Elizabethton students win national podcast challenge with story of Mary the elephant

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ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL)- Just this week officials with NPR announced that a group of Elizabethton students won a national competition in the high school division. 

The students were chosen out of 5,700 participants in the NPR Student Podcast Challenge, with approximately half of those in the high school category. 

“This podcast took me on a journey,” says Lee Hale, one of the NPR judges and a reporter at member station KUER in Utah. “Halfway in, I forgot I was judging a student competition because I got so wrapped up in the story. The voices, the pacing, the arc – everything worked.”

John Gouge, Jaxton Holly, Deanna Hull, and Caleb Miller created a podcast on Murderous Mary.

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The podcast tells the story of the hanging of Mary the elephant back in 1916, and how the town is now trying to make things right.

In a news release, the school system said, “Their podcast tells the story of Murderous Mary, the elephant hanged in Erwin, Tennessee, and what the people of Erwin are doing about it today. Because of all the local lore surrounding this story, it was not an easy podcast to create. ” 

“It leaves an impact on your life and changes the way you think,” says Miller. “I thought Erwin was just a place that hung an elephant, but I realized it’s a community of people that care and are trying to make things right and turn it into a positive note, which they are doing every day.”

The project was an assignment in the integrated US History and English III class taught by Tim Wasem and Alex Campbell.

For the full podcast, you can listen HERE: https://soundcloud.com/user-352618310/murderous-mary-the-rise-of

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