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Legislative Session Update; "Pang!;" South Florida Students Battle It Out On 'School Duel'

Natalie Camunas, Donna Simone Johnson and Christopher Rivas reharsing for the live radio play, pang!

On Tuesday, Florida House leaders proposed a higher-education budget that includes cuts prompting state universities and colleges to spend money from their reserve funds. WLRN’s education reporter, Jessica Bakeman, joined the program. She is in Tallahassee covering the legislative session.

Unlike other state agencies, colleges and universities do not need to send their leftover general revenue back to the state treasury each year. The House argues that schools keep those dollars and as a result funds have grown, explained Bakeman.

This is the beginning of the budgeting process. The House higher-education budget is in the early development stages. On Wednesday, the Senate will reveal its higher-education budget, which is likely to be higher than the House's.

Lawmakers will try to negotiate a final higher-education budget before the legislative session concludes on March 9.

School Duel

A local quiz show is giving high school students a platform to display their knowledge in different academic subjects, and a chance to win some money in the process. The game show, "School Duel," hosted by veteran reporter and TV host Lisa Lee Arneaud, pairs different teams of students from South Florida high schools trying to outsmart each other. She joined the program to talk about "School Duel."

"School Duel" features teams from high schools throughout Broward, Miami-Dade and  Palm Beach counties. The four-person teams compete in a single-elimination tournament to determine the South Florida academic champion.

On average, 59 teams compete in an online test to be part of the show but only 20 teams make the televised rounds.  The televised season runs from January through the end of the school year in May.

The winning contestants win $1,000 each and runners-up receive $200 each. Some of the participating students mention taking part in the show as part of their college education.

Also the winning team takes home a trophy to display at their schools.

"School Duel" airs every Thursday at 7 p.m. on BECON TV, Channel 19 on Comcast and Channel 63 on DirecTV, DISH Network and AT&T U-Verse. 


The oral history of an Overtown family hungering for change inspires a play filled with emotion conveyed through both storytelling and Foley sound-making. The Miami Light Project presents Dan Froot’s "pang!," a series of three short plays based on a Miami family. Dan Froot author, producer and director of "pang!" joined the program to explain the origin of his play. 

"pang!" is the result of Froot’s evocative storytelling and his irrepressible imagination. Froot worked closely with an Overtown family to create his play. The family that served as the inspiration for his Miami show was shaken by the tragic death of Marlon Eason, a 10-year-old that was slain in 2015 by a stray bullet as he played basketball outside his Overtown home.

The story centers around Terrence, whose young friend is tragically killed in a shooting, and his coping with the heartbreak. Terrence’s imagination runs free as he fantasizes about a future full of strength and hope.

The show consists of three installments of live radio plays, using a unique mixture of narrative techniques that include onsite Foley sound-making methods. “We want [the audience] to feel as if they are in between the ears of family members,” Froot said.

In 2015 through 2016, Froot and his production team interviewed families struggling with poverty, food insecurity and the accompanying issues of these situations in Miami, Los Angeles and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

"pang!" is the result of the many similar stories Froot heard while speaking with the different families in each city. The narratives of each show change from city to city. Froot described the process of creating the narratives as violent. “There’s a lot of material to sift through,” he said.

"pang!" will premiere Friday Jan. 26 and Saturday Jan. 27 at The Light Box at the Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th St., Miami. Both shows begin at 8 p.m.