Seedlings visit WBTN

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BENNINGTON — Students from the Seedlings program at Bennington and Molly Stark Elementary Schools visited Bennington community radio station this month.

The group from Benn El visited on Thursday, while the group from Molly Stark visited the previous week. The students read a live greeting for listeners over the air, and recorded interviews with the station's Tom Toscano. The Molly Stark interviews aired last weekend, and the Benn El interviews will be aired this Saturday at 9 a.m.

"This is the Bennington Elementary Seedlings Program and you're listening to WBTN-AM 1370, your community radio station in Bennington, Vermont," said the group of students.

Now in its fourth year, the Seedlings program provides after-school programming for small "pods" of six to eight students, who typically stick together throughout their elementary school careers. Pods are now in operation at both Bennington Elementary and Molly Stark Elementary. This year, the program expanded to 22 students. During the 2016-2017 school year, the program provided students with a collective 1,413 hours of programming divided between divided between creative play, community connections, and individual tutoring.

Last year the students visited Catamount Access Television and appeared on the station's Outdoor Secrets Unwrapped with Chris Bates and Stephanie Callabro. One student, Alex, was excited for his second opportunity to be featured in a broadcast. "This is my second time being famous," he said. "It's cool being famous."

Another student, Kaitlyn, said that she liked the station a lot, but that it was smaller than she expected. Lorianna Weathers, one of the programs instructors, said that several students had expressed confusion that the station was not a tower.

"Seedlings provides consistent programming to build academic skill and social skills, creativity, and resiliency through one-on-one academic tutoring, enrichment activities to explore and enhance creativity and opportunities to observe and practice appropriate behaviors," according to a release from the organization. "We strive to build community awareness and support around the issues of childhood poverty in Bennington. Our goals are to increase self-confidence and habits associated with academic and life success through consistent, one-on-one interactions with adult volunteers. By being fun, nurturing and supportive, children choose to engage in the program."

The Seedlings program collaborates with the Tutorial Center for academic and administrative support and with community partners such as the Bennington Museum and the Bennington Free Library for enrichment and programming.

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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