Will David Dickerson's mother ever return home after her close encounter with David's pet snake?
Will Cindy the babysitter be safe from little Ira's teddy bear?
And will Quark Raygun's clanking and sputtering spaceship make it through another episode?
Those and other cliff-hangers will have local radio listeners on the edge of their seats when radio dramas performed by some Cordley School fifth-graders are aired next week.
The students in Brenda Hayden's class recorded the plays this morning after weeks of auditioning for parts, memorizing their lines and learning the importance of sound effects. The fruits of their efforts will be presented at 5:15 p.m. Sunday on KLWN-AM.
HAYDEN said the radio station asks schools in the district to submit 15-minute tapes sometime during the school year. Those tapes usually focus on projects that students are working on in school. But in this case, the tape itself was the project.
Hayden said she started the project by having students listen to recordings of some of the old radio serials, such as the Lone Ranger. She then selected three radio plays from the library that were written especially for children and that mimic some of the old radio shows.
The students produced "A Day at the Dickersons," a situation comedy; "A Night on Bear Mountain," a mystery; and "Quark Raygun: Interplanetary Hero," a spoof on every adventure serial ever made.
Of course, no radio program could exist without a sponsor, and a main sponsor of the students' programs was Triangletine, a take off on Ovaltine chocolate.
DESPITE all the fun, Hayden said the students learned a lot of things, such as how to be better readers.
"Some of my weaker readers have worked their hearts out to read well enough to get the part that they want," Hayden said. "Some of my monotone readers are finding that they have to read with much more expression."
The students also got a behind-the-scenes look at how radio plays are performed. Darrell Brogdon, program director at KANU-FM, invited the students last month to see a performance by KANU's Imagination Workshop, a radio theater troupe.
Brogdon also visited the students and showed them some of the equipment the troupe uses for sound effects.
"I think the main thing I advised them to remember is that the sound effects person is as much an actor as anybody else in the production, and that sound effects often have to be done in character," Brogdon said.
SOME OF the sound effects equipment the students used, with prudence, were: a bowl full of cornflakes, through which a student walked her fingers to make the sound of Quark Raygun walking on the moon; a real telephone for the sounds of dialing and hanging up the receiver; walkie-talkies, to create the sound of radio static; and a vegetable canner for a student to speak into and give the Quark Raygun radio announcer a booming voice.
"We tried to use as many sound effects as we could without using a pre-fab tape," Hayden said.
In addition to learning that there is more to radio than what meets the ear, the students learned that radio plays have some advantages over movies and television.
"I LIKE it because you can act and the people can't see you. You don't have to look good," said Daniel Smith.
"I like it because it kind of gets your imagination going," said Emily Hulse. "I think it's more fun just to listen to it than to see it."
Avery Lominska said she liked the medium because, unlike in a stage play, "If you make a mistake on a tape, you can go back and erase it."
However, Norma Harrod, the district's media coordinator and the person who will be editing the tape, said she would be keeping her modifications to a minimum.
"If we were doing this live, they wouldn't have a chance to backtrack," she said.