Get our e-newsletter

Volunteers: The (chain) gang is all here


The Lassiter Trojans chain gang — Jim Hutson, Brett McClung, John Jones and Chip McMinn — have a whopping 43 years of experience on Friday nights running the yard sticks. They have put 11 kids through Lassiter High School combined over the years and are currently in their ninth season as a unit.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Volunteers The chain gang is all here)

Participate in the Inaugural ’13 Can Make A Difference’ Food Drive at Lassiter Football Game Friday


Lassiter High School and the newly created Lutzie 43 Foundation ( are joining forces for the inaugural “13 Can Make A Difference” food drive to be held on Friday, September 12 during the Lassiter and Woodstock varsity football game.

The Lutzie 43 Foundation and Lassiter High School are asking students and members of the community to donate 13 non-perishable food items or home products such as soap, detergent, personal care products, cooking oil, etc.  Monetary donations will be accepted throughout the school day at both Lassiter and Woodstock as well as at Frank Fillmann Stadium during the game.

The first 1,000 food drive contributors will receive a commemorative ”Lutz”  bracelet from the foundation, and all students will be eligible for one of four community service scholarships for $430 from the Lutzie 43 Foundation to be announced approximately one week after the game.  T-shirts for the event also will be for sale for ten dollars throughout the week at Lassiter.

The food drive will benefit the St. Vincent De Paul food pantry, which provides food and other home products on a non-denominational basis to those in need in the community.  Several Lassiter organizations including, the cheerleading team, student council, and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) are working together to coordinate the event.  In addition, Woodstock High School will also be participating in the food drive.

The “13 Can Make A Difference” food drive will serve as one of the initial events offered by the Lutzie 43 Foundation, whose mission aims to develop the character of young athletes and their coaches focusing on leadership, charity, compassion, mentorship, hard work, honesty, and faith. The Lutzie 43 Foundation was created in honor of Lassiter and Auburn University Alum, Phillip Lutzenkirchen, who died in a car accident this past June.

For information regarding the food drive, please contact Cathy Zingler at or e-mail the Lutzie 43 Foundation at

‘Just a diagnosis’

Taylor Carstens is seated with her Lassiter High School bandmates while a football team takes at Kell.
Staff/Jeff Stanton

Music changed Taylor Carstens’ life. 

The Lassiter High School junior and member of the marching band was diagnosed with autism when she was about 2 years old. 

Her mother, Karen Carstens, said while her daughter is on the high-functioning end of the condition’s spectrum, there were still things she once wasn’t able to do.

For instance, Taylor formerly had to sleep with a white noise machine because she was scared of unexpected, loud sounds.

The family even had to bring the machine on vacations and camping trips.

“The level of anxiety that came because of that fear was so intense for her that we would travel with this sound machine,” Karen Carstens said. “And she wouldn’t sleep without it.” 

Her mother said Taylor would also use words in an atypical way or simply repeat words or phrases she had heard in order to communicate.

“It’s called echolalia, and what that means is that instead of using language constructively, they repeat the words,” Karen Carstens said. “So, for example, when she was little, I would say, ‘Taylor, do you want a drink of water?’ And then, I would give her the drink. So, when she was thirsty, she would say to me, ‘Taylor, do you want a drink of water?’ because she associated that clump of words with getting a drink without understanding.”

Because of her condition, Taylor needed special attention in school. After her diagnosis, Taylor was enrolled in a special needs pre-kindergarten program in Orlando, which her parents say helped her learn language and how to communicate.

“I cannot say enough good things about early intervention,” Taylor’s father, Scott Carstens, said.

The Carstens moved to Cobb County in 2005. Taylor said she was initially scared of the move.

“And then Mom said it’d be a new adventure,” Taylor said. “And then we moved here. I really liked the neighborhood a lot.”

Taylor was given an individualized education plan in elementary school, which is created for students with special needs to inform teachers about what the student needs help with to be successful, Karen Carstens said.

“When she started school, she had a lot of goals,” she said. “There were lots of things we were working on, in all areas and all subjects and behavior and social and speech. And she had occupational therapy for hand strength and all those kinds of things.” 

Taylor’s life changed in fourth grade, however, when she started playing the recorder while enrolled at Shallowford Falls Elementary School. She found she had a natural talent for music and never looked back.

Taylor said it’s hard to explain why she was drawn to music. She said she has fun playing songs and it can be really exciting, but most of all, “it really helps me communicate in something beyond language.”

Her mom, who is an assistant principal at Sope Creek Elementary, said Taylor no longer needs speech therapy or occupational therapy and credits her daughter’s involvement in music for her progress.

“I mean, she’s done a remarkable job through school with the support that she’s had. But the reason we think it is, is because of the music, right?” Karen Carstens asked her daughter. 

“Yeah, I don’t know where I would be without music and band,” Taylor replied.

Taylor said she has dreamed of playing in a marching band since she was a little girl. Her parents used to take her to Florida State University football games, she said, and she loved watching the halftime shows put on by the school’s band.

“It looked really exciting. I really wanted to be a part of that,” she said.

Today, Taylor, 16, plays clarinet in the Marching Trojan Band at Lassiter. She made it to the state level of auditions for the Governor’s Honors Program, a four-week summer program for gifted students. Additionally, she will perform with the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra in October, an honor she received after several rounds of auditions.

Taylor also marched with the Lassiter band in the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif. 

Karen Carstens said she grew up watching the Rose Parade and seeing her daughter marching in it was a special experience.

“To be out there, and see her go down, it’s almost like a miracle,” she said. “You think about where we started, and then there she goes. It’s exciting.”

Taylor said she falls asleep listening to classical music now.

Leslie Miller, Taylor’s case manager at Lassiter, said being in the band has made Taylor more comfortable with herself, which is the key for students with autism.

“I think once they can get comfortable with certain individuals and their surroundings, then they’re going to blossom,” Miller said.

Scott Carstens, who works in IT with the Oracle Corporation, said Taylor’s experience in the Lassiter Marching Band has helped her learn a valuable life lesson.

“It sort of helps deliver the message that if you work hard for something and put in the time, it’s amazing what you can achieve,” Scott Carstens, who also volunteers as a “roadie” for the marching band, said. “And that’s the lesson a lot of parents want kids to take from any activity they participate in. So the band experience has been very good at Lassiter.”

Taylor’s condition might also be the reason she has excelled in band.

Miller said people with autism don’t think about things the way others do. She said her students with autism are driven by rules, so there needs to be a schedule and strategy in place for them to be successful.

“Everything is black and white,” she said. “There is very little gray area with students with autism. And so, you have to be very clear and very direct with what you do for them.”

Taylor said she likes the routine of the marching band — knowing the steps, when to play which notes. 

“Sometimes they unexpectedly change something, but I see it as a new obstacle to learn to do. After I’m used to the change, I know where I’m supposed to go. It’s all orderly, and that’s something I like about it.”

Life in the Carstens house is certainly orderly. Taylor’s brother, Erik, 15, is also in the marching band, so the family must adhere to a rigid schedule. 

Erik and Taylor have private lessons on Monday, their off day from the Lassiter Band. They have practices Tuesday through Thursday, a game Friday and practice again Saturday. Then, both Erik and Taylor have practice for the Georgia Youth Symphony.

“Somewhere in there, homework is happening,” Karen Carstens said. 

Taylor said she has a 3.6 out of 4.0 grade point average.

Additionally, through her band teacher, Taylor has recently learned she has perfect pitch. When she hears a note, she can quickly identify it. Her mother said she initially didn’t believe it, but after testing her with a piano app on an iPad and seeing her daughter get every note correct, she was astounded.

“I think it’s probably related to how she perceives sound,” Scott Carstens said.

Two years ago, Taylor said she wrote a post on an autism page on Facebook telling her story and it “went viral.” The post has more than 750 likes and more than 70 comments as of Thursday. She said she hopes telling others about the difficulties she’s overcome will help people in similar situations.

Taylor’s father said her daughter has risen to the challenge.

“It’s just a diagnosis. It doesn’t tell you what you can and can’t do,” he said.


(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Ricky Leroux, September 5, 2014. For the original MDJ article, click HERE.) 


Lassiter tops Allatoona, Harrison


Lassiter pulled off a successful squeeze play in the eighth inning, giving it a 6-5 win at Allatoona and capping off a perfect Saturday.

The Lady Trojans were coming off a 4-0 shutout of Harrison.

The Allatoona game was deadlocked at 5-all entering the eighth, when Lassiter’s Abby Ferrier was placed on second base. She moved to third on a grounder before scoring as she ran on contact from Emily Syvarth’s well-placed bunt.

Kelly Sinclair and Catherine Pizza each went 2-for-4, with Pizza contributing a pair of RBIs. Jesse Beasenburg also had two RBIs.

Brianna Michaud pitched 6 2/3 innings of effective relief, striking out 10.

Sydney Kayler and Piper Wagner combined for the shutout of Harrison, fueled by Sinclair’s two RBIs and two hits apiece for Syvarth and Maggie Aarons.

Lassiter (3-0) will continue non-region play Tuesday, hosting Brookwood.

(Excerpted from the Marietta Daily Journal, August 16, 2014. Read the original MDJ article HERE.) 

Talent-filled field expected for Lassiter 7-on-7 qualifier

Back in action after escaping elbow surgery following an injury during baseball season, North Cobb quarterback Tyler Queen will be behind the line this weekend for a National Select 7-on-7 qualifier at Lassiter. Queen’s Warrior team is one of 32 in the tournament, which includes seven from Cobb County. Staff file photo by Jeff Stanton


While success in typical 7-on-7 tournaments is not necessarily an indication of how good or bad a season a football team may have, doing well in the National Select 7-on-7 may show a team is pointed in the right direction.

“All I know is we’ve always done really well,” said Lassiter coach Jep Irwin, who will have a team competing in the competition for the ninth straight year — the first seven at Pelham (Ala.) and the last two with the Trojans. “The competitiveness of the field is where you get better. With this field, every mistake is magnified. It’s intense. I do think (success in this tournament) can translate to the season.”

As competitive as the Lassiter-hosted qualifier has been in the past, this year’s field of 32 teams may be the strongest yet. Valdosta, Lovejoy, Grayson, Alpharetta, North Paulding and national power Hoover (Ala.) are just a few of the teams coming from outside the county to compete.

Joining Lassiter among Cobb County programs are Hillgrove, Kell, North Cobb, South Cobb, Walton and Whitefield Academy.

The winner of the two-day tournament will earn a spot in the national tournament next week in Hoover, Ala.

“Last year’s field was pretty strong,” Irwin said, “but I really think this may be the strongest we’ve ever had. This year, only Valdosta is fielding a ‘B’ team, and they are going to be pretty good. Last year, we had 28 teams, with four ‘B’ teams, so this is an improved field, even with the loss of North Gwinnett. Grayson took their spot, and we had to turn some good teams away.”

Some of the premier players expected to be in the event include: Hoover running back Bradrick Shaw (committed to Auburn) and linebacker Darrell Williams, Lovejoy receiver Preston Williams (Tennessee), Shiloh receiver Cameron Stewart (Central Florida), Valdosta linebacker Brian Bell (Florida State) Jefferson quarterback Evan Shirreffs and North Cobb quarterback Tyler Queen (Auburn).

A 7-on-7 tournament matches the offensive skill position players against a defense’s linebacking corps and secondary. Play starts at the 40-yard line going in, and once the quarterback has the ball, he has 4 seconds to get off a throw. Touchdowns are worth six points, with an extra point earned by completing a 10-yard pass into the end zone.

For the defense, interceptions are worth three points, and one returned for a touchdown is worth six. A play ends when the ball hits the ground, or when a defender pulls an offensive player’s flag. Tackling is not allowed.

The tournament will run today and Saturday. Today’s pool play will be split into morning and afternoon waves. After the completion of pool play, teams will be ranked from 1 through 32 and placed in the tournament bracket.

Double-elimination tournament play will start Saturday at 9 a.m., and a championship game is scheduled for around 4 p.m.

Games will be streamed live at, by selecting the “NFHS Network Broadcasts” link and then finding the Georgia qualifier.

Updates on scores and bracket play will be available via a mobile app, by visiting the Select 7-on-7 website and selecting the Georgia qualifier.


(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by John Bednarowski, July 11, 2014. Click HERE to read the original article.) 

Memorial service for Philip Lutzenkirchen set for Wednesday at Lassiter; funeral Thursday

A memorial service honoring Philip Lutzenkirchen will be held Wednesday at the former Auburn tight end’s old stomping grounds.

A memorial service at Lassiter High School in East Cobb has been scheduled for 8 pm ET on Wednesday. The service will be held at the high school’s football stadium, Frank Fillmann Stadium.

Lutzenkirchen died in a single-vehicle accident early Sunday outside LaGrange, Georgia.

A public visitation and funeral Mass will begin Thursday at 10:30 a.m. inside Transfiguration Catholic Church on Blackwell Road. The funeral Mass will follow at 1 pm.

The Marietta, Georgia native caught 14 career touchdown passes, the most by a tight end in Auburn history, from 2009 through 2012. His career ended with a hip injury midway through the 2012 season.

He caught the game-clinching touchdown catch from Cam Newton early in the fourth quarter of the 2010 Iron Bowl to propel the Tigers to the SEC Championship and eventually the national title.

Lutzenkirchen was remembered with an impromptu rolling at Toomer’s Corner on Sunday afternoon. Friends and fans gathered to remember the Auburn great.



LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

Lassiter Class of 2014: Where are they headed?

academic scholar graduate

Thanks to Lassiter HS Principal, Dr. Chris Richie, Assistant Principal Dr. Angela Bare, and Staff, the following is a list of institutions many of the students will be attending.

Colleges/Universities/Professional Schools

Georgia – 302
Agnes Scott – 1
Atlanta Institute of Music – 1
Berry College – 3
*Chattahoochee Tech – 8
Columbus State – 3
GA College & State Univ. – 23
*GA Highlands – 4
GA Institute of Technology – 20
*GA Perimeter – 8
GA Southern – 28
GA State – 9
Kennesaw – 91
Mercer – 2
Morehouse – 1
Oxford – 2
Piedmont College – 1
Reinhardt – 3
Savannah College of Art & Design – 2
Southern Polytechnic State – 12
UGA – 62
Univ. of North GA – 9
Univ. of West GA – 2
Valdosta – 6
Young Harris – 1

Alabama – 34
Alabama A & M – 1
Auburn – 9
Samford – 2
*Southern Union – 1
Spring Hill College – 1
Troy University – 1
Univ. of Alabama – 19

Connecticut – 1
Wesleyan – 1

Florida – 15
Eckerd College – 1
Florida Atlantic – 1
Florida State – 7
Full Sail University – 1
*Tallahassee Community – 1
University of Florida – 1
University of Miami – 1
University of South Florida – 1
University of West Florida – 1

Illinois – 1
University of Chicago – 1

Indiana – 2
Ball State University – 1
St. Mary’s College – 1

Kentucky – 3
University of Kentucky – 2
Western Kentucky – 1

Maryland – 2
Mount St. Mary’s – 1
University of Maryland – 1

Massachusetts – 4
Boston College – 1
Emerson College – 1
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy – 1
St. Johns University – 1

Michigan – 1
Grand Valley State – 1

Minnesota – 2
*Century College – 1
Southwest Minnesota – 1

Mississippi – 16
Mississippi State – 8
Univ. of Mississippi – 8

New York – 3
Hofstra University – 1
LIM College – 1
New York University – 1

North Carolina – 10
Appalachian State University – 1
Brevard College – 1
*Coastal Carolina – 1
Davidson – 1
Gardner Webb University – 1
Guilford College – 2
North Carolina A&T – 1
University of NC at Charlotte – 1
Western Carolina Univ. – 1

Ohio – 5
Case Western – 1
Miami of Ohio – 1
Ohio State – 1
Ohio University – 2

Pennsylvania – 1
Pennsylvania State – 1

South Carolina – 12
Clemson – 3
Lander University – 1
University of South Carolina – 8

Tennessee – 4
Austin Peay State Univ. – 1
Rhodes – 1
Vanderbilt – 2

Texas – 2
San Jacinto College – 1
University of Texas – 1

Utah – 1
Brigham Young University – 1

Virginia – 2
Richmond University – 1
University of Virginia – 1

West Virginia – 3
University of Charleston – 2
West Virginia University – 1

Japan – 1
Temple University (Tokyo) – 1

Military – 3

NCAA- 22

* 2 year Colleges

Data for Lassiter Class of 2014

Students went to 88 different Colleges and Universities
Eligible for Hope: 312/501=62%
Ineligible for Hope: 189/501=38%
Potential Zell Miller eligible 119/501=24%
74% Graduated with a 3.0 and above
51% Graduated with a 3.5 and above
1341 (out of 1600) is the average SAT score for the top 10% of the class
30 is the average ACT score for the top 10% of the class
80% attending a 4 year college
5% attending a 2 year college
4% playing a sport in college
1 student attending college in Japan
60% staying in State
12% to UGA (GPA from 3.5 to 4.0)
18% to Kennesaw (GPA from 2.4 to 3.9)
4% to GA Tech (GPA from 3.4 to 4.0)
5% to GCSU (GPA from 2.9 to 3.8)
6% to GA Southern (GPA from 2.3 to 3.8)
4% to University of Alabama (GPA from 2.4 to 3.8)

Scholarship Information:
Lassiter High School’s Graduating class accumulated a total of $14,531,400.00 in Scholarship funds.

(Source: David Banks)

LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

Injured Lassiter Grad Returns to the “Frank”

(WXIA) A Georgia teenager fighting to recover from a car accident two years ago showed, Friday night, how far he’s come.

In football… in life… small steps forward, and courage, can take you to victory.

Friday night at The Frank, at Lassiter High School’s Spring “Cardinal and Gold” scrimmage, Chris Heitzman, class of 2012, came back home to show the team how to win.

It was in July 2012, right after graduation from Lassiter, when this football and baseball athlete who’d earned a college scholarship was a passenger in a car that collided with another.

(Reprinted from Read More; 

LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

Sidewalks all they’re cracked up to be?



An ongoing effort to add sidewalks near local schools continued this week as the Cobb County Board of Commissioners gave the go-ahead for new paths leading to Lassiter High School, Rocky Mount Elementary School and Riverside Intermediate School.

One new sidewalk, running 0.4 miles on Pete Shaw Road in northeast Cobb, will serve both Lassiter and Rocky Mount. The other is a tenth of a mile stretch on South Gordon Road in south Cobb, which leads to Riverside. Both projects were approved unanimously by the board. 

“These sidewalks are part of our Safe Routes to School program,” said Jim Wilgus, deputy director of the Cobb County Department of Transportation. “Within a certain distance from a school zone these are to help students be able to walk to school.”

The Pete Shaw Road sidewalk contract was awarded to Glosson Enterprises, the low bidder at a cost of $347,632.19. Glosson will also install the South Gordon Road sidewalks, beating out six other bidders with a price of $123,316.31. 

The projects are being paid for with a 1 percent sales tax voters approved in 2011. The Cobb DOT has a priority system for new sidewalks. Sidewalks near schools come first, sidewalks that fill gaps between existing paths are second and third are regular, requested sidewalks. 

Wilgus estimated the two newest sidewalk paths will break ground in the next two or three weeks. The Pete Shaw Road sidewalk should take 180 days to build, while South Gordon should take 120 days. 

Cobb District 3 Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, who represents northeast Cobb including Pete Shaw Road, said sidewalks provide a big benefit to the county.

“Schools are a priority because this makes it safer for the kids,” she said. “We’re also getting ready to start a project at Addison Elementary on Ebenezer Road, which is in my district.”

A needed improvement?

But not everyone agrees the sidewalks are worthwhile. Earl Smith, a former county commission chairman and namesake of the Earl Smith Strand Theatre, is an outspoken critic of the sidewalks, calling them a waste of taxpayer dollars. 

He says the original purpose of the special purpose local option sales tax was to build roads and get people through the county. 

“You can see how far away this is from what the initial intent was,” he said. “Look at the sidewalks that have been built, the fabulous bicycle trails throughout the county. Look and see how many people are riding them. Then we have to maintain them. Where are the people that are using these? They’re not using them. By and large they are not being used and we keep adding to them. Every year we stack them on because we’re trying to get the vote where we promised a sidewalk.”

But Birrell says the sidewalks get plenty of use. She walks the routes herself on Safe Routes to School Day. 

“There is no sidewalk on the same side of the street as Addison for a few blocks down from the school,” she said. “When I’d walk with the kids, it’s like you’re walking in a ditch. It’s just not conducive or safe for those kids to walk to school from neighboring subdivisions without sidewalks.”

The commissioners meet with the Cobb DOT each year to look at where to install new sidewalks. 

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Haisten Willis, April 27, 2014. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Sidewalks all they re cracked up to be)


LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

Lassiter Food Bank seeks donations for Spring Break giving

hot dogs

Photo Credit:

The Lassiter Food Pantry is in need of help so that they can provide assistance to local families heading into spring break. Cold food items are greatly appreciated. Items of critical need include:

  • Hot dogs
  • Burgers (of any kind)
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Ham, turkey, roast beef sandwich meats
  • Eggs
  • Dinner meats

Please drop off your donations in the front office of Lassiter High School, 2601 Shallowford Road, Marietta 30066, by Thursday, March 27th, in order to have food items distributed before Spring Break.

If you need other arrangements for collecting your donated items, please email,, or


LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!