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U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Audio: Sophomores celebrate service learning in new assembly style

For+one+of+their+last+assemblies+of+the+year%2C+the+sophomores+were+going+to+reflect+on+the+work+they%E2%80%99d+done+and+engage+in+service+learning+in+a+new%2C+interactive+way.%C2%A0
Taariq Ahmed
For one of their last assemblies of the year, the sophomores were going to reflect on the work they’d done and engage in service learning in a new, interactive way. 

[Pulsing music lead-in, continues in the background for following graf]

At 8:30 a.m. on April 9, the sound of pulsing music and cheers poured out of Judd C116 into the rest of the high school building. One would’ve thought it was a chaotic student-led gathering, but it was the 10th-grade End-of-Year Energizer, a diversity, equity and inclusion assembly. For one of their last assemblies of the year, the sophomores were going to reflect on the work they’d done and engage in service learning in a new, interactive way. 

[Music fades]

U-High students have long complained about difficulty engaging and connecting with school assemblies, where they are forced to sit silently and be talked at. Rebecca Reaves, assistant director of diversity, equity and inclusion, felt something needed to change. Ms. Reaves took a different approach with this assembly to show sophomores how fun service learning can be.

Ms. Reaves: “Something that we’ve done this year is thinking about how to make the audience also a part of the experience and they’re just not the spectators. So each assembly has had an element of that, where it’s very interactive, it’s discussion-based. We’ve tried to incorporate some fun along the way with the DEI work because one of the things that the facilitators said at the top of the year is that, yes, this work is important, but we also want to emphasize that you can find the joy.” 

As students walked through the doors of Judd C116 that morning, they were met with colorful disco lights, spiraling streamers and energetic pop music. The center of the room acted as a dance floor for a TikTok danceathon, where students competed to earn points for their advisory. The advisory with the most points would win a pizza party. 

“We were… a little scared” 

That’s sophomore Lia Teklu, a DEI peer facilitator. 

Lia: “It was very dependent on the energy of the crowd because here and in general DEI, you only get back what you put in and I think that, you know, as they were walking in they were like ‘OK, what’s going on this is a little weird,’ but people definitely got into it, and I think it went super well.” 

Lia and the other peer facilitators had worked with Ms. Reaves to plan the energizer. They used their own experiences to inspire the shift from a dialogue-based assembly to an interactive one. 

Lia: “I do think that the most vital part is that change. As someone who’s just been sat and talked to, those aren’t all that fun, so a goal of ours was definitely to make it really interactive.” 

For those who weren’t interested in dancing, booths were set up with arts-and-crafts activities. There was a paper flower-making table inspired by the phrase “give people their flowers,” an “affirmation station” to write positive messages for a food pantry the class will be donating to, and a map where students could put a pin on their service site location. 

Sophomore Angela Fitzgerald enjoyed the variety of activities and was surprised by the change of pace.

Angela: “It was just up to everyone and it was really nice because we didn’t have to sit the whole time and it was really innovative. I really appreciated that the DEI peer facilitators were kind of looking out for the grade and trying to try new things to make us more engaged.” 

I’m Skye Freeman, reporting for the U-High Midway.

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About the Contributors
Skye Freeman
Skye Freeman, Audience Engagement Manager
Skye Freeman is a member of the Class of 2025 and is an audience engagement manager. She joined the journalism team during the 2022-23 school year when she was a sophomore. Her favorite piece she has written for the Midway is her story on the U-High drama teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Ambrosini: “Love that Lasts: U-High theater teachers married for over 50 years flawlessly execute show after show.” Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing Badminton and is vice president of the Students with Disabilities Association and of the Junior States of America club.
Taariq Ahmed
Taariq Ahmed, Digital Editor
Taariq Ahmed is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as the digital editor. He joined the Midway as a sophomore after moving from St. Louis, where he completed Introduction to Journalism at his previous school in ninth grade. Taariq is a part of his school's Young Men of Color group and Being Racially Aware and Valuing Ethnicity conference board. Outside of school, Taariq enjoys reading the news, listening to music, playing soccer and spending time with family and friends.

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