School Assemblies – How to Plan a Successful Event!

If you are given the task of picking school assemblies for your school, the job, though exciting, may have some questions that may be difficult for you to answer. How do you know which programs and how many presentations to do for your school? This is a question which comes up with any Elementary school or Middle School looking for ideas for school assemblies. Well, as famous detective Sherlock Holmes used to say: “Elementary, my dear Watson!, Elementary!”

Have you talked to a twelve year old lately? Have you tried to read a bedtime story to them from a book designed to be read to a 6 year old? How did that work out for you? Not so good, huh?

Kids minds change as they age. Well, that is a profound statement, right? Of course they do! And what appeals to and entertains the mind of a student in Kindergarten is radically different from what entertains a seventh grader. Even the differences from Kindergarten to 3rd grade are profound.

And yet, many schools think nothing of arranging a school assembly program for an audience of all grades, from Kindergarten through eighth grade! It always amazes me! Sure, there are presenters who can pull this off and the school may think that they had a good show. But what they do not realize is how much better the results would have been had they simply split the audience in half according to age. They might have had a great show instead!

When all grades are combined, the performer of a school assembly has to become somewhat schizophrenic, addressing first the needs of one age group, then turning away from them to address the other half. The alternative is to simply present to one half and let the other half struggle. Or to shoot for the middle and ignore the extremes. Whichever way you try, it’s basically a compromise that rarely please everyone.

From the perspective of most school assembly performers, elementary school enrichment programs basically have three comfortably similar audience levels, with some overlap among them. The first, or Primary audience, starts with pre-K and continues up to roughly 3rd grade. The second, or Intermediate audience, can begin as early as 2nd grade and continue through 6th grade. The oldest, or Middle school, audience, begins at 4th grade and continues usually up through young adult. When audiences are split this way the presenter can change the style, vocabulary and content of the performance to best meet the needs and likes of that particular audience.

It is one thing to consider whether a school assembly program is appropriate for all grades combined, but one must also ask if a particular program is indeed suited for a particular age group at all. For example, some school assemblies, when split into different performances, are quite good for all elementary school grades, but fare poorly in Middle Schools. Other school assemblies play wonderfully for Middle Schools but fly right over the heads of primary school audiences. It is wise to ascertain before scheduling a program whether or not the program is indeed appropriate for all the grades you wish to involve.

Finally, one may also consider arranging different programs for different grade levels. For instance one might have a historical character for the 4th Grade, a science show for the 3rd grade, a live animal program for the 2nd grade and so on. This way everyone gets exactly what they want according to their needs.

However, this supposes that cost is of little concern to you, and, sadly, we all know that cost is almost always a concern. Obviously, multiple performances will be more expensive than a single, all encompassing performance. But one should remember that “one size never really does fit all”! If you are going to spend the money to bring in a presentation it is worth making sure the experience is the best it can be. And most assembly companies and performers charge less per show for the second and third presentations, and sometimes considerably less. It is worth checking. There is really nothing worse than having a program fail and realizing after the fact that a little extra planning and a few more dollars would have turned a sad experience into something great!