Sequoia Carrillo

"How many people do you think take care of our campus?"

A chorus of young voices shout guesses from the Sayre School's playground in Lexington, Ky.

"15? 50? 20?"

From quarantining in dorms to staring at the screen in online classes — it was a wild year to be a college student. And, it turns out, it was a good year for us to welcome college students for the first time to the NPR Student Podcast Challenge.

Today we're announcing our favorites! From podcasts submitted from college students across the country, we've narrowed the list down to 10 finalists. You can read and listen to the full list here.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

All this week, we are remembering some of the more than 500,000 people in the U.S. who've died of COVID-19 through the music that gave their lives meaning. We're calling our tribute Songs of Remembrance. Deb Kalish wanted to remember her partner, Paul Kleinheider of Chatham, N.J. He was hospitalized early in the pandemic, and once the hospital figured out how patients could connect to the outside world on Zoom, Deb called Paul that way several times a day and played him the songs he loved, especially "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel.

First, the end:

"Please be kind to one another. That's all for today."

So closes the middle-school top-prize winner of NPR's Student Podcast Challenge. World, meet The Dragon Kids.

Coronavirus, homework, sports, climate change: Working in the midst of a nationwide school shutdown, high school and middle school students around the country took on these and many more topics in this year's NPR Student Podcast Challenge.

After two deadline extensions and a lot of creative solutions to the challenges of recording from their homes, we received more than 2,000 podcasts from 46 states and the District of Columbia.

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