Rosalie Lyons ’21, John Howley ’21, and Lana Breheney ’21 submitted a podcast to a contest run by The New York Times’ The Learning Network.
“We were three weeks into quarantine and we were kind of bummed out because we normally have One Acts, the student-directed performances, and I was going to write for that,” said Rosalie.
All three of the students have been regular participants in Norris Ely Orchard theater productions and John commented on their hopes of returning to acting.
“I’m really used to being in the NEO. That’s sort of my daily habit – the thing I do every day. So, when I found myself without the NEO on a daily basis, that was kind of difficult for me,” said John.
While searching theater-related, quarantine-friendly activities, John found out about the New York Times podcast contest for high schoolers. He decided to model a podcast after the annual Loomis Chaffee spring production called One Acts – which are written, directed, and acted out by students.
“Rosalie typically writes for One Acts and I typically act in One Acts. So my frame of mind was let’s just keep that as it is. So, Rosalie, you take over the writing process entirely and I’ll do the acting and join in with Lana on that,” said John.
In June the New York Times published the results of the contest. Without any prior knowledge, they read that they were ranked among the top 11 winners out of over 1,300 participants.
“The coolest thing about winning for me was about being alongside the other podcasts,” said John.
As for Rosalie, who wrote the script that John and Lana voice acted in, winning the podcast was a landmark event for her creative writing.
“I am currently at a point in my life where I’m starting to share my work more. I have been really tentative and nervous and scared to put myself out there. It was motivational,”
The podcast is a dialogue about social media’s meaning in our real-life society and the power of influence. This was a divergence from Rosalie’s typical writings which are “sci-fi” and “futuristic.”
“Obviously the New York Times is a news organization so we were looking for something that would be relevant to them and their audience…We thought social media was a really universal theme right now, especially the negative effects of social media,” said Rosalie on how they decided on the topic.
The message obviously resonated with the contest judges. John also found the message applicable to his own observations and beliefs.
“Social media is seen as the barometer for real-world success. There’s a big false narrative in that. I don’t think that a person should be judged for their credibility online. They should be judged for their credibility in person,” said John.
The podcast explores the line between real life and the virtual world. Rosalie considers other Loomis students to be influencers in their own way.
“A lot of the kids (at Loomis) -whatever you’re doing, you are at the top of what you’re doing. The top of sport, music, social justice for your demographic and age. There’s kids here who just because of where they come from and what they do – they are influential…There was some inspiration in that.”
Listen to their podcast along with the other winners at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/25/learning/winners-of-our-third-annual-podcast-contest.html