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Shaler Area students take to airwaves with stories

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By Bethany Hofstetter
Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Shaler Area High School students are taking their classroom lessons on-air.

Students in Ben Shannon's creative writing class will make their radio debut this Saturday, Nov. 3, on the “Saturday Light Brigade” radio show at 10 a.m. on WRCT, 88.3 FM.

“This is the first time I'll be reading my work besides (in) a classroom,” said Ethan Griffin, a sophomore. “I thought we would just be writing stuff in class. I never pictured going on a radio station. I think that's pretty good.”

“Saturday Light Brigade” is a regional family-oriented radio show that broadcasts from the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and features acoustic music and live performances by youth and adults, as well as on-air puzzles, phone calls and interviews with community-based nonprofit organizations benefiting youth and families.

Shannon learned of the program while listening to it with his three children and wanted to give his students the opportunity to reach a wider audience by performing on the radio show.

“I think writing and stories are meant to be heard, as well as read,” Shannon said. “The earlier they get exposed to reading and to a public audience, a real audience, I think the better it builds confidence.

“I really think once they do this there's no going back; they've taken a step forward.”

Students will read selections from pieces they have been writing this semester and editing over the past weeks in preparation for Saturday's radio show — everything from poetry to fiction passages.

Megan Pennington, a senior in Shannon's creative writing class, said she even is considering writing an entirely new piece of work especially for the “Saturday Light Brigade” program.

Pennington said while she has been writing for several years, this is the first opportunity to reach an audience that doesn't consist of her classmates or teachers.

“To have the opportunity to have more than just my teachers read my work would be very rewarding. I hope to get my name out there somehow,” Pennington said.

“If nothing else, I hope to have one person out there like what I have to write.”

Shannon said in addition to the regular listeners, he hopes community members tune into “Saturday Light Brigade” to support the students and hear what they have to offer.

“I hope they get some recognition as the writers they are,” Shannon said.

“There's really only so much you can teach, and the rest you have to do.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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