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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 04, 2023

1. A WEB OF CONTROVERSY

Doja Cat made headlines with the reveal of her new album title, Scarlet, as well as the release date and, most notably, the cover art. The album cover, which featured a painting of a pink spider and a drop of blood, was created by artist Dusty Ray. Dusty Ray also created the album artwork for a German metal band, Chaver, whose new album is set to drop the same day as Doja Cat’s. Their cover of new album, Of Gloom, was strikingly similar to Doja Cat’s, featuring nearly the same spider and a spherical droplet in the same place as the teardrop shape on Scarlet. Doja Cat has since replaced the artwork with that of two spiders with pearl-like bodies, also by Dusty Ray. None of the parties have publicly commented on the issue. Write a paragraph explaining how you would report on this story when none of the parties involved have issued public comment about it or spoken to media sources. What other sources might you talk to or information would you use to tell the story accurately and fairly?

2. A NEW SEARCH

Chilean president Gabriel Boric announced a new national search effort to track down the remains of those who disappeared following a coup 50 years ago that unseated the South American country’s democracy and installed a dictatorship under Gen. Augusta Pinochet that lasted 17 years. At least 1,460 of Pinochet’s opponents were killed in that time, including many who were sent to a torture center run by the dictatorship’s intelligence agency; only 307 of the missing have been found and identified to date. The government’s new effort will centralize case files and other documents that are currently housed in different agencies and organizations in order to compile information. It will also fund excavations of potential burial sites. Read more about Chile’s efforts in your newspaper or online. Then, write an article that gives the historical context for the missing people and summarizes what the government is doing now to help.

3. A HARSH CRITIQUE

Pope Francis, the global head of the Roman Catholic Church, had harsh words for the US faction of the religion last month. In a meeting at Worth Youth Day celebrations in Portugal, for which transcripts have just been made available, he lamented that American conservatives refuse to accept the full breadth of the Church’s mission, as he described it, and the need for change. He pointed to what he described as a fixation on social issues like abortion and sexuality, which leads to the exclusion of issues like the environment and caring for the poor, and called the US Roman Catholic Church’s responses to his doctrine a very strong, organized, reactionary attitude. “Ideologies replace faith,” he said, positioning himself as a progressive leader against a warped view of the Catholic faith’s ideals. Read more about his statements in your newspaper or online. Then, summarize Pope Francis’ position and how it is or isn’t reflected in American Catholic culture from what you’ve either experienced personally or seen reflected in the media.

4. REQUEST FOR AID

More than 120 CEOs and executives of top US companies, including Paramount, JPMorgan Chase, Macy’s, and Wells Fargo, sent an open letter to the Biden administration calling for federal aid in handling the ”humanitarian crisis” of an influx of asylum seekers in New York City. The letter requests the federal government process the asylum seekers’ applications speedily and in the meantime, provide funds for health care, education, and transportation costs. In some cases, migrants have been sleeping outside intake centers in New York for days before they are able to be sent to temporary shelter locations while they await processing of their request for asylum in the US and work authorization. The federal government requires a 180-day waiting period to get a work authorization, a law that can only be changed by Congress, but the letter notes that expending work permits could help the labor shortages in several industries as well as benefiting the migrants who are trying to survive in this country. Read the open letter to the Biden administration. Then write an opinion piece that states whether you agree with the executives’ requests or not and why.

5. ON THE BRAIN

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a neurodegenerative disease common after repeated head trauma, has been linked to professional football players. However, a new study of 152 brains of athletes who died before the age of 30 showed 40 percent of them already showed signs of CTE. It diagnosed what they believe to be the first American female athlete with the disease and identified it in amateur youth, high school, and college athletes who participated in football, soccer, ice hockey, rugby, and wrestling. Read more about CTE online, including how it’s diagnosed and the effects it can cause. Then, write an opinion article that details what you’ve learned, the facts of this recent study, and how you would address the issue in school and amateur sports.