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Shreveport high school's summer read: 'Serial' podcast

Red River Radio
Captain Shreve High School students Reagan Escuade' and Abbie Fertitta present a PowerPoint about how love impacts brain functions as part of a "Serial" podcast listening project.

A group of English students at Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport delivered PowerPoint presentations Wednesday after listening to the first season of the hit podcast “Serial.”

The summer reading selection at Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport will not be a book for the first time. Rather, students and teachers will listen to “Serial” episodes that center on the case of Adnan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 for the murder of his former high school girlfriend. English teacher Maureen Barclay introduced the podcast to her 18 seniors as a pilot for the summer.

“My students and I both have enjoyed the entertainment value and I’ve kind of seen my students and I both binging on this podcast kind of like we binge on Netflix,” Barclay said, following the student presentations.

Barclay first learned of a Massachusetts school that did a group listen to the popular podcast that yielded positive feedback for launching classroom discussions and research projects.

“When the students returned to school they had this really rich and engaging experience because they were tackling their content area skills and problem solving skills all through the lens of ‘Serial.’”

Student Samantha Hilburn focused her presentation on the traits of a psychopath and whether Syed exhibited these traits. She says there was a buzz around school about this murder trial.

“I think having the whole school listen to it -- freshmen through seniors -- will bring everyone together for a common research cause that really will bring excitement back into summer reading,” Hilburn said.

Zach Moreno’s presentation focused on building a case around cell phone records tower pings. He says he would take notes as he listened and dissect the evidence.

“Sometimes when I’m reading words tend to run together and my eyes get tired. I didn’t have the fatigue from this. It was cool. I could just listen for hours on end,” Moreno said.

In the latest twist in the Syed case, a judge is expected to decide in the coming days or weeks whether he will be granted a retrial based on new evidence.

The "Serial" investigation raised doubts over the quality of Syed’s defense team and its apparent failure to call a potential alibi witness to testify.

In 2014, the “Serial” podcast was released and Syed’s case gained international attention.