The Assembly Epidemic

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You know the drill: tuck in your shirt, fasten your tie, button your blazer and file down into the auditorium to your seat in assembly. While some in the community may not realize it, this tradition is truly a relic of the past. Important speeches are presented in an environment that serves as our sole remnant of older eras where deference and formalities held greater importance. While assembly is a key component of the University School ethos, it is also the bane of those who stay up late at night. Taking place at eight in the morning, most boys are exhausted from the night before, often finding it difficult to even stay awake.

Accordingly, the next challenge arises: remembering what was said in assembly. There are several important messages or dates that can concern any student, but how often do we walk out of assembly, half-asleep, and not able to recall anything? The school does not allow any materials in assembly, for formality’s sake. This means that one of the easiest ways to remember something – writing it down – is taken away. At a certain point, it really appropriate to trade away practicality for tradition?

The easiest solution would just to allow students to bring in anything to write on and anything to write with. As long as no one has obnoxiously loud handwriting, assembly should proceed smoothly, and students can choose to write down something either important or interesting to them. However, this raises the issue of what should students be allowed to bring. Of course bringing in phones and potentially causing a disturbance is an issue. Would it be worth the additional effort from staff to scrutinize the students like the security of an airport?

Another and perhaps even simpler strategy could be sending daily emails summarizing all announcements right after assembly. First of all, the tradition of coming into assembly empty handed can be left alone. Second, it would allow anyone interested in a new club to simply contact the speaker who presented it rather than have said speaker wait outside to collect signatures in a tedious manner and possibly miss the bell. Finally, it outlines anything else worth noting during the morning ritual, from guest speakers to announcing competitions. It can give anyone whose mind was not yet awaken to get a general understanding of what happened. And to those who were conscious, it can help them reflect on what they heard for the day instead of having it go over our heads. The benefit to the student body would certainly outweigh any complications or inconveniences of typing out these emails.

By modifying our traditions to fit the 21th century, every boy can have a more noteworthy experience in assembly, even if you had four cups of coffee and only had a few hours of sleep. Either method would make organizing one’s extracurricular life and participating in special events much more manageable.

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The Voice of the Student
The Assembly Epidemic