Michael Simpson, Head of Lower School, shares his thoughts on Monday mornings.
I love Mondays! Every Monday morning we kick off our week in Lower School with an assembly. The whole Lower School community gathers under the bird mobile in the Lower School atrium. 3rd and 4th graders sit on the stairs, and Primer, 1st, and 2nd graders are on the floor facing the south doors. Occasionally some peacocks join us, hanging out just on the other side of the glass. I welcome everyone and Mrs. Holmes leads the children in song, (e.g. The Star Spangled Banner). She also leads a concluding song (e.g. Hail to Greenhill). Other than that, the assembly is led by fourth graders.
Every Friday, four 4th grade students—new ones every week— meet with me to plan what will happen on Monday. We decide what community news to share and if there need to be any public service announcements. This past week they wanted to remind Lower Schoolers not to throw mulch or sticks on the playground. They also offer a “thought provoking question” to the community. One recent one was, “Is it possible to take action, if no one knows you’re doing it?” (Yes parents of first graders, deep thinking is not far off for your little ones!). We also take the time to recognize community members who have modeled our core principles of respect, honor, and compassion, or anyone who has taken action to make a difference. How do we do this? Students or adults may submit a story about anyone they feel should be recognized; they drop it in the shoebox outside my office door. We can’t read them all at each assembly, so the fourth grade leaders decide which ones to read each week. At the assembly they ask the student to stand as the story is read, and this is always followed by wild applause. It’s a great moment.
There are specific reasons for having these assemblies—public speaking and leadership opportunities for fourth graders, adding to our community song list, public reminders, highlighting exemplary behavior, to name a few. But I have to tell you that there is hardly a more pleasant way to start your day. Everything comes together to make it a very uplifting 15 minutes: the bright sunlight, the fresh feeling of a new week, all our students together, the artwork around us, 350 children singing, and four 10 year olds confidently addressing the audience. It doesn’t get much better than that!