Many of you know about my obsession with Librivox (link to the right), where Public Domain works are recorded by volunteers and put up for downloading. The program that they use is Audacity. It's a free, basic audio editing program. I didn't really know anything about audio editing before I downloaded it, and didn't read any information from them (I'm not even sure if they have any up). It's simple enough to figure out.
I figured I would use it to record things like audio books, but if you want to do some rough recordings for a band, it is nice because it allows you to record multiple layers, move them around, crop, copy, paste, and adjust volume and tempo of each layer. You can fade in and out, filter sounds, and do some crazy things with voices that I don't fully understand (everything from Alvin and the Chipmunks to the teacher on Peanuts)
I never thought I'd have the opportunity to use it for high school (though I figured it would come in handy for linguistic recordings), since I'm not in any technology or drama related courses. However, in English, we were assigned a short story project, and one aspect was creating a radio drama. This has been the handiest tool. I recorded my partner's lines, and on my own time at home, shifted and adjusted them. I also added in some background music and free sound effects I found on the internet. The final project is professional sounding, and it was relatively painless, compared to working with a recorder and cassette, where everything would have to be ready and we would all have to take time to meet outside of class.
The only warning with audacity is that it records things in an .aud format. You have to download another program which converts it to .mp3. Once you have both programs, the conversion is very simple. I don't know the other program's name, but if you're interested, let me know. I know they also have the information in some of Librivox's resources. I reccomend starting out with these programs for any students, rather than spending a boatload of money on a program with features you may never use. The only time I would consider otherwise is if you need a professional recording, but you would have to go to a studio for that anyways.