Culturally-Relevant Media Literacy Programming with Radford High School’s Bobcat Studio Club
The idea of the Bobcat Studio Club at Radford High School (RHS) was initiated by a group of students who were producing hip hop music on their own, generally in the homes of out-of-town friends. The students requested and were granted a face-to-face meeting with Radford City public schools (RCPS) teachers and administrators to present their case for forming a hip hop club on the high school campus. They were so convincing that their efforts resulted in the administration granting them a space for the studio and $500 for equipment purchase. Once the students secured a coach for the team (a teacher who has no experience with music production but a big heart for students), they began their work.
When she learned of the club’s formation, the RCPS/VT SEAD liaison Dr. Jamie Little connected Craig Arthur, #VTDITC (Virginia Tech Diggin’ in the Crates) Hip Hop Studies faculty member, with the Bobcat Studio Club coach. #VTDITC faculty and students visited the studio space at Radford High School to meet the students and teachers, and to conduct a needs assessment. Through CENI’s Jones SEAD Grant funding, members of the #VTDITC leadership board are partnering with RHS staff and students to co-create a powerful learning environment that includes technical skills and creative process as well as the culturally relevant pedagogy to realize the space’s potential. Specifically, the Bobcat Studio Club purchased updated equipment and have available the technical support from #VTDITC, who guided equipment purchase and will train teachers and students in its use.
This project is significant because it builds upon the successes of the #VTDITC: Hip Hop Studies at Virginia Tech programming with a new and incredibly unique opportunity to share skills and expertise with younger students who hold a similar passion. This shared passion was evident when several of the Bobcat Studio Club members and their coach attended a workshop sponsored by #VIDITC on the Virginia Tech campus. Craig Arthur and his students provided a well-organized, hands-on experience for the high school students that included instruction in all aspects of music production and resulted in the creation of an original hip hop song and music track.
This project also highlights the success of CENI/ICAT’s Liaison Network – the program in which educators like Radford’s Dr. Jamie Little are embedded in both the school systems and Virginia Tech, enabling them to spot opportunities early and make the right connections.
With the help of #VTDITC Hip Hop Studies, the Bobcat Studio Club can evolve from a production- only club to one that delves deeply into media and digital literacy, community engagement and outreach, and transdisciplinary co-creation. The grant funding will be utilized to ensure that the Bobcat Studio Club will grow in number and will continue to have a positive impact on Radford High School and the Radford community. To promote growth and sustainability, the Bobcat Studio Club will co-produce with #VTDITC a series of learning modules that address cultural, media, and digital literacy.
Perfectly aligned with the stated ICAT goals of education, transdisciplinary research, and outreach, this project seeks to establish, grow, and sustain the Bobcat Studio Club as a culturally-relevant program that provides a space for individual creativity and expression on the Radford High School campus. Radford High School teachers and students have benefitted and will benefit significantly from the guidance of the #VTDITC Hip Hop Studies group, who will co-create cultural, media, and digital literacy learning modules to be used in the RHS studio as well as provide critical advice and unique learning opportunities for club coach(es) and members.