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As Sarah Ameen tells it, nothing can replace hands-on learning when it comes to Career Technical Education (CTE). Sarah is a student at Star International Academy in Dearborn Heights and the station manager at The Nest, a new student-run, over-the-air radio station that officially opened with a gala ceremony on Sept. 8.
You go through 13 years of schooling, and you’re just in a classroom behind a desk with the teacher in front of you writing something on the board,” student Sarah Ameen told WDIV-TV. “But this is different. I’m sitting in this chair, and I’m learning how to work this equipment.”
Indeed, when charter schools take on CTE, they take things to another level.
Students from three Hamadeh Educational Services (HES) charter schools will operate the radio station. In additional to Star International Academy, the other schools are Universal Academy in Detroit and Universal Learning Academy in Westland. The station is called “The Nest” because all three schools have birds as their mascot.
It’s rare for any high school to have an over-the-air broadcast station, and school officials had to jump through more than a year’s worth of federal hoops to make it all happen. But as HES President and Superintendent Ali Bazzi tells it, it’s all worth it for the learning experience his students are receiving.
A live campus radio station serves as a powerful platform for students and community members to voice their opinions, ideas and bring a community together,” he said. “It allows them to engage in thoughtful discussions, share their perspectives on various topics, and initiate meaningful conversations that resonate with their peers.”
The radio station was Ali’s brainchild. He told the crowd at the ribbon-cutting that the idea came to him late at night when he couldn’t sleep.
I just had a clear head one evening looking at the ceiling,” he said. “We had been discussing as a team what else we could do as a school. What we could do to get real-world applications. It just came to me.”
The radio station will operate around the clock, with a mix of student programming and taped shows – all of which are designed to serve the richly diverse community. The Nest will broadcast in both English and Arabic.
By giving students the opportunity to express themselves through radio broadcasts, we can cultivate a culture of open-mindedness, intellectual curiosity, and constructive dialogue,” Ali said. “The station will be broadcasting English and Arabic music throughout the day, sharing community and national news, and local/school updates 24/7.”
The radio station is located at the HES headquarters in Dearborn Heights and it part of the larger Career Technical Education Center. In addition to the radio station, the CTE center includes a health classroom (which looks like an actual doctor’s office) and features instruction by a health professional.
We have a registered nurse from Beaumont who teaches the students every day so they can at the end of the year get licensed as a CNA,” Ali said.
The CTE center also includes a daycare center, where students can learn how to become licensed in childcare.
High school students come here every day, one hour a day, and they learn how to deal with and teach pre-k students,” Ali said.
You can listen live online to The Nest here.