Clare Lombardo | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Clare Lombardo

In the tiny town of Erwin, Tenn., history is the elephant in the room.

At the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, Cathy Huskins remembers one particularly angry tourist "came barreling through the door, and came up to the counter here and slung her hands down. ... And she says, 'I cannot believe that you killed an elephant!' "

Librarian Angie Georgeff is used to the strange phone calls and unannounced visits from world travelers:

In the second-floor girls' restroom at Bronx Prep Middle School in New York, there's a sign taped to the back of the toilet stall doors. It's a guide on how to "properly dispose feminine products." On the list? "Make sure that no one views or handles product."

"It's not even saying the word pad. It just says product!" explains Kathaleen Restitullo, 13. "Just, like, don't let anyone see that you are on your period."

What happened to a circus elephant in the small East Tennessee town of Erwin a century ago, and what are the people there today doing about it?

And what do a group of middle school girls from the Bronx have to say about the stigma that surrounds talking about periods?

We asked teachers and students to put on their headphones and turn their ideas into sound for our first-ever NPR Student Podcast Challenge — and boy, did they. We got nearly 5,700 entries, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Podcasts that explored climate change. Podcasts about gun control and mental health. About great books and mythology. Hedgehogs and history.

Teachers and their students at 1,580 schools participated: all told, roughly 25,000 students nationwide.

The fallout — and fascination — continue from the massive college admissions scandal.

Two afternoons a week, Mikala Tardy walks six blocks from Eastern High School to Payne Elementary School, not far from Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

She signs in at the front desk just after 3:30 p.m. and makes her way to a classroom, where she'll be tutoring second- and third-graders who are full of energy after the school day.

Today, Mikala and three students work through an exercise about communities and the building blocks that create them. They learn how to spell people and playground — two essential components of any community, they decide.

Students with disabilities and disability rights advocates are among those angry — and feeling victimized — after the arrests in the college admissions and bribery scandal Tuesday.

"Stories like this are why we continue to see backlash to disability rights laws," Rebecca Cokley, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Report: Limited school choice options for Native American students

According to a report released Monday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, "Few areas provide American Indian and Alaska Native students ... school choice options other than traditional public schools."

Updated at 3:14 p.m.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Republican lawmakers have announced a proposed tax credit that would go toward donations to private school scholarships and other school choice initiatives.

"A great education shouldn't be determined by luck or by address or by family income," DeVos said Thursday at a news conference.

She appeared alongside Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., who said they plan to introduce the tax credit in Congress.

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