As kids have been shuttered home for nearly a year, one educator wanted to find a way to keep them entertained and socially active.
Christian Avilés, a Spanish teacher at DeWitt Clinton High School who oversees the podcasting club at the school, explained that when the 2020 school year began he wanted to give his students an avenue to document their experiences and share a space to self-reflect.
So, they created Governor’s Radio, where students come up with topics and meet for an hour each Friday. It can be heard on the school website, Spotify and Apple and Google podcasts and is named after the school’s mascot, the Governor.
“Our school, unfortunately, does not really have a lot of extra-curricular activities this year, which also affected many students’ college applications,” Avilés said. “This podcast has allowed some of our students to become a part of something that they can show to an acceptance committee.”
Avilés and teacher Rafael Erazo produce the show, but it’s really the kids who make it happen.
They have done episodes on the college process, dealing with the pandemic, homecoming and random topics. To make things more fun, the students often wear props like hats or sunglasses.
“You can tell from the episodes that this space has also allowed them to express what so many adults have refused to engage with,” he stated. “We encourage our students to be really honest about what life is like.
The podcast is hosted by students Clementina Sarpong, Felichi Fernandez, Syleena Williams, Sky Milano Threat, Jenia Taylor, Samantha McIntonsh, Shakil Ahmed, Carmen Rodriguez, Hakeen Phillip, Sky Torrez, Viany Peralta, Karan Persaud.
Sarpong and Fernandez spoke to the Bronx Times about what it has been like to be part of the podcast. Sarpong explained that at first some people didn’t want to be on camera and were a bit nervous, but eventually everyone got comfortable.
She noted how she has watched podcasts on YouTube, but had never done one before.
“The podcast was a new experience for me,” she commented. “I think its helped people. We’re all motivating each other. It’s satisfying to know we’re doing something that has meaning.”
Fernandez explained that not only has the podcast been fun, but it’s made her realize that her classmates are going through stress just like her. As Fernandez had no expectations when it began six months ago, she is glad she joined.
“It’s good to know you aren’t the only one going through this (the pandemic),” she commented. “I would definitely want to hear this continue after we leave.”