MHS students start podcast, focus on diversity, high school life

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Marshalltown High School junior Ashlyn Ruiz is part of an ensemble of students taking their talents to the microphone this school year. They have created the ÒChoice DiversityÓ podcast, which is meant to open up dialogue about high school, diversity and more. The podcast is available on SoundCloud or on the Marshalltown Schools website.

Dialogue.

A group of Marshalltown High School students are hoping to open up conversations as they release the new bimonthly podcast “Choice Diversity.” One of those students, MHS junior Ashlyn Ruiz, said starting a dialogue among students, staff and community members is important.

“We wanted to make the listeners feel included because, after all, this is made by MHS students for the public, which can include anyone and everyone,” she said. “I think it is important to the students because many of them may feel like they are going through something alone when, in reality, there are so many other students going through similar things.”

She said the focus on diversity came because the high school and surrounding community are diverse and the trend is set to stay. In the 2017-18 school year, school district data showed that seven in 10 kindergartners were classified as “ethnic minorities.”

For district staff and members of the larger community, Ruiz said the podcast could open up dialogue about diversity, as well as student life at MHS that many non-students are unaware of.

“I believe that it is important for them to get to hear what goes on in high school, because some people may have a certain perception about what goes on in high school, but that’s it,” she said. “They only tend to have the background knowledge and don’t really get to hear about what happens ‘behind the scenes,’ and this will hopefully open up that dialogue between adults and students.”

Diversity isn’t the only subject discussed in the podcast. The first episode, which is available online now, mainly focused on high school life.

“We talked about the fears as well as the goals we have set for ourselves, and ultimately I want to focus on what is happening in the student’s life, like from talking about their day, being involved in school activities, what plans they have set for themselves for the future,” Ruiz said.

Other students involved in the podcast are Jesus Silva, Lenny Núñez, Oscar Zazuesta and Koffi Tengue.

The students turn to MHS English teacher Jocelyn Frohwein for guidance with the podcast. She said she raises questions for the students — including ethical questions about content — and helps with editing.

“Having open dialogue among the students shows that they are capable of having their voices heard, developing into civic-minded individuals,” Frohwein said. She said the podcast can serve as a way to share celebrations and frustrations, as well as build trust and connections, among students.

The podcast is also an educational opportunity.

“Some of the students involved in the podcast are wanting to develop their educational experiences to become journalists or people who work in the entertainment or audio field,” Frohwein said.

Ruiz is among those students.

“I just enjoy getting to talk to people and listening to what they have to say,” she said. “I am not entirely sure on what I plan to do as a future career, but journalism is most definitely an option that I have in mind.”

Choice Diversity is available for listening on the district website at http://www.marshalltown.k12.ia.us/mhs-student-podcasts

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Contact Adam Sodders at

(641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com