The microphones were ready, sound levels were just right and the radio hosts had their scripts prepared on crinkled notebook paper.
C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School second-grader Zyona Lowry, 8, walked to the front of the room with four of her classmates, script in hand, and spoke up for the recorder.
“Meet Little Bit,” Lowry said as a pupil beside her woofed toward the microphones. “Little Bit is a special boy that needs a final place to rest his head. Little Bit comes from a place where there was just too many animals. ... He was overlooked.”
In front of Lowry, two Augusta State University communications students held flash recorders and microphones while ASU instructor Sea Stachura raised her hands, motioning for the pupils to speak up.
The ASU Department of Communications and C.T. Walker are working to help second-graders produce a radio show and tell a story through sounds and description. The partnership is one element of the school’s effort to grow a communications and technology focus in the elementary and middle grades.
“This is helping make a real-world connection in what they’re learning about in class,” second-grade teacher Stacy Bearden said. “This is about fluency, persuasion, standing in front of people. This is really giving them confidence.”
Stachura, who has a background in public radio and freelances for NPR, and about four radio and podcast production students have led the three-week program.
They began by teaching pupils about recordings, how to use sounds to tell stories and how to hold a microphone the perfect distance from their mouths.
C.T. Walker pupils wrote scripts about animal rescue, a topic they’ve incorporated in the curriculum this year, and recorded one of the final sessions Monday.
In skits and commercials, pupils encouraged listeners to adopt animals. They meowed and woofed. They jingled keys into the microphones to simulate money when they talked about donations. They pounded pencils on plastic pencil cases for background music and scratched the back of a plastic chair to mimic a cat that got thrown out of a house for clawing the furniture.
“The goal is to learn that technology understanding and how to tell a story that’s oral,” Stachura said.
ASU television and cinema senior Hab Richardson said the experience has helped him practice the radio skills he learns in the college classroom. He said working with the pupils is a way to break up the school day and give back.
“I’m learning a lot, and this is an awesome opportunity to be able to pass it on,” Richardson said.
After Stachura edits and finalizes the recordings, the pupils will share them with their parents and Heartsong Animal Rescue, a group C.T. Walker has partnered with this year. Bearden said her second-graders have collected food and donations for the group while learning about the animals Heartsong saves.
C.T. Walker Principal Renee Kelly said the ASU radio instruction will spread to the middle grades next year.
She said it adds to the public speaking lessons already being incorporated in the classrooms and is fun for the students.
“It’s just ‘How can we make our kids stand out, how can we make them ready for any high school that they go to?’” Kelly asked. “Our kids are really learning a lot. Not just about putting on a radio show, but working with each other and working with people.”