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A Grand Haven, Mich., high-school sophomore has received hundreds of letters from Soviet citizens since a letter she wrote about nuclear war to Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev was published in a book in Moscow.

Debora Harko, 15, wrote the letter a year ago as part of a class assignment. Because she did not receive an official response from the Soviet government, she was surprised last June when she began to get postcards, drawings, and letters from people all over the Soviet Union.

In August, a Soviet journalist solved the mystery when he sent her a copy of a book published this year called Americans Write to Gorbachev. Ms. Harko's letter was one of few in the book published in both English and Russian.

She said she suggested in her letter that both countries negotiate a "strict" peace treaty and eliminate nuclear weapons. She also recommended that leaders of the United States and the u.s.s.r. meet face to face every year.


Lawrence McMullin, a biology teacher at Rangely (Colo.) Middle School, has found himself trapped in a legal battle with the Colorado Wildlife Division over two dead owls.

The teacher, by his own admission, was slow in applying for the permit required to collect wildlife in Colorado. But he says he had no idea that his effort to pique students' curiosity in birds of prey by bringing "roadkill" into his classroom would result in charges against him on two counts of illegal possession of wildlife.

Renzo Del Piccolo, a regional wildlife manager for the state, contends, however, that as a falconer the teacher should have been aware that a state permit is required to collect wildlife--"no matter where or how it is obtained."

During the summer, Mr. Del Piccolo searched the teacher's classroom, confiscated the two dead owls, and fined Mr. McMullin $548 for failing to have the permit.

The teacher, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has taken his case to the courts, says the wildlife division is "fighting someone who in the long run could make their jobs easier by increasing students' awareness of wildlife."


Incensed by a segment on the Phil Donahue show last year in which a guest asserted that homelessness was nonexistent in the Soviet Union while thousands lived on the streets in the United States, Jill Tucker, a health-occupations student at Morrow (Ga.) Senior High School, decided to investigate the severity of the problem in this country.

She helped promote a class visit to a shelter in Clayton County, Ga., and the formation of a group called Students Promoting Love and Support for the Homeless, or splash.

The group, which has been serving meals at shelters and providing entertainment for homeless children in an effort to increase their self-esteem, has also worked to get other high schools across the country involved in projects like splash.

In a campaign to awaken others to the "crisis of homeless children being devastated by their situation," the students have begun a newsletter and devised a plan that other schools can use to begin their own splash chapters, said Pat Siefferman, the group's advisor.

Both the newsletter, called Ripples, and the "abc" (for Awareness, Become Involved, and Call) plan are being sent to schools in Clayton County but can be obtained by any high-school group interested in the program by writing to: splash, Morrow Senior High School, 2299 Old Rex Morrow Rd., Morrow, Ga. 30206.


Administrators, journalism teachers, and students all must do a better job of presenting controversial topics in print, says Robert E. Reynolds, the principal of Hazelwood East High School in St. Louis, whose censorship of the school newspaper was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last January.

In a recent debate with the editor of the Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal, David Hawpe, Mr. Reynolds defended the right of administrators to "assist in the editorial process in an 'enlightened' way."

Principals, as the instructional leaders of their schools, are "very much a part of the publishing process of all student publications," Mr. Reynolds argued.

Although sensitive topics should not be kept out of school-sponsored newspapers, Mr. Reynolds told a convention of Associated Press managing editors, student journalists must be taught to exercise their First Amendment rights in a responsible manner.

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