All-school meetings to replace Civitalks

Enya Huang

Upper school students will gather in the gym during 20-minute-long breaks on the first and third Wednesdays of each month as a new form of community building, Assistant to the Head of Upper School and Community and Character Committee member Michelle Bracken said. The committee, formerly known as the Character Education Committee, has discontinued Civitalks.

The new program, called 1st & 3rd Wednesdays, will allow the whole campus to gather in one place on a scheduled total of 13 Wednesdays during the year, Bracken said.

The system of meetings is modeled after the Middle School’s Monday assemblies and will “allow students and faculty to hear what’s happening in the community and to celebrate accomplishments and successes,” Bracken said.

The 1st & 3rd Wednesday assemblies will occur on an as-needed basis, swim program head and Community and Character Committee chair Jon Carroll said. If the committee decides that a meeting is not necessary, clubs will be able to use the activities period meet instead.

The new arrangement came into fruition when the Community and Character Committee met at the end of last school year to discuss Civitalks’ successes and failures, Bracken said. The committee gathered data from faculty surveys and individual discussions with students regarding the monthly hour-long meetings.

“There was a number of negative feelings about Civitalks which were too complicated to overcome at [that] time,” Bracken said.

While Civitalks met the goals of allowing students across grades and faculty to get to know each other outside of a classroom setting and providing 45 minutes of recess from schoolwork, the committee ultimately agreed that Civitalks was not a success.

Civitalks “was too time-consuming and inconvenient in terms of scheduling for some teachers,” Bracken said. “Some students felt like Civitalks was too forced, and some groups struggled with awkwardness between teachers and students. While there was some positive feedback, there was an overwhelming number of faculty and students who just didn’t like the format or feel that it was useful.”

The 1st & 3rd Wednesdays system is designed to retain the benefits of Civitalks. At the end of this school year the Community and Character Committee will meet to evaluate the success of the program, Bracken said.

“I like the idea of convocation,” Upper School Dean Beth Slattery said. “I think it is a great addition, and if we used that time to all get together, I like the idea that everyone gets one message.”