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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 08, 2024


Harvard’s first Black president, Claudine Gay, has resigned amid controversy over her comments during the Congressional investigation into antisemitism on the Ivy League campus. She’s also now facing accusations of plagiarism for her scholastic works. The accusation, shared in the Washington Free Beacon—a conservative online journal—notes 47 examples of plagiarism, while a Harvard investigation noted inadequate citations in her dissertation and at least two published scholarly articles. The complaints in question don’t relate to the big picture of her research, but instead technical language that is similar in structure and word choice to other published papers. Many academic papers use similar language in the methods and materials section that describes the equipment used for experiments—it’s so common to reuse language in these sections across papers that some journals omit them entirely from plagiarism checks. Do you think this is a reasonable practice, as there are only so many ways to explain a single process or piece of equipment, or should it still be considered plagiarism because it’s still copying other work? One of the allegations against Gay comes from her acknowledgements section in her dissertation, another area that usually isn’t regarded in plagiarism checks. Read more about the allegations against Gay and write an opinion article on the issue, tying in your opinion on whether all sections should be included in plagiarism checks or not.


A 17-year-old foreign exchange student from China was found safe after he was targeted in a “cyber kidnapping” attack. The parents of Kai Zhuang received a photograph of him from his alleged kidnappers and transferred ransom money to bank accounts in China for his safe return. Zhuang was being controlled by the cyber kidnappers, who told him to stay in a tent away from his host family and threatening his family’s safety if he didn’t comply. Once Zhuang was found by police, he was able to speak with his family to ensure they were safe and was taken from the frigid Utah wilderness back to his host family. Cyber kidnappers tend to target foreign exchange students, convincing the victims to isolate themselves and extorting the families for ransom money. How can foreign exchange students be better protected from attacks like this? Design a campaign that would educate foreign exchange students about this threat and what they should do if they suspect a cyber kidnapping.


ESPN sports analyst Pat McAfee apologized last week for comments quarterback Aaron Rodgers made on his show regarding comedian Jimmy Kimmel. Rodgers implied that Kimmel had ties to Jeffrey Epstein preceding the release of documents tying celebrities and other powerful people to the accused sex trafficker. Kimmel immediately fired back after the episode aired, stating that he had never had any contact with Epstein and threatening to take the matter to court if Rodgers continued. McAfee apologized for Rodger’s comments on his show. Read about the history of Kimmel and Rodgers’ feud, including jabs Kimmel has taken at Rodgers as part of his show. Then, write an opinion article determining whether Rodgers’ comments were out of line, even if it was passed off as a joke.


Democrats from the House of Representatives released evidence that former President Donald Trump’s businesses made at least $7.8 million from twenty foreign governments during his term as president. The businesses include the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, and Trump World Tower in New York; most of the money received was from China. The claims against the former president mirror those that House Republicans have tried to pin on President Biden, without evidence to indicate that the crime actually occurred. Using further research from at least three sources, compare and contrast the case against President Biden by House Republicans to the evidenced released against President Trump by House Democrats.

5. Alaska Airlines

About 171 airplanes around the world must be inspected before flying again after an Alaska Airlines flight was left with a gaping hole mid-flight. The Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliner’s exit door blew out shortly after takeoff, forcing the flight to make an emergency landing at Portland International Airport about 20 minutes after its airport while passengers and crew members wore oxygen masks. Following the incident, the federal officials ordered all Boeing 737 Max 9 planes to be inspected before further use. Aviation experts were surprised that a new plane would suffer this type of incident, as the plane in question was only two months old. Write a public statement as if you were the president of Alaska Airlines or Boeing, addressing the recent incident and how the company has handled it in order to encourage continued public trust in the company.

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