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SHORT TAKES

HOW EVOLVED

The teaching of evolution faced a huge setback when the Kansas Board of Education voted to delete references to the scientific theory from the state's science curriculum. The move baffled and bothered scientists, who say scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports evolution, a theory which says, in part, that species have adapted throughout time to adjust to their environments. But others say evolution diminishes the role of God and invalidates religious beliefs in how mankind was created. They support the teaching of "creation science," a view based on biblical teachings. In Kansas, teachers can still teach evolution, but evolution will be dropped from assessment tests. (Will a busy teacher take the time to teach kids something they won't be tested on?) Several other states are debating the whole issue, so stay tuned.

OUTSIDE CHANCE

Travis Parker got to go outside and play! Before you think that's no big deal, catch the kid's story: Travis, a fourth-grader in Asheville, N.C., has Gunther's disease, a condition that makes him allergic to the sun. His classmates at Old Fort Elementary School wanted to help him out, so they started a letter-writing campaign asking for help. Plus, the community raised money. As a result, Travis recently got a $2,000 air-conditioned spacesuit, built by NASA, that deflects ultraviolet rays. Someday, Travis will need a bone marrow transplant. But for now, he's thrilled that he has the chance to be outside with his buddies and shoot hoops with his dad.

LAND OF THE BRAVE

Stephanie Rodriguez, 12, is really brave -- and not just because she recently sang the national anthem before squillions of people before a Chicago White Sox game at Comiskey Park. Stephanie, a seventh-grader from Albany Park, Ill., has made a big comeback from cancer. She was picked to sing at Comiskey on a special night honoring cancer survivors. Stephanie said she got some good advice from her music teacher, James Edwards Jr., about singing before a big crowd: "He told me, as long as you don't look at the people, it's OK. You have to imagine that you're singing to little animals, or imagine that you're in a place that you're used to singing in. ... I pretend like I'm in a soft place -- like I'm on my pillow dreaming." Edwards lost his own battle with cancer three years ago. Stephanie dedicated her special performance at Comiskey to him.

-- Knight Ridder

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