It’s 8:45 a.m. on a Friday morning in October, and the hallways and classrooms in the Lower School are completely empty. All of the energy and noise that normally fills these spaces are now contained within the walls of the auditorium, where we have gathered together for our weekly assembly.
The students from first and second grade are on stage presenting to the rest of the school. In preparation for the presentation, the students met in small groups to discuss situations they had encountered in real life where they were hesitant to act because they felt afraid or uncertain. They talked about times they wanted to do something but didn’t because they thought they wouldn’t be good at it or they might fail. Then they brainstormed ideas for overcoming their fears and insecurities. They wrote down their ideas and assigned each other lines so many different students would have the opportunity to speak at the assembly. They made colorful posters and planned who would hold them up. They also created a short rhyme to repeat after each group presented.
At this moment in the assembly, everyone in the auditorium is reciting the words the first and second graders have shared with us: “Give it a try. Give it a go. Trying new things helps us to grow!” When the presentation ends, the pre-kindergarten class takes the stage and leads us in a song Mrs. Crosby has taught them. The tune is so catchy that I hear students singing the words for days following the assembly: “I can do it; I can do it, if I just stick to it. I can do it; I can do it, if I try.”
Fast forward to the Friday morning before Thanksgiving Break. We are all at assembly again. Third grade is on stage performing a skit they have prepared to dramatize the way corn, beans, and squash depend on each other to grow. The students teach us that the “Three Sisters” are planted together because the cornstalks support the beans as they grow; the beans pull nitrogen from the air into the soil; and the large squash leaves shade the soil to keep it cool and moist. After the skit, the kindergarten class comes up to sing a song about eating corn, beans, and squash at Thanksgiving dinner. The students show us how to sign the words using American Sign Language so we can sign as we sing.
At the conclusion of the assembly, I stand watching the students leave the auditorium, and the same thoughts come to mind as they do every Friday after assembly: “That was outstanding! These girls are amazing! These teachers are amazing! I’m so proud of us!” Spending thirty-some minutes together once a week in an auditorium may seem unremarkable, but something extraordinary happens there. Whether we spend that time celebrating birthdays, listening to stories, sharing our ideas and knowledge, or singing, we are growing in our understanding of who we are and what is important to us. When we come together during these assemblies, we are reminded that we are one team with a shared goal: to learn and grow so that not one of us will be the same at the end of the year as we were at the beginning. We are learning from each other. We are celebrating each other’s accomplishments. We are experiencing the power of belonging to each other. Each person in that room is an important and valuable member of our community, and we are discovering every Friday morning that we can do wonderful things together that we can’t do by ourselves.