by Lucie Duffort
Last week marked the first Youth Takeover of KQED news, an initiative in which youth voices, ideas, concerns, and stories took center stage in the news cycle. Out of the 100 stories pitched by students to KQED staff since January, about 20 were chosen to air. Starting Monday, April 23, and continuing through Friday, April 27, these student voices figured prominently on such platforms as KQED’s Forum, The Do List, The California Report Magazine, and KQED Newsroom.
Thanks in large part to the efforts of SHC Instructor of English and KQED Teacher Ambassador Julie Phelan, our students played an active role.
The inspiringly eloquent Eleanor Gillis ’19 was one of three round table participants in last Monday’s Forum on the California Dream. Listen here to the conversation that weaves together issues such as immigration, political activism, exposure to news, and the influence of parents.
The takeover culminated in a multimedia showcase event at the beautiful Brava Theater here in San Francisco. Students spoke about their experience on the air, doing investigative journalism, and in personal “Perspectives.” They explored thoughts on accent as identity, pigeons as nature’s ambassadors, dyslexia as a superpower, immigration and mental health, religious and social identity, and a number of other thoughtful and touching topics. Click here for a Facebook photo album of the showcase.
Joe Khorge ’19 spoke at the event, sharing his experience growing up with an autistic sibling. He spoke with grounded clarity, openness and honesty, giving space to a perspective not often heard.
In speaking about her experience as a part of this inaugural program, Phelan highlighted cross-disciplinary connection and discussion, as well as media engagement and expression in the classroom that has fueled teaching all year. She pointed out how valuable and unique it is for motivated student writers to have access to the “authentic audience” provided by KQED. “A project like this requires students to be motivated by their own interests. This is when they express their truest selves. Amazingly, they find the time to write, think and create purely because of desire and interest. They also get feedback from peers and adults who don’t know them!”
This is, of course, a two-way street. Encouraging youth to become more involved in media means opening adults to fresh voices and ideas. And that’s the most exciting part. In the words of Youth Media Manager Ariana Proehl, “This week we’ve sounded a lot less like old school public radio, and I’m proud of it!”