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You, Too, Can Host A School Assembly

As y’all know, I do love me some of the serendipitous things which show up in Google Ads next to my Gmail account. Attached to a note from an educator friend in Australia was an ad for motivational speakers for school assemblies. Thought about those lately? Me neither, but the Internet has them, and I thought they were worth a quick review.

I have no idea how my own school found their assembly speakers; the Internet was a totally marginal service up through my senior year in high school, so it certainly wasn’t that. Perhaps there was some sort of directory which schools received.

But by the time we were in high school, student council got to choose a number of assemblies… which in some cases was a serious mistake. Some wags in my class chose assemblies which were way below our grade level — the “magical bubble lady” — or were on otherwise laughable ground — the woman who warned against cults by showing us a picture of her daughter with her cult-addled boyfriend putting his arm around her. “Note the closed fist,” she directed us. That’s how we were to know he was creepy. Then there were a couple of dubious performance artists, one of whom had a dance that involved a body condom which creeped us all out.

My fellow students responded with open mockery which continued well after the performers angrily left stage. Honestly, from a performance studies standpoint you could probably prove that school assemblies are doomed to fail. Students seem to view them through the roughest part of the frame of school: it’s bound to be boring, out-of-date, pointless, possibly icky and weird, and always, always preachy.

You might hope this had changed since we were kids. Well, check out what’s currently on offer:

Activated Storytellers, Shakespeare Shazam! [Photos on site display propeller beanies, floppy hats, bright-colored plaid.]
“A rollickin’ introduction to Shakespeare, comparing excerpts from some of his plays to similar scenarios in modern English.
The production places emphasis on positive family relationships.
Shakespeare Shazam! was written especially for Middle School and Junior High students, though it is thoroughly enjoyed by all ages. “, Cary Trivanovich, motivational speaker. [Photos on site display excessive mugging.]
“Cary has been a leading youth speaker in America for 25 years, and for good reason: He “kills” with teenage audiences. Cary’s popular First Date sketch is known to have students laughing for months, and his facial expression routine draws complete respect. “

World of Rope Jumping [why not just “jumping rope,” for christ’s sake?!]
“During his visits to Washington, Mark has created excitement among the kids that is hard to describe. They have learned many rope skipping skills from his demonstrations, but more importantly, they have learned the value of leading a healthy lifestyle free of drugs. ”, Keith Coast and others. [Website indicates googly-eyed puppets or magicians coquettishly tied up in string or straitjackets may be involved.]
“focuses on issues that every student needs to hear like honesty, respect, obedience, self-esteem, drug abuse, fire safety and reaching for thier dreams. “ [Which good pedagogy dictates ought to be all discussed AT THE SAME TIME. “Hey kids! Don’tdocrackdon’ttellwhopperstalknicetoGrandmastopplayingwithmatchesdon’tbesuchahaterandstartplanningforcollegenowbecauseOMG YOU’RE WORTH IT!!!!!!!!1”]

“Our high-energy, interactive show combines singing, dancing, and comedy while educating children on the importance of Reading, Staying in School, Safety Gear and Precautions, the Dangers of Drugs/Tobacco/Alcohol, cultivating Good Character traits, Family Values, Health/Fitness, Bullying, building Self-Esteem, and more!…Utilizing parodies of popular tunes like “YMCA,” “Proud Mary,” and “Stayin’ Alive,” the program relays memorable messages while simultaneously entertaining and involving children and adults alike.”

Young Author’s Day. [Despite purporting to teach writing, program inexplicably includes mimes.]
“Your students will watch as our performer presents skits, stories, and sketches which will include many familiar presentations using ropes, walls, ladders, apples, birds, and flowers. Even the modern day “moon walk” is demonstrated.”

Dare to Dance
“Learn today’s dances in a high energy and fun-filled atmosphere! Whether it’s funk, disco or line dancing, students will be surprised at what they can do.” [The Internet wasn’t even available to the general public in the early ’80s, so these performers can’t possibly offer the excuse that their websites are simply out of date…]

Commandos USA
“Billy’s has a very strong belief that Biblical values are not suggestions, rather solid mandates that assure some degree of civility and success in our culture. “These are the values that our founding fathers put in place that has allowed the United States Of America to be the symbol of freedom throughout the world.
His physical accomplishments include winning the Silver Medal at the Texas State Olympic Weightlifting Championships. He bench presses 480 pounds, squats and dead lifts over 600 pounds and can arm curl 225 pounds for twenty reps!… He has ripped nearly 5,000 telephone books in half. and has crushed a 10 foot wall of ice with one mighty forearm smash!”

[Billy’s also has a very strong belief that punctuation, grammar, and spelling are not “solid mandates,” apparently.]

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide. [Graphics include Photoshop metallics, flames, tour buses, handwritten Flash-animated links.]
“Today, there’s no denying the existence of an ever-widening generation gap between parents and their kids. What began in the 60’s with flowers, bellbottoms, and the Beatles, has mushroomed into an epidemic of abortion, drugs, and children being guided by the moral philosophies of bands like Marilyn Manson. Where will it all end? How can a nation’s youth, driven by an insatiable thirst for rebellion, understand the value and beauty of the moral absolutes on which their country was founded? … In a world where morality, purity and modesty are quickly becoming a thing of the past, the VIRTUE class is designed to cover issues that all girls will have to face at one time or another. Using humor, analogies, personal experience and more, we are able to speak to the heart of each girl about these important choices and give hope to those who have already made poor decisions. “

Michael Karpovich. [Website is a rambling colossus of tickertapes and repeating GIFs which takes about half an hour to load.]
“You can host a program for your high school students, your middle school students (Becoming the Best Generation), your elementary school students (Positive Peer Pressure), your “at-risk” students (Never Let it Get the Best of Me!), and your student leaders (Contagious Leadership) — all during the same day!… Whether he is speaking about substance abuse prevention, student leadership, self-esteem or his most popular topic — resiliency skills… Michael’s message will make a difference. His programs will change the entire student body and its school environment. Wouldn’t it be great if kids were nicer to each other?!”

Boy howdy yes, but wouldn’t it be more likely that they would be if they weren’t stuck in a chair developing pent-up aggression while being preached to by clowns for an hour every Friday?

* * *

Just think… all their booking information is available right there on the Internet. I wonder if any of them need proof you’re actually inviting them to a school?

Hmm… What ELSE could you put in that deep, dark hole? –Shel Silverstein


  1. Itamar wrote:

    My favorite school assembly speaker told us that Jewish souls have three parts, but gentiles only have one of the three. But you’ve certainly demonstrated that, as usual, the US of A is always bigger and better – the talk would have been way awesomer if he’d been a jump-roping commando mime.

    Monday, November 27, 2006 at 11:14 am | Permalink
  2. uranidiot wrote:

    People who DONT (ohhh… there’s a spelling error – I probably lost you already) listen to the positive stuff that comes from at least a few of these folks (Commandos USA for one – I’ve seen their show, and they ROCK. They’ve turned 100’s, probably 1000’s of kids and prisoners around with their messages/performances) end up just like you – a life of whining and complaining. A life of spreading negativity instead of using their God-given (yep I said the G word – I bet you’re cringing now) talents to help others. Yep you really can make a diff in folks lives, and yep, you really CAN go to bed at night feeling good about the fact that you’ve improved the world or helped someone instead of going to bed depressed, ticked off at “how stupid the world is”, and bucking anything good that God has tried to reach you with. ohhh…. there’s that “G” word again… does that frighten you? Funny how people like you don’t cringe at the S word – (Satan), but they do at the G word… Ever consider for even a moment that there just might be one (a God)… That there ain’t no stinkin’ way even your eyeball with all it’s complexity could have “evolutionized” itself into existence, much less that brain of yours with all of it’s intricacy (which you’re wasting by the way). Or that that God (don’t cringe too hard now) might want the best for you. Or that He might actually have a better plan for your life than your little pea-brain (with all of it’s arrogance) might come up with? Or that it might actually be true that “for God so loved the world that He sent His only Son Jesus , that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life”. Or that “he who believes on the Son has eternal life, but he that does not will not have eternal life”? MIGHT all that be true? It MIGHT be. If there’s any chance of it, you better spend some time thinkin’ about it cuz if it’s true, it has a major impact on the infinitely loooonger portion of your life – the part that occurs after you leave this current life. Sorry for the sarcasm, (oh yeah, and the mispellings, grammar errors, punctuation, and all the other stupid details you like to focus on instead of the real issues of life – such as “why am I here, why did God create me, etc.”), but it’s obviously the only style you respect. May you find peace (and eternal life) in Jesus before you leave this earth.

    Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 7:24 am | Permalink
  3. gus wrote:

    Thanks, I’ve thought about it and I do feel I’m getting to the point of being straight with Jesus, believe it or not. What gets me is how so many so-called Christians are unable to imagine a world in which both evolution AND spirit have a place. And that it doesn’t seem to have caused you to bat an eyelash that Billy seems to consider godly righteousness of about the same importance as ripping phone books in half.

    Also, that you’re so much more interested in saying things like “uranidiot” than you are in, say, paying attention to how the greedy standard of U.S. living is directly dependent on the suffering and poverty of people in other nations. It pisses me off that American Christians are so eager to claim Jesus’s righteousness without giving the first thought to how their lives relate to the things he taught. When I think about why I’m here on earth, doing good for others seems more important than proving I’m better than everyone else because of what I believe. You?

    Friday, March 16, 2007 at 10:01 am | Permalink
  4. Hey, I would like to be included in your list of school assembly speakers. I know your article is rather negative about the impact of assemblies. But my presentations and workshops have created school change. After my assemblies at the High School level, students have approached me and requested help with suicidal thoughts, cutting and eating disorders. I work with the school administration and guidance departments to get those students professional help. Thanks!

    Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink

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