Gina Gonzalez is recording answers for Christina Gonzalez.
The High School Step Team
Karla’s cousin Jade urged her to join the step team. “This afternoon you should definitely try out!” Jade suggested after the final bell rang.
“I know she wants the best for me,” Karla thought to herself, “but I’m not sure I’d be any good, and I’d feel embarrassed if I messed up in front of others.” Karla had seen step teams in action: they stomped, they clapped, and they performed all kinds of skillful, synchronized moves.
“Our team is not as amazing as professional steppers, but we have a lot of fun!” Jade said. “Also, if you join the team, you will instantly have forty new friends!”
“I like the idea of forty new friends,” Karla thought to herself. “Still, I’m worried about bringing up my math grade. I’d better play it safe for now,” she decided.
“I really appreciate your concern, but I’ve got to say no thanks for now,” Karla told Jade. “I’m going for after-school help in math.”
As Karla turned away from Jade and walked down the hall towards the math class, she pictured her cousin shrugging her shoulders. “Okay, do whatever you think is best,” Jade said. “I’ll see you at home.”
Karla went to the after-school math session. The work was challenging, and she had to concentrate. The teacher said nice things to Karla about her efforts to grasp the ideas they were studying. “And yet,” Karla thought, “I still have a lot of work and study ahead of me.” When the after-school math session ended, Karla peeked into the gym.
“Hey, that’s my cousin!” Jade cried out. “Come on over here, Karla.”
Forty male and female students stopped in mid-routine to look at Karla. Too embarrassed to refuse, she joined one of the lines.
Karla soon learned that stepping requires a lot of mental energy. “It’s something like math,” she thought silently, “but not exactly the same. I have to connect my brain to my body, and make it move or stop at exactly the right moment. The key here is to execute every movement skillfully.” Very soon, Karla had mastered the team’s trademark “slap–finger snap–slap–slap–stomp.”
That night, Karla got back to work on math. At first, she felt guilty about the time spent in the gym. Then she reminded herself of the old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” An English teacher once told her the origins of this cliché go all the way back to ancient Egypt.
As Karla worked, she was surprised to find that she suddenly understood her algebra problems better than she had before. “There must be some carry-over effect from step practice,” she concluded. The concentration and focus that she exercised in step team practice seemed to help her focus more clearly on her math. Karla smiled as she thought, “Who would have guessed that spending time with a step team might be more helpful to my math grade than spending time on math work?”
Later, Karla was as much a member of the step team as anybody. “I don’t feel the least bit embarrassed anymore,” she told Jade. “When I am stepping, I feel completely focused on the rhythm of the team and working together with my ‘forty new friends.’ As an added bonus, my math work now seems much easier.”
Use the passage to answer the question.
“It’s no use. I’ll never get this,” Holly said. She was sitting on the floor with her back against a couch. A guitar lay in her lap. She shook her left hand in the air. “My fingertips hurt.”
“You can quit now,” her mom said. “But if you do, it’ll be harder to start back up again. I think you have a decision to make.”
Holly stood up and leaned the guitar against the couch. “I have decided. I’m going to get a piece of pie to help me decide.” She sighed and walked into the kitchen.
She sat at the table eating her dessert. Her dad walked in. “Is this a break from guitar practice?” he asked.
Holly’s mom was in the kitchen baking a pie and listening to her daughter’s struggles. She took the pie out of the oven and placed it on the counter.
“Yeah, I’m done for the night,” Holly said.
“Why so down?” her dad asked.
“I don’t know. I just don’t think I’ll ever play well.”
“No one’s asking you to make records like the Beatles,” her dad said.
“But I should at least be able to play a couple of chords halfway decently. And besides, my fingers hurt.”
“Well,” said her dad. “There is no getting around the fact that until you have calluses, you are not a guitar player. Come over here,” he said as he walked toward the couch. “Play me what you know.”
Holly rose slowly, going to the couch, sitting on the floor and picked up the guitar.
“Give me a G,” her dad said, and Holly played the note on the guitar. “That’s pretty good,” he responded. “Now give me a D . . . Not bad . . . I’d say you’re coming along.”
“Yeah, really. For someone who’s been playing for just one week, I’d say you’re ahead of the game. Now you need to work on the calluses.”
Holly rose. “I’m going to call Josh and tell him that I’ll keep at it for a while longer.” She then left the room.
“Since when did you know what a G or a D should sound like?” Holly’s mom asked.
Use the passage to answer the question.
Choose one question to answer.
Choose one character from The Call of the Wild and explain how the author created him or her. Share at least three elements of characterization and give examples of each for your chosen character. Your response should address each part of the question. Use details from the book to support each description.
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One possible theme of The Call of the Wild could be that only the strongest survive. Explain how this relates to Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the survival of the fittest. Do you agree or disagree with this idea? Is there one aspect with which you agree but another with which you do not?
Your answer should contain the following:
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