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The Chancellor Pays Tribute to a Spelling Bee Finalist

Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - 08:42 AM

Let's start with a story of persistence. Arvind Mahankali, a seventh grader at Junior High School 74 in Queens, placed third this year in the National Spelling Bee, and Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott visited his school on Monday to congratulate the young finalist.

Arvind placed third in the competition last year too.

"I just wanted to pay tribute to a young man who has done an outstanding job in accomplishing something that very few people did," Mr. Walcott told NY1's Mari Fagel.

Mr. Walcott attended Arvind's drama class on Monday, where classmates asked him how he prepared. He said he practiced 18 hours a week and was familiar with about half of the words in Webster’s Third New International, the Spelling's Bee's official dictionary.

"I browse through the dictionary randomly whenever I get some time in my schedule, a couple of hours to study; my parents quiz me," Arvind told his classmates.

This year, the word that tripped him up was schwannoma, which is a type of tumor.

This next story about dating violence comes out of Idaho, but it resonates with teenagers everywhere, including New York City.

Studies have shown that the highest rates of physical and sexual assault happen to women ages 16 to 24, so many programs have targeted awareness programs to high school and college students to prevent young women from going into abusive relationships. But statistics have remained largely unchanged, says Jan Hoffman in The New York Times, with nearly one in 10 high school students saying they had been physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and federal lawmakers have teamed up to try to reach middle schoolers, to teach them about relationships before they start dating, Ms. Hoffman writes. She described a program in Boise:

More than 400 teenagers and parents crowded into this first “ChalkHeart” competition. A bakery provided iced sugar cookies that read “Equality” and “Respect.” A collection of poetry from local students, titled “Love What’s Real” and culled from thousands of submissions, was distributed.

Jadn Soper, 14, brushed aside her electric pink hair as she drew, remarking that most eighth graders know couples who are in demeaning relationships.

“You can tell the way a girl’s mood changes when she’s with that person,” she said. “The boy was funny and charming until he reels you in, and then he’s demanding and has to have it his way.”

For a roundup of what else made the news, we direct you to Gotham Schools's Rise and Shine.

On Tuesday night, the Education Department is holding a public hearing on proposed changes to the school discipline code, which was revised to try to move away from suspending students for some infractions. The proposed changes were made in consultation with principals, safety administrators, parents, student leaders and several advocacy groups.

The hearing, from 6 to 8 p.m., will be held at the Stuyvesant High School auditorium, 345 Chambers Street in Manhattan. Speaker sign-up will begin at 5:30 p.m., with each speaker given two minutes to state their positions. Written comments will be accepted through Tuesday, by e-mail to Lherrer@schools.nyc.gov.

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