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Girl not allowed to play football, prompts debate at private schools

Megan Garth, an all-area soccer player at Prince Avenue Christian School in Bogart, Georgia, discovered things she didn’t know about football this summer.

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The first was that she’s a pretty good field-goal kicker. With some help from Prince Avenue football coaches, Garth learned in just a couple of weeks to make extra points reliably and to kick field goals of 30 yards. Coaches told her that she might be the best kicker in the school. Garth was eager to join the team.

But Garth then discovered that her school would not allow it. As do many private schools, Prince Avenue has a policy that prevents girls from joining boys’ teams or boys from joining girls’ teams. Garth’s final appeal to the school’s board of directors was denied late last week.

“We’re obviously disappointed and we disagree, but we love Prince Avenue Christian and the people there, and we respect the decision and the deliberation,” said Branham Garth, Megan’s father.

Students have supported Garth, a senior who scored a team-leading 25 goals last season on the soccer pitch. A petition with some 300 student signatures was given to the administration in support of her cause. The high school enrollment is 275. Petitions also made their way to other local schools.

“I know that is probably not the politically correct answer, but we have boys sports and girls sports, and I believe we should stick with that,” football coach Wayne Brantley at Georgia’s Landmark Christian school said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We would not allow a boy to play girls basketball. Think of what might happen if that can of worms was opened -- a 6’7, 255-pound boy dominating in girls basketball.”

Brantley also cited concerns of safety and privacy.

“One big reason for me is the possibility of severe injury for the young lady,” he said. “Also, there is no way she could dress or shower in the same locker room. If I were to really take a little time, I could probably write you a book on why it’s not a good idea. Our main goal at Landmark in football is to build strong men who are warriors. We have other programs designed to build women of character.”

According to the Georgia High School Association’s 2016-17 participation survey, there were 49 girls playing football in Georgia last season. One of them, Lauren Pearson of Thomas County Central, made her all-region team as a kicker.

There were 1,992 girls playing football nationwide, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. That’s about one girl for every 532 boys among the 1.06 million who played the game last year.

Prince Avenue Christian head of school Col. Seth Hathaway provided The Atlanta Journal-Constitution with a lengthy statement explaining his school’s position. It cited the school’s religious tenets, the covenant between the school and its Christian parents and a commitment to “uphold its community standards and the conservative temperament of the school.”

Hathaway expressed concern over precedents. He noted that a previous request by a male student to be on the cheerleading squad had been denied. He particularly stressed the need to establish guidelines that applied sensibly to a school that has students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.

“While the school recognizes the changing roles of girls in organized sports, its covenantal partnership does not support the belief that mixed athletic contact sports should traverse a spectrum from high school varsity all the way down to the second grade,” Hathaway said in the statement. “This is a challenge unique to a Pre-K to 12 school that is not a factor in traditional ninth to 12th grade high schools.”

According to Hathaway, Prince Avenue Christian is not subject to Title IX provisions regarding mixed-athletic competition because the school does not accept federal funding.

Many other private schools do allow girls to play. This year, Hebron Christian, a Gwinnett County school, has a female kicker, Payton Johnson. Hebron Christian head of school Dr. Tracey Pritchard said her school allows mixed-gender participation, although it requires permission.

“We are always open to at least a ‘discussion’ and ‘evaluation’ of whether it is prudent and appropriate to allow mixed-gender participation for a particular sport at any given time,” Dr. Pritchard said in an e-mail. “We consider it on a case-by-case basis and within the guidelines of GHSA. Also, typically, participation consideration of a female on a male team is based on the needs of the team.”

Georgia High School Association rules state that girls may play boys sports if the school has no equivalent girls sport. For example, a girl could not play on the boys basketball team unless there was no girls basketball team. But the GHSA does not compel its members to allow mixed athletic participation.

Read more here.

Maryland private school bans Washington Redskins gear, citing ‘racial slur’

A Bethesda, Maryland, private school has made a decision about the Washington Redskins’ NFL logo and team name, saying it “feels profoundly at odds with (its) community’s mission and values.” 

>> Read more trending news

The Green Acres School website posted a pop-up letter from the head of school that announces that any and all Washington Redskins gear will be banned from the school premises heading forward.

In the lengthy letter, Head of School Neal M. Brown said third-graders and sixth-graders raising questions in class were the impetus behind moving forward on a long-time internal discussion.

The letter reads, in part, as follows:

“Last year, our community engaged in thoughtful and open discussions about the wearing of the Washington professional football team logo and the use of the term “Redskins” on campus. We first talked about it in the Staff Diversity Committee, then as a full staff, then with all of our Middle School students, and finally with several parents who joined members of the administration and the Inclusion and Diversity Committee. Students in grade 3 also raised the issue during their study of Native Americans, and then they and the 6th graders engaged in a discussion of ethnically and/or racially–derived sports team logos as part of last year’s celebration of MLK Day. “... The term ‘Redskin’ is a racial slur. Its use, whether intentional or not, can be deeply insulting and offensive. It is a term that demeans a group of people. Similarly, the team’s logo also can reasonably be viewed as racially demeaning. At best, the image is an ethnic stereotype that promotes cultural misunderstanding; at worst, it is intensely derogatory.”

Brown asserted that Green Acres is “an inclusive and uplifting community” that “welcome(s) people of any race, national or ancestral origin.”

“We cannot continue to allow children or staff members --however well intentioned -- to wear clothing that disparages a race of people,” he wrote.

Also on the website, the school describes itself as committed to the “principles of progressive education and to ongoing exploration of what this means in the 21st century.” The school teaches kids as young as 3 years old and as advanced as the eighth grade.

After the decision was made and the news got wind of it, Brown spoke with Fox 5 DC about his rationale.

He said that the football team name and logo, in his view, violated the school’s mission and diversity statement by being “at best ... an ethnic stereotype” and “At worst ... deeply demeaning.”

Green Acres School has been around in 1934. It was the first racially-integrated school in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Starbucks tests new sushi burrito

Select Starbucks locations will now be selling a combination of two of millennial’s favorite things -- a burrito and sushi all rolled conveniently into one easy to grab snack.

>> Read more trending news 

With the limited release of the sushi burrito, only those living in Chicago and Seattle will be able to give the snack a try and see if it stands up to previous Starbucks concoctions such as the autumn mooncakes or beef jerky cold brew.

RELATED: Chicago Starbucks are now donating all their unsold food to a local shelter

Part of the company’s Mercado menu, which is full of lunch meals for customers to enjoy, customers interested in the sushi burrito will be able to order a chicken maki roll, HypeBeast reported. Rolled up like a little burrito, the meal is jam packed with sticky white rice, shredded chicken, pickled cabbage, cucumber, onion and avocado.

What makes the sushi burrito a crossover of sorts is the tomatillo salsa and lime crema that tops it off before being rolled in a seaweed wrap. If the item does well in Chicago and Seattle, it is presumed that Starbucks will open the sushi burrito to all locations for everyone to enjoy.

Teacher shoots self at Georgia high school, police say

Lithia Springs High School in Lithia Springs, Georgia, cancelled classes Thursday morning after an incident involving a teacher, according to Douglas County sheriff’s officials. 

The officials said a school employee was flown to a hospital after suffering a self-inflicted gunshot at the school.

>> Read more trending news 

No students were involved or injured. Just before 9 a.m., students could be seen walking through the parking lot and then back into the building.

“No students were in the building at the time. The campus has been secured, and students are in the gym. Students may be picked up by a parent or guardian, and buses will be available to take bus riders home. There will be no classes at Lithia Springs High School today,” Nell Boggs, community relations specialist for the Douglas County School System, said.

Boggs said a teacher suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound at about 7:15 a.m. while alone in his classroom.

During a news conference about the incident, the school's superintendent thanked first responders and emergency personnel for their swift efforts.

Sheriff's officials said the teacher arrived at the school Thursday morning, went to his classroom and suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"There were no students who ever saw this. This was a very isolated incident," a sergeant said.

Sheriff's officials said student safety is the first priority of theirs and the school board.

There were several hundred students who had made their way to the campus at the time of the shooting, but very few were inside the school building, sheriff's officials said.

Authorities said there were only two people involved: the teacher who suffered the gunshot and another teacher who was able to call 911.

"He was able to call to another teacher to call 911 upon his behalf," the sergeant said.

Authorities are not releasing information about whether or not the shooting was accidental. 

Sheriff's deputies said the teacher was stable as of 12 p.m.

Authorities said grief counselors are at the high school and will remain there for the time being.

"They will be here until they don't need it anymore," a sergeant said.

Deputies said the teacher had been an employee at the school for 18 years.

They said that while the gunshot was self-inflicted, there is a criminal investigation.

Students said the man is their math teacher. They said he has a wife and young daughter.

“His daughter is actually pretty smart. He bragged about her in class and loved her,” student Gustavio Ruiz told WSB-TV.

This is a developing story. Check WSBTV.com for updates.

Research group finds 2-headed turtle 

The University of Central Florida’s Marine Turtle Research Group found a two-headed turtle in Brevard County during its research Thursday.

>> Read more trending news 

The group excavates nests three days after the turtles hatch to determine how many eggs were laid and how many hatchlings emerged. 

Any straggler turtles are safely released into the ocean.

Read: Rare shark has even rarer two-headed offspring

During its latest research, the group found a two-headed loggerhead turtle.

Researchers said the turtle appeared to be healthy and energetic, and was released into the ocean, but not before a member of the group snapped a few photos.

Kate Mansfield, an assistant professor and lab director with the group, said her crew found a two-headed turtle on the same beach a year or two ago. She said the finding is rare, but not unheard of. 

Read: Rare two-headed python hatches, survives

MoviePass app lets subscribers go to the movies once a day for $10 a month

Remember the days when going to the movies cost less than $10? Maybe you remember when it was less than $5.

These days, a trip to the theater can cost a pretty penny. While the national average is $8.65, in many cities, like Los Angeles and New York, a ticket can cost up to or more than $15.

But thanks to one app, $10 can now go a lot further at the cinema. 

>> Read more trending news 

MoviePass, run by Netflix co-founder Mitch Lowe, is offering subscribers a deal in which they can see one movie per day for $9.95 per month.

According to KSDK“MoviePass completes their one ticket per day services through the use of a credit card they send you. You pay the $10 a month through their app, then you select the exact movie you're going to see, and the company adds that ticket amount onto the credit card for you to use. You use this credit card at the theater to pay for your ticket. There's no gimmicks or fancy scanning you have to do, just using the credit card they send you.”

MoviePass only works at theaters that accept debit cards as payment.

And although subscribers receive tickets at a significant discount, MoviePass pays theaters the full price of each ticket used subscribers, Bloomberg reported

Still, major movie theater chain AMC threatened the company Wednesday, calling MoviePass as “a small fringe player” and claiming its $10 plan “is not in the best interest of moviegoers, movie theatres and movie studios,” Variety reported.

“While AMC is not opposed to subscription programs generally, the one envisioned by MoviePass is not one AMC can embrace,” the company said in a statement read. “We are actively working now to determine whether it may be feasible to opt out and not participate in this shaky and unsustainable program.”

“This is so much like Blockbuster was when we rolled out Netflix or Redbox,” said Lowe, according to Variety. “It’s the big guy being afraid of the little guy offering better value to consumers.”

MoviePass, founded in 2011, originally offered the service to subscribers for about $30 a month. The company’s aim was to profit from subscribers who paid the monthly fee but didn’t use the service often enough to take advantage of the deal. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, MoviePass’s official website would not load and the company wrote on social media that it was experiencing technical difficulties as a result of overanticipated demand.  

Read more at Bloomberg and  Variety.

Chick-fil-A adds breakfast bowl, breakfast burrito menu options

Chick-fil-A this week unveiled its new breakfast bowl, the Hash Brown Scramble, adding it to the breakfast menu at all of its participating restaurants nationwide.

>> Read more trending news

The new menu item is made with “tot-style” hash browns, scrambled eggs, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, and a choice of either sliced chicken nuggets or pork sausage. It can also be ordered as a burrito, with the ingredients wrapped in a soft tortilla. The dishes are served with a side of jalapeño salsa.

>> Related: Chick-fil-A adds new sandwich, lemonade to summer menu

Chick-fil-A officials said in a release that the new menu item is the “first breakfast bowl for the national quick-service restaurant company.” The chain previously added an Egg White Grill as an “on-the-go” breakfast option.

>> Related: About that Chick-fil-A ‘gluten-free bun’ — there’s a catch

“At Chick-fil-A, we understand the importance of breakfast and want to provide a wide range of options to our guests who are looking for a fast and delicious breakfast,” Amanda Norris, senior director of menu development for Chick-fil-A, said in a release. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in popularity for breakfast bowls, and the Hash Brown Scramble combines two fan favorites – our chicken nuggets and hash browns.”

>> Related: Chick-fil-A tests large family style meals

The Hash Brown Scramble Bowl has 450 calories and 30 grams of protein when made with nuggets. The Hash Brown Scramble Burrito will replace the current Breakfast Burrito.

Chick-fil-A customers in the states of New York and New Jersey, and cities of San Diego, Columbia, S.C., and Washington, D.C. test-marketed the Hash Brown Scramble and two other potential breakfast items in the fall of 2016.

Ohio school district trains staff to shoot intruders

Intruders beware: Thirty-two teachers and staff in Ohio’s Mad River Local Schools are now armed and ready to kill.

>> Read more trending news 

When school gets back in session Monday, each school building will have a number of the trained staff members who are able to access hidden gun safes, the combinations of which are known exclusively to the individual staff member and the superintendent.

MORE: Mad River will give school staff access to guns

The district is the first in Montgomery County to assemble an “armed and trained response team,” said Superintendent Chad Wyen. But he said the district is part of an emerging trend.

“It’s way more prevalent than people realize,” Wyen said of the district’s decision to arm employees. “Sixty-three out of 88 counties in Ohio have a district with a response team.”

RELATED: New law to ban cellphone use while driving in Tenn. school zones

In southwest Ohio, Wyen has worked with Sidney City Schools, in Miami County, which has a similar plan. Wyen has also worked with Georgetown Exempted Village Schools, in Brown County, east of Cincinnati.

RELATED: Latest move in school safety? A panic button

Mad River Local Schools staff members interviewed to join the volunteer team, then attended one of two courses offering Ohio Peace Officer Training, which is the basic requirement for becoming a police officer. The team also trained at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office gun range.

So far, Wyen said, the response has been positive. He said only one parent has called him opposed to the plan.

Latest move in school safety? A panic button

Getting police and first responders to help students and staff is now more efficient than ever in one Georgia school district.

>> Read more trending news 

Schools in Gwinnett County, Georgia, are now equipped with panic buttons and safety protocol.

Parents told WSB-TV they are on board with the new system.

“Maybe quicker response and quicker timing would save lives,” parent Stece Condra said.

Condra is the parent of a student at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia.

He is learning about the new emergency notification buttons that have been installed in each Gwinnett County public school.

Condra said he is glad school officials are being proactive.

“Hopefully they put it in and never have to use it. That's the best bet,” Condra said.

Officials started to put the program in place two years ago, beginning with panic buttons installed in elementary schools.

Now they're in every school in the district, just in time for the first week of school.

School resource officers like Joe Barnes at Peachtree Ridge High School will now have immediate backup if an intruder gets in.

“To know that help is on the way as soon as someone presses that button is a nice feeling,” Barnes said.

The system puts the school on immediate lockdown and sends alerts to school police dispatch and the county's 911 center.

It is all in real-time because dispatchers will be looking at live camera feeds.

“The school staff is being trained to push it when there is a life-threatening emergency, such as an active shooter,” Barnes said.

The security measure is a significant topic of discussion as school officials across the country consider the best ways to keep students safe. According to a Feb. 2016 ABC News report, each week, on average, one shooting took place on a school or college campus in 2015. The report showed a total of 270 shootings of any kind at a school between April 1999, when the infamous Columbine shooting occurred, and February 2016.

New law to ban cellphone use while driving in Tenn. school zones

Parents and students in Tennessee will soon need to think twice before picking up the phone while driving. Beginning in January, a statewide cellphone ban will be enacted inside of school zones. The ban will not only apply to taking phone calls, but also texting and holding a phone, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

>> Read more trending news

“If you are holding a phone up to your ear while driving in a school zone, it’s illegal (next year),” said Jeremy Wall, who works as a resource officer at Dickson County High School and also helps direct traffic at the high school in the mornings.

The bill was sponsored by state Sens. Jim Tracy (R) and John Holsclaw (R).

“You should be concentrating on reducing your speed limit and paying attention. You have children walking and a lot of traffic around,” said Tracy. “Eventually, as technology gets better, everything will be hands-free.”

Tracy defended the bill by saying that many of his constituents were interested in legislation to attempt to combat the use of cellphones while driving.

According to Wall, distracted drivers who are on their phones lead to traffic build-up and delays. 

“When someone has the phone to their ear talking, they are so engrossed in that conversation -- they are looking left, they are looking right. And the whole time I am standing there motioning for them to come out,” he told the News Sentinel. “[And] if there is a line of cars, and someone is sitting way back because they are looking at their phone. Guess what I am going to do? I am going to the next rotation. I am going to this group (of vehicles) and bring them on in.”

Drivers who break the law will face a Class C misdemeanor and a fine of up to $50. If a driver is over 18 years of age, they may use a hands-free setup to talk on the phone. Younger drivers can’t use their phones at all.

According to a February report by WTVF, the National Safety Council named Tennessee the state with the most cellphone-related road fatalities in America.

Read more at the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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