TV Show Allows Students to Discuss Issues WHich Affect Their Lives
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Every Wednesday at North Central High School, students have a chance to speak out in their own teen talk show.
Blair Karsch, a substitute teacher and motivational speaker has created “On Your Level,” a show dealing with issues, challenges and thoughts from today’s generation.
“It’s a medium to just talk about and express yourself,” Karsch said during a short introduction before taping a segment in the school cafeteria.
Karsch has taped the half-hour segments Wednesdays after school for four months.
Past segments have featured discussions on time management, crime and the media, racism, rap music, family values, talk shows, drugs and exercise and diet.
In a recent meeting, students tackled the issue of expression. Nose rings, oranger hair and grunge clothing – why do kids make these choices and how will they affect their future, Karsch asked.
About 20 students sat in a loose circle around Karsch as the taping began. Although Karsch’s short, prodding leads were answered slowly at first, the students perked up after a few rounds of questioning.
“Youth has always been youth,” said a girl wearing overalls and a colorful, shiny satin shirt.
“Kids try hard, sometimes too hard, to express themselves,” said a black-clad girl.
The one black boy participating expressed that he was just trying to be himself. “I don’t act black. I don’t act white. I just act like me,” he said running his hands through his dreadlocks.
“It’s all right if you keep your priorities straight,” Karsch said reassuringly.
Before the end, the show has moved from expression, to after-school activities, to music and even to drugs and smoking.
Karsch wants the show to be intimate, inspiring and relevant.
Each show, he said, must finish on an upbeat note. Superintendent Eugene White advised Karsch when he presented his proposal for the talk show.
“He said each show has to end with success and perspective,” Karsch said.
“It has to relate to issues that reach to the mainstream. I want to deal with emotions, perspective and choices. I’d like to see a fight for five minutes, a conversation for 20, and a resolution for five. I want to hear someone say, ‘Maybe it does effect me,'” he said.
Karsch believes both students and staff benefit from his show, in the form of boosted grades, increased attention and attendance and a more enthusiastic learning environment.
“Habits you pick up in high school can stick with you the rest of your life,” said Karsch.
C.E. Quandt, principal of North Central, sees promise in the program.
“It gives kids a chance to talk to other kids and find out that they’re not alone. It helps kids to see that school is more than a classroom. The more kids connect to school, the stronger school becomes,” Quandt said.
Freshmen Rebecca Arnoff and Kara Glennon have both benefited from taking part in the talk show.
“It keeps me out of trouble after school,” said Arnoff.
“It helped me to find out what my peers think. It really opened my eyes,” said Glennon.
Karsch would like to see more interest and more student turn-out for the taping sessions.
“Sometimes five kids show up, sometimes 20 kids show up,” Karsch said. “These kids should be commended for showing up.”
Right now its mostly white girls who participate, he said.
“On Your Level” will receive cable access in the next few weeks. Jones Intercable, Comcast and American have expressed interest, he said
Karsch also plans on sending highlight tapes to the Kellogg, Marsh and Ford companies to solicit sponsorship and grants.
“The question now is can anyone take advantage of the availability I provide to these kids? Corporations are tight, school boards are political, budgets are thin,” said Karsch. “I’m looking for a company that will say ‘This is just real life. This is ’90s. Let these kids talk.’ I don’t have any agenda other than that.”