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Grade 8 Students Create Podcast for “Historic America”

Last summer, Dr. Watts, the Grade 8 Social Studies teacher, was pondering how to make our 8th graders’ year unique and memorable outside of the pandemic. Knowing that we would not be able to explore Washington, D.C. in May, she wanted to give the 8th graders a hands-on history experience. She called her friend Aaron Killian, who has been the tour guide in past years on the 8th grade D.C. trip to explore ideas. With the pandemic shut-down, Aaron was exploring different ways to grow his small business, Historic America, through podcasts, video series, and journaling on his website. Aaron and Dr. Watts came up with the idea of a student created podcast. Dr. Watts applied to the Rhoades Foundation for a grant, which they generously provided.

In the fall, the 8th graders explored a variety of “Places in Time,” which is the name of Historic America’s podcast series. Students considered Jamestown, Salem, and Montgomery before realizing we have the perfect place in time right in our backyard: Balboa Park. In November, Divya and Jonah met Dr. Watts at the park and did an audio tour. This inspired Jonah and Divya to make presentations to the hybrid classes pitching the Balboa Park idea.

Once the class settled on a place, students started researching the rich history of Balboa Park. Aaron advised the class on approaching the podcast as a historic newscast focusing on events at the park, such as the San Diego-Panama California Exposition in 1915. The podcast, Yesterday’s News, is a collection of stories spanning from the 1850s to the future opening of the Comic Con Museum. Each story was written and narrated by the 8th graders at Rhoades. Some special elements of the podcast include: fun San Diego weather reports, commercials from different eras, Grace’s interview with Micah Parzen, CEO of the Museum of Us, and Lily’s cover art.

Aaron and his team produced the podcast and now it can be heard on the Historic America website:


Take a listen to the wonderful of our 8th grade students and Dr. Watts – well done!!!

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