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For Grades 9-12 , week of June 21, 2021

1. Pulitzer Honor for Teen

The Pulitzer Prizes are the highest honors given out each year in the world of journalism. This year the prize program honored a person who isn’t even a journalist. And she is a teenager. Darnella Frazier was honored with a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board for filming the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Frazier’s video contradicted the official account of Floyd’s death and showed that Floyd died after police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Frazier, who was 17 at the time she shot the video on her phone, was praised by the Pulitzer Board for “courageously reporting the murder of George Floyd [in] a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.” News reporters often write “eye-witness accounts” of events they witness first-hand. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story by a journalist who witnessed an event personally. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling what kinds of information an eye-witness account can contain that make it stronger or more powerful than a story reported after the fact.

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.

2. Act of Generosity

Every year a great many high school seniors compete for scholarships that can help pay the costs of college. In the city of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, a 17-year-old student won a $40,000 merit scholarship at graduation — and then gave it back, saying other students needed it more. Verda Tetteh has been accepted at world famous Harvard University, which has agreed to pay her tuition and room and board, the New York Times newspaper reported. “I am so very grateful for this,” Tetteh said when turning down the scholarship, “but I also know that I am not the one who needs this the most. … Knowing my mom went to community college and how much that was helpful, I would be so very grateful if administration, would consider giving the general excellence scholarship to someone who is going into community college.” When she made her announcement, her classmates at Fitchburg High School cheered and gave her a standing ovation. Verda Tetteh’s return of the $40,000 was an example of great generosity. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a teen or young adult performing another act of great generosity. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, detailing what the teen did and how it could inspire others to be generous in other ways.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. A Graduation Boost

When his parents couldn’t attend his graduation, a high school senior in the state of Alabama decided he might as well go to his job at Waffle House and make a few dollars instead. But when Timothy Harrison showed up and asked to work, his boss would have none of it. Store manager Cedric Hampton knew it was graduation day at Woodlawn High School, and that Harrison had asked for time off to attend. So he and his staff stepped in to supply everything from a graduation outfit to the school’s cap and gown to a ride to the ceremony an hour away, the Washington Post newspaper reported. One employee drove Harrison to the high school to pick up graduation gear, and another visited a nearby Target to buy a new outfit for him. When he came out of the bathroom in the dress clothes, “I felt like the president,” he recalled later. For Hampton, stepping in to help “was a no-brainer,” he said. “Graduation is one of those things you get to do once in life, and when you’ve worked all these years going to school to have that moment it’s necessary to be there. … I could see in his eyes that he really wanted to go.” For his part, Harrison was glad his Waffle House family stepped in. “It was most definitely the best day of my life,” he said. Waffle House manager Cedric Hampton and his staff stepped in to support Timothy Harrison on day he needed it. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an individual or group providing support for someone who needed it. Pretend you are the person who was supported and write a thank you letter to the person/group that provided it. Use details from your reading to explain why the support was valuable.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Trading Ideas

Applying to college can be a stressful experience, so it’s always a good idea to have a support group. In the state of Massachusetts, a pair of friends at a charter school in the city of Chicopee provided support that went way beyond dealing with anxiety and disappointment. Samantha Josephs and Daphne Muhammad of Hampden Charter School of Science helped each other qualify for more than $1-million in scholarships, UPI News reported. “We've been best friends for a while, and we kind of just say ‘hey I heard about this, you should apply to this.’ We kind of just trade ideas," Josephs told TV station WGGB. The scholarship money will be put to good use. Josephs will be attending Cornell University in the fall and Muhammed is heading to Dartmouth College. Both students said they plan to pursue careers in science with degrees from the Ivy League schools. When Samantha Josephs and Daphne Muhammad said they “traded ideas” when deciding what scholarships to apply for, they were demonstrating the kind of collaboration that can lead to success. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different ways people can collaborate to be successful. Use what you read to write an advice column on “The Importance of Collaboration.”

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

5. ‘Relationship Building’

Kamala Harris made history when she was elected last year as the first woman, first African American and first person of South Asian ancestry to become vice president. She continues to break new ground as she moves forward in her historic term. Last week, for example, she hosted all 24 female members of the U.S. Senate at a bipartisan dinner party at the vice president’s official residence in Washington, D.C. The dinner was not a policy event but “an evening of relationship building,” according to senators who attended. Harris served in the Senate as a senator from California before becoming vice president and still plays a key role as the tie-breaking vote in a body divided evenly at 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. Those attending dined on roasted mahi-mahi fish, California wines and a dessert of strawberry rhubarb pastry and vanilla ice cream. Personal relationships can often help people achieve success, and not just in politics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an individual or group whose personal relationships helped him or her achieve success. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend detailing how personal relationships can be valuable in achieving success. Share with family and friends and discuss personal relationships you have that could help you achieve success now or in the future.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.