For Grades 9-12 , week of Feb. 12, 2024


A new cancer treatment has debuted in clinical trials in the United Kingdom and may have implications for treating solid tumors like melanoma and lung cancer. The treatment uses messenger RNA (mRNA) to show the body’s immune system how to recognize and fight cancerous tumors. The treatment is being tested for its safety and effectiveness before being rolled out to a wider patient population, potentially years down the road. However, the treatment is promising for being less toxic than harsh chemotherapy drugs and radiation, which can cause damaging side effects and even lead to secondary cancers later on. By using the body’s own immune system, the new mRNA treatments could potentially be a safer alternative, especially for difficult-to-treat cancers. Research mRNA and what it does in the body. Then, write an article that explains mRNA and synthesizes how this new treatment could help cancer patients.


Following a lengthy discussion of how to handle the increasing migrant crisis at the United States’ southern border, Senate Republicans voted down a bipartisan bill that they originally demanded, as they said it didn’t go far enough to protect the border. The bill included provisions for aid to Ukraine and Israel along with elements that address fentanyl trafficking into the US. It was crafted with negotiators from both parties, with leaders from each side signing off with their support just days prior. Then, Republicans turned on the bill, with only four voting in favor of it. Five Democrats joined the majority of Republicans in voting it down, leaving it with a failing 49-50 vote, short of the 60 votes needed to pass. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he plans to bring the aid for Ukraine and Israel as a separate bill while they continue discussion on the border. Read about the bill and Senate Republicans’ surprising vote against it from at least three sources. Then, write an article summarizing the events and pointing to why you think the Republicans acted the way they did.


Dartmouth College has reversed a Covid-era decision that no longer required applicants to submit standardized test scores, like the SAT or ACT. The Ivy League College has said it will once again require these tests after a new study conducted by the school found they could help less advantaged students have a better opportunity for admission. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds submitted test scores at lower rates than their counterparts when the scores weren’t required, but their scores were high enough to have helped the students get in. However, this study challenges a long-standing belief that standardize tests favor high-income students and hurt minority students. Read more from NPR and look at some of the research both sides of the argument cite. Then, write an opinion article drawing your own conclusions on what the best course of action is to be fair to all students.


Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson became the first American to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin since he launched Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Throughout the two-hour taped interview, Putin told the United States to stop sending money and weapons to Ukraine in order to stop the war. He also brought up former President Donald Trump, with whom Putin enjoyed a close relationship, and Tesla executive Elon Musk, who initially supported Ukraine in the war before eventually appearing to succumb to Russian propaganda. In the lead-up to the interview airing, Carlson said that he was getting Putin’s side to the story for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying “not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview the president of the other country involved in this conflict.” Many were quick to point out that while they had put in dozens of requests for interviews since the war in Ukraine began, none except Carlson’s had been granted. Read more on the takeaways from Carlson’s interview with Putin and his history commentating on the Russian leader from his time on Fox News. Then, write an article summarizing why you think Carlson was granted the rare interview opportunity and what, if anything, you think the American people can learn from the interview.


Special Counsel Robert Hur released his report last week regarding the investigation into President Biden knowingly taking classified documents when he left the vice presidency in 2017. Hur said he avoided bringing criminal charges against Biden because he cooperated during the 15-month investigation and called him a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” The president responded sharply to the comment that his memory was to blame, saying he hadn’t willfully kept the documents and had no problems with his memory. Currently, Biden is the oldest person to ever serve as president at 81 years old and is running for re-election this November. Read more about the comments made by Hur in the investigation report. Then, write an opinion article about whether you think there should be a maximum age on presidents, or any elected government position, the way there is a minimum age.