Two Shorewood Intermediate School students, Ariel Higgins and Ashley Slomann, were recognized on June 3 by National Public Radio (NPR) with an Honorable Mention award for their podcast entry submitted to the NPR Student Podcast Competition. They created a podcast titled “Welcome to Black America” last year while sixth graders at Atwater Elementary School, and submitted it to the competition this April. Their work is currently posted on the NPR website and you can listen to “Welcome to Black America” here.
In their podcast, Ariel and Ashley discuss police brutality and its impact on the psyche of black youth. Specific cases are examined and the hosts respond viscerally to the impact of police violence unanswered by the justice system in America. All music and scripting is original.
The creation of this podcast was a culminating project for their sixth grade Expeditionary Learning (EL) work, exploring issues of race and human rights. Atwater's Expeditionary Learning curriculum, which encourages such expeditions by students, was adopted by the District four years ago in an effort to increase the cultural relevance of their curriculum. Through EL, students are supported to pursue their own interests in research projects and to apply critical thinking, writing and research skills in the process of becoming agents of positive social change in their communities and around the world. The EL network of schools collaborates with school districts to encourage and support this kind of socially engaged instruction.
“These students crafted a very powerful podcast and it deserves as much attention as possible for all the hard work they put into this project,” says Atwater sixth grade teacher Jeff Cartier. “In Shorewood, we're really striving to give our children a positive and powerful voice in social discourse. Since they will soon be the ones in charge, we want to make sure they have a solid foundation in social justice skills.”