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Teen Blog

Hot topics, happenings, news and announcements affecting East Cobb teens.

AAA Promotes “National Teen Driver Safety Week”

Driving on Highway

Experience behind the wheel may matter more than age when it comes to the safety of young-adult drivers, according to two new studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These results suggest that states could reduce road crashes, fatalities and injuries by extending graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws to novice drivers beyond age 17. AAA is promoting this research as part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which takes place from Oct. 19-25.

Graduated driver licensing laws are designed to help new drivers gain practical experience in a relatively safe environment by initially restricting their exposure to risky situations, such as driving at night or with young passengers. The law then gradually phases in more privileges as new drivers gain more experience.

“Turning 18 does not instantly make someone a safer driver,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “This new research clearly demonstrates how important experience is to safe driving and suggests that graduated driver licensing laws may be beneficial for people that begin driving at an older age.  

The findings are based on two studies that examined crash rates of new drivers. The first study looked at crash rates in both California and North Carolina, which are two states that allow driving at age 16 and have no GDL requirements for new drivers ages 18 or older. While new drivers licensed at older ages tended to be less likely to crash during their first months and years of driving than younger beginners, the research revealed an important exception: new drivers licensed at age 18 were more likely to be involved in a crash resulting in injuries during their first year of solo driving than new drivers licensed at any other age.

The second study examined crash rates in New Jersey, which has a minimum age of 17 for unsupervised driving and is the only state in the country to have a comprehensive GDL program for all new drivers up to age 21. In New Jersey, while crash rates of new drivers licensed at different ages largely converged after six months of solo driving experience, older beginners had lower crash rates overall and lower rates of injury crashes than younger beginners.

“Many teens delay getting their driver’s license and are driving less,” said John Pecchio, AAA spokesman. “This results in fewer structured hours behind the wheel during the critical learner’s permit stage.”

Although the data did not allow researchers to directly investigate whether these differences were caused by GDL provisions, collectively, the results of the two studies suggest that applying GDL to all new drivers, or at least to some new drivers older than 17, might have a protective effect and improve safety.

Graduated driver licensing programs have reduced 16- and 17-year-old driver crashes, but generally do not apply to new drivers ages 18 and older. Prior AAA Foundation research found that an estimated 36 percent of new drivers miss out on the protections of GDL by delaying licensure until age 18 or older.  AAA is not calling for states to extend GDL provisions just yet, but does believe the research results are very promising in terms of pinpointing a way to keep these drivers safe. The AAA Foundation is planning to dive deeper into this area of research in the coming year.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers, and drivers ages 18-20 were involved in more than 800,000 crashes in the United States in 2012. Parents and teens can learn more about teen driver issues and GDL requirements in their state by visiting AAA’s Keys2Drive website.

About the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit for more information on this and other research.

About The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.  ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 55 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at


Pope Robotics at GRITS

Pope High School’s Robotics Team


Recently Pope Robotics took their robot downtown for GRITS (Georgia Robotics Invitational Tournament and Showcase). Held at the Georgia World Congress Center, local teams had the chance to participate using their robot from last year’s game. Pope’s all-girl drive team and one or two returning coaches handling their robot (Daisy) on the field while the rest of the team showed lots of Pope Spirit on the sidelines.

Participants talked to judges and other teams, explaining to them what Daisy was designed to do and how they made her. Team members collaborated with other teams in alliances on strategies. Pope’s team was chosen to be on an alliance during the semi-finals!

Coaches would like to thank Kell Robotics #1311 for selecting Pope’s Robotics team. Their outreach and participation at the EAST COBBER Parade and Festival did not go unnoticed. This event along with Pope’s other outreaches to schools, plus being a team of eight returning members and 20 rookies, won the Outreach Award for promoting STEM and recruiting the new members that will be the future of Pope Robotics as the years progress!

To learn more about the Pope Robotics Team, visit our website at Follow them on Twitter @PopeRobotics, Facebook at Pope Robotics 4910 and Instagram at poperobotics.

(Source: Pope Robotics)

Participate in Pope Orchestra Fundraisers

The popular restaurant Chicken Salad Chick will host its first fundraising night ever for the Pope High School Orchestra on Tuesday, October 21 from 5-7pm. Chicken Salad Chick is located in Providence Square at 4101 Roswell Road, Suite 811, Marietta.

The Pope Orchestra is also selling Brusters Ice Cream Coupon Books. Each coupon book contains 10 Buy One Get One Free (single, double or triple) cones or dish. Waffle cones are even included. It also includes coupons for $2.00 off an ice cream cake. The cost of each coupon book is $12. If you are interested in purchasing a coupon book, please contact Pope’s Orchestra Director, Mr. Gray by calling Pope’s main office at (770) 578-7900. Books will be available until October 17.

Walton Homecoming Parade is Friday

The Walton High School Homecoming Parade is Friday, October 17. The parade will begin at 2:45 at Temple Kol Emeth on Sewell Mill Road and will end at Walton High School.

The community is invited to attend.


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‘I’m so flattered’: Transgender Walton student believed first in state to be elected to homecoming court

Walton High School junior Sage Lovell and her father, Joseph Lovell, at their home in east Cobb. Sage Lovell is believed to be the first transgender student elected to a homecoming court in the state of Georgia. Staff-Jeff Stanton


In what is believed to be a first for a Georgia high school, a transgender student has been elected to Walton High School’s homecoming court.

Sage Lovell, 16, was one of about 50 other girls in the junior class who were first nominated for homecoming court. The junior class then elected her and three other young women to serve on the court. She is not eligible for homecoming queen since that position is only offered to seniors.

Sage said she is excited she was chosen, and has received support from many of her classmates, who came up to her and told her they were going to vote for her.

“I’m so flattered to be representing my school, to be, like, able to, like, just represent my entire junior class,” she said.

Sage explained what it means to be transgender: “Transgender means anyone whose gender that they identify in their brain is different from the sexual organs they are given through birth.”

She said she is the only openly transgender woman at Walton, but there are others at the school who identify as something other than how they were born.

When she needs to use the restroom, Sage said there are two facilities on Walton’s campus that have a single toilet and doors that lock that have been dubbed the unofficial “gender neutral” bathrooms for herself and other transgender or “non-conforming” students.

That was an issue members of the Cobb Board of Education said they have not dealt with before, and they were surprised to learn of Sage’s nomination Friday.

Interim Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said there is no policy for bathroom usage for transgender students.

“It’s something we would have to discuss from a policy issue, from a legal issue,” Ragsdale said.

Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci said she is not aware of any sort of policy for transgender students in the Cobb School District, and for now, thinks it’s an issue that needs to be handled by the schools.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, an organization that works to advance fairness, safety and opportunity for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, said his organization is unaware of any other transgender teen who has been nominated for a homecoming court in Georgia, but said other transgender students have been elected in Texas and North Carolina this year, and in three other states in 2013.

He said having a transgender student on a homecoming court is something schools and school districts need to be prepared to handle.

“If the student body supports a transgender student to participate in homecoming court, that student should be able to have the right to be able to do that and the role of the school is to make sure it is a safe and festive situation for all students,” Graham said.

Angelucci said safety is a concern.

“At the end of the day, I’m sure there are probably discussions happening with the parents of this student and probably thinking about security,” she said. “I’m kinda surprised this hasn’t kind of ratcheted up further and it might be, I just don’t know.”

Sage, who enjoys drawing, playing the violin and studying sociology, described the change she went through to become a girl.

As a child, Sage said she enjoyed playing with more “effeminate things” and liked playing dress-up.

She did not want to share the name she was born with, saying she considers that “private and personal.”

Sage found herself attracted to males in middle school and came out as gay in ninth grade. She said she had a lot of support when she did. “A lot of people said they weren’t surprised and all that,” she said.

Through the social media platform Tumblr, Sage said she learned about “non-binary identities,” which she defined as “identities that do not fit in male or female — they’re somewhere in the middle,” and felt that was the more appropriate way to describe herself throughout most of her sophomore year.

“And kind of toward the end of sophomore year and over the summer was when I was kind of like, ‘OK, I’m not male in any way, not non-binary, I am female’ and that’s when I would sort of say I started my transition.”

She said she tends to wear a lot of dresses and skirts to school and loves to wear high-heeled shoes: “Heels are my favorite part of any outfit.”

Some transgendered individuals will undergo sex-change surgeries, but Sage said she doesn’t know if that is in the cards for her.

“At this point, I can’t really tell. It could change through different medical advances or just personal feelings later in life, so at this point, I’ll have to say I just don’t know,” Sage said.

Her plan for the immediate future is to buy her dress today for when she is escorted onto the football field by her dad on Friday.

She said she’s leaning toward something black because she already owns several black accessories, and is eyeing something form-fitting.

Her father, Joseph Lovell, said he is looking forward to wearing his tuxedo, and said watching Sage go through her transformation was a process that he supported.

“It’s very important for young people to be who they are and that’s just the whole point of life,” the computer programmer said. “It’s not important for people to be what society wants but for people to be who they are, who they want. I can’t make you be something that you are not and if I could, it would be something very uncomfortable for you, very sad for you and I just feel like everyone needs to have the opportunity to be who they are no matter how much someone else might not like it. You can see that all over the world and it all starts at home.”

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Emily Boorstein, October 12, 2014.) 

Pope Students recognized by National Merit Program and College Board

Pope High School Greyhounds

In addition to Pope High School’s four National Merit Semi-Finalists, Ijegayehu Jones, Grace Liu, Isabel Ott and Cecilia Quach, the administration is excited to announce that Pope has several students who have earned other special recognition by the National Merit Program and the College Board based on their top scores on the 2013 PSAT.

National Merit Commended Students: This recognition is for the exceptional academic promise demonstrated by outstanding performance on the 2013 PSAT. In Georgia, there are 1,032 students being recognized as Commended Students. The following Pope students are among this elite group:

Timothy Burson
Samuel Caballero
Thomas Crawford
Matthew Jones
Erica Kastner
Mitchell Manzzoni
Joel Mussell
Anna Pinion
Milosz Rajchel
Nicholas Ratte
Alex Swartz
Zoe Szczotka

National Achievement Program Outstanding Participants: These students scored in the top 3% of more than 160,000 Black Americans who took the 2013 PSAT. Congratulations to Alexis Albert and Payton Vernon

National Hispanic Recognition Program: The College Board recognizes students for their outstanding educational achievements by sending their names to top colleges and universities. Congratulations to Sam Caballero (also a Commended student).

Congratulations Pope students!

Pope Administrators crack down on dress code

Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Administrators have banned certain clothing items at a Cobb County high school.

Students are not allowed to wear the following items at Pope High School: leggings, jeggings and crop tops.

One passionate student tells FOX 5 the dress code unfairly targets a certain portion of the student population.

The dress code regulates necklines, hemlines, no tight jeans, leggings or yoga pants. Many students say it targets female students.

Emma, a junior, says while she agrees with most of the dress code, the problem is it’s all about what girls can wear and not what boys should wear.

Emma started a petition calling for the school to reevaluate the dress code policies and punishments, which call for sending students to in-school suspension until someone can bring them other clothes.

Pope High Principal Bob Downs tells FOX 5’s Denise Dillon the dress code is about more than just keepingeasily distracted teenage boys in check. He says it’s about dressing for success.

(Reprinted from

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Pope High School Girls Receive Silver Award

Lacy Legaspi and Alyssa Borko

Lacy Legaspi and Alyssa Borko

Pope High School freshmen Alyssa Borko and Lacy Legaspi – also Cadettes from Girl Scout Troop 2598 – recently hosted a pancake breakfast to raise awareness about the need for funding research for children’s cancer.

Held on September 6, at East Cobb Church of Christ, with the help of their sister scout, Cassidy Wardrop, sister scouts from Troop 2597 and a group of chefs (their dads) plenty of buttered pancakes smothered in warm maple syrup were served. Thanks  to local sponsors I-Hop, Trader Joes, Publix, Kroger and Walmart for donating the food, their pancake breakfast raised $400.All funds were donated to Curing Kids Cancer.

The girls’ produced the pancake breakfast as a way to raise awareness about the need to fund research for childhood cancer. This community service project also earned them a Girl Scout Silver Award. The Girl Scout Silver Award — the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn — gives Girl Scouts the chance to choose a project that develops leadership skills and improves the  community. The girls have learned a lot and will continue to enlighten the community on how they can support kids with cancer.

“I learned that because children’s bodies are more sensitive than adults, children need treatments and cures that are specific to their needs,” says Alyssa.

“We found out there was a lack of funding which is the top barrier to finding treatments and cures,” says Lacy.

Just one year after the devastating loss of their nine-year-old son Killian to leukemia, East Cobbers Grainne and Clay Owen founded Curing Kids Cancer in 2004 in order to celebrate Killian’s life and to fund research to find a cure for childhood cancer.

Check out for more information. Please join with them in trying to make a difference in fighting kids’ cancer and spread the word!


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Mt. Bethel Christian Academy: First and Only Faith-Based K-12 School in East Cobb


As the freshmen Class of 2018 walked through the doors on August 7, 2014, Mt. Bethel Christian Academy became the first and only faith-based, K-12 independent school in East Cobb. The school’s expansion from a K-8 was made possible through the acquisition of a second campus, 33 acres near the corner of Post Oak Tritt Road and Holly Springs Road. The site had been owned by the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, which had operated it as a preschool and athletic recreation facility for several decades. Though nearly “ready made” for a school, aesthetic and functional renovations to the existing facilities are underway and will continue through late winter.

The addition of the upper school is the final stage of a plan adopted nearly two decades ago. Mt. Bethel Christian Academy was founded in 1998 by Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church, a mainstay of the East Cobb community since 1840.

Dr. Randy Mickler and founder Darren DeVore envisioned a Christ-centered, college-preparatory K-12 school on Mt. Bethel’s existing 44-acre campus on Lower Roswell Road. In its first sixteen years, Mt. Bethel Christian grew from a starting class of twenty-five kindergartners to 560 students in grades K-8th. And now, with the addition of an Upper School campus serving grades 9-12, the school is poised to grow further still.

Enrollment growth at the Upper School is planned in two phases. Phase One, using renovated existing facilities, will allow for a total of 180 students. Phase Two, which will require the construction of new classroom space, will push enrollment to a maximum of 450 students – approximately 110 per grade level. College-preparatory in it’s approach, Mt. Bethel’s Upper School curriculum is designed to challenge students with honors and AP courses offered in all core subjects. Students are guided through the rigorous curriculum by expert teachers.

The founding faculty of the Upper School are deeply experienced, certified educators who welcome the opportunity to form deep, impactful relationships with students. For students interested in athletics, the new Upper School campus abounds with  opportunity. The expansive facilities include tennis courts, swimming pool, cross country course, indoor and outdoor  gymnasiums, fully equipped fitness center, baseball field, and activity field. In addition, the campus features a two-acre pond, which will be used for recreation as well as experiential learning as it is incorporated into the science curriculum.

Asked about the distinctives of the school, Head of School, Jim Callis, replies, “Over the course of a high school career, the typical student will spend nearly 5,000 hours in direct contact with teachers and coaches. Outside of their parents, these relationships may well be the most important in a student’s life. Mt. Bethel faculty take seriously their responsibility to be Godly role models for students who are being prepared academically, physically and spiritually to leave home, move on to success in college, career and community.”

Campus tours are available and applications for 2015 enrollment are now being accepted for grades K-8 at the Main Campus and 9th and 10th grade at the North Campus.

For more information, visit or call Jackie Grasty, Director of Admission, at 770-971-0245.


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TODAY is the final day to register for Lockeed Martin Computer Competition

Lockheed Martin will put young computer programmers to the test in a competition set for November  8.

Code Quest will consist of 15 to 20 problems created by Lockheed Martin engineers and computer programmers.

Teams of two to three students from area high schools will work together programming in JAVA to solve the problems.

“We are looking forward to hosting this competition for the first time here at our facility,” said Shan Cooper, vice president and general manager of the Lockheed Martin Marietta facility. “These young people are very important to our industry as they represent our future software and computer engineers.”

Openings remain for up to seven teams, and they must register by October 1 by going to


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