Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Must Have Conversation

This is ruling huge.  It is shocking how many students confess thoughts of some kind of self-harm online or through electronic communication.  It may be anything from misuse of medications, to cutting, to even suicide.  More shocking is the number of responses encouraging the student to follow through by mocking and provoking.  Awtrey is not immune.  No school is.

The ruling Maureen Downey references changes the level of crime, which students and parents often don't realize it is, from cyberbullying to involuntary manslaughter.  Parents and school personnel alike have to do a better job educating students about the seriousness of this sort of thing.  When a situation of this type comes to our attention, and we confront the students about what they suggested someone do to self-harm, they inevitably respond by saying, "I was only joking."

TV programs glamorizing self-harm desensitize students to the seriousness of what is at stake.  There is never a "right time" to bring up a conversation of this nature, but referencing this article may make it less awkward.  Please don't wait until something happens.  Then it is too late.

The article below was posted on the AJC Get Schooled Blog By Maureen Downey on 6-17-17.

In a legal decision already being debated, a Massachusetts judge ruled today that a teenage girl who texted her boyfriend to follow through on his intent to kill himself was guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The judge did not appear swayed by Michelle Carter’s age at the time, 17, or her own history of eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and social anxieties.

Carter’s conviction may be the most serious response to what is known as cyberbullying, the tormenting or teasing someone via social media. The guilty verdict raises questions about whether someone can goad or bully others to kill themselves and whether it can be done from afar. Because Carter was not with Conrad Roy when he killed himself in a parking lot in July of 2014 and was communicating with him via text message, legal experts expected an acquittal.

Troubled teens who met on a Florida vacation in 2012, Roy and Carter discovered they lived about an hour apart in Massachusetts. Their relationship largely existed online but they shared their personal struggles. According to court testimony, when Roy first mentioned suicide, Carter advised him to seek help but eventually endorsed his plan, assuring him, “everyone will be sad for a while but they will get over it and move on,” and advising him on how he might die,  “hang yourself, jump off a building, stab yourself idk there’s a lot of ways.”

But where Carter crossed a legal line was when she pushed, prodded and pressured Roy the night he died. As he was pumping carbon monoxide into the cab of hist truck, the 18-year-old boy began to feel ill and got out of the vehicle. In messages, Carter admonished him, “Get back in.” “You just need to do it.”

Those exhortations persuaded Judge Lawrence Moniz of Bristol County Juvenile Court that Carter’s words played a key role in Roy’s suicide, saying of the victim, “He breaks that chain of self-causation by exiting the vehicle. He takes himself out of that toxic environment that it has become…She admits in subsequent texts that she did nothing, she did not call the police or Mr. Roy’s family. And finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction: ‘Get out of the truck.’”

After Roy’s death, Carter presented herself  as the grieving girlfriend, according to witnesses. She organized a fundraiser in Roy’s honor and wrote on Facebook, “Even though I could not save my boyfriend’s life, I want to put myself out there to try to save as many other lives as possible.”

Her attorneys argued Carter’s words should not be blamed for Roy’s death, that suicide is an act of free will.

In a statement tonight, Matthew Segal, legal director at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said, “Mr. Roy’s death is a terrible tragedy, but it is not a reason to stretch the boundaries of our criminal laws or abandon the protections of our constitution. There is no law in Massachusetts making it a crime to encourage someone, or even to persuade someone, to commit suicide. Yet Ms. Carter has now been convicted of manslaughter, based on the prosecution’s theory that, as a 17-year-old girl, she literally killed Mr. Roy with her words. This conviction exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed by the Massachusetts and U.S. Constitutions.”

While online bullying is widely condemned, it’s seldom treated as a serious crime. Another high-profile case of cyberbullying and its role in a youth suicide was also in the news recently.

In 2013, police in Polk County, Fla., charged two girls for aggravated stalking in connection with the suicide of a 12-year-old classmate, Rebecca Sedwick. After Rebecca jumped to her death from a silo, police learned about the girl’s stormy relationship with Katelyn Roman, 12, and Guadalupe Shaw, 14. After Rebecca’s death, Guadalupe posted, “Yes IK I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF.”

The arrests of  the two young girls earned international attention, but the felony charges were dropped a month later. Then, Katelyn’s mother sued, maintaining her daughter’s rights were violated by the arrest. In May, a jury ruled against the family and said there was no violation of the girl’s rights.

The highly publicized 2010 suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince of Massachusetts also led to felony charges against five of her classmates, but those charges were reduced to misdemeanors and probation.

Both Phoebe and Rebecca had grappled with depression before their suicides, as had Roy. But the judge did not seem to regard Roy’s history as a mitigating factor in the case against Carter.

AJC Get Schooled Blog

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pebblebrook Spring Dance Concert

The Cobb County Center for
Excellence in the Performing Arts


Friday, May 12 @ 7:30PM
Saturday, May 13 @ 7:30PM

Reece Performing Arts Theatre
Pebblebrook High School

Tickets ($10) are available online now:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

13 Reasons Why TV Program

The following information was pasted from Tim Elmore's Growing Leaders blog.  The 13 Reasons Why program on Netflix is stirring a lot of conversation.  While the content isn't middle school age appropriate due to its nature (it contains scenes of self-mutilating and a graphic rape), a surprising number of Awtrey students are talking about it.  Elmore provides an excellent resource for anyone connected with students to use as talking points to help students process the program contents in a safe environment.


Suicide. It’s never a happy topic to talk about. And now, Netflix has sponsored a television series called, “13 Reasons Why” to showcase the issue. I am hearing more and more high school and college students talking about it, too.

In the show, Hannah has committed suicide, but has left tapes describing why she felt it was necessary and all the events (including bullying, rape, partying, and more) that led up to her decision to end her life. Hannah narrates her story as we see the remaining students in awkward moments grieving her loss—not knowing what to say or whether they should feel regret, anger, or something entirely different. In particular, the story focuses around the thoughts and actions of Zach and Clay who were both close to the situation and, consequently, haunted by Hannah’s death. The show highlights the tangible loneliness high school students feel too often, and the depression and angst that follow both the trivial and serious incidents that teens often face today.

I have said for years the stakes have become too high in our teen’s lives today. Events that might have caused a “bad day” when I was in school are now sources for a bad life today. According to the Jason Foundation:
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24.
  • More teens or young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, pneumonia, influenza and lung disease combined.
  • There have been more military deaths from suicide than from battle in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 suicide attempts by young people in grades 7-12.
  • What’s more, four out of five teens who attempt it—give clear warning signs.
The show has many parents, school leaders, and counselors concerned. One superintendent cited the show as the catalyst for a string of self-harming incidents in his school system. In response, Netflix has updated the show to include trigger warnings before particularly graphic episodes depicting both the act of suicide and rape. They also released a documentary (again, on Netflix) where actors and actresses in the show discuss their decisions to take part in this troubling story. Naturally, many parents and leaders, including myself, believe the ultimate solution is for teens, especially those under 18 and those struggling with mental health, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts, to simply not watch the show at all. The trouble is, as with much content on the internet, many of our teens have already seen it.

So how do we talk about this topic and this show, 13 Reasons Why with our students? I’ve had some of our blog readers request some discussion points for this topic. Let me suggest a few starter questions for you.

Questions to Discuss with Your Students:

1.  How can people feel lonely when they are never alone and always connected?
2.  Why do kids often feel depressed as they post happy pics on social media?
3.  We know that life is always better than death. But why is that so?
4.  What enables a student to hide their loneliness or angst, and later surprise people with a suicide?
5.  When is it time to “give a friend space” and when must we intrude if we suspect someone is contemplating suicide?
6.  What drives a person over the line when they believe ending their life is better than pushing ahead with life?
7.  If you or someone you know is considering suicide, where should or could you go to get help?
(Hint: make sure to mention: school counselors, parents, teachers, administration, and suicide hotlines [below])

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

* Taken from

Monday, April 17, 2017

Test Taking Strategies

The following test taking strategies and tips are provided by the GA Department of Education.

Before the Test: 

Prepare yourself emotionally for taking the test. If you are overly anxious, much of your energy and potential will be sapped by the anxiety and you will likely not be able to demonstrate your true ability on the test. It frequently helps to reduce anxiety if you know more about the test in advance, such as what type of test you are taking, what subjects are tested, and the purpose of the test.

Follow normal routines. Interruption of normal routines may affect your performance. The night before the test you should not stay up later than usual since fatigue may lead to poor test performance. The day of the test you should eat a normal breakfast and lunch. Skipping meals or overeating before taking a test may adversely affect your performance.

At Test Time: 

Concentrate. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by noises or movements around you.

Read instructions or directions carefully before marking any answer. If you do not understand the directions, raise your hand, and ask for help.

Follow instructions. Pay close attention to the samples. They are on the test to help you understand what the items on the test will be like and how to mark your answer document properly.

Read the entire question and all answer choices. You need to read each item and all answer choices before marking your answers.

Make an educated guess. Making an educated guess means that you are able to eliminate one or more choices. For example, if there are four choices and you do not know which choice is correct, but do know that two choices are incorrect; you have a 50-50 chance of choosing the correct answer. You should also remember that there is no pattern of correct answers. For example, if the last three correct answer choices were "D," the next correct answer may be A, B, C, or D.

Keep track of the time. Since most statewide tests have a time limit, be aware of the amount of time allocated to each section. Pace yourself so that you will be able to complete the section within the time limit. Use all of the time allocated. Persistence pays off.

If you are testing online, be sure to use the scroll bars to view all of a reading passage or test question. The whole reading passage or test question might not fit on the display of your workstation.

When testing online and where necessary, make sure you transfer your answer from the draft area to the final response section of your online test.

If you are testing with paper testing materials, place your answer correctly on the answer document. While taking tests, you should match the number on the answer document to the item number in the test booklet. This is especially important if you skip questions and go back to them later. You should mark only one answer for each item. If two answers are marked for the same item, the item will be counted as incorrect. If you erase an item, you should be certain that it is erased completely and carefully so that holes are not made in the answer document.

If you are testing with paper testing materials, keep your test booklet and answer document together. This saves time and lessens the chance of marking answers in the wrong place.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

ROTC Orientation

North Cobb-Harrison
Freshman Orientation
11-14 July, 2017

Register at

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

High School Course Selections

High school course selections are still being collected by Dr. Deane.  Only forms with changes need to be returned.  Please email Dr. Deane at if you need assistance.

The deadline for future North Cobb students is Monday, April 17th. 

The deadline for future Allatoona students is Friday, April 21st.  

Friday, March 31, 2017

North Cobb Parent Night With Sports and Club Expo

North Cobb High School is presenting a 9th grade parent night along with a sports and club expo on April 13th.  

Awtrey students will attend the sports and club expo from 6:45-7:15, then attend the parent presentation from 7:30-8:00.