresh air, I enjoyed every second of it. From the snappy and quick-witted jokes, to the spectacular tone shifts during The Butcher’s killing made this movie a movie worth watching every Halloween to come.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
My Rating: 8.7/10
Categories: Writer: Kaytlin Tabb
By Kaytlin Tabb
Trigger Warning: discussion of sexual assault, discrimination, and mentions of racial slurs.
No matter how humble the beginnings, power can still corrupt.
In 1991, three graduates of UCLA founded the company Silicon & Synapse. By 1993, the founders— Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham, and Frank Pearce— decided to change the name to Chaos Studios. In early 1994, Chaos Studios was acquired by Davidson & Associates, however, they ran into a problem. A Florida company, Chaos Technologies, contacted D&A and told them to change their name lest they pay USD$100,000 to keep the name. D&A executives complied, changing Chaos Studios to Ogre Studios, but the majority of the company disliked their new moniker. By mid-1994, the company agreed to the name Blizzard Entertainment.
Shortly after, Blizzard released their call to fame, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, a real-time strategy (RTS) game.
Blizzard Entertainment has a history of bouncing around. They had been sold, acquired, or merged into 4 different companies, eventually landing with Vivendi Games and staying there until merging with Activision Publishing in 2008.
During this time, Blizzard continued to develop their Warcraft franchise and other, long lasting, franchises. A new game was born named Diablo. Originally created by Condor Games of San Mateo, California, Diablo was released early 1997— following their acquisition, and subsequent renaming to Blizzard North (while the Irvine offices became Blizzard South). This also earned itself a sequel, released in 2000, before becoming stagnant until 2012. Meanwhile, Warcraft gained itself two highly successful sequels, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), World of Warcraft— a departure from its origins as a real-time strategy game. The success of the Warcraft franchise prompted Blizzard to create a sci-fi extension, StarCraft, one of the flagships of modern-day esports.
In 2006, Activision Publishing, during their fight with bankruptcy, noticed the revenue Blizzard brought in because of the Warcraft franchise. By 2008, the two companies merged into Activision Blizzard and continued to develop new expansion packs for World of Warcraft and new games such as Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, and Overwatch 2.
For a long time, Blizzard was on top. Sure, they had their run-ins with controversies, a lawsuit for unlawful collection of data, copyright infringement, punishing esports player, Blitzchung, for speaking in support of the Hong Kong protests of 2019, and various conflicts with Valve Corporation over the games, Defense of the Ancients and Heroes of the Storm. However, none of these rocked the gaming community quite as much as its newest conflict: California Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. Activision Blizzard.
Dating back as far as the Nintendo Entertainment System, video games were marketed towards boys. Classic advertisements have two boys playing the system as their parents watched. Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, Xbox, Playstation, all directed their advertising efforts towards the male population.
Where does this leave women?
In Activision Blizzard’s workforce, women make up just 23.7% of the employees. They are overwhelmingly outnumbered by men and the damage is noticeable.
According to the complaint, filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in July of 2021, Activision Blizzard fostered a ‘frat boy’ culture and enabled the sexual harrasment of female employees at various work events and in the office itself. Allegedly, male employees are said to have participated in ‘cube crawls’— an office version of a bar crawl in which participants drink heavily at various different cubicles— all the while, they harassed female employees. The transgressions committed by numerous male employees include nicknaming a hotel room The Cosby Suite because of the employee’s history of harassment.
This employee— the owner of The Cosby Suite and the harasser of Activision Blizzard employee Cher Scarlett— is named Alex Afrasiabi. Alex Afrasiabi is the former creative director of World of Warcraft, Activision Blizzard’s magnum opus.
Additionally, Activision Blizzard was accused of poor hiring practices, discrimination against women— especially towards women of color, and poor reporting of workplace harassment. In an article written by Jason Schrier, it is said that “Some male employees began to see women at the conventions not just as customers but as groupies.” He goes on to report that a top executive at Activision Blizzard asked a group of his staff, “... Young women—both fans and colleagues—[see] them as superstars, [...] why shouldn’t they benefit sexually from that?”
Activision Blizzard is a giant in the video game community, a name associated with quality games and diversity. The games they published featured women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community. This lawsuit, with claims of this scale, reveal an ugly truth many ignore within the gaming fanbase.
20% of gamers in the United States are 18 or younger. So, I surveyed 22 Alpharetta High students; the data was split evenly between those who identified as women and those who identified as men. I asked them a series of questions regarding their experience with online gaming. Of the 11 girls, over half of them had encountered misogyny in their time online, whereas only 3 boys heard it in passing. Disparities were even more apparent when I asked further questions about this toxic culture. In the questions inquiring about racism, 6 out of 11 students of color reported racism in an online gaming setting. Out of all 22 students, half of them explained that people were called slurs, berated for their accents, or a reluctant audience to harmful rhetoric and gross stereotypes. This data tells us that there is a problem, but what do we do about this? There has to be change. Young gamers must work to reject the harmful ideals they hear during games, they must speak up, and never let these people know peace. They perpetuate this toxic gaming culture, companies like Activision Blizzard are indicative of that.
How do we fix this? On a corporate level, tighter guidelines on the companies and change those in leadership positions. They have to be held accountable for their actions, there needs to be firings or suspensions without pay. These perpetrators will not learn, they will not cower, if they are allowed to roam free and without abandon. In general, games should have strict reporting systems and actively eradicate those who make the game worse for everyone else.
Categories: Writer: Kaytlin Tabb
By Kaytlin Tabb
Trigger Warning: mentions of death, illness, and drug addiction. Spoilers ahead.
When reality is distorted just enough in television, it becomes some of the most enjoyable media out there.
There are a lot of really good examples, but I want to focus on one; House M.D.
House M.D. was started in 2004, created by David Shore. It starred Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard, and Lisa Edelstein with an alternating supporting ensemble cast that included Omar Epps, Jennifer Morrison, Jesse Spencer, Peter Jacobson, Kal Penn, Olivia Wilde, Amber Tamblyn, Odette Annable, and Charlyne Yi. This medical drama is riveting, with diseases scaled on the show’s own factor— the Zebra Factor, 1 being a common disease and 10 being something doctors rarely see in person. It provides commentary on the healthcare industry, corrupt police officers, addiction, and the long lasting impacts of trauma.
House M.D. was loosely based on the iconic book series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Shore cites Sherlock Holmes as being one of his major sources of inspiration for the character of Greg House. Both are tormented geniuses with an addiction to drugs— Holmes was a frequent user of cocaine and House depends heavily on Vicodin to manage his leg pain. Both have one friend who doubles as a trusted confidant and partner— Holmes has Watson and House has Wilson. Their names are even related— House being a play on Home, or Holmes. House gets shot by a patient named Moriarty, he lives with Wilson at 221B Baker Street, and the list goes on. But the true similarities are shown in three things: their addiction, their relationship with their respective partner, and the process in which they solve their cases.
Each episode begins with a seemingly normal patient— things that emulate the flu or mild aches— but it quickly devolves into cardiac arrests, absent seizures, and paralyzation. But this stuff can happen in real life, so where is the ridiculousness? It’s in the sub-plots and the patients.
House’s personal life is constantly at the forefront of the series. His relationships with Stacy— the woman who disabled him and then left him— and Wilson— his only friend who later gets diagnosed with terminal cancer as they develop into more. In addition to this, his ever-changing team of employees have their fair share of drama. For example, during the treatment of a meth user with HIV, Dr. Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) gets coughed on. Only downside is that the patient coughed up blood and it got in her mouth. She then goes through a crisis, steals the patient’s confiscated drugs, uses crystal meth, and has sex with her coworker in the span of two days. Dr. Chase (Jesse Spencer) accidentally kills a woman by misdiagnosing her because he was distracted by his absent father’s death. Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps) treats a death row inmate and discovers a tumor affecting brain function, ultimately deciding to testify at the appeal. The chief of medicine, Dr. Lisa Cuddy, doesn’t do anything about the screw-ups because she has just that much faith in them.
And the patients.
A fifteen year old supermodel who uses nefarious and troubling manipulation tactics gets diagnosed with testicular cancer and pseudohermaphroditism, a young CEO with an eating disorder and a failing kidney, and the aforementioned death row inmate with five convictions of murder and a brain tumor. And these are only in the first two seasons.
It’s crazy, wildly unrealistic for a hospital, but people ate it up like candy. Why?
I talked one of Alpharetta High School’s Dramatic Writing teachers, Mr. Mike Womack, about House M.D. Mr. Womack is an avid consumer of popular culture with an understanding of screenplay instruction and creation.
ME: So how do you just describe your enjoyment of House?
WOMACK: I think House is a really great show because it's unique. Like, I think [Greg] House is just a really intriguing character because he's horrible, but he's also right. And funny, it's sort of the way that, like, people like Simon Cowell on America's Got Talent, or whatever else he was in or Gordon Ramsay on like, the cooking shows. So maybe also they say things that we would want to say but we can't, I don't know if it's sort of living through that but anyways. Yeah, what was the question again?
ME: What is it you enjoy about House?
WOMACK: Oh, I enjoy his bluntness, Right? And I think he also has a heart, but- but it's not apparent to you. So he's layered. He's complicated and I think that's more interesting. I like- I like the layers. He's [also] addicted to a drug, right? And so, you get this hero or antihero, maybe that's the better word. Who's also very fallible and he's dealing with that on his own, right? Subtly, he's like ‘Oh woe is me.’ But you can’t see it. Like he wears this mask.
ME: Do you— this is kind of off topic— but like, with what you just mentioned, do you remember the episode where he's, like, having a really bad day and he goes to Cuddy and asks for an injection of morphine?
ME: And she gives it to him but it was actually a placebo and whether he felt better or not, he still felt better.
WOMACK: Yeah, yeah. And so I think that that episode I think was really good and like and establishing that, like, he does have a problem. So maybe it's been eight or nine years. It's been like 10 years since it ended.
ME: I think it ended in ‘13.
WOMACK: Okay, so I think that’s- I don't know that I've seen the last season, but I think we watched it all the way up to that. There was a motorcycle accident and a fire. Yeah, right around that point. I think we watched that season. And then that was season seven, I wanna say. How many seasons were there?
ME: There were eight.
WOMACK: Okay, it was.
ME: Do you remember when Wilson was diagnosed with cancer?
ME: That was eight.
WOMACK: Okay. So then we did see it all. We've talked about going back, my wife and I've talked about going back and rewatching it.
ME: I’m rewatching it right now and I was telling my dad how the best shows, you know, are like kind of mid to late 2000s because I don't know what they were on back then but they were thinking of the most convoluted plotlines, and it worked.
WOMACK: Yeah. And I think that was one thing that I really appreciated about House was that the storylines were just all over the place but they, like, somehow [came together].
ME: Yeah, I think the writing was really good.
WOMACK: It didn't seem like it always would make sense and then you're like, oh wow, right?
ME: Would you say that that was part of the enjoyment?
WOMACK: It probably was and that it was new. It wasn't the same thing and also maybe the enjoyment was that we're still sort of in it. But like in the early 2000s up to maybe mid 2015, 16 reality TV was king.
WOMACK: And this was not reality TV and reality TV is scripted, even though it's reality TV. You sort of know how it's gonna be, it’s just not my cup of tea. So, I think this was it also. [House] had less competition back in the day. When I was in high school, I graduated in ‘99, there was no reality TV until Survivor came out. I think my freshman year of college or something had American Idol and so forth. And, like, those shows, they may have been good shows too but they are competing against other… good shows.
ME: Thank you for the insight.
WOMACK: No problem.
This conversation answered my question before, what made people enjoy House as much as they did? Four simple words: It never gets old.
These crazy plotlines and dramatic character arcs get the audience enraptured. I eat it up because it’s just so interesting. And as I watched more and more, I realized that this was David Shore’s goal— to make it so wild, yet predictable, that it could double as a procedural episodic and serialized show. Realistically, doctors are not going to run into a case of Chimerism or multiple cases of Huntington’s Disease. In this vacuum of reality— this world that mirrors ours— this specialized team with hang-up after hang-up, treats the untreatable.
In addition to that, House as a character is a cynical misanthrope that would never realistically keep his job as long as he has. He’s wildly unbelievable as a doctor, but that’s the good part about his character. He gets away with things that no one does. His team is in a similar way, but they still miraculously get the jobs done, no matter what is thrown at them.
That’s what makes TV good. The unbelievable aspect of it all.
Categories: Writer: Kaytlin Tabb
By Njeri Lewis, member of the Meridian Staff
Alpharetta High School offers many options to ensure student success and two of those options is choosing to take the online platforms of Fulton Virtual Schools (FVS) or Georgia Virtual Schools (GVS). However, is offering these options really promoting student success or is it hindering it? I conducted interviews in the hallways, and I set up calls with students at Alpharetta High School from each grade. During these interview processes, I got many opinions and perspectives of how the online learning platforms of FVS or GAVS have influenced their high school experience. Let’s take a look.
First, it is important to know some of the differences and similarities between FVS and GAVS and what it provides for the students. Georgia Virtual School has over 100 course offerings in the core content areas, world languages, CTAE, electives, and a vast AP course selection. All Georgia Virtual School courses are taught by Georgia certified, highly qualified teachers. . However, Fulton Virtual only offers core classes and some electives. The teachers at FVS reteach and reassess the students until they show complete mastery of the topic. Also, teachers respond to communication during the 8am-8pm FVS school day. (https://www.fultonschools.org/Page/7527). Now that we have more information about both programs, let’s look at the student’s perspective.
Most of the students that were interviewed take classes with FVS rather than GAVS. Only 3 students took classes with GAVS and the rest of the interviewees took classes with FVS. Pam Edwards, a sophomore at Alpharetta High School, said, “I heard from my friend that GAVS was bad, so that’s why I chose FVS.” This poor reputation of GAVS is probably shared among many students at Alpharetta which is why many students chose to take FVS instead.
Next, I asked why they started to take FVS and GAVs courses. Jaiden Amara, a senior at Alpharetta High School, stated, “I was never good at math and taking math courses in person always made me feel behind and confused. So, I started taking FVS since freshman year and I loved it because I can go at my own pace.” This statement shows how FVS can help students who need extra time and need to go at their own pace to understand the material thoroughly. Daniel Max, a sophomore at Alpharetta high school, stated, “I wanted to be in higher classes, so I took the prerequisite classes online to quickly get ahead. It also helps me with scheduling conflicts so that I can take the classes that I want in order for it to fit my schedule.” This shows the flexibility that online platforms can have for students.
Also, I wanted to see if there were similarities between the online classes that students have taken or took during their high school years. One big similarity that I found was that many of the upperclassmen took either U.S. History or World History online. Jolie Charlton, a senior at Alpharetta High School, said, “My brother took U.S history at the school and he did not have a great experience with it. So, I decided to go online in order to have a better experience.” In contrast with the upperclassmen, the underclassman that I interviewed had many similarities with taking Personal Fitness other language classes online. Nia Walker, a sophomore at Alpharetta High School, stated, “I took Personal Fitness online because I didn’t want to feel gross after the class, so I decided to take it online to get it over with.” This shows how students at Alpharetta High School avoid in person classes due to the after effect that it might have on their GPA or how they feel at school.
In addition, I asked the students about the support systems they have access to while using the online platforms. Jaiden Amara stated, “The relationship with my online teacher was amazing. She was so sweet and always made an effort to communicate with us, if it was on Canvas, by email, or by calling us on the phone to check in.” Ashi Patel, a freshman at Alpharetta High School, stated, “There has been a lot of communication so far and it is easy to find the assignments” This shows how some teachers are really proactive and interact with students a lot. However, Salem Born, a senior at Alpharetta High School, stated, “There was no relationship. She would only email or text me if I was slacking on my work.” This shows how it depends on the teachers on how close the relationships can be which is also similar to in person classes as well.
Lastly, I wanted to understand how the Alpharetta students felt about the workload and if they felt their stress increase or decrease while using the online platforms. Courtney Williams, a junior at Alpharetta High School, said, “GAVS increased my stress because I waited last minute to complete my work.” But other students like Daniel said, “FVS decreased my stress because it tells you everything you need to do. It gave you a detailed schedule of what you need to get done at what time. It was either an everyday thing or every week thing. Very descriptive when it came to time management.” This also shows how FVS and GAVS work for certain students better than others when it comes to balancing stress.
Overall, I got many great answers when it came to students’ experiences with the online platforms. One can conclude that GAVS and FVS can be very useful platforms if students like to plan their own schedule and like to learn at their own pace. Therefore, FVS and GAVS can be helpful or hurtful depending on the type of learning a student prefers and if they can use their resources to their advantage.
By Kaytlin Tabb, Copy Editor for the Meridian
The topic of juniors and seniors having the privilege to leave school campus for lunch and anchor time has been a debated topic among the school population. Should students have this privilege? Many believe that it is too much responsibility for teenagers; however, others believe that it prepares students for their very near future: college. Furthermore, the topic of stricter requirements than the established ones are debated too. Should it be harder to qualify for Off-Campus Lunch Privilege? I wanted to get a fresh perspective on this, so I interviewed a teacher and an alum of Alpharetta High School.
Staffers rarely have their opinion on Off-Campus Lunch Privilege taken into account, alumni even less so, as they are not the ones leaving for lunch. Many don’t realize that teachers are affected by this system as well. I wanted to understand an outsider’s thoughts on this system, so Cole and Ms. Nelson.
I interviewed Mrs. Cole- who is a International Baccalaureate Sports, Exercise, and Science teacher and the head of Work Based Learning at Alpharetta High School. She has been working at Alpharetta High School for four years. Off-Campus Lunch Privilege has been in place since before she started.
I inquired if she felt that Off-Campus Lunch Privilege should exist.
Cole responded, saying, “I absolutely love the idea of Off-Campus Lunch Privilege. I have worked at several counties and other high schools in Fulton County and Alpharetta was actually the first school I've experienced off campus privilege for. And I like the idea.” She went on to say, “I like that there are standards and guidelines for students to be able to go off campus. I think it allows them to have a break instead of just, you know, being in school in the four walls of what a traditional school looks like. So, I love that idea.”
I went on to ask if she believed the requirements for Off-Campus Lunch Privilege to be just right, too lenient, or too strict.
Cole describes her stance, saying, “To be honest, I think that there are some loopholes, so when it comes to off campus privileges, students can have Off-Campus Privilege for things other than the guidelines that are set.” Further elaborating her opinion, Cole explains, “So, for instance, if they're in a dual enrollment class or they're taking an online full-time virtual class, any student can take a full-time virtual class and they don't necessarily have to fit those guidelines of what Off-Campus Lunch Privilege is. So, Off-Campus Lunch Privilege guidelines are for those students who are on track to graduate, no discipline issues, and attendance issues. But then, we also have people who get off campus, who are in other programs, including my program as well. And so maybe there should be a stricter guideline in terms of the checkout process for all off-campus.”
My next question was: if she could change the requirements, would she?
Cole responded by saying, “I think for the off campus privilege, I like the on track to graduate, no discipline and attendance issues for the other programs in the school for off campus. Absolutely.” She went on to say, “Do I think we definitely should make some adjustments for those? Yeah.”
I asked for further elaboration on possible changes to the guidelines.
Cole answered, saying, “I think there needs to be, not a restriction to who can take the virtual classes, but who can get the sticker to go off campus for lunch. Just like with work-based learning, there's a guideline for who can be in the program. So, I think there should be some restrictions, including maybe looking at the disciplinary records and attendance records for the other programs that allow off-campus privileges, too.”
To me, Mrs. Cole’s outlook on off campus privilege was incredibly interesting. It gave a new point of view to the topic. While she supports it, she believes certain programs- such as Work Based Learning and online classes- should instill the same guidelines off-campus lunch privilege. Despite this, she still believes that the system itself is a good idea.
Days later, I interviewed Alpharetta High School Alum, Kate Nelson. She graduated from Alpharetta High School in 2016 and now lives in Boston as a software engineer. Off campus privilege was not in place when she attended; students only leave for Work-Based Learning or Dual-Enrollment classes.
I asked if she felt that this new system of leaving for lunch should be in place.
Ms. Nelson answered, “I think that juniors and seniors in high school deserve a bit more freedom and off-campus lunch privilege could provide that. They're just a year or two away from having to manage all of their own time anyways. However, I do wish there was a way to make off-campus lunch privilege more equitable, because I foresee this privilege primarily benefiting students who have cars or money to pay for off-campus lunch. Not students who depend on free or reduced-price lunch.”
I explained the Off-Campus Lunch Privilege initial eligibility requirements; needing to be on track to graduate, needing to be a senior or junior, and needing a guardian’s permission. I, then, asked if these were fair guidelines. Ms. Nelson explained that they were fair in her opinion.
I went on to explain the continued eligibility requirements: receiving no more than three unexcused period absences, no more than three tardies to the class following the extended lunch period, two days of in-school suspension, or any out-of-school suspension. I asked if she would change them.
Nelson responded, saying, “Three unexcused period absences isn't very many. Maybe I'd increase that to at least one day's worth.”
I inquired if she had any additional comments and she expressed concern for local businesses, saying, “Depending on the volume of seniors going off campus for lunch, I would be worried about overwhelming local businesses! The lunch rush could get seriously busy.”
Nelson had a positive stance on Off-Campus Lunch Privilege, but she felt that the continued eligibility requirements were a bit strict. This makes sense that a former student would advocate for current students to have more lenient guidelines.
To me, these interviews shed some light on how adults feel about Off-Campus Lunch Privilege. However, it shows the difference between a teacher’s point of view versus a former student’s. Mrs. Cole felt that the guidelines should be stricter whereas Ms. Nelson believed that the guidelines could be more lenient. I believe that more non-students should be taken into account when deciding major system changes in order to have a more diverse group of opinions.
By Ava Pettenon, Layout Editor for the Meridian
High school is the place where teens go during their formative years to educate themselves and discover what they genuinely care about. For a school like Alpharetta, with a population of 2,268, and a total minority enrollment of 57%, students are vocal on and off campus about injustices facing society today. Alpharetta High School is not only a place of education, but also a lively environment for many student activists. There are clubs offered on campus that cater to activism and act as a catalyst to student activism whether it is at school, or around the community. I spoke to Junior Olivia McDowell because of her recent reinstating of the Youth National Organization (YNOW), and senior Kaedin Alvarez who has experience leading environmental club, to receive their input on our student body’s activism, what has influenced it, and why they had started their respective clubs in the first place.
Olivia McDowell is currently leading the female activist and women’s right’s club YNOW at Alpharetta. YNOW was reinstated at Alpharetta by Olivia because she became “…passionate on women’s issues because it is something a lot of people brush over. I wanted to reinstate a club that focuses on something I know many people at Alpharetta are passionate about.” When asked about what made her become involved in activism, Olivia responded, saying that, “Seeing all the injustices that are happening now, particularly how they are being portrayed on social media, that kind of made me realize that I have privilege and I want to help in any way I can.” Olivia further explains that she has seen the student body become involved in activism particularly on social media which she believes “…can be controversial but overall helps to spread awareness.” When asked about whether this past year has influenced the current activism portrayed by Alpharetta High School Students Olivia said “…Because our generation has experienced such great changes, especially over the past year, it has provoked us to speak up against injustices and the administration at Alpharetta has been good at not inhibiting freedom of speech and allowing clubs like the Black Student Union, Environmental Club, and Young Dems [Democrats] club, to speak freely on topics that affect not just the student body, but our society.” Olivia McDowell considers herself an activist and because of the diversity on our campus and reaction to injustices from our student body, she believes Alpharetta to be a school where activists like herself can thrive and come together to work towards a common goal.
Kaedin Alvarez is a senior at Alpharetta High School. She is the Vice President of Student council, the former President of the Environmental club, and considers herself an activist. Kaedin often participates in activism outside of school, but she believes that her activism can also be highlighted at school because “…of the ability [she] had to form a club about something [she is] so passionate about such as environmentalism.” When speaking to Kaedin about if she has seen a rise in student activism on campus she said, “it was inevitable that our generation would speak up about injustices currently facing the world today, and after this year with so many problems regarding race, gender discrimination, the environment, and so on, we as students have found ways to use our resources as much as possible such as school.” Kaedin shared that one of the absolute best ways to become involved in activism is to “…join clubs and organizations active in our community, and the main place students come to in order to gain access to such endeavors is Alpharetta high school.”
Alpharetta High School is a place of education and activism. Campus has become a place where students from all different backgrounds come to learn and speak on topics that are important to them to help to find ways to combat those problems in or around the community. The student body is vocal when it comes to injustices, and as realized in the interviews with Oliva and Kaedin, many students are using the school to reach more people to educate them on issues affecting the world today.