The second season of Westerville South High School’s We Are South podcast kicks off Monday with a topic that organizers say sets the tone for the kind of conversations they would like to have for the rest of the school year.
The episode focuses on future planning, the purpose of high school, teacher expectations and how certain rules invoke a certain reaction from students.
“A lot of people don’t realize how important it is for students to have healthy relationships with their teachers, to be able to understand what their expectations are and if they are fair and reasonable,” said senior Amelia Dailey, who was part of the inaugural podcast team last year.
For the students and staff members behind the We Are South podcast, the audio program offers a platform for the school community to have honest conversations on topics that are relatable and relevant to those at WSHS and beyond.
It’s about creating a space where students, teachers and staff can be heard and connect with each other, said podcast creator Joshua Sullivan, an educational aide and assistant Wildcat football coach.
“We want to give people a voice and help someone who might be going through something that day,” he said. “It might uplift them or they can relate with what we’re talking about.”
Sullivan, an avid podcast fan, proposed launching a WSHS podcast last school year after observing how students and teachers returned to life at the school following the pandemic.
“We needed to talk about it,” he said. “We all went through something together.”
He assembled a podcast crew of students and staff, which included school counselor Justin Ferguson, mental health specialist Christin Hammons and English teacher Emily Swank. They kicked off the podcast with an 84-minute episode devoted to the pandemic and how it affected them. They also tackled mental health and technology and featured the school’s Hope Squad, a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program all high schools.
“The podcast is a really good way for people who need to be heard or need to listen to someone else,” Dailey said. “It’s a good resource.”
This year’s podcast crew has doubled with 10 members and features familiar faces (Ferguson, Hammons and Dailey) as well as new student voices — all of whom represent different pockets of the school community, from athletes to Mathletes. Among the new segments in Season 2: a Words of Wisdom Wednesdays piece which will be 1 to 2 minutes dedicated to giving words of encouragement and motivation and an opportunity for audience members to participate in shows by submitting topic ideas and questions on the We Are South podcast website. If selected, a shout out will be given towards the end of the episode.
The episodes, which will run every other week, will dive into a variety of topics this season including mental health, sports and student/teacher perspectives. Students promise the conversations won’t be sugar-coated; they want to have relevant, honest discussions.
“We want it to be relatable so teachers who are listening on to this, students who are listening on to this are like, ‘Oh, I’ve had an experience like that and I thought about it a little bit differently,’” said senior Andrea Vaughn, who joined the podcast crew this year.