The 2022 Convocation: What Did Students Think?

Brannon Zee

On September 19th, 2022, for the first time since the pandemic, Bergen County Academies held its annual Convocation assembly to welcome students to the upcoming school year. Even if the initial excitement leading up to the assembly was based on missing classes, the energy inside the auditorium quickly grew as students, teachers, and staff took the stage. From Vice Principal Dr. Bath and the SPARK leaders performing “24K Magic,” to videos recounting the highlights of last school year, the assembly featured a wide range of exciting and entertaining events culminating in a memorable experience.

As the first Convocation assembly in three years, the unique experience incited interest in what students thought about the Convocation. A survey was conducted asking attendants how enjoyable and informative the assembly was, in addition to the most and least enjoyable parts of the assembly.

Overall, most students found the assembly enjoyable. On a scale from 1-5, with 1 being the least enjoyable and 5 being the most, 86.3% of students answered 3 or above.

However, on the same scale, 77.3% of students responded with a 3 or below when asked how informative the assembly was.

Out of the many parts of the assembly, respondents overwhelmingly answered that Dr. Bath’s performance with the SPARK leaders to “24K Magic,” which occurred at the beginning of the assembly, was the most enjoyable part of the Convocation. Many students were shocked but quickly became intrigued when Dr. Bath first entered the stage and began performing.

Emily Xu, a sophomore who listened to Dr. Bath’s rehearsal before the assembly had this to say: “Dr. Bath’s singing was actually what surprised me the most – I remember listening to him sing solo without background music when he was rehearsing prior to the performance, and he sounded really clean. His intonation on those high notes was really good and I didn’t expect him to sing so passionately.”

Other popular elements of the assembly included the videos summarizing the previous school year, the chamber choir singing “God Bless America,” and introductions for new staff members. A sophomore, Isha Tyagi described many of these highlights: “I personally thought the event was very engaging and enjoyable! Not [only] did we… watch some light hearted performances like from SPARK and Dr. Bath, but we also listened to some of the more informative lectures about the safety of [BCA].”

However, other aspects of the assembly were more divisive. Notably, some students expressed their frustration with the length of the assembly. Other students noted that they had already heard most of the information presented at previous assemblies or from earlier announcements.

“[the Convocation was] full of stuff we already know or it’s honestly just a waste of time,” said one student. “I found myself just staring at the ceiling for fun.” Upperclassmen also stated that the assembly felt targeted toward freshmen and less interactive for them.

Moreover, students answered with different opinions about the speeches given by the staff, research presenters, and alumni speakers. While many found these speeches to be informative and interesting, especially for underclassmen who did not experience the Convocation previously, others found them to be repetitive.

For example, Isha wrote: “I found the speeches to be informative, as I didn’t have the experience of watching them last year. I liked the student and guest speaker speeches the most.”

“The Convocation.. failed to break their social stereotype by inconsistently reinforcing academic success, said Hemang Mittal, a freshman. “The Convocation clearly meant to paint BCA as a school with a life outside of academics. However, they contradicted this idea by illustrating a precedent set by… promot[ing] academics to the audience.”

Despite these criticisms, 89.7% of respondents still said BCA should continue holding this assembly. Many students were simply excited to have a large-scale in-person assembly after the unpredictability of the previous year, especially with Convocation’s uplifting atmosphere and wide variety of performances.

Kay Hwang, a sophomore, summed it up: “As someone who has never had the chance to view the convocation assembly in person, it was surprising to say the least! It further enforced in my mind that BCA is really not your average school, in the most pleasantly surprising way of course. From the dramatic choreography, the funny speeches, and the overall exciting atmosphere, I definitely found the convocation assembly to be one of a kind!”