Adjust Agonizing Assemblies

It's Time to Stop Wasting It

Joseph Paoli, Staff Writer

   Public speaking is part of the Trinity Prep curriculum at each and every grade level. Even in sixth grade, students complete the “World Expo” assignment, in which they are expected to concisely communicate information regarding their nation of interest.

   Unfortunately, upper school assemblies that occurred in late September and early November seemed not to have gotten the message regarding clarity and articulation. While the brevity of the Nov. 14 and Nov. 28 assemblies may suggest a return to normalcy, the possibility of a relapse to assemblies which exceed the 30-minute time frame remains a dangerous possibility, causing stress for both faculty and students. The entire point of having the mid-morning break is to provide a period of time to grab Grille food, socialize with peers or simply use the bathroom.

   For English teacher Melanie Farmer, that absence of free time makes planning between teachers difficult.

   “Sometimes teachers use break to coordinate with each other, and when we aren’t given that time we have to find some other way to plan the trajectory of the day,” Farmer said.

   This problem is only exacerbated by a B-day block schedule. Since most upper school assemblies occur on Wednesdays, teachers are left with no time until lunch to communicate with fellow faculty, prepare for a class or use the bathroom. It’s embarrassing and frankly bizarre.

   While it would be easy for administrators to blame the student body, teachers and faculty must acknowledge that students may not know how to make an efficient announcement. Furthermore, those in charge of running assemblies usually have the largest announcements and take up the most time. Once faculty members set a precedent that wasting time is something that will be tolerated, there is nothing to stop students from doing so as well.

   “There are all these things which make announcements more lengthy,” Farmer said. “While it may be charming and was intended as a novelty, the root word of novelty is ‘novel,’ and once it is no longer a novelty, it is an expectation, and once it is an expectation it’s not exciting anymore.”

   In addition, certain administrators need to stop wasting time by showing videos ahead of the announcements. While the videos may be well-intentioned, they can take up about half of the break period, the amount of time any announcements usually take. This means all of the break period is gone by the time the assembly winds to a close.

   That being said, it is not impossible for an announcement to be both fun and brief, and Muffin Monday announcements are a great example. They are usually one sentence long, and everyone understands the message being communicated. It’s charming and memorable, which helps the audience remember the point of the message in the first place.

   Even if an announcement cannot be contained in a single sentence or two, there’s no reason it should be given licence to take up a quarter of the break either. Freshman Victoria Birkett poses that most comments “should only be a minute or two long, there’s no reason [any person] should take longer than that.”

   In any case, if someone feels uncertain that their announcement is not concise, there are steps which be made to determine so. Freshman Alannah Crag-Chaderton asserts that one solution. “People could check with someone before they make their announcement,” Crag-Chaderton said. “That way people don’t go up and say something random.”

   While the critical nature of this writing would seem to imply I’m fully against all assemblies, I can tolerate them as long as they are informative and the appropriate length. Occasionally, as Upper School Principal Patrick Mulloy points out, a change to the status quo routine can be refreshing.

   “I know that students are really enjoying our Saints Stop activities that Mr. Lawson put into place last year as a nice brain break,” Mulloy said. “I…include things like the Charlie Brown cartoon to encourage students to have a moment during their stressful day to relax and laugh.”

   Fittingly, teachers and students this year have begun awarding people for the “Saint of the Week.” Respect is one of the six qualities voted on to represent “sainthood.” As a characteristic, it could surely be upheld more by both the faculty and the students. Those sitting in the rows have an obligation to be quiet and attentive for those on stage, and those on stage have an equally important obligation to only say things that are imperative and brief for those sitting in the aisles. If everyone would just respect one another’s time, assemblies could return to an institution of benefit rather than detriment.