Wesley Prep Fourth-Graders Become Podcast People

Students turn to ‘Colorful Conversations’ to keep Common Ground tradition going

After four years of producing books, Wesley Prep’s Common Ground Experiment took a digital turn for the pandemic.

For their Colorful Conversations podcast, Wesley Prep fourth-graders research and interview people from around the community and beyond, asking questions about their careers, experiences, and inspiration.

The podcast allows the students to connect with others who are doing something positive and redeeming during the pandemic, teacher Lori Cousino said.

“They get to see examples of people building something and people healing,” Cousino said. “All the things that seem like we are struggling to do right now as a community.”

Each week, students research the upcoming guest and collaboratively draft a series of questions, including a round of rapid-fire questions. The final result is excellent conversation and spark, Cousino said.

“The way we converse and communicate with each other is changing, and I think just having an actual conversation is a great skill.”

Lori Cousino

“The way we converse and communicate with each other is changing, and I think just having an actual conversation is a great skill,” Cousino said.

The fourth-graders said they enjoy learning about people’s backgrounds and memorable stories, asking questions like “What was your favorite age?” and “What do you do when you’re not working?”

“Everybody has a story; they don’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I want to change the world,’” one student said.

Guests have included Jad Abumrad, the creator and host of the Radiolab podcast, and Aelicia “Chocolate” Watson, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Redeemed Women.

This was the fifth annual “Common Ground Experiment,” a student-led creative project in which the fourth-graders partner with nonprofit groups in the hopes of inspiring and uniting one another. Their previous projects included writing books with Heart House, the Austin Street Center, Bonton Farms, and Café Momentum. Proceeds from the book sales help the charities.

Every year the students build relationships with people from all walks of life, and this year is no different, Cousino said.

The fourth-graders have spoken with people they may not have considered talking to, and the podcast gives listeners a refreshing take from a child’s point of view and may even brighten their day, she said. “They’re asking questions and trying to make sense of why things are the way they are.”

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