Classroom Frequency: Student Voices From Wisconsin


By Maureen McCollum and MG21 High School Students | June 8, 2019

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  • MG21 students and staff pose with WPR staff during a field trip to the radio station. (Jenny Peek/WPR)

MG21 students and staff pose with WPR staff during a field trip to the radio station. (Jenny Peek/WPR)

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When I took on the role as host and producer of “Wisconsin Life” on Wisconsin Public Radio, I wanted to incorporate more young voices on the program. So at the beginning of the school year, I teamed up with teachers and students at Monona Grove Liberal Arts Charter School, or MG21. It’s a small public charter school that serves about 50 students and focuses on project-based learning.

Outside MG21 (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

Outside MG21 (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

Throughout the school year, I’ve been teaching the high school students at MG21 how to create radio. They learned how to interview people. How to edit audio. How to hold a microphone.

The stories you’ll hear on “Classroom Frequency: Students Voices From Wisconsin” are the stories these students chose to tell.

We’ll hear two classmates swap stories about creating music.

And from a student who questions the school system and another experiencing a political awakening.

We’ll hear a sister’s heartwarming story about her brother.

Also, we’ll meet a student and her bunny and learn about one student’s unique passion for history.

There are many more stories online, where you can hear original music, stories about the impact of divorce, and essays about self-reflection.

“Classroom Frequency” is co-hosted by MG21 teacher, Ian Lowe. “I feel like this project encapsulates so much of what I love about teaching and particularly teaching at a project-based school like ours,” said Lowe. “I love seeing the ways in which students can use their creative expression to make their mark in the world and to make a difference. In the past, that might have meant building a Little Free Library outside of our school or writing a play that will show up in the Young Playwrights Festival. This project has allowed students to tell their stories and to have their stories shared on the radio. That has just been incredible to see and I love the courage that I see from students.”

Radio can be incredibly empowering and provides a space for a wide range of interests and stories. It’s been an incredible honor to work with each of the talented and inspiring students at MG21.

– Maureen McCollum, host and producer of WPR’s “Wisconsin Life.”

MG21 teacher Ian Lowe teaches the "Voices" class at the high school. About 20 students worked on the radio project during the school's first trimester. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

MG21 teacher Ian Lowe teaches the “Voices” class at the high school. About 20 students in this class worked on the radio project during the school’s first trimester. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

WPR's Director of Core Engineering & Technology and Monona Grove High School alumna Britny Williams talks with students during a field trip to WPR. (Jenny Peek/WPR)

WPR’s Director of Core Engineering & Technology and Monona Grove High School alumna Britny Williams talks with students during a field trip to WPR. (Jenny Peek/WPR)

MG21 students talk with "Afternoon Classics" host Lori Skelton in the WPR music library during a field trip. (Jenny Peek/WPR)

MG21 students talk with “Afternoon Classics” host Lori Skelton in the WPR music library during a field trip. (Jenny Peek/WPR)

MG21 students who took the "Radio Production" class, which took a deeper dive into creating audio features during the school year's second and third trimesters. (Back, l-r) Simon Terrill Collins, Coyote Johnson, Matthew Schlaefer, Dante Murray, and Harrison Farnam. (Front l-r) MG21 teacher Ian Lowe and WPR's Maureen McCollum. Not pictured: Cierra Riederer (Kemper Maas/WPR)

MG21 students who took the “Radio Production” class, which took a deeper dive into creating audio features during the school year’s second and third trimesters. (Back, l-r) Simon Terrill Collins, Coyote Johnson, Matthew Schlaefer, Dante Murray, and Harrison Farnam. (Front l-r) MG21 teacher Ian Lowe and WPR’s Maureen McCollum. Not pictured: Cierra Riederer (Kemper Maas/WPR)

WPR technical director Steve Gotcher records MG21 students Matthew Schlaefer record his music while others listen. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

WPR technical director Steve Gotcher records MG21 students Matthew Schlaefer record his music while others listen. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

Maureen McCollum

Maureen McCollum is a producer for Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio. She loves to explore the Midwest in her RV despite being nowhere near retirement age.

MG21 High School Students

During the 2018-2019 school year, Monona Grove Liberal Arts Charter School, or MG21, high school students created radio pieces for Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Wisconsin Life.” The final stories were featured on the radio and online through the “Classroom Frequency: Student Voices From Wisconsin” project.
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