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This Duncanville Student Gets Through Tough Times Thanks To Her Softball Team

Duncanville High School has undergone big demographic changes in recent years. Today, about 70 percent of the students are considered economically disadvantaged — students like Rykeyia Branch. The high school senior is juggling classes with a part-time job and her role as manager of the Panthers softball team.

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The High Five

KERA takes a look at five stories that have North Texas talking — buzz from D-FW and across the state.

FORT WORTH – Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter: When you walk into the Wayne Thiebaud exhibit, the first painting you'll see is a still life of cakes. They're 17 of them. All on simple cake stands. Exhibition organizer Stephen Nash of San Francisco describes Thiebaud's technique as "gooey," with paint almost dripping off the canvas.

Stephen Nash, Chief Curator of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: Well, he is like a pastry chef in a way where he's actually decorating the cakes and pies with frosting, so to speak.

DALLAS – Virginia Whitehill, Activist and Grandmother: Jill, look at this. This is the woman who made - Grace Murray Hopper - made the modern computer possible.

FORT WORTH – Kenneth Barr, Mayor, City of Fort Worth: Motion by a vote of six to one. [Clapping]

DALLAS – [Ambient sound of Buddhists chanting]

Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter: Devout Buddhists in Dallas begin each morning with 90 minutes of devotional meditation. They dress in black robes and sit on tiny platforms while incense and the steady beat of a spiritual chant fill the air.

[More chanting]

Dallas, TX – Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter: The speakers' list at yesterday's public hearing read like a "Who's Who" of Dallas community leaders. The heads of the League of Women Voters, the Chamber of Commerce, several private hospitals, and the Greater Dallas Community of Churches all turned out in support of Parkland's 31% tax increase. Ron Steinhart is chairman of the Dallas Citizens Council.

Dallas,TX – If Al Gore loses the election this fall, would his running mate, Joe Lieberman, be a likely prospect for president in 2004? Certainly Senator Lieberman was the star of the Democratic convention. It was his speech, said one observer, that ushered out the Clinton era and turned the party toward this year's nominees. Could he point the way also toward a Democratic restoration four, or eight, years from now?

Dallas, TX – My friend and I were talking about the meaning of some widely used Yiddish terms -- and she wanted some answers. Having grown up in a Jewish home I felt I was the authority she was looking for, so I said, "Shoot." She started out with a very common term: "schlep." Oh that's easy. "Schlep. You know, to schlep - to schlep your briefcase, to schlep the water bottle, to schlep the kids - schlep!!!" I don't know why she wasn't satisfied with that explanation, but she wasn't.

Dallas, TX – Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter: Cuca Gonzalez was horribly sick last year when she arrived at the emergency room for John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Dallas, TX – Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter: Parkland's budget crisis began last year when it got hit with declining state and federal revenues. County commissioners had to raise taxes 10% to fund the hospital, but even then, administrators needed $30 million of Parkland's reserve funds to keep it operating. So the hospital began putting pressure on physicians to keep costs down. Susan Briner is a pediatrician at one of Parkland's seven community clinics.

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Race, Poverty And The Changing Face Of Schools

Take a deep dive into how four different high schools in North Texas have changed over the decades.

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Latest from NPR

Connie Dotts is a big fan of her insurance.

"I like that we can choose our own doctors," says the 60-year-old resident of Mesa, Ariz. "They also have extensive mental health coverage."

Dotts isn't on some pricey plan, either. She's among the nearly 2 million people enrolled in Medicaid in Arizona and one of the more than 400,000 who have signed up since the Republican-led state expanded Medicaid in 2013.

Give up. You will never, ever catch up with every new TV show that's out there. There's a reason for that, says Melanie McFarland, television critic for Salon: "There were more than 450 new shows that premiered last year across broadcast, cable and streaming."

On a cold and windy day off the coast of Alabama, a team of researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts gathers, conducting the first test outside a laboratory for a potential new solution to a challenging problem: cleaning oil spills from water.

The invention, the Flame Refluxer, is "very simple," says Ali Rangwala, a professor of fire protection engineering: Imagine a giant Brillo pad of copper wool sandwiched between layers of copper screen, with springy copper coils attached to the top.

The German city of Trier has never been particularly fond of its most famous son, Karl Marx, who helped turn communism into an ideology that changed the course of history.

Conservative and Catholic, the picturesque city on the French border took an ambivalent view of the radical revolutionary, born into a Jewish family in 1818.

There's a wall-long mural in the manufacturing area of SilencerCo, in West Valley City, Utah, that shows a crowd of people with muzzled mouths. One's holding a sign that says, "Fight the Noise." Another says: "Guns don't have to be loud."

As a leading manufacturer and seller of gun silencers — or suppressors, as they're more accurately called — SilencerCo wants to quiet guns. Congress may soon help in the effort.

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Here Are 39 Things You Should Do In Texas Before You Die

Texas Independence Day is March 2. (On that day, back in 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted at Washington-on-the-Brazos.) So, to celebrate, the KERA News staff figured we’d come up with a list of quintessential Texas experiences – a list of things you should do in the Lone Star State before you kick the bucket.

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In-Depth Interviews

History, science, politics, books and more with KERA's Krys Boyd.