Episode 17: This is Us

It’s the end of another school year. Today our seniors will graduate and they’ll experience the joy of their community coming together to celebrate this huge accomplishment and then, after all the partying, after all the dinners, they’ll begin a new phase in their lives.

Congratulations class of 2018! We will miss you. LAHSA will miss you.

This is our final episode of season 3. Like it’s been our tradition for the past two seasons, this final episode is dedicated to the individual stories of the staff of the Four-O-Eight. So much of their time they have spent it exploring the stories of other students, of other lives, and now it’s their turn. And, boy, do we have an episode for you.

Yrah Rayos del Sol is a happy soul. She can make you smile and laugh with her silliness and her energy. She’s a great actor, a talented singer and, overall, a strong human being. In this first segment Yrah shares a story that demonstrates this strength and also gives us a peek into the world that surrounds her and from where she grabs her strength.

Kayla Ybarra is a natural story-teller. From the moment I met her I knew she would be an asset to the AP Lit class because of the passionate way she speaks about reading and literature in general. I have seen Kayla’s strength and courage. I have learned about the obstacles that she’s had to overcome, that she continues trying to overcome. In this next segment Kayla shares a story that she comes back to, again, and again, like how we come back to the things that are difficult and exhausting to unravel.

Every time my students do this assignment I am reminded of everything they carry with them as they make their way through life. I am always amazed by their strength and courage and their ability to survive. And I’m also reminded of how important it is for help to be available for them to deal with the, sometimes, emotional trauma they carry, that it’s not enough to simply acknowledge their pain as if the simple act of adults knowing is of any consolation or of any help. In this next segment, Sally Melchor talks about the importance of talking, of solving, of not letting things fester.

Tanya Mendoza is one of those students with whom you always want to have conversations. She’s lively, smart, kind and she’s paid attention to her eighteen years in this planet.  She has no problem challenging any views she disagrees with but she’s also open minded and very willing to have her mind changed on any topic (if your arguments make sense). I’ve had my share of conversations with her but her segment for this episode surprised me. Here’s Tanya with her story:

High school friendships are important, I think. You learn about yourself through your interaction with people and high school is when you’re starting to pay attention to who you are, you know, to the nuance of you. In this next segment Reyna Morales discusses friendship, what it has meant for her and how her views have evolved in the last year.

Carlos Garcia is a quiet dude. He always seems lost in thought, as if he’s contemplating the meaning of all that surrounds him. He’s one of those kids I wish I would have had more conversations with, more time to bond. In this next segment, Carlos shares the power of dreams and how dreams can sometimes be powerful allies in life.

I can’t think of Bryant Hernandez and not think of music. It’s impossible. I think that’s true for anyone at LAHSA, students and faculty alike. You can tell by the way he is immersed in whatever is playing in his headphones that when he is listening to music he is in the music and that everything outside his head has blurred. In this next segment, Bryant explores this and lets us peek into this world in which he belongs.

I want to thank the entire staff of The Four-O-Eight for all their hard work and dedication to this Podcast. You are amazing human beings and we’re gonna miss you here at LAHSA. I can’t wait to see you walk the stage tonight. You’re gonna have so much fun.

Episode 11: The Way Out: Stories of Survival

Dear Listener,

I think it’s pretty common knowledge that some of the most important lessons we learn are lessons that difficult experiences teach us. Some of those experiences could be avoided, I guess, if we listened to our parents or to our friends or to the experiences of strangers. Others, however, just can’t be avoided and we’re forced into that turbulence and we either emerge from it wiser and stronger or we get stuck inside that chaos. That’s what today’s episode is about. Today we look back at that turbulence and we explore how some people got out and what they learned and how they’ve grown.

In our first story, producer Lupe Espinoza talks to Joey, a senior at our school, about the death of his uncle and about the power of music.

Our second story comes from producer Elizabeth Rosa. She interviews Angelica and together they explore what it takes to find courage and conviction.

Our third story is about Yami, a senior at our school, and about the lessons she learned after her first encounter with death.

Our final story by our producer Tabina Mahtab is one of redemption, it’s about finding a new purpose, a new role in life after being in the grips of gang life.

Thanks for listening. Our program today was produced by Lupe Espinoza, Elizabeth Rosa, Franky Morales, and Tabina Mahtab. Our creative directors for this episode are Anabell Cho, Ha Bin Lee, Karla Baires, and Brec Hipolito. Our production managers and marketing directors are Luz Cruz, Jonathan Sims, Jason Sims, and Se Mi Han. I’m executive producer, Andres Reconco. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram @The Four–O-Eight and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. Thank you for listening. Tune in next month for our final episode of this 2nd season of “The Four-O-Eight”.

Thanks also to for allowing us access to their sound files.

Episode 10: What We Wish We Could Say...Freely

Dearest Listener,

At The Los Angeles High School of the Arts we try our best to guide our students through a journey of self discovery. We ask them to reflect on who they are, what they like, what they hate, what they need to improve on. They’re good at it too. Our tenth graders, for example, write poetry that is very personal, full of personal insight, full of some very beautiful and purposeful vivid imagery. Some are even willing to share the poems in front of class. They’re brave like that.

This episode is an extension of that. We’ve titled it: “Things I wish I could say…freely”.

You’ll hear a story about a student who feels isolated because of her sexual orientation. You’ll also hear a story about an educator who grapples with finding the appropriate way of engaging her students in discussions about government in a way that is fair towards the government and fair towards the people this government represents. Finally, you’ll hear a story about a young man’s trauma, stemming from an unhealthy relationship with his father.

Our program this month was produced by Franky Morales, Tabina Mahtab and Lupe Espinoza. Our creative directors for this episode are Anabell Cho, Karla Baires and Brec Hipolito. Our production managers and marketing directors for this episode were Luz Cruz, Jason Sims, and Se Mi Han. I’m executive producer, Andres Reconco. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram @The Four–O-Eight and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

We'd like to thank Kevin McLeod from for the amazing music.

-The Four-O-Eight

Episode 9: Unmerry X-Mas


Dearest Listener,

I know you know this because it’s obvious everywhere you go but it’s the holiday season! It’s Christmas time, Hannuka time, Kwanzaa time and you can even push the holidays into January and celebrate el dia de los tres reyes magos! I’m excited. I love the holidays. The food, the company, the vacation. All the colors everywhere, all the lights. I even like the crowds at the mall. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like this season.

With that said though, there are people for whom this season is not fun, not pleasant…for whatever reason.

This month’s episode focuses on the holiday season and on the different ways in which people experience these days. You’ll hear a story about one of our producer’s frustrations with not being able to celebrate Christmas with her family. You’ll also hear one of our teachers discuss what it’s like to be Jewish during a season which is heavily influenced by Christmas. Then you’ll hear a story about how one young woman still holds on to the idea of Santa Claus and the reasons why she does this will make you smile but will also put a litte bit of sorrow in your heart. Our final story will about a young woman for whom the holiday season is not as joyful as if could be and it’s all because of her parents.

Thanks for listening! Our program today was produced by Lupe Espinoza, Keiry Molina, Elizabeth Rosa, and Franky Morales. Our creative directors for this episode are Anabell Cho, Karla Baires, Ha Bin Lee, and Annicka Tiu. Our production managers and marketing directors are Yerim Hwang, Jonathan Sims, Deysi Atenco, Jason Sims and Luz Cruz. I’m executive producer, Andres Reconco. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram @The Four–O-Eight and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. We’d like to thank Kevin McLeod from for allowing us to use the song “Carpe Diem” and “There is Romance” for this episode. Tune in next month for another episode of “The Four-O-Eight”.

Episode 8: Horror Stories

Hola, dear listeners,

This is the first episode of season 2 of The Four-O-Eight! How crazy is that?! We're very excited about this!

Since we’re so close to Halloween we decided that it would be fitting to look at situations that have the potential to be terrifying to us and how we go about dealing with said situations. You will hear an interview with the newest members of our LAHSA family, Mr. Matthew Muranaga, in which he discusses his love and appreciation for horror stories. Our second story is about what it's like to be an undocumented student right before high school graduation. Our third story is about a young woman who has had a close relationship with this supernatural world that most of us fear so greatly. In our final story we hear about a woman who could have been the victim of a demonic possession.

Our program today was produced by Tabina Mahtab, Keiry Molina, Elizabeth Rosa, and Franky Morales. Our creative directors for this episode are Karla Baires, Ha Bin Lee, Annicka Tiu and Brec Hipolito. Our production managers and marketing directors are Yerim Hwang, Jonathan Sims, Deysi Atenco, Sarah Bong and Se Mi Han. I’m executive producer, Andres Reconco. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram @The Four–O-Eight and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. Thank you for listening. Tune in next month for another episode of “The Four-O-Eight”.

-The Four-O-Eight Staff

Episode 5: What We Don't Talk About

Dear Listener,

In this episode we focus on the things we don't like to talk about, issues we often find taboo or embarrassing or even dangerous. You'll hear a student talk about an extremely difficult decision, one that has changed her life forever. Then, you'll hear a story of a 10th grader who exposes the heartache her relationship with her father has caused her. After that you'll hear about a junior and her mother and how they have overcome the awkwardness of the sex talk. Finally, you'll listen to the story of a sophomore who shares her struggle with depression. You're in for a ride.



Andrés Reconco, our executive producer, speaks about the life that sometimes gets in the way of young people's ability to learn in school. His insight is important to anyone who wishes to get involved in the academic life of teenagers.

Story 1

Abortion is a controversial topic. There are strong feelings for and against it. This makes it a difficult topic to discuss. Team Mosaic has the story of a student who, when faced with an unwanted pregnancy, had to make this difficult choice.

Story 2

Haley is a 10th grader. In class she’s quiet, soft spoken, creative with her writing, deep with her poetry. She smiles a lot, laughs and plays around with her friends. Overall she’s a happy young woman. There is one topic, however, that puts a cloud over her head. The topic is her father.

Story 3

For many parents, talking about sex with their sons or daughters can be awkward and maybe even embarrassing. It shouldn't be. Team Phoenix has the story of Jimena and her mom and how they approached this sometimes tricky subject.

Story 4

Our final story is about the powerful force of depression. Team Racounteur tells the story of Sally and her struggle to find help.


Please remember to visit the iTunes store to rate our podcast and to leave us a comment.

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Episode 4: Valentine's Day

Dearest listener,

In this episode we explore Valentine's Day. We look at how Valentines day is sometimes more than just about romantic love and materialistic devotion. You’ll hear a story about high school sweethearts, another one about the crazy things love makes us do and then one final one about a special kind of love, one you don’t necessarily think of when you think of Valentine’s day.


Executive producer Andrés Reconco interviews different students about what Valentine's day means to them. The responses range from funny to romantic.

Story 1:

Team Legacy explores the relationship of two LAHSA students: Blanca and Christopher. They discuss how they met and what keeps them together.

Story 2:

Team Raconteurs interviews Giselle, a girl who, because of love, decides to break rules she'd never considered breaking before. In the process she learned a lesson about love and companionship.

Story 3:

In our final story, team Phoenix explores Cecilia's love for someone very dear to her heart. She teaches us a lesson on the power of appreciation.

Please remember to visit the iTunes store to rate our podcast and to leave us a comment.

Click here to subscribe:

Episode 3: Loss

Dearest listener,

In this episode we explore the topic of loss. What’s it like to lose something or someone you love? How do we cope with that loss? What do we do to try to fill the void left by what was once there?


Executive producer Andrés Reconco talks to a student we’ll call K.T. (for privacy reasons). K.T. shares why he joined to club POPS (Pain Of the Prison System) and what type of impact being surrounded by the energies of prison has had on his life.

If you’re interested in finding more about POPs the club please visit their website

Story 1:

Annicka, one of our production managers and marketing directors talks to her grandmother who recently lost her husband of 57 years. She reflects on what that loss was like as well as how she managed the pain of that loss.

Story 2:

Parenthood isn’t on the minds of many sixteen year olds. But, what are the consequences when something happens at that age that limits the possibility of having kids as an adult? David Calvo explores this situation by talking to our very own Dr. Isabel Morales.

Story 3:

In this next segment Producer Chris Castro and Creative Director Whitney Gonzalez explore the value of lessons and memories left behind by those who have passed away. They will talk to a student who lost a teacher and who was left with something very valuable.

Story 4:

In our final story Consuelo Hernandez explores the inevitability of loss and how one person coped and learned how to survive.

Episode 2: Expectations

Dearest listener,

In this episode we’re looking at “expectations”, particularly expectations people have of us or we have of ourselves, and how it doesn’t matter whether or not we meet those expectations because at the end, they’ve shaped the people we’ve become.


Andres Reconco talks to three LAHSA 9th graders and they reveal the expectations they had of high school and whether or not they have changed in the past three months of school.

Segment #1

Chris Castro talks to Luz, a Guatemalan woman who talks about her experience with stereotypes and their ability to mask the unexpected. Being exposed to stereotypes, she argues, can shape us into more open minded individuals.

Segment #2

Yaahjairi Blas is a model. She's gotten a taste of the industry and all of the responsibilities and challenges that come with the job. Consuelo Hernandez talks to her about her experience and about whether or not Yaahjairi's ideas about beauty have been changed by her experience in the modeling industry.

Segment #3

Esther Yang and her team take a look at how beauty standards rob people of their identity and how these standards can sometimes scar individuals and change them, at times for the worst and at other times for the better.

Segment #4

In this final segment Yorgy Flores tackles gender identity and the societal expectations that are attached to being a boy or a girl. Kelly Hernandez explains what it's been like to not fit into the restrictive mold society has shaped for girls.

If you like what you hear please follow us on:

Twitter: @thefouroeight
Instagram: @thefouroeight
Snapchat: @thefouroeight


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Episode 1: New Beginnings

Hola, fellow listeners,

The idea to begin a creative project in one of my classes has been floating around in my head since I began to teach, eleven years ago. It wasn't always a podcast I wanted. My first year as a teacher I wanted to begin a literary magazine, a place where students who wanted to write short stories or poetry or who had a particularly exciting essay could submit this work and see it printed and bound on a monthly basis. But, it didn't work out. I narrowed my vision and instead focused on creating a literary magazine for poetry only. But, that didn't come through either. When my wife stopped working at our school I had my car all to myself and I began to listen to different podcasts on the way to and from work: Car Talk, Invisibilia, This American Life, Radio Ambulante, Love + Radio and others. I fell in love with podcasts. I knew I had to start one myself. The creative cloud that had sat dormant in my brain for a long time began to vibrate, to billow. I would make it happen.

I learned from my previous attempts to launch these types of projects. I'd previously failed because of lack of preparation. The projects I desired weren't bad or unrealistic. They were just ill-conceived, poorly planned, horribly executed (That's an interesting phrase, right? Ill-conceived.) I had these ideas swelling inside my brain but I had no concrete plan for how to break them down into all the parts that made them whole. I let my excitement about the end result blind me to all the steps I would have to take to get my students to produce what I had envisioned. It never occurred to me that these creative projects, though they lived outside of my regular curriculum, were not at all different than any of my other class projects. I didn't want to think of them as "class projects" or as "assignments". I thought these labels robbed them of the mysticism I'd attributed to them, like if me touching the ideas with pedagogy would turn them from cloud to stone. This realization made me question my relationship with some of my current 10th grade projects (but that's another story).

I didn't want to fail with this podcast. I wanted it to exist. I wanted someone to hear it and be touched by it. I wanted it to begin but I also wanted it to last. This meant it could not live as an untouchable cloud. I would have to touch it with pedagogy. So, I thought about the final product--a podcast put together by my AP English class with specific themes in mind (like This American Life)--and I began to think about what it would take to create such a thing. So, I did what I do whenever I create a new project for my English classes: I do the project myself. If I have an idea for a new essay I write the essay myself. If I'm asking my students to read an article and annotate it I read it and annotate it myself. I need to see the obstacles students will run into and then shape my lesson plan accordingly. So, I sat and created an episode of the podcast from scratch and made sure it became as close to the product I wanted my students to produce. I took careful notes about every step I was taking while creating the podcast and realized how much about producing an episode there was for me to learn. I realized it would take many lessons and a lot of exposure for my students to understand what a podcast could be. I realized they would have to be in teams. I realized I would have to create roles and the roles would need specific tasks and that these tasks should be outlined somewhere. I realized I needed to teach them how to come up with a thesis that fed into the overall theme of the episode, how and where to physically record this thesis, and how to make sure their stories tied in to their thesis. I needed to teach them how to record their narration, how to export what they recorded, how to import it into GarageBand and edit it with the same software, where to find sound files that aren't copyrighted and how to tweak the sound levels. There was so much to do.

But, it got done. The cloud now thunders.

Our first episode is on the topic of "New Beginnings". Our focus: the challenges and the growth that these brand new experiences create. What better time to tackle this topic than the beginning of the school year? New beginnings are plentiful during this time. We have new students, new teachers, new staff, new graduates, new seniors. The possibilities were many.

In case you're wondering, this assignment is a treasure trove of standards and pathway outcomes for our school.. 

So, here it is. Enjoy.

-The Four-O-Eight

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