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Honor ASM addresses collaboration

Raya ’22, Beverly ’22 and Julianne ’22 tie each other's  honor bracelets at the Honor ASM.  Photo courtesy of Sarah '17.
Raya ’22, Beverly ’22 and Julianne ’22 tie each other’s honor bracelets at the Honor ASM. Photo courtesy of Sarah ’17.

The annual Honor All-School Meeting (ASM) on Monday, Sept. 26 addressed the gray areas in group work, collaboration and teaming, brought to the attention of All-School Council by the Honor Forum represented by public liaison Co-Head of English Department Deborah Banner.  A combination of Department Heads and members of All-School Council gave testimonials and performed skits around the topic of group work. 

Assembly Coordinator Avery ’17 said All-School Council wanted the assembly to be authentic, as well as entertaining. 

“It’s different because we were very honest,” Avery said. “I think we often see a generalized representation in the sketches, but I hope that the testimonials brought out a truthfulness. I hope it was a little risky. I think group work is one of those grey areas where we say, ‘oh yeah, I know it’s bad,’ but we do it anyway.”

All-School Athletics Representative Olivia ’17 said these gray areas are very specific to Marlborough.

“The biggest pressure at Marlborough is to get good grades and then maintain them, so people will do whatever they can to get the best grades possible,” she said. “If someone didn’t study for a math quiz or doesn’t feel comfortable with the material, they will pair themselves with a friend who they know is good at math.”

Head of School Priscilla Sands agreed with Avery and Olivia that the topic of group work is necessary for the community to address because it is a complicated discussion, that the School hadn’t tackled. 

“I think it’s important for us and for teachers to go over the ground rules of how collaborative projects will be graded, what a teacher is requesting you do by yourself and where you have been given permission to work collaboratively,” Sands said.

Dean of Student Life and Spanish instructor Regina Rosi said that issues involving collaboration are not pervasive at Marlborough; however, incidents of varying severity do occur and must be discussed.

“Sometimes I think there are accidental, minor infractions or minor violations, and then there are ones where they are certainly more egregious,” Rosi said. “Our goal is to cover all of those.”

Another change made to the activity was that students signed their class’s “honor posters” during a follow-up advisory on Thursday, Sept. 19, rather than during the same period of the Honor All-School Meeting. Rosi said this change gives the community more time to think about the messages heard in the assembly.

“In the past, we just dismissed people after the ASM to go and sign, but we always felt like it was a bit rushed,” Rosi said. “Students would put on their bracelet, go and sign, and then run to get to Café M. We wanted students to have some time to reflect on what they hear at the ASM.”

Rosi and Avery said All-School Council tried to create a balance between the seriousness of the issue and also providing an engaging assembly for the community.

“We’re trying to strike the right tone,” Rosi said. “We went through what we were planning on doing and I think it could err on being too funny. That’s a fine line. We certainly want it to be entertaining and we want it to be interesting, but we also want to bring an air of seriousness to the topic as well, so that’s what we tried to balance this year.