In 1951 journalist Edward R. Murrow asked famous and everyday people to write essays about their beliefs – and to record them for broadcast. The This I Believe essays became a touchstone for radio listeners across the country – giving voice to the core values of a nation.
This year WCQS recorded This I Believe essays from the entire 5th grade at Isaac Dickson Elementary School in Asheville. Working with Janet Hurley of True Ink and Asheville Writers in the Schools the children wrote essays on things they believe in – everything from recycling to Legos. They wrote and rewrote, practiced, and practiced some more. When they were ready, they came to the WCQS studios to record their essays. Over the course of three weeks, teachers Libby Kyles, Kelly Shultz, Shannon Fields, along with teaching assistants and some parental chaperones, shepherded 5th graders from Isaac Dickson to WCQS.
Working in small groups, the students were taken to a production studio where they observed the recording process. The students gathered around WCQS Music Director Dick Kowal as he engineered the recordings. When it was their turn, WCQS Program Director Barbara Sayer worked with each child individually, explaining the process and coaching them through the delivery of their essays, “I was continually inspired by the children – their creativity, their thoughtfulness and their conviction. They put tremendous effort into writing the essays and perfecting them – and they matched that effort when they came to WCQS to record. On top of that, there’s nothing like 5th grade energy; they made us laugh and smile every minute they were in the studios!”
Isaac Dickson Elementary School 5th Grade Teacher, Libby Kyles was delighted with the project, “Our students were thrilled to be welcomed to WCQS to record their This I Believe essays. They worked so hard on them and really felt passionately about their beliefs. Ms. Sayer and Mr. Kowal treated each child and his or her ideas with such respect. The power of speaking publicly on the radio made them feel like global citizens, which they need to be.”