A student and five teachers huddled in a small, cluttered room off the Borah High School library, recording introductions and otherwise putting finishing touches on a product that’s a first for their school, and apparently the district.
The title of the inaugural episode? “A School Full of Weird People,” a phrase borrowed from a featured student essay by Anna McClain-Sims, a senior who’s heading to Yale.
Borah students’ diverse voices are the stars of the Pridecast, from that essay to an interview with a Ugandan refugee to student Krishna Regmi singing in Hindi.
“I’ve been trying to come up with ideas to spotlight how cool Borah is, and the podcast format seemed like a new and adventurous thing to try,” said AP English teacher Chuck McHenry, who came up with the idea. “We have a pretty unique school here — most diverse group of students in the state, for instance — and there just seems to be a lot going on here that I thought could be highlighted in a podcast format.”
Although most of the hosts who built the framework for the inaugural podcast are teachers, plans call for much heavier student involvement when putting together future installments, McHenry said.
That’s important, agreed Brooke Kerley, the lone student host for the initial Pridecast. She’s graduating this spring and will head to Washington State University to study journalism.
“When you get a bunch of teachers together they can come up with great things, but when you try to target a student audience it might be a little harder, since they don’t really relate,” Kerley said. “So I’ve kind of been the eyes and ears of the student body and they’ve asked me, ‘What would they like to hear?’”
This week’s Pridecast will be the only one this academic year. The podcast will be back in the fall with installments each month, or possibly more frequently, McHenry said.
Created by students and staff for students, staff and parents, the Pridecast appears to be a first for the Boise School District, McHenry and a district spokesman said.
Its other current hosts are English and language arts teacher Rod Wray, art teacher Pat Rose, teacher/librarian Jennifer Boyd and library assistant Laura Johnston. Plans call for rotating hosts for future installments, with most of the hosting duties expected to shift to students.
“There’s a lot of talent floating around that nobody knows about,” Rose said.
Kerley said the podcast has been a great opportunity to hone her journalism skills and apply them to a new medium. In addition to co-hosting, she contributed an interview with fellow student Lyce Arakaza, a refugee from Uganda.
“I hope to come back and kind of check up on things and give them ideas,” she said.
Each segment of the podcast starts: “These are Borah voices.”
“That’s sort of our background umbrella theme,” McHenry said.
Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447