Elizabethton High School juniors release podcast about local veteran/teacher

While some podcasts were winning awards at national competitions and changing listeners’ perspectives of entire towns, others were seemingly more subtle, telling the stories of people right next door to them and gleaning the lessons those people have acquired during their hundred years of life.

Elizabethton High School juniors Kayla Story, Anna Collins and Morgan Smith did their podcast on a local woman named Florence “Helen” Shoopman Fetzer and had the chance to show the finished project to her Tuesday afternoon.

“It feels good to see what an impact it had,” Collins said.

Fetzer’s family joined Fetzer and the students as they held a mini celebration mid-afternoon Tuesday, playing the completed podcast and talking with Fetzer about her stories in the military and as a teacher.

“One thing I hope the students get out of this is a personal connection,” EHS teacher Alex Campbell said. “That is one of the reasons you want to go work with the community.”

Among the stories the students gained from interviewing Fetzer were ideas about womanhood, and what it meant to be a woman in a society with a million different ideas about the answer.

“It just so happened they were all three girls,” Campbell said. “They tried to think about, being young ladies, what she had to teach them. They chose to make it about the connection they had with her, despite the fact they have a lot of age difference between them.”

This central focus is visible right at the beginning of the podcast, which reads “This is the story of Florence Fetzer, the strongest woman we know.”

As someone who has lived since World War II, Fetzer was able to talk about how society’s views on women and other minorities have changed over the years.

“Being a woman is not just about the outside,” Story said. “It is about the inside.”

The podcast project encompassed many different topics across the various student groups. For these students, they got the idea after reading about her 100th birthday celebration in the newspaper a few months ago.

From there, however, they had to get to work immediately.

“We had to research a lot and set up interviews,” Collins said. “It was kind of just thrown at us.”

Despite the lack of experience, the students said they worked diligently and thoroughly during the “extensive” editing process. They interviewed Fetzer, as well as members of her immediate or extended family to get a more complete picture of her story. As they did so, they said they grew closer to Fetzer as a person.

“We are friends forever now,” Story said.

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