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Teen Blog

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

Retired teacher seeks families to host French students this summer


Former Lassiter teacher Linda Farmer sits at her dining room table in Marietta with applications from French foreign exchange students. Farmer is coordinator for the program that brings the students to the area and is looking for 25 host families.
Staff/Jeff Stanton


Cobb families can get a taste of European life by volunteering to host French exchange students this summer.

Linda Farmer, a retired Lassiter High School teacher, is looking for about 25 families in the Atlanta area to host the students, who range in age from 14 to 19, from July 8 to July 28. All students have studied English.

“They want to see what American life is like,” Farmer said. “They see so many television shows and movies.”

There is no formal exchange of French and American students, she said, but many host families become inspired to travel to France and learn just as much about French culture from their student as the student learns in America.

“So, many of the Americans, either the teens or the whole family, will visit the French family in an informal way,” Farmer said.

Host families are compensated for room and board at the end of the program, Farmer said, and all students come with ample spending money for expenses outside of the home.

Excursions take the students on sightseeing trips once a week while they are in the area.

Families begin communicating before the students arrive, Farmer said, to make sure both the American and French families are comfortable with the assignment. Host families are also given a profile of the student they will host, including family photos, hobbies and a letter written to their American family.

No French language skills are needed to become a host family. Empty nesters and retired couples are welcome to host students, but Farmer said families with children are desired.

“It really gives the American family an international dimension to their lives,” Farmer said. “They now have a son or daughter in France.”

If you are interested in hosting a French exchange student from July 8 to July 28, contact Linda Farmer at or (770) 973-2452.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Nikki Wiley, April 20, 2014. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Retired teacher seeks families to host French students this summer)

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Auditions for The Gift Singing Competition off Windy Hill

23Contestants at last year's McDonald's The Gift singing competition.

Contestants at last year’s McDonald’s The Gift singing competition.

The Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Owner Operator Association is searching for local performers to take part in an Atlanta talent competition that has yielded more than a decade of local stars, according to a news release.

The Gift Youth Singing Competition hopes to find and showcase solo musical artists and groups between the ages of 12 and 16 from all over the Greater Atlanta area. Contestants have a chance to win more than $20,000 in cash and prizes.

Now in its 11th year, past winners of The Gift have gone on to perform professionally and appear with national recording artists.

Three open call auditions will be held at various McDonald’s restaurants this month. Three finalists from each location will be selected by a panel of judges, comprised of representatives from the music and entertainment community, to compete at a final competition this summer.

Local McDonald’s owners will host an open call auditionsin Cobb County on April 26 at McDonald’s located at 2700 Windy Hill Rd. in Marietta, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Interested participants can visit to download entry forms for a chance to enter The Gift competition and to review additional detailed information and rules of entry.

Audition line-ups begin each Saturday about one hour before the open call auditions begin. Only participants with proper Georgia residential and qualifying age documentation are allowed to audition. Specific documentation details can be found at Only the first 250 contestants with proper documentation will be allowed to audition at each site.

The first-place overall winner, to be determined in an invitation-only final summer competition, will receive a prize package including a $2,500 education fund and $5,000 in cash. Other prizes include a demo recording session, vocal lessons with a trained vocal coach, appearances on local radio stations and more. The 12 semi-finalists will also receive cash and prizes.

Sponsors for the event are the Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Operators Association and Dr Pepper. The audition events are all open to the public and occur rain or shine.


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Huntington SAT/ACT Prep delivers real results!



Need help with SAT/ACT prep? Call Huntington at 770-977-2800. Save $100 on a 28 hour or premier program when you mention that you saw this ad on EAST COBBER. Huntington has been helping students in East Cobb for more than 20 years!

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Farewell, 2400: Big Changes Coming for SAT


Have you heard? The SAT is changing—big time.

The current version of the test you love to hate will stick around till March of 2016 when the re-vamped (and supposedly future-proof) SAT takes the stage.

Here’s your sneak peak of the next-generation SAT:

• Scores top out at 1600, just like when your parents took the test (so you can compare yourself to mom & dad, apples to apples!).

• No penalties for wrong answers! That’s right, you can guess all you want without worrying about those ¼ point deductions adding up.

• The writing test is optional (do we hear a chorus of cheers from some of you?). Test-makers reviewed data since the introduction of the required essay in 2005 and conceded that it has not significantly added to the test’s ability to predict success in college.

• Vocab questions feature words you’ll actually use. So, bid a lachrymose farewell to the labyrinthine queries that have bilked you out of points in the past. Yeah, no one talks like that anymore.

• Math section is streamlined, focusing on just three main areas. The College Board says this will make it easier to study for the test, because you know which concepts will be featured.

• Calculator use is limited to certain parts of the math section. The rest of the time you’ll have to use a pencil and your mental calculator…so be sure to exercise your internal math skills while prepping for the test.

• Digital testing is here at last! The paper option will still be available too, but it’s nice to see SAT catch up to the times on this one.

See a full list of features in the re-designed SAT



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Serve as a host family for students from Salamanca, Spain

For the last 16 years Walton High School students have studied in Salamanca, Spain, learning about the Spanish language and culture in classes at the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca and from staying with host families.

This year, for the second time, Walton will host 40 students from Salamanca, learning about the English language and American culture while staying with Walton host families. They will attend Immersion English Language & Culture Camp, Monday-Friday in July from 9am-1pm. They will eat lunch at Walton and participate in activities or local excursions on most afternoons. Host families will need to provide breakfast and supper and transportation to and from Walton.

Walton students can earn community service hours as student mentors, participate in afternoon activities, practice Spanish and help teach English through shared family activities.

Contact Karen Webb: 770-578-3225 or via email; or Marina Garcia: 404-862-6233 or via email.  Connecting Cultures Camp Directors: Mr. Tripp Madden(Walton); Sra. Isabel del Arco (Salamanca).   Apply to be a host family by clicking here.


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Wheeler Spirit Night at Righteous-Que

Wheeler HS-logo

Show your Wheeler pride and purchase some great barbeque on Friday, April 11th.

Visit Righteous-Que from 3:30-9pm at 1050 East Piedmont Road in the Publix Shopping Center. Let them know you are there to support Wheeler and they will donate a portion of their proceeds to Wheeler Boys Lacrosse. Go Wildcats!


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April is National Alcohol Awareness Month



April is National Alcohol Awareness Month.Throughout the month, the Taskforce and their Coalition partners will be engaged in activities throughout the county to promote legal and safe enjoyment of alcohol.

The General Meeting is set for Tuesday, April 8, 2014 from 11:30am to 1pm at Ridgeview Institute, 3935 South Cobb Drive SE, Smyrna. Guests and speakers will include Cathy Wendholt-McDade, District Healthy Behaviors Director for Cobb & Douglas Public Health, a Taskforce Coaltion sector partner.

CAT has also been invited by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Georgia to make a presentation during a public meeting. CAT representatives will discuss the benefits of legislation to address Social Hosting, which involves an adult providing alcohol to youth or facilitating environments where underage drinking occurs.  

One effective way to address underage drinking is to train youth to serve as positive peer leaders and listeners. So we CAR is proud to partner with Cobb County School District (CCSD) to observe Sources of Strength Week at selected Cobb County schools during the week of April 14 – 18.

Alcohol awareness will be the backdrop when the CAT Youth Council holds it End of School Year Celebration on Saturday, April 26. Among the activities, the Youth Council’s Poster Contest winners will be announced and recognized.        

CAT representatives will be on hand at the Village Green during the Spring Jonquil Festival in Smyrna on April 26 and 27. CAT is also planning to be involved in a number of other public event during the month– including the Cobb County Government Safety Education Block Party on Saturday, April 26 at 360 Six Flags Drive in Austell.

More information about dates, locations, and activity highlights will be shared via eNotices later this week and throughout the month.

(Source: Cobb Alcohol Taskforce)

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Also please visit the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce web site,, to find out more about program and activity updates. Thank you all for your support!


Walton Robotics to hold summer camps

Each summer, Walton Robotics hosts a summer camp to teach kids in the community the fundamentals of engineering. Run by team members, summer camps are a great way to quickly become involved in our robotics team. At camp, kids enjoy an experience where they learn new, interesting things, and have fun.

This year, three different camps will be held: the original NXT Lego Robotics camp, a VEX Advanced Robotics camp, and the Beginning Programming camp. More information can be found below and in the Robotics Camp Flyer 2014.

Cost: $200
Time: 8AM-1PM (Monday-Wednesday), 8AM-3PM (Thursday)
Click here for the application!

VEX Advanced Camp:
Cost: $300
Time: 8AM-3PM (Monday-Thursday)
*Lunch will be served.
Click here for the application!

Programming Camp:
Cost: $300
Time: 8AM-3PM (Monday-Thursday)
*Lunch will be served.
Click here for the application!

The application deadline for all camps is April 28, 2014. Acceptance letters will be sent out beginning of May. Payments should be made after acceptance letters have been sent out.

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Sprayberry students receive state, national recognition from STEM supporters


Isabel Lopez, a sophomore at Sprayberry High School, was a winner of the 2014 Award for Aspirations in Computing for the Georgia Affiliate of the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). She was also a runner-up at the national level for the same award, placing in the top 15% of students who submitted materials for the award in the nation. In addition, another sophomore at Sprayberry, Kaitlin Foster, was a runner-up for this award at the state level.

NCWIT is a national professional organization tied to key institutions of higher education and industry partners that all support STEM education, particularly for women. Congratulations students!


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Don’t Let Your Teenager Become a Statistic on Prom Night


Pope High School Promgoers (2013)

Did you know that according to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, on a typical prom weekend:

> 48 American teenagers are killed in vehicles
> 5,202 are injured
> 40% of the deaths are alcohol-related?

It is supposed to be one of the happiest days of our kid’s life, but for too many it turns into a horrible tragedy. Prom night is often regarded as a “right of passage” and too many kids use it as an excuse to abandon core values – and go wild. As parents, it is sometimes necessary to protect our children from harming themselves. Prom night is one of our last opportunities to do this.

With prom season right around the corner, I am sure your teenagers are preparing to make the most of their formal night out. I remember each of my proms; the dinner, dance and party afterwards. I still wonder how I and all my friends made it home safely with all the mischief that went on my prom night. Did you know that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the 21-year-old minimum drinking age laws have reduced alcohol traffic fatalities by 13 percent and have saved an estimated 28,765 lives since 1975? However, over 1,100 persons
under the age of 21 still die each year in a car crashes involving underage drinking. And, did you know that the majority of underage drinking related deaths are not traffic related? They are a result  of other fatal accidents like falls, burns, drowning, poisoning, suicides, and homicides. And, according to, underage drinkers are more than twice as likely to have unplanned sex and unprotected sex.


Parents should be aware that the cities of Kennesaw and Austell as well as unincorporated Cobb County have enacted a Social Host Ordinance. This means that when officers respond to an event/
location where underage persons are cited for alcohol possession or consumption, the individual host of the social event can be issued a citation and charged with violating the ordinance. Violators could be property owners, tenants, parents, older siblings, youth or whosoever is determined to be in legal and/ or actual control of the event/location where underage drinking is found to occur. Penalties include fines, community service, and jail.

With all that being said, we know teenagers like to test the boundaries and regularly engage in risky behavior. But, did you know that parents are the most common supplier of alcohol and that teenage drinking more often happens in someone’s home? So, I have listed a few tips and discussion topics for parents of teenagers, from the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce website (, which has a plethora of information about the consequences and prevention of teen substance abuse.

Prom night should be a fun and memorable moment for your teenagers, but is usually a worrisome and uneasy night for parents. Ultimately, the best advice for parents is to be involved. Talk to your children and remember you are the adult. You are the one who needs to set the boundaries. So, go ahead and shop for that dress, help make dinner plans and talk to them about alcohol and drugs. You, the parents are the best defense for your teen’s safety.

(Reprinted from the March 2014 issue of EAST COBBER. Written by Laine Liss, Youth Services Chair, East Cobb County Council of PTAs. Liss and her husband, Matthew, have lived in East Cobb  since 1995. She has two boys who attend Lassiter High School. She is currently the Youth Services Chairperson for ECCC PTA, and the Consequences of Crime Chair for Lassiter HS PTSA.)