Assessing the Alternatives

It’s not uncommon to see a stack of notecards in someone’s lap or a discretely hidden Quizlet being answered on a phone (only if you’re daring enough) during assembly. Nor is it rare to hear groans in the halls regarding tests, quizzes and essays as a sea of green polyblend blazers (and a sprinkling of whites ones) march through the school.

However, it is uncommon and rare for the Upper School to rather listen to a 30 minute speech when they could read the exact same material in three minutes.

As the year comes to a close, the sheer amount of assemblies, form meetings, ceremonies and events have piled up to create the ultimate black hole in the time once reserved for meeting with teachers.

I’m not making the point that I don’t enjoy assemblies. They are a unique part of “The Hockaday Experience.” But at least once, we all have told our C or G period teacher, “sorry, the line at lunch was too long,” as we sprint to class. And we have all wondered many times if the speaker knows it’s 12:30 and a long-awaited lunch is awaiting us in the cafeteria.

The administration has found somewhat of a solution to the forcible cut-off of an excellent speaker and our subsequent tardiness.

Y-period assemblies, which, in reality, often have too much time tagged onto the end, are a better alternative to the ones held during conference. Though this takes up perhaps a longer portion of time in the long run, it would ease the lunch line and make the greater portion of the day run smoother.

In addition, while there might be tests and quizzes the following day, it’s far less likely to be studying during an assembly at the end of the day, than in the middle, with another period to go. Also, conference would then be freed up as a last-minute review session with teachers, rather than our own secret one.

However, form meetings, which are held on odd days with no other free time, could be done away with completely to free up a considerable amount of free time. It’s illogical. Rather than being held during conference periods, form meetings could be held on a day where we still retain a Y period. Better yet, the information could alternatively be condensed down into a fairly brief email that would also be sent to advisors, who could then make the announcements during advisory.

There is merit in having multiple gatherings and being a cohesive group. It’s understandable. But with councils and clubs already meeting enough, I believe that there should be only one Upper School-wide event per week, except for special occasions, like the Centennial. Most of these informative assemblies can be condensed into emails, a logical use of having the 24 hour email rule in our planbooks.

– Kate Clement