Of all student clubs and organizations, the Assembly Committee might be one of the most invisible. Like Tatler and Numidian, the Assembly Committee isn’t a traditional club: to join, students must sign up while deciding their courses for the next year. Not very many people know what goes on inside the Committee, or what their processes and planning efforts are like. The student emcee at the assemblies reminds everyone that a group of students is behind each assembly’s planning, yet their efforts go largely unacknowledged.
“We meet every Monday, 6th period, in the AV room,” said Nathalie V. ’20, one of the committee chairs. “We have a couple members from each grade, and then Georgia J. ’20 and I are the seniors. Our faculty leaders are Mr. Snapp, Dr. Stewart, and Profe Harmer.” This year was unique for the committee in that a lot of the assemblies were already planned by the administration. Special guest speakers were chosen by a separate speaker committee, which the student Assembly Committee has no involvement in. “There’s a committee that we’re not a part of that brings in guest speakers, and there’s an alumni network that makes sure people come in to broaden what we hear, which is cool,” she said. “But the long and the short of it is, we don’t have a say in who comes.” Indeed, Lakeside’s efforts to bring in a wide variety of speakers on different topics has sparked discussion around school about each speaker and have made a lot of 7th-period classes after assembly especially lively.
Each week, the committee gets many requests from students, staff, and faculty to make announcements at the upcoming assembly. Unfortunately, a chance to speak is not a guarantee. “That’s been the hardest part, going through and deciding who gets an announcement,” said Nathalie. “I have to email them and say ‘you have time’ or ‘you don’t have time,’ because we can’t be responsible for holding anyone over since class is the next thing.” Of course, the occasional hold-over into the next class happens, but the Assembly Committee does its best to prevent this from happening. “For us, it’s been a lot of communicating with students and faculty members who want to make an announcement, just emailing them and confirming everything runs smoothly, and just thinking through the timing of everything.”
Obviously, the format of assemblies has changed drastically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While a fire-code-breaking gathering in St. Nick’s is unimaginable right now, weekly assemblies have moved online in the form of Zoom webinars. “Trying to figure that part out was kind of tricky because I know the administration wanted to figure out something to unite us all while we’re apart, so we landed on a Zoom webinar,” said Nathalie. “We still have to do a lot of the planning, although Ms. Benson does most of the meat and potatoes of the meeting.” In addition to the format of assemblies themselves changing, how meetings are run have also changed, too.
The Assembly Committee now meets Tuesday mornings over Zoom to work out the logistics of the next virtual assembly. “A lot of it has been making videos and video announcements,” said Nathalie. “Right now, I’m working on compiling this huge video for the farewell assembly, and just editing that and making sure it’s appropriate to be shown.” Nathalie also noted some differences regarding the number of announcement requests made. “Contrary to what it was before COVID, we’ve had to recruit announcements, which we’ve never had to do before,” she said. ”It has made it a little more interesting.”
How does one get interested and join the Assembly Committee? For Nathalie, part of it was recruitment from an older student, part of it was her “trying to figure out what I could contribute to the Lakeside community without overcommitting myself because I can’t really do anything before or after school.” In addition, she heard about the Committee at home from her older brother, who had been chair of the Committee during his senior year at Lakeside, and thought it might be fun to join in. Membership on the Assembly Committee is a fairly low time commitment: one period a week and a little bit of outside emailing. “I thought it would be good to get out there and meet new people, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said. “I’m super glad I joined.” She also encouraged anyone considering joining the Committee to take the plunge. “It’s fun! It’s a good time, and I recommend joining if anyone is interested.”