As clusters of students and staff alike filter into the IDEAS Academy Drama Room, there is animated chatter that is only heightened by an air of anticipation. An advisory cohort gathers in a tight circle in the front of the room, heads bowed closely together to shield their secrets from the rest of the group. As the entirety of the school settles, a student steps ahead of the group and hollers:
“HANG TEN!” and throws their arms into the air, counting down to quiet the excitement of the room.
This assembly is known dearly to those of IDEAS by the name Town Hall. Town Hall occurs every Wednesday morning and functions much like its namesake: to gather as a school in order to share announcements, broadcast concerns, recruit collaborators, and to bond as a community that is deeply rooted in decency and trust. Each gathering has a similar layout.
First, a roll call commences to insure that all advisories are present. This is usually prompted with the embellishment of a hand movement, a word, or a clap.
Then, announcements are called. Prior to the Town Hall, students and staff are asked to fill out a form that calls for the details of the announcement they would like to deliver. This is a time for members of the community to ask for help with projects, advertise events within classes and in the community, recruit peers into Camp Étude clubs, and speak about important issues or happenings within the school.
The announcements are usually followed with an activity. Each week, a different advisory is assigned to prepare an activity for all of the others to compete in. These encourage advisees to bond and work together as a team in innovative ways to reach a shared goal.
This week, advisor and teacher Molly King’s advisory modeled a Town Hall after The Oscars as a sort of send off to appreciate the seniors who will soon be graduating. After sending out a survey through e-mail to allow the school to vote for titles such as “Most likely to write a best-selling book series,” or “Most tech-savvy,” the students created awards and a Mad Lib-esque outline for an acceptance speech that would be written and read by each advisory. With the red carpet rolled out invitingly, students got the chance to appreciate each other and cheer their friends on whilst practicing their skills of collaboration and thinking on the spot.
To close the weekly meetings, hands shoot up to share appreciations towards each other. These are to thank teachers for extra help, shed light on the good deeds of peers, and to recognize those who strive to do good in the community. Students leave after each meeting with a renewed sense of togetherness and a refreshed attitude towards their learning. Town Hall is a pillar of strength and trust for the IDEAS Academy community.
Photography by Madison O'Brien, Étude Studios Photography Intern