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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 02, 2023

1. Historic Charges

Former President Trump has been out of office for nearly two years, but his actions continue to dominate news and politics. In particular, his actions leading up to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building in 2021 that attempted to block the transfer of power to President Biden. In a historic move, a U.S. House committee investigating the January 6 attack has accused Trump of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an act of the U.S. Congress and one other federal crime and referred those charges to the U.S. Justice Department for potential prosecution. The move by the House committee is the first time in American history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution, the New York Times newspaper reported. The recommendation concluded an 18-month investigation of the Capitol riot by a committee made up of seven Democrats and just two Republicans. Most Republicans had refused to participate in the committee investigation out of loyalty to the former president, and they now say they will investigate the committee itself when they take control of the House this month following gains in the midterm elections. The Justice Department is not required to act on the House recommendation and is conducting its own investigation into the actions of Trump and his allies leading up to the January 6 attack. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the reactions of Republicans and Democrats to the House committee’s recommendations and the Justice Department investigation. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing how differences between the two parties on this issue will affect Congress going forward.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Cutting Off Smoking

The health risk of smoking cigarettes has been known for many years, and many efforts have been taken by communities to discourage young people from smoking. In the United States, health warnings are required on every package, and stores are prohibited from selling cigarettes to people younger than 21. The South Pacific nation of New Zealand has taken prevention even further, passing a law that bans the sale of tobacco products to anyone born after January 1, 2009. The ban will go into effect on January 1, 2027, when those born in 2009 will start turning 18, the Washington Post newspaper reports. New Zealand already prohibits the sale of tobacco products to those under 18, but the new law seeks to permanently outlaw tobacco sales to the country’s future generations. The new law is part of an ambitious plan to create a smoke-free nation, officials said. “This bill will create generational change, and it will leave a legacy of better health for our youth,” one national health leader said. Reducing the risks of smoking is a health goal shared by many nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another health goal shared by many nations. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor outlining steps needed to achieve this goal.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Harvard History

Harvard is the oldest university in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. Its long history began in 1636 when it was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts outside the city of Boston and named for a Puritan religious leader. As a pioneer in higher education, it has recorded many firsts since its founding, and this winter it recorded another. It has named the first person of color as its president, and just the second woman. Claudine Gay, a noted expert on race and politics, will be Harvard’s 30th president when she takes over this summer. Gay is the daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean nation of Haiti and has spent her academic career examining how minorities are represented in politics, government, education and other fields. Since 2018, she has served as Harvard’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and is the founding chair of the university’s Inequality in America Initiative. Gay, 52 , is married to Dr. Christopher Afendulis, an expert in health care policy. They have a son. Claudine Gay’s appointment as president of Harvard is a milestone for women and people of color. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another such milestone. Use what you read to write an editorial detailing why this milestone is important to Americans and people around the world.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. A Prize for Upcycling

Upcycling is a new form of recycling that transforms waste materials or unwanted products into new materials or products that are more valuable than the original. In the African nation of Kenya, Nelly Cheboi has been using upcycling to bring technology, computer skills and career opportunities to kids whose families have struggled for generations with poverty. She also has earned a $100,000 prize for her efforts as the 2022 Hero of the Year chosen by CNN News in its CNN Heroes project. Cheboi, who is 29, upcycles old computers to build computer labs in rural classrooms and give students education and career opportunities that previous generations have not had. Through her organization, TechLit Africa, she has reached 6,000 students, hired 15 teachers and works with more than 15 schools. By earning the Hero of the Year honor, she also has qualified for an Elevate Prize Foundation grant of $300,000 for 2023 through an Elevate partnership with CNN. Upcycling is a new form of recycling that is getting more and more attention. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about different upcycling efforts. Then write a proposal for upcycling that you think would benefit schools, communities or the world.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Be Like Janus

The start of a new year gives people a chance to look back at the things they achieved in the previous year, and to look forward to things they want to do in the year to come. The month of January, in fact, gets its name from an ancient Roman god who did this. The god Janus was the god of beginnings and endings and was said to have had two faces, one looking forward and one backward. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about people who are looking backward on achievements from 2022 or forward to achievements in 2023. Use what you read to write a personal column examining how past achievements can help people achieve future goals. Include achievements you have had that helped you achieve future goals. Share and discuss things that were memorable as you look back on 2022 and things you look forward to in 2023.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

Step onto any school campus and you'll feel its energy. Each school is turbocharged with the power of young minds, bodies, hearts and spirits.

Here on the Western Slope, young citizens are honing and testing their skills to take on a rapidly changing world. Largely thanks to technology, they are in the midst of the most profound seismic shift the world has ever seen.

Perhaps no time in our history has it been more important to know what our youth are thinking, feeling and expressing.

The Sentinel is proud to spotlight some of their endeavors. Read on to see how some thoroughly modern students are helping learners of all ages connect with notable figures of the past.

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