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For Grades 9-12 , week of July 12, 2021

1. Horse-Jumping Springsteen

Jessica Springsteen has grown up with one of the most famous names in show business. But now the daughter of music star Bruce Springsteen is making a name for herself — in an entirely different field. She has been named to the U.S. Olympic team for horseback show jumping, one of just four Americans to be named to the jumping team. Jessica Springsteen has been riding since she was four years old and got her first pony when she was six on the New Jersey farm she grew up on with her dad and mom, the singer-songwriter Patti Scialfa (who performs with Bruce Springsteen’s band). Jessica started winning horseback equestrian events as a girl, and as a teenager won the ASPCA Maclay National Championship. Known for her bold riding style, she has represented the U.S. Equestrian Team in international competition and was an alternate for the U.S. at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. In 2014 she won the American Gold Cup. Now 29, she will ride a 12-year-old stallion at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Horseback show jumping requires tremendous skill and strength, as horses and riders leap over huge fences. It also requires tremendous trust and coordination between the horses and riders. View a video of Jessica Springsteen show jumping by clicking here. Pretend you are a sports writer telling readers who have never seen show jumping what it is like, what skills and strength are involved and what impression it leaves on viewers.

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. Long-Lasting Love

When it comes to love stories, few can top that of former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter. Last week they celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary, a marriage that has lasted longer than any U.S. President’s. Jimmy, 96, and Rosalynn, 93, marked their anniversary in their hometown of Plains, Georgia, where they first met and have lived their entire lives. Jimmy Carter served as president from 1977 through 1981, and as First Lady Rosalynn took on a more serious role than previous presidential wives, notably on mental health issues. She was her husband’s closest advisor and sat in on Cabinet meetings along with the heads of top government departments. Two years ago, their marriage passed that of George H.W. and Barbara Bush as the longest in presidential history, the Washington Post reported. Jimmy Carter is also the nation’s longest-living president. In retirement the Carters helped build homes for Habitat for Humanity and were active in many social causes. In 2002 Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for co-founding the Carter Center, which works to advance human rights and improve the quality of life in poor nations around the world. People who have been married a long time often have advice on how to make a marriage work. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a couple who have been married a long time. Use what you read to write a personal column telling what people could learn from their marriage to make other relationships work, long or short. Include advice you would give as well.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Cartoon House

Until “The Simpsons” came along, “The Flintstones” was the longest running, and most popular, cartoon show on prime time television. Some people still love “The Flintstones,” which followed the lives of two families living in the Stone Age. In fact, one woman’s special fandom sparked a legal dispute that drew international attention. Florence Fang of Hillsborough, California created a bulbous and wildly colorful house that looks like it could be from the Stone Age and surrounded it with statues of dinosaurs, the Flintstone family and their neighbors. Her neighbors and officials in the upscale Northern California community were not amused and sued to get Fang to remove the “eyesore” statues. Fang counter-sued, and their legal wrangle has finally been settled. The big news is that the statues can stay, Fang will drop her lawsuit and both parties will review her unusual landscaping to ensure it complies with local zoning rules. The town also will pay Fang $125,000 and she will apply for permits for any future improvements. The “Flintstones” house in California is designed to look like the old cartoon. In the newspaper or online, read comic strips or comic books that interest you. Pick one and design a house to look like the world of the comic strip or book. Share with family or friends and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. Elephants on the Move

In recent years, zoos, circuses and wild animal parks have come under fire for keeping wild animals in captivity. Now an animal park in the European nation of England is taking a bold step to remedy this by moving an entire herd of elephants to a wild area in the African nation of Kenya. Thirteen elephants from Howletts Wild Animal Park — including three calves — will be flown more than 4,350 miles to Kenya, which is world famous for its wildlife preserves and reservations. It will be the first time that an entire herd of elephants has been "re-wilded" anywhere in the world, organizers of the project say. None of the animals have ever lived in the wild, CNN News reports. “As with any conservation project of this magnitude, there are obviously big risks, but we consider them well worth it to get these magnificent elephants back into the wild where they belong,” said a spokesman for one of the wildlife groups working on the project. Zoos and animal parks all over the world are taking steps to “re-wild” animals in more natural settings. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read of one such effort. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling why this effort could be a model for other institutions — or how it could be done better.

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.

5. Hotdog Burgers

When it comes to summer picnics, some people have a hard time choosing between hotdogs and hamburgers. Now a meat shop in the state of new Jersey has solved the problem for people who can’t choose. The Rastelli’s butcher shop has created hotdogs in the shape of hamburgers! Rastelli’s got the idea after receiving many requests for pre-sliced hotdogs, according to KMOV-TV. Pre-slicing reduces the risk of choking, so Rastelli’s took things ever further. It molded hotdog meat in the shape of patties, which not only reduces choking risks but holds more condiments like mustard and relish, the company says. The Rastelli’s meat shop came up with a new product to meet a demand from customers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about other products created to meet the desires of customers. Then brainstorm an idea for a new product that you think would meet a demand or desire for customers. Write a description for your product and why people would want it. Give it a catchy name

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.