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Sandy Ridge has 'Ram Radio'

    Fifth-grade students at Sandy Ridge Elementary School make picking up and dropping off students a little more enjoyable for parents by entertaining and educating them via their very own radio station.
    Sandy Ridge 103.3 Ram Radio, the brainchild of school principal Tom Childers, has two goals – to inform while it entertains with toe-tapping music as only performers like the Beatles, Shekira and Elvis can provide. Songs are laced with jokes, weather forecasts, school announcements, the school’s lunch menus, public-service announcements and even paid advertisements from local businesses.
    Students do a 10-minute broadcast that repeats or loops for an hour. The radio show, called “Rockin’ the Ridge,” is played between 7 a.m and 8 a.m and then repeated from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Andrew Viditz-Ward, 11, the radio’s music manager, now has a music library of more than 100 songs.
    Ram Radio is entirely student produced by the fifth-grade class of Polly Hardway, with the help of school principal Tom Childers and computer teacher Jeff Alten.
    The limited broadcast power of Ram Radio means the signal can only be heard about 450 feet from the school – perfect for the car-rider line. It can, however, be heard anytime on the school’s website: http://sres.ucps.k12.nc.us/php/RockinTheRidge.php
    The idea originated when Childers heard a radio broadcast from an elementary school in Nebraska. “They were creating 18-minute blurbs about whatever they’re studying in their unit of study,” he said. 
    He took that concept and tweaked it to fit Sandy Ridge’s particular style. Students, who were first instructed in interview skills, were allowed to apply for various positions at the “radio station,” much like they would do for a real job interview.
    Five fifth graders were chosen to manage Ram Radio: Mira Hashe, 10, the station manager; Andrew Viditz-Ward, 11, the music manager; Carly Dean, 10, daily programming manager; Kristin Free, 11, special program manager; and Nicki Guglielmo, 10, the business manager.
     Although there are five main student “employees,” other students in the school are also used in the broadcasts. Right now, Childers and Alten work with students to produce the daily shows. Childers hopes that one day soon, the entire process will be turned over to the students.
    “It’s been fun for me to work with these students, and I think they’ve had a good time so far,” Childers said. “I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from parents. Now, we’re trying to get more efficient at creating the radio show.”
    The radio station also has outside sponsors involved. Students sent letters to area businesses asking for sponsorship for $20 a month. “They can either write their own advertisement or they can have us write it,” Nicki said. “Then we recite their advertisement.”
    The experience has provided some unexpected benefits. “Before I started doing this, I was really scared of speaking in front of a lot people,” Mira said. “I would get stage fright. But I think this has helped me get over my stage fright.” 
    Carly thinks the experience will help her in the future because as programming manager, she faces deadlines and has learned to work with other students to produce the broadcasts. “This is very much like real life because you have to write things and then turn stuff in on time,” she said.
      Plans for the future include adding a video element to the radio show, which would one day include all grade levels. Childers would like for students at Sandy Ridge to learn to use video cameras and make photos for the programs. These would also be accessible from the school’s web site.
     “Students could video portions of classes, then edit those with captions and upload them to the web site,” he said.
    Childers thinks the experience is an awesome learning tool. “Imagine what these students will be doing by the time they’re in high school,” he said.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, Publications Coordinator
Posted: Mar 17, 2008 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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