On October 31st during Assembly Block, Concord Academy’s Office of Community and Equity organized a mandatory Inclusion Council. In the past, Inclusion Councils have been mostly optional; however, this particular assembly was the first of its kind: in contrast to previous all-school assemblies, the students were able to attend a number of workshops that our peers organized and presented. 

Each workshop focused on a societal matter that warranted discussion on account of its relation to community and equity. The one I attended discussed the effects industrial runoff has on neighboring communities, which primarily consist of lower-income residents. While we could only attend one, the other topics I heard seemed to be on similar premises, and I assume that the level of detail I witnessed in the particular workshop I attended was echoed throughout the others. 

A laudable aspect of this event is its smaller setting. In the past, assemblies regarding the same themes were not as engaging due to the size of the PAC and the dimmed lights.  The seminar format of these workshops boosted the audiences’ engagement levels to a fair extent. The ability to choose which workshop to attend also ensured that students went to one they found most interesting. 

What the workshops made up for in its engagement, they lacked in the degree of adult authority which created a level of difficulty for the audiences to maintain focus on the speakers. Additionally, the more relaxed atmosphere did little to stop the loss of students’ focus over time. It seems that the two formats – assembly and workshop – rival each other in their efficacy, each having their own pros and cons. The former excelled in its formality but lacked in its engagement, while the latter stood out in its engagement, yet lacked authority. 

This particular inclusion council was a successful experiment of what future Inclusion Councils could be and offers the students a change of scenery from the past assemblies. Of course, future Inclusion Councils should not be all replaced by this experimental format; a degree of variety would prove favorable.