Annual winter assembly returns, with some changes


Alex Burstein

The Lane Tech choir performs at the winter assembly.

By Alex Burstein, Editor-in-chief

As a Lane student, teacher and administrator, and first-time principal this year, Edwina Thompson has seen a lot of winter assemblies since her start at Lane in the 1990s. 

But none were as special to her as the event in the Lane auditorium on Fri., Dec. 17. This marked the first in-person assembly since remote learning became the norm for students in March 2020. 

“To sum it up in one word — it’s amazing,” Thompson said. “It’s so nice to see the kids smiling and happy and just enjoying something that I used to enjoy for years performing, directing, teaching.”

Students filed into the first-floor space and auditorium for the winter assembly on the Friday before break. 

For the freshman and sophomores, this was a brand new experience — their first school-wide in-person event. Current juniors and seniors had possibly attended the event before, back in December 2019.

“It was pretty good,” Sydney Katsoulos, a freshman attendee, said. “There was a lot of effort put into it.”

While Katsoulos and hundreds of other students attended the event in-person, because of COVID-19 procedures, not everyone got to come into the auditorium. The show, which happened during an extended second period, had two showings, and teachers had to enter their class into a lottery if they wanted to come.

For teachers who did not win the lottery, there was a live stream of the event so all students had the opportunity to see the performances. 

With fewer people attending, the crowd inside the auditorium looked different than usual. Students had to have empty seats to either side of them and were required to wear masks.

“They’re further spaced out than they are in class,” Thompson said with a laugh. “And so we feel fine” about the safety of this assembly.

While the scene may have changed slightly from past years, the performances and clapping from the crowd was reminiscent of pre-pandemic days.

“Oh man it’s awesome being back,” Austin Flygt, a band teacher, said. “It’s great to see people. It’s great to be in the auditorium. It’s a wonderful space.”

Flygt directed the symphonic and varsity band’s performance, which concluded an assembly that included holiday performances from the choir, other musical classes such as sinfonietta orchestra, drama and more.

The performance opened and closed with appearances from Thompson, from a short opening ceremony speech to directing the gospel choir for their joint appearance with the band and flag corps. 

“Just the joy of being able to address the student body is a privilege, and I shared earlier with a student that, they asked me, ‘How did I feel? Do I feel like I’m 50 people in one one body?’ And I explained yes, but at the same time, I get to wear all those different hats and be all of those different people to different people in our building,” Thompson said. “And so I appreciate that honor and I’m so happy that I get the chance to do it.”

One of the students directed by Thompson, freshman Katelyn Burnett, said she enjoyed working with Thompson with the choir.

“She’s kind of tough on us,” Burnett said with a smile. “Sometimes we don’t hit the right notes, but overall it’s pretty cool.”

While the performances on the stage went off without much error, Flygt noticed off stage something he wishes he could change – phone usage.

“We look out and you see a ton of people still on phones, and I understand that the phones are cool, but it’s like we’re here and we’re finally back for a special moment,” Flygt said after the first showing of the day. “And it seems like some people could honestly care less sometimes.” 

While the event wasn’t the perfect return, from social distancing to electronic distractions, Burnett was able to find a unique positive out of the crowd and experience in her first winter assembly appearance.

“It was a little less intimidating only because there’s gaps in between the students and stuff,” Burnett said. “So it wasn’t a full auditorium.”