Friday, October 7, 2016

Essay#1 - A PSA* for high school juniors preparing for the SAT

*Presidents-to-be Slighted & Abused

By Peter Huidekoper, Jr.

I am here to help nearly 2 million high school students who take the College Board’s SAT. 

You’re welcome.

I also write to help my fellow English teachers, desperate to find ways to boost the vocab skills of their students.

One of several SAT prep websites,**, gives students a list of the “top 100 vocab words” to study.   But learning words without any context is doubly hard.

To the rescue—the 2016 Presidential campaign!

So here, as a public service, are 25 words from those “top 100”—in context.  You might say how they are used, below, is biased.  Will you blame the media?  Or innocent me, who merely, googled, copied, and pasted?  Hey, don’t shoot the … googler!
Just 25 well-chosen words, used in headlines and sentences, in the context of a contentious campaign nearly over …. (“‘tis a consummation,” as another young student once put it, “devoutly to be wished!”)

12 from the headlines, including two for one


“Fact check: Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton obliged for $400 million US remuneration to Iran,”
Renown physicist Stephen Hawking bewildered by Trump,”

“Trump to evangelical leaders: I’ll try to be less abrasive, but I am who I am,”

“Pueblo Democrats praise Clinton, harangue Trump for debate,”

“If Donald Trump Wins US Election, Will Hillary Clinton Nullify Results Because Of Vladimir Putin?”

“Cory Booker Responds to Cryptic Trump Tweet by Promising to Love Him,”
“Birds of prey on the hunt - Hillary Clinton’s haughtiness threatens her dreams of the presidency,”
“'He just prefers to fire at himself': Trump's self-inflicted wounds give Clinton campaign a reprieve -Clinton obeys cardinal rule of politics: Stay out of the way while rival unravels,”

a, b, c’s

a) “But in the spontaneous environment of the debate stage, the unpredictable Trump could re-emerge along with the willingness to say things that more traditional candidates would abhor — and which delight his admirers.”

b) “At a rally, Donald Trump said, ‘Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future.’”

c) “On Thursday night, the nominee painted a crepuscular ‘Midnight in America’ picture of the ‘death, destruction, terrorism and weakness’ that he claimed President Obama and Hillary had wrought.”


“We’re going to enfranchise and empower as many Americans as possible, and on November 8th, you’ll hear our message loud and clear: We’re better than this.”

Trump is a clear and present danger to our country. He has no history of governance that should engender any confidence from voters.”

“The united Democratic front is designed to enhance Clinton's voter turnout organization, which she needs to hold together the various Demographic groups that carried Obama to victory.”

la, la, la

“The terrain was Donald Trump’s taxes, Donald Trump’s birtherism, Donald Trump’s Iraq War position(s), and Donald Trump’s nuclear policy. ‘Donald,’ as Clinton insisted on calling him, set off into a labyrinth on each issue.”

“Aware that he has a bit of a problem with women, seven out of ten of whom dislike him, the Republican front-runner invited alachrymose former Miss Wisconsin and his wife, Melania, to read out praise poems to him at his pre-vote rally in Milwaukee.”

“The press is already talking itself into making its coverage even more hostile to Donald Trump, and the lamentations that there is a lower standard for Trump will grow louder. “

Final four

“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will impose ‘blasphemy’ laws linking speech with violence to protect Islam if she becomes president, warn conservatives.”

“And the ability to pontificate from on high with no retribution, total impunity and so forth that he enjoys, and having to go to the White House and be checked at every step, as you pointed it out, the institutional fabric of the White House will enshroudhim. He will not be able to do anything that he's claiming to do right now.”

Somewhat lost among all the nuance of style, manner, appearance, facial expressions, sighs, eye rolls, breathing, shoulder shrugs, voice modulation and other stuff were some actual issues facing the country.”

“But what's even more noteworthy here is that, despite a 14-month-old Trump campaign replete with political self-sabotage and other behavior described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as dysfunctional, Trump's allegations might be plausible to some voters.”
High school juniors, seniors, English teachers across the land—I present a challenge:  75 words to go! Feel free to complete the list by November 8!   Among the astonishingly apt top 100 words I have not yet googled, in alphabetical order: blatant, blunderbuss, bombast, credulous, cringe, headstrong, lampoon, obfuscate, oblivious, plausible, tawdry

Oh yes, did I add cringe?

rough; coarse; harsh
narrow-minded, prejudiced person
speech which offends religious sentiments
recoil in fear or servility; shrink away from
active at dawn and dusk
puzzling; enigmatic
give voting rights
improve; make better or clearer
noisy, attacking speech
arrogance; pride
complex; difficult to solve
a maze
tearful; sad
expression of regret or sorrow
harmful; poisonous; lethal
something subtle; a fine shade of meaning
to counter; make unimportant
payment for work done
a respite; postponement of a sentence
shun; eschew

Peter Huidekoper, Jr. is the coordinator of the Colorado Education Policy Fellowship Program.

He writes Another View, a newsletter on education issues in Colorado.  Comments are welcome. 303-757-1225

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