Marquis Athletes

December 12, 2006

Elementary, Middle and High School Assemblies: Some Advice

Filed under: Community Events,Event Planning Ideas,Fundraising Ideas,School Events — marquisathletes @ 9:07 pm

You’re a teacher or school administrator and someone just said to you, “It’s your turn to plan the school assembly.” You begin to sweat. You get a lump in your throat. All you can think about is how much you DO NOT want to do this. Relax! It can be fun, you can become the school hero and your students may (GASP!) actually get something out of YOUR assembly besides a free period in which they will pass notes and chit chat.

We all remember school assemblies from when we were kids. Mainly because they were so bad.  The only one I remember from K-12th Grade was in 4th Grade when this group came in and rapped about not doing drugs. They had lockers as part of their set and all I can remember thinking was, “OHMYGOODNESS! That set looks like High School. This must be an assembly for HIGHSCHOOLERSOHMYGOODNESS! They think we’re old enough for this so very adult message they are rapping about in front of lockers. ILOVETHIS.” I think I talked about that assembly for the next month to any adult who would listen. You know, because I was basically an adult for hearing their message. And, I think it worked. All that rapping about not smoking and doing drugs resulted in me marching over to my Granparent’s house and proclaiming to my Grandpa the smoker “You shouldn’t smoke anymore. It’s bad for you. You’ll die. I don’t want you to die.” And he quit. Right then and there. Years later, as an adult, he told me that no matter how many times my Grandmother and Dad had told him the same thing, hearing about the evils of smoking from his 10 year old granddaughter who had just seen an assembly was the only thing that ever made him want to quit. Wild. All of this family history mumbojumbo brings me to my point–school assemblies can be a complete waste of student and teacher time and a complete drain of school resources, OR, they can be great. They can be the type of event that inspires students to be better. To do better. The latter is the type of event you want for your students, right? Well, stop freaking out about planning your assembly and read on…

1. Plan Ahead. First, you will need to come up with an overarching theme for your assembly. This will dictate who you bring in, what you have the other teachers do with their students in advance, and any partner organizations or events that will work. It will also give you a starting point.

2. Develop Tie-Ins. Your assembly will automatically capture the student’s attention if they are ready for it. By developing tie-ins for teachers in other classes to do in anticipation of your assemly, you will be helping your co-workers out and priming the students for your event. For example, say you chose “The Olympics” as your theme. About 1 month before the assembly, distribute lesson plan suggestions to the teachers based on this theme and your chosen speaker.

3. Plan Student Participation. Now that your students are excited about your assembly, because they have been learning about it all month, plan to have them participate. You can do this by having students submit subject-related questions in each class (i.e., Student come up with science type questions while in science class), then having the teachers select a few questions for the students to ask the speaker during the Q&A portion of the assembly. This way the questions are pre-screened, well thought out and the speaker isn’t asked the same question over and over. You may also want to ask your speaker if they do any demonstrations during their presentation, and if so, what kind. This way you can pre-select students to be part of the assembly (i.e., say you have an Olympic Gold Medalist in Wrestling presenting at your Olympic-themed assembly. He tells you he uses a student to demonstrate some basic wrestling moves. You select the student from the school’s wrestling team with the highest average in school or the best record in wrestling to participate in the demo.).

4. Think Outside the Auditorium. Now that you have your theme and the students have been learning about your theme and speaker all month, you aren’t really planning to end it all with the assembly, are you?! You’ve paid money to get the speaker there and done lots of work, so you should add on additional events if you can. Many speakers have upgrade fees which are less than their base rate, which means you can get multiple events for not much more budget. For example, some speakers are experts in fields other than why you brought them into the school (i.e., the Olympic Gold Medalist who is also a licensed PE Teacher, the Adventurer who is a published author of novels and science textbooks, etc.). How cool would it be to have the speaker teach a class or two in addition to the assembly? Another option is to have them conduct a clinic for your school’s athletes in their sport if they are an athlete. The speaker may even be available to lead a retreat for your Seniors!

5. Partner With Others. Is your school in a remote area? Far from the nearest major aiport? If so, maybe there are other groups in your town that could benefit from your speaker’s services. Maybe a local charity or community group is planning a fundraiser and needs a speaker for their community event. Maybe the Elementary schools in town would be interested in hosting your speaker for additional events. Perhaps a local business is planning an event for their staff and would love to have your speaker stop by. The local bookstore may want the speaker to come in for a booksigning. Spread the word, you never know who might be available to split costs with you (and may be very excited to plan the speaker’s travel, etc. as a “thank you” for making their job easier!)

6. Find The Money. Let’s face it. Bringing in a speaker for your assembly is not going to be free. You’ll have to pay a speaking fee and travel expenses, and you may not have been given a large budget to plan this event. This is where you need to get creative! First, figure out how much (if any) money is in your budget for this assembly. Second, after you have selected a theme for your assembly, begin contacting various speakers to see what they charge. Be sure to ask for an estimate of travel expenses. Figure out exactly how much you’re short. Third, think about other budgets you can tap. Say your speaker happens to be a Ph.D. in Chemistry and your Science teachers are interested in having him guest lecture a class. See what the upgrade fee is to add another event, and see how much money the Science department has to contribute. Maybe your speaker has a sports background and can conduct a clinic for your school’s athletes. Talk to the coaches and see how much money they have in their budget. Talk to the booster clubs for the various sports and see if they’d be interested in sponsoring your speaker. Talk to parents. Maybe one of them is a fan and will contribute some money. Fourth, talk to local businesses. Maybe they’ll give you an outright sponsorship, maybe they’ll be interested in booking the speaker to come to their business and they can share the fee with you. And, finally, attempt to book multiple events with the speaker during the same trip. As I mentioned previously, many speakers charge significantly less to add an event than they charge for the first event. You can split the total cost of bringing the speaker to town between all the different events, and split travel costs as well.

I hope your assembly planning goes well and is FUN! Feel free to post comments if you have any questions, and I will be happy to address them.

The following Marquis Athletes clients are available for school and community events: Rulon Gardner, Shane Hamman and Jon Turk. School and community events are $2,000 plus travel expenses (air, ground, hotel, parking and food), and each additional event is $1,000 extra. Rulon does one low-fee school/community event per week, booked Monday through Thursday only. Shane and Jon do not have limits on the school/community events they will do.


1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the assmebly tips. I am currently a first grade teacher and have seen some pretty bad assemblies. Sometimes they appeal to the faculty but the students seem bored and uninterested. If this happens, then there is really no point to the assembly or the messages we are trying to send our students. One assembly we had a few months back included an extreme bike show with the big ramps and all. The kids were glued to the stunt riders the enitre time AND they gave the kids important messages about saying no to drugs, importance of school, etc… The name of the show was The Satellite Stunt Show and they are based in Southern California.

    Comment by bmxgirl — June 26, 2007 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

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