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Northwood sophomores creating 1980 Olympic podcast for NPR contest

February 14, 2020
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Sophomores at Northwood School are hoping that this village's story of hosting the XIII Olympic Winter Games in 1980 - the last small-town Olympics, organized by friends and neighbors, not professionals - will be enough to win the coveted NPR Student Podcast Challenge.

The grand prize? Their podcast will be featured on either "Morning Edition" or "All Things Considered," news shows aired on National Public Radio stations across the nation, including North Country Public Radio in Canton. Those shows are also featured as podcasts.

Last year, there were two winners: seven female eighth-graders from Bronx Prep Middle School in New York City who talked about their biological periods; and four high school students in Erwin, Tennessee who told the story about when their town became famous for hanging an elephant in 1916.

Article Photos

Students in Tom Broderick’s Northwood School modern world class are interviewing people about their experiences during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid for a podcast they will be submitting for National Public Radio’s podcast contest. In the front row, from left, are Kate Broderick, Matthew Brady, Marie-Jeanne Prince, Peppi DelliQuadri, Anthony Khaimov and Lily Spiegel. In the back, from left, are Broderick, Kara Wentzel, Benjamin Norton, Olivia McLean, Matthew Paul and Iliana Smith.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

Will Lake Placid's story resonate? Only time will tell. The deadline for the podcast is in March.

Tom Broderick, Northwood School's assistant head of school, is the teacher of the modern world history class, which has 11 students. Originally, he thought the podcast could be about the modern slave trade, but the students had their own idea. They should produce a podcast - up to 12 minutes in length - on the 1980 Winter Olympics and touch upon the "Miracle on Ice" game between the U.S. and Soviet Union hockey teams.

"They wanted to do this because of the 40th anniversary of the Olympics," Broderick said. "What's funny is most of them only know about the game through the movie 'Miracle.' They didn't know about it any other way."

The podcast - and potentially all of the interviews - will be available on a website the students are building (actually, it's Matthew Paul who is building it). It's called the "Northwood Miracle Podcast."

"The idea was, as someone who has lived in Lake Placid now in my 33rd year and knowing a lot of people who were involved in organizing the Olympics and now a lot of them passing away, the tradition of oral history is really important," Broderick said.

Broderick remembers hearing the story about how Mark Gilligan acquired one of the pucks used during the Miracle on Ice game on Feb. 22, 1980. He was the chairman of equipment and supplies for ice hockey during the 1980 Winter Olympics. And that story got Broderick thinking.

"The idea for me that I pitched to them, wouldn't it be great to hear about that game and the locals' reaction to that game," he said. "But it's morphed into something else."

The students are looking to interview about 20 people from the community who lived through the Olympics or had an active role to play in organizing the games.

"We'll have to make decisions about whether we'll release the full interviews of the people we've interviewed," Broderick said, adding that the students could produce even more podcast episodes based on the interviews or put together a full-length documentary. "We're getting so much rich oral history from those that were involved."

The students may even tackle a larger issue in the future, exploring how climate change will affect the future of the Winter Olympics.

Out of 11 students in the class, six live locally. They were each given a task for the podcast, split into five teams.

- Schedulers: Olivia McLean and Matthew Brady

- Sound editors: Marie-Jeanne Prince and Benjamin Norton

- Techies: Iliana Smith, Kara Wentzel, Matthew Paul

- Copy editors: Lily Spiegel and Kate Broderick

- Marketing: Peppi DelliQuadri and Anthony Khaimov

Students are looking for more people to interview. Anyone interested in being interviewed can contact Broderick at Northwood School at 518-302-5120.

"It's the residents who happened to work in a position or do something that we don't know about that we really want to get," Broderick said.


Olivia McLean, of South Burlington, Vermont (scheduling)

"Basically what we've done is made a list of all the people who we thought might be either interested, available or people who were involved in the '80 Olympics. And we've taken that list, gotten contact information and reached out to these people either through phone calls or emails to see whether or not they would be interested in being interviewed for our podcast.

"From there, we've assigned different people in the class to interview them, set up dates, times, locations, really worked out all the details for how it's going to end up working out."

LPN: What were the challenges of the project?

OM: "It's a little bit of everything. A lot of us play sports, so it's hard to work around schedules. Some people we had to go to them or we had to do phone interviews or some people were not that interested. We've had equipment failures, that kind of thing, that we've just had to work around and do some rescheduling. Finding contact information for people was hard."


Benjamin Norton, England (sound editor)

"We have to make sure everyone knows how to record the interviews and then eventually edit the sound."


Peppi DelliQuadri, Lake Placid (marketing)

"Our job is to reach out to local newspapers, magazines, and just try and spread the news on the podcast."

LPN: What's your pitch to the media?

PD: "I just say what our class is doing, the podcast, and then what they could do to help us, like spread the news and see if they could get people that we can interview, see if they can write an article on it."

LPN: What have you learned about this assignment?

PD: "I learned a lot about it because most of what I know, I grew up in Colorado, so I didn't really know that much outside of the movie. I didn't know that it was such a small Olympics and that the town really put it on and that they had transportation issues."


Matthew Paul, Lake Placid (techie)

"I'm personally in charge of the website, and then we have somebody who controls the emails and then Kara, our team leader, who kind of watches over us and tells us what we're doing wrong."

LPN: How are you building the website?

MP: "Basically, I use a website called Squarespace, where I can just sign up and then you get a free trial. And then we're going to figure out, budgetwise ... so we'll have everyone chip in and we'll be able to put our website out there and get everyone to see it."


Kate Broderick, Lake Placid (copy editor)

"We are in charge of writing the script and editing everything that's written that gets sent out to the public or in emails.

"For the script, I think we're going to write everything out and then mark where we want the audio to be put in."

LPN: What have you learned from this project?

KB: "I learned a lot about editing more because normally it's just papers from my classes or different stories for other English classes. But now I've learned editing, kind of more formal things that get sent out to people and have to sound better, make it sound more professional.



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