Week 9: It's AP Test Season (and Story Structure)

It's AP test season and that's all we can think about. We should have anticipated how much work these seniors were going to have to do at the end of their last semester of high school. But in spite of the incredible of work they have to finish for school, they're so close to finishing their scripts! 

Today was Michaela's last meeting, which was sad for everyone. She leaves for Chicago early next week. Ms. Weaver brought strawberry shortcake for everyone to celebrate, which was a welcome surprise. The students were all super sad to say goodbye. They joked about how Michaela might interview them one day when she works for NPR and they're all famous scientists, which is a real thing that could actually happen. 

We spent some time explaining story structure in more depth - talking about central compelling characters and the "pregnant I" structure (starting a story with a narrow focus on your CCC, then reporting out to include experts and others, and then narrowing back in to your CCC). For most, if not all, of our students, they are their own CCCs, which is cool. We want to hear their voices as much as possible. 

We listened to one of the Radio Diaries teenage diaries from the 1990s. The students giggled a lot at the '90s Minnesota slang, but were also surprised by how much they related to the story. We talked about dropping the academic formalities they're so accustomed to and letting their voices shine through. 

We have one more Friday meeting next week, and then their scripts should be finished! Michaela and I will edit (remotely), then the students will voice, Michaela and I will produce (again, remorely), and then these things have to be done by the end of May because on June 1 Michaela and I both move to places without an internet connection. Keep your fingers crossed for us! 

- Kelsey 

Week 8: Anchor Intros and Leads (and More Prom)

Prom was a success! Here's 4/5 of our young reporting team! 

Prom was a success! Here's 4/5 of our young reporting team! 

Today was D-Day for college decision making! All of our reporters officially committed to colleges today! (No one is going to Mizzou, even though we pushed it.) On top of that, prom was successful! It was boring, and they didn't stay the whole time, which is exactly how prom is supposed to be.  

Today we presented the team with a new schedule to get all of our stories done by the end of the month. I think everyone feels a lot better with this schedule, except for Kelsey and Michaela, because now we have to produce via Skype instead of being in the same room. But it's cool. We think the extended timeline is going to give us much better results. 

Today we talked about (and wrote) anchor intros and leads to all of our stories. They're all coming together REALLY well, and we're super impressed with their drive and creativity. We also listened to a This American Life piece about college admissions, because it was funny and because that's what they're thinking about and because that's what Jett's writing about. We still can't believe it's May. We, the advisors, are thinking that maybe next semester we work with seniors in the fall and juniors in the spring because this project has been a LOT for them with college and prom and AP tests, etc. Throughout this whole semester, though, we've felt nothing but awe toward the reporters. Michele said she works on Making Waves when she's procrastinating doing other stuff because she really likes it, which made us happy. 

For the next three weeks we're just interviewing and script writing! Writing conversationally is something they're struggling with a little bit, but they're doing a great job of working on simplifying their stories. It's especially hard when they're so used to only writing academic papers. 

Next week we'll try to get a picture of all of them wearing gear from their respective colleges! 

Week 7: The One Where We Realize the Semester is Almost Over

All the sudden we turned around and it's almost May and we have NO idea where the semester went. Michaela is leaving the state on May 15, and both Kelsey and Michaela are leaving internet access on May 30. While we all love Making Waves and cherish our weekly meetings, the program isn't at the top of the list of priorities for this group of young women who are about to graduate from high school. They're working literally around the clock on finals, AP tests, scholarship essays, college visits and college decisions. As advisors, we're trying to find the balance between not overwhelming them unnecessarily (obviously their school and friendships and mental health come first for us) and also getting all five stories finished, polished and produced by the end of the month. 

We had a pretty low energy meeting today - I think it was overwhelming for everyone to look at our schedule, and prom is tomorrow, and Michele has three essays she has to finish before she's allowing herself to go to prom, and Delaney is leaving on a redeye the morning after prom to go visit Harvard. I think we've created a rejuvenating and safe space, and our weekly meetings lift all of us up (especially us) after a long week. But again, we're trying to figure out how hard to push them. We will only air these stories if they're high quality, which I know they will be, but we want the process to be fun, too. Not stressful. We think we're going to be OK. This was our pilot semester, and we think we've learned a lot. For next semester we're going to create a much stricter calendar and timeline for deadlines. We're also going to get them reporting much sooner. But hey, live and learn, right? We've already gained so much from this program. 

We wished them good luck (and safety) at prom! They're currently split on going to the country club or going to Denny's (ironically) for pre-prom dinner. Will report back next week.