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Take Note: Hands off; Hitting the high

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Seventh graders at Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School in Jaffrey, N.H., are rallying round the frog.

School officials there recently agreed to replace hands-on frog dissection in science classes with a computer simulation after 94 of the school's 128 7th graders signed a petition opposing dissection on animal-rights grounds.

"We don't need to use real frogs; we can use plastic models or computers," said Ian Hatton, one of three 7th graders who organized the signature drive.

Principal Tim Woodward said frog dissection has never been mandatory at the grade 6-8 school. But this is the first time the entire 7th-grade class will opt out.

The students will use Scholastic's Operation Frog software, which the school has been using for the past four years for individual students who choose not to dissect an actual frog.

"They can vicariously make the incisions, remove parts, and locate parts," science teacher Doug Gilroy said. The only drawback, he said, is that there is only one computer for each class of up to 26 students.

"They're missing out on a certain exposure [by not dissecting], but I don't think it will have any long-range effect on their education," he added.

Members of Eclipse-Elite, a choral group from Brookhaven High School in Brookhaven, Miss., are getting a little help from their friends.

The choir will travel to New York City and Washington next week thanks to state senators who donated money.

"One of our porters has a daughter who's a choral member," Sen. Barbara Blackmon said last week. "He asked if the senators could help them raise money." And they did, to the tune of $740.

The choir, which has received several honors and awards, will be traveling March 19-25, performing in Washington at the U.S. Capitol, then in New York at St. Patrick's Cathedral and on "The Today Show."

As a thank you, the choir gave a special performance for the Mississippi senators, then performed in the second-floor rotunda of the state Capitol.

"It was fantastic; they received a standing ovation," Sen. Blackmon said. But the ovation was not all the group received. The Senate also passed a resolution commending the choir for its achievements.

--Meg Sommerfeld & Adrienne D. Coles

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