Assemblies: Tracing the Controversies

Every week at Dana Hall, the Upper School and Middle School gather together in Waldo to talk about current events, important updates, and sports. Every week, this meeting feels like routine, with students getting up to speak about an issue that is concerning them or a topic they want to bring up. Each week, students share their stories and ideas, and there is something new to bring to the table that leaves the Dana Hall community more aware than ever. Sometimes the topics get controversial and students get emotional, but was it always this way? Did students always feel confident in walking up on stage and/or speaking their opinion?

In her time as a student at Dana Hall, Jen Burke ’07 does not remember much conflict happening from all school meetings, however she does recall one guest speaker. The hypnotist that left all the Dana girls mesmerized not too long ago also made an earlier appearance when Jen was a senior.  When asked whether it was talked about afterwards, Jen remembers with a smile, that people were not afraid to speak their thoughts, especially the graduating class: “Everyone was talking about it..were the girls up there hypnotised [or] were they faking it?” she recalls, but according to her, the discussion regarding the hypnotist didn’t cause a controversy, just a friendly discussion.

I asked Ms Blakelock ’10, who was a student at Dana Hall, what her thoughts were on Dr Gleason’s presentation and the outcome. “We had an assembly similar to the one…in the fall”, Ms Blakelock recounts when asked about Dr Gleason’s presentation on stress levels at Dana. “Students and faculty were asked to discuss whether or not students on campus were getting enough sleep.” After this assembly, the student body got very upset, claiming that they had to sacrifice sleep in order to keep up with their homework, clubs, and sports. When asked about whether or not the school made any change. After that, Ms Blakelock said, “I think that the school has made some changes in terms of the amount of homework assigned.” Not only have there been changes in amount of homework, but there have also been more consideration for the homework, when there are late night meetings such as Peer Education night.

After 137 years of being open, it is clear that no one is perfect. Assemblies and presentations can make us see our imperfections, yet not a year goes by without the Dana Hall administrators adding something to the system that makes this school better.

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