Opinion: Improving FSS Assemblies


Chloe Zhang

Blauvelt Theater

It’s a common scene at Friends Select; a speaker on stage, students whispering to their neighbors, some with hoods on, others nodding off. It doesn’t have to be this way. Our assemblies could be so much better. 

Friends Select has had more assemblies this year compared to last, but the student body has gained little from this change. Many of these assemblies cover topics students care about, but the presenters cannot keep students’ attention. This has led to students talking and sleeping during the presentations and may make students less likely to engage with future assemblies.

However, assemblies have the opportunity to be powerful. Last December, Mykee Fowlin came to Friends Select to present his “You don’t know me until you know me” performance. His production centered around topics such as mental health and identity left many students extremely moved or in tears. By engaging with topics that students cared about and being energetic, he captivated his audience and left them with a lasting impression. Using Mr. Fowlin as an example can help us vet speakers to determine whether or not a speaker will interest students.

Another aspect that causes students to dislike assemblies is the fact that they often run into our break time. Break is highly valued and when presentations take away even a few minutes of it, students get annoyed. Having been a member of one such presentation, the Mandarin Assembly, I know that sometimes it is hard to limit them to the time we have, but students typically don’t care. This can cause them to think about an assembly in a negative light, because the reduction of break time is the last thing they remember.

However, when assemblies are captivating, students not only learn, they remember. People forget boring speakers within a week. This is a problem because the assemblies then have no meaning and just waste the time of everyone involved.

One way to fix this is to create a more involved method of screening presenters. Sometimes having conversations with speakers is not enough to gauge their presentation skills. Having students attend other talks by the presenter or even just watching a video would be a way to help decide whether or not to invite them.

Some people might say that these topics are too important to not have these speakers come. Even if they are boring, they are necessary. This is not the case. By disengaging the students in the assemblies, they might become less likely to care about the topic afterwards and the importance of the topic is disregarded.

Bringing in presenters who will authentically engage students could make assembly time more valuable.  A wide array of assemblies, with energetic and thought provoking speakers, will allow FSS students to explore concepts beyond the curriculum.