By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

WALTHAM (CBS) – Parents, are you nagging your kids to finish their summer reading lists? Instead of reading, students at Waltham High School are listening to the popular “Serial” podcast.

Teachers hope it will have them engaged with the subject – and with one another when they return in the fall.

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“With a podcast, everybody can listen and everybody can comprehend what’s going on in the story,” said sophomore Jack Duffy. “It’s our demographic, it’s our age group, they’re all high school students at the time and it’s kind of cool.”

“Serial” is a podcast produced by NPR’s “This American Life.” It explores a complex murder trial involving two Baltimore teens fifteen years ago. It’s Waltham High’s summer assignment for the entire student body, faculty and staff – so far it’s a hit.

“It’s all about community and having that conversation – something in common when you come back in the fall – something to talk about,” library teacher Kendall Boninti says.

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Boninti and English teacher Emilie Perna hope the combination of technology and a good story will grab students and staff at every level

“It’s already sparking a conversation and that’s what you want – it’s creating community and building readers,” Perna said.

Serial is a nine hour long podcast so students can listen at their own pace. You can listen to it at

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Once the kids are back at school, the teachers are planning a school wide interactive day when every class will involve a different aspect of the case in serial.

Paula Ebben