For Grades 9-12 , week of July 11, 2022

1. New Key Leader

The United States has no closer ally in the world than the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the continent of Europe. So when there is a change in leadership in the U.K. (commonly known as Britain), it has great impact on America’s interests. U.S. leaders are now closely watching who will become Britain’s leader, after the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson after three years in office. Johnson stepped down as head of Britain’s Conservative Party after a series of scandals and missteps, and the party will now choose a new leader and prime minister. The Conservatives will get to choose the prime minister, because they control Britain’s House of Commons legislature, and under the British political system that body picks the prime minister. Johnson, who is 58, stepped down after five cabinet ministers and 60 members of the government resigned in a rejection of his leadership. Johnson said he will continue to serve as interim prime minister until a permanent replacement is named later this summer. “It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and, therefore, a new prime minister,” Johnson said. “The process of choosing that new leader should begin now.” Britain’s change in leadership will have impact on the United States in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories and commentaries about America’s relationship with Britain following Boris Johnson’s resignation. Use what you read to write a commentary or political column analyzing what should be the biggest concerns for the United States.

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

2. Plastics Crackdown

Plastics pollution is one of the biggest problems facing the Earth’s lands, oceans and waterways. It also creates air pollution when burned, contributing to global warming. In the state of California, landmark legislation signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom this month seeks to reduce plastics pollution by restricting single-use plastics in packaging, promoting recycling and shifting the cost of recycling plastic products from taxpayers to the companies that make them. By 2032, plastic producers must reduce the amount of plastic in packaging by 25 percent by reducing the size of packaging, switching to a different material or making the products reusable, the New York Times reports. In addition, the state must increase its recycling rate for plastics to 65 percent. “We know that to solve our plastic pollution crisis, we need to make less plastic and reuse more of the plastic we do have,” said a spokesperson for the Ocean Conservancy environmental group, which helped draft the law. “This is the first bill in the country to tackle both issues.” Communities and nations all over the world are looking for ways to reduce plastics pollution and the use of plastics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different efforts. Use what you read to create an oral presentation for younger children explaining one effort in language younger children would understand. Choose images from the newspaper or Internet to go with your report. Share your report with younger children you know.

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

3. Graduates in Action

At many high schools across America, students are required to perform community service in order to graduate. In the state of New York this summer, six students at Port Jefferson High School served their community in a dramatic way — rushing from their graduation to help put out a house fire. The students are volunteer members of the Port Jefferson Fire Department on Long Island, and when the fire call came in, they stripped off their graduation gowns and sprinted to the nearby firehouse. One female student even took off her earrings and necklace while she ran, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Once at the firehouse, the students put on firefighting gear and mounted a firetruck for the ride to a nearby house, where fire had broken out in a garage. The fire was put out in about an hour and no one was injured. “Speed is very important,” said graduate volunteer Andrew Patterson. “We like to get there fast.” There are many ways for students to perform community service. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about problems or issues that students could work on to make the community better. Pick one and write a proposal for addressing the issue that you could present to a local official.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. Baby Boom

At hospitals in America around the world, neonatal units offer care to newborn babies, many of which have special needs. In the U.S. state of Missouri this year, a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) will be welcoming a batch of new babies that are special in another way. Their mothers are 14 nurses who all work in the NICU at Saint Luke’s East Hospital in Kansas City and are pregnant at the same time! One baby has already been born and the 13 others have due dates ranging from now until December, Fox TV News in Kansas City reported. There’s a mix of boys and girls on the way, although some moms-to-be have chosen not to learn the sex of their baby until it is born. With luck, none of the babies will need the services of the NICU, but Saint Luke’s shares the excitement of its expectant NICU staff. “We can’t wait to spoil these moms and babies just like we do with every special delivery at Saint Luke’s,” the hospital wrote in a Facebook post. When moms become pregnant, they do a lot of different things to prepare for a new baby. One of those things is shop for things the baby will need. In the newspaper or online, find and study ads and stories about baby equipment, clothes and products. Make a list of things a mother might get for her baby. Rank them in order of importance and discuss the most economical places a mom could acquire them (don’t forget thrift stores). Discuss with family or friends.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Dream Job

It’s often said you are never too old to pursue your dreams. In the city of Los Angeles, California, a 45-year-old man has done that, becoming a police officer at an age more than double that of most new officers. Miguel Camarena, who graduated from the Los Angeles Police Academy at the start of this month, is one of the oldest graduates on record in the southern California city. A native of Mexico, Camarena had wanted to be an officer for years, but had been delayed because he didn’t yet have citizenship papers. When he achieved citizenship several years ago, he immediately began researching how to join the police academy and become an officer. To graduate he had to complete 912 hours of training over 24 weeks, ABC News in Los Angeles reported. “It wasn’t easy,” he said after his graduation ceremony. “It was hard. I had tough times.” After graduating he said “I feel amazing. I feel very honored to wear this uniform.” It took many years for Miguel Camarena to achieve his dream of becoming a police officer. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another person who took years to achieve a dream or goal. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, discussing what personal qualities the person needed to overcome obstacles and follow their dream. Which of these qualities do you have? How might they help you in your life? What other qualities do you have that could help you succeed when you are older?

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.