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CNN Student News Transcript: May 5, 2008

  • Story Highlights
  • Learn why President Bush spoke at a Kansas high school's graduation
  • Meet the Teacher of the Year as we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week
  • Hear a high school's plan to keep students alcohol-free on prom night
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(CNN Student News) -- May 5, 2008

Quick Guide

An Emotional Day - Learn why President Bush spoke at a Kansas high school's graduation.

Appreciate Your Teach - Meet the Teacher of the Year as we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week.

A Night to Remember - Hear a high school's plan to keep students alcohol-free on prom night.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: We're back from the weekend, and we're ready to get started with a new week of CNN Student News. From the CNN Center, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: An Emotional Day

AZUZ: First up, an outgoing president addresses a group of outgoing students at a high school in Kansas. This is President Bush's final year in office, so 2008 has been full of "last moments" for the leader as he takes part in annual events. But yesterday, the president enjoyed a first: He spoke at a high school graduation in a town that was nearly wiped off the map. Ed Henry has more on the president's address.


ED HENRY, CNN REPORTER: After the band played "Dawn of a New Day," President Bush delivered his first high school commencement speech to an emotional crowd in Kansas.

U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Over the past year, the members of your class have relied on fundamental values that have given you strength and comfort as you deal with hardship and you heal your community and you rebuild your lives.

HENRY: The commander in chief normally would not speak to a class of just eighteen, but this is not just any high school. One year ago Sunday, virtually the entire city of Greensburg was obliterated by an F-5 tornado.

PAMELA MONTS, GREENSBURG RESIDENT: I really felt like we were going to die that night.

HENRY: Eleven killed; many more severely injured.

MAN ON THE STREET: Everything from the building was bouncing off my head, I guess.

HENRY: The storm destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses. City hall, the fire department, the high school: all gone.

BUSH: Is this your home?

HENRY: When the president visited a few days later, classes had been shut down for the rest of the year, though officials vowed to re-open last August for this school year.

LANE ALLISON, GRADUATE: I was so afraid we would have to share our senior year at another school with students we didn't know. But now I look back and wonder, how could I have ever thought that?

HENRY: Classes have been held in FEMA trailers. The basketball team played all its games on the road because the temporary gym, where commencement was held, could not accomodate home games.

CASSIE BLACKBURN, GRADUATE: We couldn't control what happened a year ago. However, we have adjusted to the new normal. We were thrown off course, but we have recovered.

HENRY: The rest of town is still struggling to come back. One side of a street will be rebuilt, while the other side is still close to shambles.

BUSH: The tornado tore apart the beams and boards that held your houses together. But it could not break the bonds of family and faith that hold your town together.

HENRY: That bond celebrated when the graduates paused to hand out lillies to their family members. One moment of levity came when the president mentioned that commencement was supposed to be next week. But Mr. Bush's daughter Jenna is getting married, so school officials graciously moved up graduation. The president joked that he could have tried to change the wedding date, but didn't think he'd get approval. Ed Henry, CNN, Greensburg, Kansas.



GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! In this snapshot of American's heartland, which state is Kansas? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A, B, C or D? You've got three seconds -- GO! On this map, Kansas is A. The Sunflower State joined the union in 1861! That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Weekend Weather

AZUZ: Head southeast from Kansas and you'll run into Arkansas, where parts of the state are recovering from deadly tornadoes. Seven people were killed by the storms, which slammed into the state late last week. The twisters destroyed about 400 homes and left thousands of people without power. As one resident viewed the damage near his house, he commented that "it just doesn't look like home anymore." The governor says the state has seen its share of severe weather, and that the people of Arkansas will fight through it.

It's a similar story in Myanmar, where the Asian country is struggling from the effects of a topical cyclone. That's what hurricanes are called in this part of the world. According to local media reports, as many as 350 people may have been killed by the cyclone. The storm came ashore packing winds of up to 150 miles per hour. One official said the cleanup has already started, but it will take a long time.

Shoutout Extra Credit

RAMSAY: Time for a Shoutout Extra Credit! Who is the current Secretary of Education? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) James S. Studies, B) Natalie Vandermath, C) Victor Reed or D) Margaret Spellings? You've got three seconds -- GO! Margaret Spellings has headed up the country's Education Department since 2005. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout Extra Credit!

Appreciate Your Teach

AZUZ: The Education Department oversees programs that help students learn, but it also works with the people who help you learn: your teachers! Last week, Secretary Spellings was on hand for the announcement of the Teacher of the Year. This year's choice is a seventh grade science teacher who writes songs to help his students learn about topics like gravity. But this week isn't about just one instructor. It's time to say thanks to all teachers.


AZUZ: Whether or not you remember how to solve for x, diagram a sentence or dissect a worm, you never forget your best teachers. They're unsung heroes who give all their energy but get little credit for the education of America. The president of the Parent Teacher Association writes, "Teachers can give our children the will to continue learning for the rest of their lives. The gift of neverending education is one for which we cannot show enough gratitude, but we can certainly try." That's why the PTA established the first full week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week. It's a tribute to those who devote their careers to the lessons they share. This year, it closely follows another teacher appreciation program: the president's announcement of the National Teacher of the Year.

BUSH: The best teachers have a special intuition and, I suspect, a little potential; the ability to see potential and the ability to have the patience necessary to watch it grow.

AZUZ: Michael Geisen from Crook County Middle School in Prineville, Oregon, is the 2008 National Teacher of the Year. Ironically, he gets a year off teaching; he'll spend time traveling as a spokesperson for the teaching profession.

MICHAEL GEISEN, NATIONAL TEACHER OF THE YEAR: There is no one person in America that is the best teacher, and I certainly don't claim to be that. There are many, many different ways to capture the hearts and minds of our children, and my way is just one among many successful ways to do that.

AZUZ: But however you teachers reach your students, you've chosen a noble profession. And we honor you on CNN Student News.


AZUZ: Mr. Geisen was selected from a group of candidates from around the country. Each state picks their own teacher of the year, and in Missouri, that's Eric Langhorst. He's an American history teacher at South Valley Junior High in Liberty, Missouri. He also happens to be a regular CNN Student News user, and we just wanted to give him a shoutout.


AZUZ: To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, the National PTA is helping put together the "Largest Teacher Thank-You Card" project! You can learn more about it and find out how you can get involved at our Web site. While you're there, hit up our blog and tell us about your favorite teachers and what it is they do that makes them so great. You can even send us a teacher tribute in an iReport! Only one place to do all of this:!

A Night to Remember

AZUZ: Talking now about prom. There are lots of prom night activities that take place before the big dance gets started. Groups get together to get ready, take pictures, go out to dinner. And sometimes, people might add alcohol to the pre-party agenda. Well, officials at a school in Wisconsin want to put a lid on the drinking. Tom Murray of affiliate WTMJ tells us the plan.


TOM MURRAY, WTMJ REPORTER: The glitz, the evening gowns: all part of high school's most glamorous night. But some Whitnall students feel their administrators are spoiling the mood.

ALYSSA ENGELMAN, WHITNALL H.S. STUDENT: I don't think that they trust us, and I think that they should.

MURRAY: If anyone drank before the big dance, there's a good chance they'd get caught. Whitnall planned random breathalyzer checks on prom night. Greenfield police officers trained school staff members to use this tester. Parents like Jeffrey Schmidt support the move.

JEFFREY SCHMIDT, PARENT: If the kids aren't doing anything they're not supposed to, they have nothing to worry about.

MURRAY: Parents and students should have had plenty of warning about this; notification went out weeks ago.

SCOTT ERICKSON, WHITNALL H.S. STUDENT: It will keep people from doing the wrong thing and it will keep people in line.

MURRAY: Scott Erickson and his date Jennifer Call hope their classmates realize they can have a great time without alcohol.

JENNIFER CALL, WHITNALL H.S. STUDENT: I think it's a great idea, because it's gotten out of hand at our school and we need to get it under control. And this is a step towards doing it.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, check out a race where all the competitors are soaring aces. The skies over San Diego Bay played host to these speed demons over the weekend as the Red Bull Air Races hit town. The event features some of the world's best pilots tearing around a race track at nearly 250 miles an hour. The aerial acrobats thrill the crowd and rack up points during seven different sessions of competition. After the series flies through 10 stops around the world, the pilot with the most points is crowned world champ.



AZUZ: And that's just "plane" sweet. And that daredevil display is where we take flight. We'll see you again tomorrow. Have a great day. I'm Carl Azuz. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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