Dater Foundation Success Stories

Junior High Students Put On An Old Radio Drama at WVXU

Nothing could be more mismatched than old radio drama and teenage students from the East End neighborhood of Cincinnati. But there they were, eight teenagers, standing at large, rather intimidating, microphones in the WVXU radio studio, reading their parts for the on-air play over and over until the willies were gone and they could read without stumbling.

The play, written by assistant operations manager Mike Martini as part of an educational grant from the Dater Foundation, was just like old-time radio: entertaining, light story line, comical voices and a collection of odd noises'a door opening and closing, a phone ringing, water being poured, a crackling fire, clopping hooves and footsteps.

Tony Grooms, 14, was the sound man. He never missed a cue, even interjecting a vocal "Dum, da, da, duh," at climactic moments. And Amanda Adams, 15, who played the part of Candy, the detective's office manager who actually solves the crime, got a few laughs with her well-read script.

But while the eighth-graders had a good time, the experience had a positive and perhaps long-lasting effect on them. Their principal, Melody Dacey, said the play, "The Case of the Missing Lemon," gave borderline students a reason to come to school every day. It brought the students together, and it boosted their self-esteem.

"It's helped broaden their horizons a bit," said Dacey, interim principal at McKinley Elementary School on Kellogg Avenue, which serves students of mainly Appalachian heritage. "They have had very few and limited experiences, and this gave them an opportunity to feel connected to the University. Many of the families here have had very limited education, and many have been unable to finish high school, and to be connected to a university for a project is very prestigious."

Dacey said some students who are old for their grade level were having trouble making it to school every day. "Through initiatives like this, they showed a lot more interest in coming to school, and it improved their attendance a lot."

Amanda, for instance, was absent a lot this year. But when the radio play was offered, she decided to try out, and discovered she liked it. She got the main female part, and has been attending school every day for the last two and a half months so she wouldn't miss rehearsal.

"This is my first time ever doing anything like this," she said. "It was just really fun. Ever since I've done this, my reading has gotten a lot better. It gave me confidence in myself." Now she plans to enroll in ninth grade next year and finish high school, a turnaround from earlier plans to drop out at the end of her eighth grade year.

WVXU's Vickie Jones said the project is one of the many ways the public radio station has made use of grant dollars from the Dater Foundation. The Foundation's support over the years has made it possible for increased programming for children and an enhanced Kids Page on the WVXU web site.

The play aired May 23, 2002, and Foundation Treasurer and Director Jack Frank talked on air with WVXU's Mike Martini before the broadcast."I was at McKinley School a couple weeks ago," said Frank, "and it was really exciting to see how enthused the kids were in this project and the positive affirmation they got from being involved. Activities like this bring education to life for youngsters."

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