RFK Community Schools

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 16: The World that Shapes Us

Hi everyone, welcome to the Four-O-Eight! We’re at that time of the year again. Our freshmen will become sophomores, our sophomores Juniors, Our Juniors Seniors and our Seniors will begin their own personal journeys. Here at The Four-O-Eight we’re all excited about all this and I know that we, at LAHSA are ready for all of these changes because that’s who we are, that is the spirit that guides us in this school.

This month's episode has to do with how we adjust to changes and how those changes impact the core of who we are. You will hear a story about two young people’s love for one another and how the difficulties of that love has shaped who they are. You will also hear a conversation between a boy and a girl and about some of the misconceptions that are attributed to their gender. And finally you will hear a story about a former student of ours and about what it was like for her to make her journey to a university that is far from home.

So, stay tuned!

Our first story is brought to you by Shania Maestrado. She talks to two young women about the hardships they have faced because of their sexual orientation.

In our next story, producer Heaven Muñoz explores the roles that society says we have to fulfill as men and women.

And finally, we have Anahi Rios who talks to Tabina Mahtab about what it was like to go to a university that is far from her family.

All of us at The Four-O-Eight thank you for listening. We exist because you still listen to us!

Our program today was produced by Heaven Muñoz, Anahi Rios, and Yrah Rayos Del Sol. Our creative directors for this episode are Bryant Hernandez, Reyna Morales, and Jezryl De Roxas. Our production managers for this episode are Selma Ramos, Vanessa Reyes, and Shania Maestrado. Our marketing team is rocking our school with all kinds of cool posters and flyers and its members are Sally Melchor, Jesse Luna, Carlos Garcia and Allison Ambrosio. I’m executive producer, Andres Reconco. Please follow us on 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 Season 3 of “The Four-O-Eight”.

Episode 14: While the X-mas Lights Glow...

I love the holiday season. I love Thanksgiving, all that food. I love December because it’s basically a whole month of Christmas. I love the cheesy Christmas songs and the fact that everywhere you go there’s just so much color and so much light. I don’t even mind the crowds at the mall. I even like going to the mall just to be inside those crowds while Christmas music plays out of the mall speakers and I can hear the distant sound of carolers somewhere in the mall, maybe somewhere near the Hot Topic. It’s just that everything says “Be Happier!”. Look, here’s some twinkling lights! Be Happier. Hey, listen to this cheery christmas song! Be happier! And it works for me. And in that almost magical state (yes, I think it’s magical) it’s easy to forget that regular life continues for everyone. That’s what this episode is about. This episode is about what else happens while the lights twinkle and the star above the tree glows and the cheery songs bounce up and down inside your head.

Our first story comes from producer Anahi Rios, She interviews Hermila and through her story we learn what it’s like to live with the weight of the loss of a parent.

We’re very lucky at our school to have a very strong support system for students who struggle with attendance, with academics, with making choices about college and career. Kristi Martin is one of those people who provides that support for our students and she’s had to move quite a long distance to be here on our campus. Producer Yrah Rayos Del Sol has that story.

Our next story is about the search for home, about what we take with us when we’re displaced. Production Manager Louie Uy has that story for us.

Our final story of this episode is about the way in which divorce sometimes pulls young people into the ugly situation of having to choose sides or having to choose with which parent to spend the holidays. Producer Carlos Rivera has that story.

Thank you again for remaining loyal listeners to our podcast. If you know someone who would like our show spread the word. If you’re a high school student and you have friends in other schools tell them about it. Tell them there are young people telling their stories to others and that maybe they should listen also.

Oh yeah, we also still have some Four-O-Eight pins. If you’d like one and you have a dollar to donate to our podcast please stop by room 408!

Our program today was produced by Anahi Rios, Yrah Rayos Del Son, Tanya Mendoza, and Carlos Rivera. Our creative directors for this episode are Reyna Morales, Jezryl De Roxas, Jose Olvera, and Eunice Choi. Our production managers for this episode are Vanesa Reyes, Shania Maestrado, Louie Uy, and Maria Monzon. Our marketing team is rocking our school and its members are Sally Melchor, Jesse Luna, Carlos Garcia and Allison Ambrosio. I’m executive producer, Andres Reconco. Please follow us on  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”.

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 incompetech.com 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 incompetech.com 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 incompetech.com 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 7: We are The Four-O-Eight

This months' episode is a bit different. Here at The Four-O-Eight we've told the stories of our classmates, our teachers, our parents and our community. In every one of those episodes we've narrated bits about ourselves as well, bits that are woven into the fabric of the segment. This month, however, the focus is solely on us, on our spirits, on our stories, on what makes us the human beings we've become. It's our turn to look inward, to face our demons, to face our angels.

The iTunes Podcast contains 9 of the 19 stories told by us.

You can listen to it here:


Below you will find ALL the stories. They are honest, true and required courage and rigor to put together.

This is who we are in our rawest forms.



Franky Morales

Franky Morales

Franky and his father have, to put it mildly, a troublesome relationship, one full of resentment and anger. In this segment, Franky confronts his father and explores the reasons for the chasm that has grown between them.

Brec Hipolito

Brec Hipolito

In the year 2012 Brec made his journey from The Philippines to The United States. This is the story of that journey and of the difficulty of that transition.

Elizabeth Rosa

Elizabeth Rosa

Elizabeth's mother had to make a choice. That choice would cause waves throughout Elizabeth's family. This is the story of that choice and how it impacted and continues to impact Elizabeth's life.

Alex Fuentes

Alex Fuentes

Alex is a talented student and a talented member of The Four-O-Eight. But, last year, Alex learned a lesson about team work, about stress and cooperation. This is the story of that lesson.

Marianna Morales

Marianna Morales

Marianna and her brother Juan suffered under the hands of their father. He was physically and mentally abusive. This is Marianna's story and of how she has tried to make sense of it all.

Jenny Hyung

Jenny Hyung

Jenny has always had questions about why she and her brother weren't close when they were growing up. In this segment Jenny talks with her brother and they try to hash out the reasons for their apparent disconnect.

Christopher Castro

Christopher Castro

Chris Castro was a trouble maker when he was in middle school. He never thought his actions would put him in danger of being labeled a "criminal". In this segment, Chris and his mother explore the event that pushed Chris away from "childishness" and into the more serious world of criminal behavior.

Consuelo Hernandez

Consuelo Hernandez

Two years ago, Consuelo knew she was destined to marry the guy she was dating. She knew their wedding was going to be big and she knew they would live happily ever after. What she didn't know was that she was stuck in a relationship that was unhealthy. In this segment, Consuelo looks back at her time in this relationship and, with the help of her mother, tries to figure out what happened.

Guadalupe Espinoza

Guadalupe Espinoza

Guadalupe is a shy person. She's quiet and introspective. In this story she reflects on how her shyness has been an obstacle for her and how one decision she made helped her overcome this very difficult challenge.

Annicka Tiu

Annicka Tiu

Annicka lives surrounded by choices that carry with them some very serious repercussions. In this segment she explores how so many of the choices that exist in front of her seem to carry serious consequences and what this constant stress has done to her psyche and her spirit.

David Calvo

David Calvo

David Calvo has a little sister, someone who looks up to him and admires his skills and his passion. David understands the power of this responsibility but also the challenges that come with it. In this segment he explores what it means to be an older sibling and how some of his choices have created unnecessary stress for his little sister.

Keiry Molina

Keiry Molina

In this segment Keiry Molina discusses how one teacher taught her much more than academics and how these lessons have shaped the young person she is today.

Anabell Cho

Anabell Cho

Anabell feels disconnected from her mother, a situation that has left her wondering where in her family she can find support and comprehension. In this segment, Anabell talks to her sister about what they can be for each other in the absence of a guiding parent.

Esther Yang

Esther Yang

Music has the power to shape our perceptions of the world and of ourselves. In this segment, Esther examines how music has shaped her perception of love, peace and politics.

Kimberly Romero

Kimberly Romero

Drugs have the potential to destroy lives. Kimberly understands this really well. In this segment she shares the story of how drugs changed her family's life.

Jackie Flores

Jackie Flores

Everyone enjoys traveling. It's fun and you get to learn about other cultures and other people's way of life. But, it's different when you have to move to another country to live there, to continue your life there. In this segment, Jackie and her two younger sisters share their experience of what it was like to move to Mexico and try to make a life there.

Jocelyn Martinez

Jocelyn Martinez

Eating disorders are not uncommon. Advertisements and movies tell us how we're supposed to look, tell us what is considered beautiful. Jocelyn Martinez examines her own journey through living with an eating disorder.

Tabina Mahtab

Tabina Mahtab

We carry our bodies with us everywhere we go. We learn to love and hate those pieces of us that we feel don't meet our expectations of what is normal or beautiful. Tabina talks about a part of her she sees as flawed and what it has taken for her to finally be comfortable with every piece of her.

Yorgelys Flores

Yorgelys Flores

Yorgy is a dancer. Everyone at our school knows it. She's talented and passionate. In this segment, she explores how dancing has become a powerful force in her life and why it's shaped her to be the person she is today.

Music for all episodes comes from: http://www.bensound.com

Episode 6: The Power of Perceptions

Dear Listener,

This month's episode is about the forces that shape our perceptions of everything around us and, often, our perceptions of ourselves. You’ll hear from a professional actor who discusses the role Hollywood has on shaping our perception of talent. You’ll also hear a story about a young man whose been influenced by his appreciation for Kanye West’s talent and a story about how a young woman’s search for love taught her the extent to which our perceptions of ourselves shape the way we interact with people.


Is it strange to run into teachers outside of school? The answers are surprising.

Story 1

Diversity in the film industry is important. We watch a lot of television, a lot of movies, and the power of this medium to shape the way we see ourselves and the world around us is palpable. Team Mosaic explores the power of the film industry and what we can do to help improve its diversity.

Story 2

The 24 hour news cycle is saturated by celebrity news. Sometimes we know information about a particular celebrity not because we go out in search for the information but because at some point in our daily browsing of the internet some bit of celebrity information will just appear randomly. Team Raconteur explores the impact the lives of celebrities have on our own lives.

Story 3

Dating is intimidating. Part of the difficulty might be that sometimes the whole act of dating calls for a shift in behavior, a shift in persona. Team Legacy explores the consequences of wanting someone to like us for who we are while actively choosing what we reveal about ourselves and what we don’t.


Our program today was produced by Tabina Mahtab, Keiry Molina and Anabell Cho. Our creative directors for this episode are David Calvo, Annicka Tiu, Guadalupe Espinoza and Whitney Gonzalez. Our production managers and marketing directors are Franky Morales, Brec Hipolito, Jaqueline Flores, Kimberly Romero, Harry Ahn and Yorgy Flores. All the research was carefully put together by Kiyomi Magee, Esther Yang, Alex Fuentes and Christopher Castro. I’m executive producer, Andres Reconco. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram @The Four–O-Eight.


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

Visit this link to subscribe: http://apple.co/1KVHcfM

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 @www.popstheclub.com.

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 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

Subscribe to the podcast here: I WANT TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE FOUR-O-EIGHT