It’s Time for Assemblies to be In-Person Again

Charlie Spungin, Editor-in-Chief

If a student is put in the opportunity where he or she can pay attention to an assembly or they can socialize or get schoolwork done, nine out of ten times, the student will elect to do the latter.

Some flat-out ignore virtual assemblies and therefore miss important announcements. Instead, if one walks into any advisory during assembly, you will find people doing homework, on their phones, or conversing with each other. Personally, I tune in and out of the assembly on the smartboard. Assemblies simply are not the priority of students. Despite the high production values of BTV and the admirable intentions of faculty and student announcers, these programs need to be more engaging; that’s why it’s time to have assemblies in person again. 

Just as online learning has made it harder for many to pay attention to lectures, discussions, and even films, remote assembling is a challenge. The way that the School can solve the assembly issue is the same way it remedied many of the problems with online learning: bring students back in person with necessary COVID-19 protocols. There are various ways the School can make assemblies engaging.

I understand the necessity of social distancing, so there would be challenges in arranging said assemblies. One possible solution is to separate class levels. Either in the gym or Benjamin Hall, the upperclassmen and underclassmen can be separated and successful socially distanced. A rotation would allow two grades to meet on opposite sides of the gym while two other grades socially distance themselves throughout Benjamin Hall. The lives assemblies would be more engaging and could help rebuild the bonds of community that we have so desperately been missing.

Around half of the time, assemblies have run short due to a lack of announcements. For some days, there could certainly be two different assemblies within that 20 minute time set for the assemblies. If it’s a day where longer assemblies are required, the schedule can be adjusted so that everything works out as needed. Another method could have live performances help fill the time. Imagine the Dazzlers performing in Benjamin Hall before assembly and then running across the walkway to perform in the gym after that group’s assembly. 

The School can also have outside assemblies on the football field with a microphone where students can stand around and listen while soaking up some much-needed sunlight. Students would still be able to converse with friends, but they also will be more willing to listen. The drumline can also help liven up the moment.

Some of the most fun assemblies of the year such as those featuring Spirit Week activities were just not as fun this year compared to last year. Between the shaky camerawork and the overall lack of excitement, many advisories chose their own activities rather than viewing a School-wide one. A gradual return to live assemblies can reengage the student body and result in heightened school spirit. These assemblies also could be outside on the football field rather than in the gym.

On March 4, the senior class had an assembly in the gym, the first in-person assembly of the school year. Mr. Carr and class coordinator Dr. Peruggia addressed a masked and jovial crowd in-person while also welcoming remote learners thanks to technology. 

“It was so much more natural for me to talk to faces than it was to address the camera in the TV studio as I had the week before,” remarked Dr. Peruggia. “I was able to see who was paying attention, to adjust my tone to their feedback, and ask people if they had questions in real-time. It was awesome.”

Students shared Dr. Peruggia’s enthusiasm about the gathering. Senior Danai Makoni noted, “It was nice to be part of assembly with the rest of the Senior Class and sit underneath the 2021 banner for the first time this year. It was confirmation that things were getting better and an in-person graduation could actually happen this year.” 

The class meeting’s success made it clear that in-person gatherings can happen when everyone wants them to, follows the COVID-19 plan, and keeps a positive attitude. The School can apply this to other classes, as we look forward to more normalcy.