In collaborative small groups, students in a BHHS AP Language and Composition class recently created podcasts and entered the 2022 NPR Student Podcast Challenge. The creators of The Two Sides of America: Needs vs. Wants won an Honorable Mention for their work on income disparity in America. NPR received 2,400 student entries, and this group’s podcast is a top high school entry. The BHHS 11th grade students who created this winning podcast include Azaan Ahmed, Zayd Humayun, John McCalmont, Julia Stakoe, and Nathan Thai-Tang.
The podcast discusses misconceptions around wealth in America, income inequality, and its effects on Americans, plus possible solutions to the growing chasm between the rich and poor in this country. They interviewed experts on the subject to qualify their argument. Ahmed expresses, “It was a really fun project. We got to take something that we all believe in very strongly and got to inform people as to what’s happening and how it’s affecting us, as a population and society itself.”
BHHS Teacher Krista Laliberte explains the assignment: “In AP Language and Composition, we spend the year learning how to rhetorically analyze works by various authors, identifying and creating sophisticated arguments, and how to effectively synthesize a variety of materials to create and present a well-informed debatable topic. This group took the NPR Podcast Challenge Topics into advisement when writing and presenting their authentic and original podcast.”
Groups were asked to show both sides of a debate about an issue that was important to them, and had to consider two questions: “What do you want to change about the world? What's a big change that you want to make in the future?” Humayun notes, “Everyone started this project as a class assignment that Mrs. Laliberte would submit to NPR. However, our group entered with the mentality that, if we were going to put in the work to get an A, we may as well put in the extra effort to make our podcast competitive on a national level.”
Reflecting on how they chose their group topic, McCalmont explains, “We were given a broad set of things you could cover, like an historical event or a problem in America today. We were looking at some historical events, but then Zayd said, ‘This is important; we’ve seen a lot of this so far in our school year this year.’ It’s obviously very important to what’s going on right now.”
The educational process was invigorating and challenging. Stakoe shares, “My favorite part was when we were all on Facetime, and we were stressed. We stayed up really late but accomplished a lot!” Ahmed adds, “The main message was to show the income inequality. We have prime examples here in Michigan, as Detroit is one of the poorest areas in Michigan, and Bloomfield Hills is one of the richest. It shows that there are really big income inequalities not just in Michigan, but in the broader picture throughout the world and America itself.”
Learning how they won was a fun surprise. Thai-Tang notes, “We walked into Mrs. Laliberte’s class, and she said that one of the groups in the class won an Honorable Mention for the podcast. Then she played the podcast which turned out to be ours!” For the complete list of Honorable Mention awards, click here; AP Lang Podcast represents the BHHS group.