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Read each of the following newspaper stories. Then answer the questions below. Some of the questions are "literal comprehension," which means it requires a student to choose or compose an answer that is explicitly stated in the text but is expressed in words different from that of the item. The others stress "inferential comprehension." Inference items require the student to draw understanding from a text that is not explicitly stated in the text.

Getting an education, with comforts of home
by Kevin Duchschere
Staff Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune
A very special graduation was held this summer in a leafy Bloomington backyard.

There was only one graduate, in a cap and gown and sash that read "valedictorian."

The graduate was Steven Tousignant, 18, and he's never spent a day in a classroom.

For 12 years, he has taken lessons from his mother, Annie, at the kitchen table and in the air knotty-pine sun room of the family home in Bloomington.

Next month, Tousignant will enter Normandale Community College in Bloomington, where he plans to go for a couple of years before moving to a four-year university to study engineering. His entrance exam scores were so high that Normandale is letting him skip five math courses, a break given to few new students.

Tousignant's four older brothers and sisters attended Bloomington public schools, where they were honor students. But Annie and her husband, Richard, a mechanic and instructor for Northwest Airlines, chose home schooling for Steve, partly because he has mild cerebral palsy that affects his motor skills and speech. They worried that at a regular school he wouldn't get the attention he needed to achieve his full potential.

Tousignant is a published poet and a math tutor. He plays the piano and guitar and paints so skillfully that his graceful watercolor of a tornado, done when he was 12, won the grand prize at an art show. he knows how to garden, breed cockapoos and manipulate computer graphics. He reads broadly from Shakespeare to Crichton, and he includes figures as diverse as Kepler and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in his private pantheon of heroes. He is disarmingly funny.
"he's just a real bright guy, and along with that he has a real wisdom that you don't see a lot in people his age," Annie said.

When he was born, Tousignant was deprived of oxygen for 20 minutes when his placenta was pulled away. He was in a coma for 10 days. It injured his brain but didn't affect his intelligence, which he displayed even as a toddler, Annie said.
Before the time came for Tousignant to enter school, Annie learned about home schooling from the "Donahue" show. She is a homemaker and has a high school education, but after consulting two Twin Cities women who had taught their own children, she developed an instruction schedule for her son.

Nearly 7,700 children were taught at home in Minnesota during the 1993-94 school year, said Carol Hokenson, data management supervisor in the state Department of Education. A 1987 state law set standards for home schools, such as 170-day calendar, annual standardized tests and a basic curriculum including English, math, science, history, government, and physical education. Home teachers also must meeting certain requirements.

"I wasn't a beastly taskmaster, but I knew this kid was bright and I knew what I need to impart to him," Annie said. "We were very disciplined and dedicated, but not so rigid that if there was some special thing that we wanted to see at the zoo, or somebody coming into town, that we would take that day off and go."

And his parents took great pains not to ignore his social life. He cultivated friendships with other kids through the 4-H Club and the youth group at St. Edward's Church in Bloomington. He lifts weights, swims and plays tennis and softball in an adaptive city sports. program.

"I probably would've met more people at school, but whether I would have developed more friends in that setting is another question," Tousignant said.

Each year, Tousignant took the Iowa and California standardized achievement tests, if only so Annie would have something to show the school district in case they asked. The results always showed him several grades ahead of his age group, she said.

But she is quick to say that not everyone can - or should - do what she has done. "I found the answer for myself," she said.

Tousignant said that the best thing about his education was that his parents enveloped him in a wide world of ideas.

Vigorous debate apparently is routine at the Tousignant house. When the family gathers for, say, a holiday picnic, you shouldn't "expect a relaxing meal," Steve said.

Even though he's been his own class for a dozen years, he said that he isn't apprehensive about the college environment.

"It's going to be very similar to home school, in that I can set my own schedule," he said.

For years, people have asked Tousignant if he thought he might ever go to a "real" school. He smirks at the notion that what he did wasn't real.

"There's a myth, in our country that you learn only in school, and after school you don't learn. It's an erroneous myth."

Light Twinkies: You can have your cake and eat it, too
by Mark DePaolis
Staff Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune

It's hard to know how to react when your world goes topsy-turvy, things stop making sense, and everything you once believed turns out to be a lie. This happened to me when I found out about Hostess Lights Low Fat Twinkies.

For me, this was like dropping a pencil and watching it fall up. there have been a lot of formerly fatty foods showing up in healthier, low-fat versions recently. Evidently, someone has found a way to remove fat and replace it with purely theoretical particles, providing the minimum daily requirement for neutrinos.

Being a doctor, I try to eat foods from healthy groups, like the "boneless, skinless" group and the "shreds of roughened wood" group. I have always considered Twinkies to be a leading example of food that is bad for you, namely the "high-calorie, heavy-cream-filled sponge cake" group.

This was before I learned about Low Fat Twinkies. "Low fat" in this case was a relative term. The new Twinkies, according to the Twinkie Hotline (the 800 number found on the wrapper), have 3 grams of fat in a package of two. (Nutritional scientists will tell you there is no such thing as a single Twinkie. Anyone who would eat one Twinkie is not going to carefully wrap up the other one for eating at a later date.) Fat-wise, this puts them in the same ballpark as three slices of bread or kernels of movie popcorn. While not technically a health food due to the cellophane packaging, they aren't bad.

As an observer of health trends, I felt it was my duty to conduct some research into the new Twinkies, especially if it meant I got to eat some. I used to eat Twinkies a lot, but I swore off them after being brainwashed into good nutrition during medical school. I have been jealously eyeing them in supermarkets and convenience stores ever since.

Now I had an excuse. Would these healthier Twinkies taste like the ones I remembered? Or would they taste like, well, like Twinkies with the Twink taken out?

Eager to find out, I put on my long white coat and went to the grocery store. I found the Twinkies on the Hostess rack, next to all the other snacks I remembered from my youth (cupcakes with squiggles on top, fruit pies shaped like burritos, and Sno-balls, small mounds of rubberized coconut that now came in designer pastel colors.) Tears streaming down my face, I bought one twin-pack of Low Fat Twinkies and brought them to my kitchen laboratory.

I knew I had to be careful, particularly because of my recent problems with breakfast cereal. After years of eating cereal containing actual chunks of tree bark, I decided to bring home some Cap'n Crunch for my son. As many people know, Cap'n Crunch is a cereal consisting of tiny squares of sharpened fiberglass that are somehow impregnated with more sugar than if they were made entirely of sugar itself. Eating it is like eating tiny pieces of glazed sea coral. It was my favorite cereal as a kid, and it was wonderful.

My wife, however, thought it was a bad idea. I calmly pointed out that I ate Cap'n Crunch, and I still had a large number of my own teeth. I also reassured her that I was not an irresponsible parent, and that this was in fact 100 percent pure Cap'n Crunch, not the kid with the hideous "crunch berries" that stain the milk red.

Sadly, my son wasn't interested. He tried a few bites, played with the enclosed magic squirt pen, and then pushed it aside and asked for Cheerios.

There was nothing I could do but finish that box myself, along with the nine or ten boxes I have purchased since, just in case he changes his mind.

Obviously, sweetened snack foods from my past were nothing to play around with. I was cautious as I tore open the package and took out a Twinkie. It looked just as I remembered, with the same pleasing weight and heft. The golden color was the same, with one darker, flattened side that still had the holes from the pneumatic cream-filling injector. It even left a thin coating of Twinkie skin stuck to the waxy cardboard, just as I remembered.

With the video camera running to document my research, I took a bite.

Medical research doesn't always bring bad news. My results show that Low Fat Twinkies taste surprisingly like the Twinkies I remember, essentially like damp Styrofoam packing material with a central core of sweetened library paste. They are wonderful.

I think my son might even like them, although I plan to stick to health food myself. I bet this box of 36 will last us for months.

Mark DePaolis is a writer and physician with a practice in Brooklyn Center.


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