Principal Leonetta Sanders is worried that in the wake of a recent shooting, some of her students at Harper might be in danger of retaliatory violence. The threat is so real, she's considering canceling the school's Homecoming football game and dance.
Most murders in Chicago happen in public places — parks, alleyways, cars. Scores of Harper students will tell you they've actually seen someone shot.
Reporter Ben Calhoun tells the story of Terrance Green, a 16-year-old who was killed three years ago but is still an iconic presence at Harper.
Chicago has strict gun laws but, obviously, teenagers are somehow getting their hands on guns. Lots of guns.
In the first hour of our Harper High School shows, Alex Kotlowitz talked to a junior named Devonte who a year earlier had accidentally shot and killed his 14-year-old brother. Devonte was forming a strong relationship with Crystal Smith, one of the social workers, and beginning to come to terms with both his grief and guilt.
Late in the semester, Principal Sanders takes a look at her budget. It doesn't look good.
So many of the shootings in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, the neighborhood where Harper High sits, are characterized as "gang-related." Often, the implication is that gang-related means there is a reason to the shooting — huge, established gangs shooting it out over drug territory. Gang-related often implies you must've deserved it, a certain level of 'what goes around comes around.' Reporter Linda Lutton talks to dozens of Harper students who say adults don't understand that that's not the way it works.
Reporter Alex Kotlowitz spends time in the social work office, where the effects of gun violence are most often apparent. Early on in the year, social worker Crystal Smith spends time with a junior named Devonte, talking him through his grief and guilt after Devonte accidentally shot and killed his 14 year old brother last year.
By early October, it's been pretty quiet at Harper, as far as gun violence goes. But on the day before the homecoming game, during a pep rally, a senior named Damoni who is both on the football team and nominated for Homecoming King, gets word that a good friend of his, James, has been shot.
At three high schools in Palm Beach County, Florida, several young police officers were sent undercover to pose as students, tasked with making drug arrests. And this, this is the setting for a love story, reported by Robbie Brown.
A live performance detailing a humiliating love affair. When comedian Mike Birbiglia was in high school, he fell for a cool girl named Amanda.
Julia Lurie is an American teaching English at an all-girls high school in Gwangju, a city in South Korea. When she first got there, some things struck her as strange: On every floor of the school there was a full-length mirror, as well as a scale.
A 17-year-old Ethiopian girl who is just learning English goes with her teacher to face her fears head-on: She orders tea in a local coffee shop. A woman in America talks to Ira about her husband, in Syria, who is currently negotiating with kidnappers for the release of two of his employees.
A teenager runs away from home to move in with someone he's never met, his idol, the person he respects most of all — a fantasy writer named Piers Anthony. Logan Hill reports.
Host Ira Glass interviews a 14-year old named Annie, who emailed us asking if we would do a show about middle school. She explains why exactly the middle school years can be so daunting.
We sent several correspondents straight to the epicenters of middle school awkwardness: School dances. Producers Lisa Pollak and Brian Reed, plus reporters Eric Mennel, Rob Wildeboer and Claire Holman spoke with kids across the country during the nervous moments leading up to the dances.
When Domingo Martinez was growing up in a Mexican-American family in Texas, Domingo's two middle school aged sisters found a unique way of coping with feelings of inferiority. This story comes from Martinez's memoir The Boy Kings of Texas.
We realized that there are already reporters on the ground, embedded inside middle schools: The kids who report the daily announcements, sometimes on video with full newscast sets. Producer Jonathan Menjivar wondered what would happen if instead of announcing sports scores and the daily cafeteria menu, the kids reported what's really on their minds.
Producer Sarah Koenig reports on a kid we'll call Leo, whose family moved away from Rochester, NY, leaving behind all of Leo's friends andstranding him in a new — and in his opinion, much worse — middle school.
Ira speaks with Shannon Grande, a teacher at Rise Academy in Newark, about a seventh grader who had all sorts of problems with behavior and hygiene and schoolwork. In order to help turn him around, Grande had to harness the power of peer pressure for good.
In an effort to understand the physical and emotional changes middle school kids experience, Ira speaks with reporter Linda Perlstein, who wrote a book called Not Much Just Chillin' about a year she spent following five middle schoolers. Then we hear from producer Alex Blumberg, who was a middle school teacher in Chicago for four years before getting into radio.
Host Ira Glass walks through a Kansas City Missouri amusement park called Worlds of Funwith Cole Lindbergh, who had a season pass to the park as a little kid,starting working there summers at 14, and then just stayed. Now he's afull-time, year-round employee, running the games department.
Jonathan Goldstein returns to Wildwood, New Jersey, where he spent one not-fateful summer when he was sixteen. Jonathan's the host of the podcast Heavyweight.
Ira tells what happened this week to Dan Curry in Odessa Texas on Wednesday, to eight-year-old Ruby Melman on Sunday in New Jersey, to Beau O'Reilly at a bike store in Chicago on Saturday, to Theodosha Alexander at the World Trade Center site on Thursday, to Dr. Wade Gordon in Afghanistan on Thursday, to a high school class at the Grand Canyon on Wednesday, and at a bar in New York City on Saturday.