The Art of Appreciating Assembly

During the annual holiday Assembly on Wed., Dec. 12, Middle School students recited “The Power of Light” by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Classics teacher Dan Matlack introduced the performance, taking a moment to thank audience members in advance for their attention and support. We want to share Mr. Matlack’s words, because they speak to both the experience of morning Assembly and the community principles Nobles embodies.   

Good morning. Before I hand over this stage to our students, I want to ask a favor of you. The Class VI [seventh-grade] students are about to offer you a pair of stories. We, their teachers, require these presentations to allow them to practice public speaking, but like all performances up here they are also offered as a gift to you. So here’s my request. A few weeks ago Ms VanOot made an announcement in which she jokingly reminded us that we sometimes slip into the habit of seeing the exceptional as normal. One of the most exceptional aspects of Nobles for me is Assembly. I usually stand in the back where I can fidget and not be distracting. From that prospect I watch both the performers and the heads of all of you. Frequently I marvel at how often everyone in this room is silent and facing the stage, often locked in to whatever is happening there.

I have heard professional performers say that they feed off of the energy of an attentive, enthusiastic crowd. So, what you can provide our students at this early hour is a gentle, quiet expectation that they will be good. That is the favor. When I step off this stage please turn your expression to a smile and be ready to give them a big round of applause at the end. These students can see many of you from up here even in the lights. They may need reassurance. They have seen you trust others on this stage to entertain or educate them. The ease and speed with which you all give that trust distinguishes this place. I believe the best Assembly performances occur because you all expect them to be good. Your wish makes that outcome more likely. That is a power you have.

You may have heard these stories before, but good stories have more to reveal each time you hear them. So thank you in advance for your kindness to our students. Our class wishes you congratulations on completing this semester, good luck with your assessments, and a safe, happy vacation.

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