Category Archives: Student Life

MLK Day

By Lauren Cohn

On January 20th, our country celebrated MLK Day to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. While some may have only noticed the holiday because of the much-needed day off from school, many others joined together in a day of service to give back and remember his lasting impact. 

Riverwood’s Community Service Club partnered with The City Springs to host and volunteer at an event aimed at educating the youth of Sandy Springs through fun crafts and interesting discussions, called Martin Luther King Jr. Day Art and Film Festival. The stations at the event focused on different aspects of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, including his childhood and career, and a movie about his life played in the background to offer additional information. The Art and Film Festival’s stations were led by Riverwood students whose passion to give back resulted in a very successful day of service.

The children were ecstatic to fill their paper bags with MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, create puzzles using photographs, and draw out their own deepest goals. These stations and more brought in great crowds, and the excitement in the air only became more apparent as the day went on.

Riverwood students had a great time volunteering and teaching others about the legacy of this African American activist who revolutionized our country and brought about changes that still impact our lives to this day.

Photos by: Blakeslee

Languages At Riverwood

By AJ Powell

How Linguistically Diverse is Riverwood?

Riverwood takes pride in its International Baccalaureate programs which allow students to broaden their education “through intercultural understanding and respect” that our school strives to instill in its students. Naturally, one of the primary tenets of intercultural understanding comes through the teaching of foreign languages. Riverwood administers 5 language classes, including Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, and ASL. It also offers the opportunity to take German and Latin within online courses. For a school that offers this many opportunities for cultural insight, one could reasonably ask the question “How many languages are represented at Riverwood in total?”. Of course, English and Spanish are very prominent, but what about the dozens of other major languages that are spoken throughout the world? As a result of hearing some of these languages offhand from being in the county for several years as well as asking around, I found a total of 17 languages that are spoken by the students and staff of our IB school, though it is not an exhaustive list. This map puts into perspective the extent to which different cultures are represented at Riverwood and serves as a more direct representation of our diversity as a school. 

Language breakdown by family/region:
Germanic: English, German, Danish
Romance: Spanish, French, Italian
Slavic: Russian, Polish, Bosnian
Semitic: Arabic, Hebrew
East Asian: Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese
Other: Persian, Hindi, Tamil, Albanian

Sadie

By Emily Taylor

Attention Riverwood! It’s that time of year again… SADIE! If you are new to Riverwood or have never been to Sadie before, trust us, you don’t want to miss it! The theme for this year’s Sadie Hawkins Dance is Riverwood Glows Crazy, presented by the class of 2022. Prepare for an exciting night filled with all your favorite songs, peers, and of course, the dancing. Mark your calendars because Sadie is on leap day this year, Saturday, February 29th. If you are thinking about asking someone, we encourage you to take a picture of your “ask” and send it over to the Riverwood Sadie Instagram @ricssadie20 for a chance to be featured. New to Riverwood this year, the National Art Honors Society will be offering a quick online form open to everyone to help you with your poster ask needs. Sadie ask posters can be extremely time consuming and even challenging, but NAHS is here to help. Buy a personalized sign, and all proceeds will go to Team Summer, a charity that supports kids with cancer. Team Summer was started by a former Riverwood student, Summer Dale, who lost her fight with cancer back in 2012 at the age of 16. Raiders, let’s work together and donate towards this fantastic cause while producing some beautiful posters. Thank you, National Art Honors Society. Fill out the form and email NAHS president Gabriela Jones at gabrielamariej@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns. Sadie is the perfect way to spend your Saturday night and get into the Riverwood spirit. Hope to see you there, Raiders.

(Sadie 2020 Logo, Designed by Anna Edmondson, Devon Green, Hannah Levy, and Emily Taylor.)

Schedule Change

Writer: AJ Powell Editor: Maili Skollar

Is the Old Schedule Returning Too Soon?

At last, the old schedule of previous years is finally making its return in line with the criticisms of students and teachers alike. Among the disadvantages of the current schedule: there is the uncertainty of Fridays, the biweekly 5-day gap between seeing B-day teachers, and it being unfamiliar to the older students. Even though those particular problems are solved, one still must ask, is the old schedule returning too soon?

As known from hearing positive reactions in each class told about the change and from having interviewed a dozen students, most of the student population is either for or at least indifferent to the change. Despite the majority of 10th-12th graders being in favor of the old schedule, there are several caveats to the return of the old schedule at the beginning of the second semester.

One of the positive things that came from the new schedule, as Miriam Zetina, an 11th grader notes is that it benefits students who have jobs since it gives them a clearer schedule to work around. For example, what classes they must study and what homework to do. The utility of this beforehand knowledge of when classes will be couldn’t be more apparent for the computer science teacher. Ms. Khan, who will not be able to continue teaching here because her schedule interferes with her other job. The schedule doesn’t allow her to get to her work on some Tuesdays and Thursdays, subsequently preventing her from continuing to work at Riverwood.

Miriam also went on to say that “Changing things in the middle is going to make it seem kind of like a joke”, which couldn’t be more true since in a way the abruptness of the return makes it look as though the school wasn’t committed to its original decision and/or did not think it through sufficiently to the cost of potential student stress; but more tangibly, the change would directly bring financial hardship for some students and staff.

Perhaps the worst part of the change will be the effect that the new schedule will have on 9th graders who are only used to this schedule. Of course, it would not take too much conscious effort to conform to the new schedule, but it could potentially throw off the subconscious “flow” which most students get into later in the school year as they complete projects and prepare for assessments.

In all, the shift back to the old schedule is an overall welcome change by most of the student body, but it would be better suited to come at the beginning of a new school year as opposed to changing the structure of the schedule midway throughout the year.

Be The Voice Campaign

Writer: Tanvi Kulkarni Editor: Rachel Cohn

From the late 1900s, high schools in young adult movies have signed the petition to manifest an exaggerated version of the U.S. education system. Over time, however, the once distinct line between real life high school and the one in the movies has become blurred. Among the several things that they share, something that stands out is the distinct social cliques. From Mean Girls, High School Musical to the latest movies on Netflix, the one thing that is common in all high schools is the lack of diversity in social cliques.

The cliques shown in the movies have made their way into the American High Schools making them even more like the aforementioned exaggerations in the movies. Just like in any other High School, Riverwood has developed its own very distinct and noticeable cliques. These said “friend groups” have created walls among the students. Walls that are too tenacious to break and too opaque to permit any interaction. Students have stopped getting out of their comfort zones and decided to stay in their original bubbles. This leads to situations where two classmates of two different cliques can go on without having any self-initiated interaction for the whole year.

Such distinct cliques have defied one of the very important factors of self-development: flexible social interactions. One of the important reasons for going to school, instead of being home-schooled, is that you get to meet people with diverse personalities and learn to interact with them. With rigid cliques, students have not only refused to interact with diverse people but have refused to acknowledge them all together.

These cliques seem harmless on the surface, but if you penetrate deeper, you will find where the toxicity brews. Social cliques end up being gossip hubs and places that initiate maximum assumptions or rumors about other students. These assumptions/rumors have become the core reasons for so many social issues (possibly) including bullying.

To reduce the humongous risk factors of rigid social cliques, the school has taken it upon themselves to break the walls to recreate the once friendly and diverse learning environment. Our principal, Ms. Kendra Smith, has taken it as her personal responsibility to form a sense of unity among the students. The teachers have joined the petition, creating clubs and social activities that help create unity and spread kindness. Examples of these groups are Students Against Destructive Decisions, Be the Voice Campaign and The No Place for Hate club. These student-based organizations that have the motive of spreading unity and kindness and are trying their hardest to achieve that goal.

The Be the Voice Campaign, the ongoing talk among the students, is a video-based campaign attempting to create a relatively clique-free environment. “‘Be the Voice’ campaign has attempted a ‘Life Saver’ activity and plans on executing more of such programs,” says Sra. Benitez, the sponsor for the organization. The “Life Saver” activity was an attempt to break down the cliques where they appear to be the most distinct: in the cafeteria. It was an attempt to mix up the students in the cafeteria, motivating them to interact with each other. The event was moderately successful and according to Sra. Benitez, students were easily able to create interesting and casual conversations with each other.

If we can talk to each other so easily when given a slight push, why do we stay so reluctant to step out of our comfort zones? “It is all about taking the first step,” said Sra. Benitez. The students are responsible for taking the first step towards forming friendships. These friendships help us grow into better human beings. In a world so diverse, it is crucial to meet different kinds of people and to be able to communicate comfortably with them. Maybe someone you just met will turn into a close friend.

So, the next time your teacher tells you to get into groups, step out of your comfort zone and pair up with someone you don’t know a lot about. Friendships form with these baby steps. We are not like the high school in Mean Girls or High School Musical, this is real life, and a real school, where race or social status does not bind us from forming friendships.