As I am eating my lunch, a chorus of groans fills the room: my advisor just reminded us of the assembly scheduled for today. Mr. Kolade’s face fills the SMARTboard, and he begins his weekly set of reminders and announcements.
Without fail, there is some mention of parking mixed with critiques of people stealing other advisories’ lunches and students with noses not under masks. The occasional club or service announcement breaks up the monotony, but otherwise, the same topics rear their head in different forms.
My intention is not to criticize the content of these livestreams; every announcement and reminder has some importance, but there are better ways to disseminate the information. Students have seen more than enough people talking on screens to last a lifetime.
Students have seen more than enough people talking on screens to last a lifetime.
Email is the obvious alternative, but those that check their inbox regularly are in the minority. A solution is to send the information to advisors and ask them to relay the information to their students. This forces those who don’t check their email to listen to the announcements, and for the advisories that sometimes don’t tune in, it saves them the time and effort needed to log in, enter the Google Livestream, and withstand the laments of negative students.
Virtual assemblies also fail to serve their purpose of helping the school and its people build connections. The pandemic has taken a serious toll on the school’s sense of community. Full upper-school gatherings in Centennial Hall seem like a distant past, the atmosphere a distant memory, and the small talk before the start a sound for sore ears. They were (most of the time) something I looked forward to. I would get to catch up with friends before it started and on occasion hear a great reflection or a fantastic speaker, and the floor was always open for someone to stand up and make an announcement.
But all this has been reduced to a mere framework. The scheduled announcements are all still there, but it has lost the more unstructured time to share events around school or feel the sensation of all students and faculty together in one space. The latter is obviously impossible to do safely now, and the livestreams only serve as a reminder of the past when both were possible. The desire to retain a sense of normalcy is great, but all it does is show this year has been anything but normal.
I look forward to the day we can all meet in Centennial; until that day, seeing another face on a screen that updates us on the school’s happenings will continue to annoy us.