A group of four Elizabethton High School students won the inaugural National Public Radio Student Podcast Challenge in 2019. The EHS student team of Jaxton Holly, Deanna Hull, John Gouge, and Caleb Miller placed first in the competition amongst nearly 6,000 submissions and 24,000 students from all 50 states, with the story of Murderous Mary entitled “Murderous Mary and the RISE of Erwin.” . Two other EHS student teams also received honorable mention in the competition. Now, these same students are catching the eye of officials with the Tennessee Department of Education, as NPR launches the second year of the challenge. The students’ work has been highlighted as an example for others.
The renewed interest has also caught the attention of Tennessee’s new Commissioner of Education, Penny Schwinn and Jean Luna, the state’s Chief of College and Career Technical Education. Schwinn recently contacted Jon Minton, EHS principal to offer praise. “Congratulations to your 11th graders who won the NPR Student Podcast Challenge! Winning a national competition… illustrates your… making learning meaningful and relevant for your students, “wrote Schwinn.
Luna added, “I'm thoroughly impressed with their latest award from NPR. Kudos to you and your faculty for promoting innovation and encouraging your students to extend learning beyond the classroom.”
The students were guided by English teacher, Tim Wasem, who has received some attention of his own. Mr. Wasem has been invited to present at this spring’s TN Council for Social Studies state conference by the Board of Director’s member, Dusty Helton. Wasem’s students are creating podcasts for the competition again this year.