by Eva Midura, Staff Writer, October 2021
As the clock ticks closer to 8:00 a.m. on a weekday morning, you’ll see high schoolers speeding towards the entrances of Lawrence Auditorium. Notice the middle schoolers running, hunched over as backpacks twice their size weigh them down. Hear the repetitive, “Excuse me, sorry” from stragglers rushing into their rows as the surrounding students shuffle about to give them room to enter. Walk by the inevitable Dunkin’ dump into the trash can outside the auditorium door from the senior attempting to smuggle in their morning iced coffee. As you enter the auditorium, the space fills quickly with students and faculty preparing to start their day and greeting each other with smiles as they settle into their seats. By beginning each day with almost every member of the Nobles community in the same room, the mood and tone of the student body and faculty for that day is tangible.
At the beginning of the 2019 school year, assembly was hosted inside of a large tent on the Beach, the grassy area in the center of campus, that was dubbed the “Tent of Miracles.” This unprecedented gathering environment filled the community with curiosity and hesitance over whether the assembly would be able to live up to its previous vitality during normal conditions. Ava Neal (Class II) recounted her impression of Hailey Brown’s (N ‘19) singing performance in the first assembly of the year and said,, “Hailey really captivated the audience and brought such an exciting energy that set the tone for assembly that year, despite the conditions.”
Overlooking the rows of seats is booth operation. Performing Arts Technical Director Erik Diaz and History and Social Science Faculty Michael Polebaum, along with the Booth Crew, arrive at 7:15 a.m. every morning to set up the microphones, performance equipment, and make sure that slideshows and videos are prepared. One booth member, Lindsay Popeo (Class I) said, “Something so valuable about working in booth is witnessing firsthand how many people work hard to make assembly run smoothly and deliver an exciting and vibrant start to the day.” This daily effort demonstrates how one of Nobles’ priorities is starting each school day with a community gathering that provides a variety of entertainment and announcements. These include Head of School Cathy Hall’s, weekend anecdotes, student song or dance performances, amusing stories or lessons from Provost Bill Bussey, compelling Nobles Entertainment Design (NED) Talks (a Nobles version of TED Talks), Dawg Pound hype speeches, and much more.
Lucy Johnson (Class I) reflected on her sophomore year NED Talk about her grandfather and the theme of persistence. She said, “I felt like I was sharing part of my identity with the entire community. “[It] really helped build my confidence as it was a challenge to be so vulnerable to such a large audience.” NED Talks are an extremely special opportunity that Nobles students have, as it’s not often you have the entire community ready to listen and connect with a personal story or defining moment in your life. “Every single NED Talk is so uplifting to me. It’s a little sliver of someone’s life that is important to them, and it’s incredible how their stories are so appreciated by the community” Neal said.
Assembly is the essence of Nobles, and as Bussey said, “It must remain, on a major level, organic, and as such, be an honest representation and reflection of the school—warts and all.” For assembly to reach its fullest potential of “honest representation,” students must involve themselves in the agenda and lead the charge in providing the energy and entertainment Nobles looks for.
With the majority of the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes not having experienced the traditional Lawrence auditorium, four days a week, in-person assemblies, the responsibility falls into the hands of the senior class to demonstrate how assembly at Nobles should be. While the senior class is similarly disadvantaged, as they didn’t have the past couple years to practice performance or gain familiarity on stage, it remains their job to role model how to create a lively and entertaining atmosphere for assembly. Already the seniors have risen to the occasion, and Nobles has witnessed some terrific speeches and performances by seniors, including a humorous, but heartfelt acknowledgement of the supportive faculty by Brendan MacNamara (Class I), and wonderful, acoustic guitar and song performance by Lucy Johnson. Performing in assembly can be nerve-racking, especially if one thinks about the size of the audience or doubts their abilities. But after taking a step back, most students will remember that the community in the audience is extremely supportive and accepting of everyone who steps on stage. Therefore, the pressure of singing a song perfectly or executing a speech without stumbling is lessened, and your courage and confidence to perform will be admired and appreciated by everyone. When asked what Nobles would lose if assembly wasn’t held, Maddie MacDonald (Class III) said, “Nobles would be missing its sense of community. All the grades and faculty together in one room, supporting everyone who goes up on stage with such respect and appreciation is invaluable to the Nobles experience.”