Blue/Gold assemblies hold unknown significance

In+an+issue+of+The+Rubicon+from+1987%2C+an+editorial+was+written+from+the+staff+about+how+students+should+direct+complaints+about+Blue%2FGold+assemblies+to+administration+and+not+to+themselves.+

Mimi Geller

In an issue of The Rubicon from 1987, an editorial was written from the staff about how students should direct complaints about Blue/Gold assemblies to administration and not to themselves.

It’s Friday. Students shuffle towards the Huss Center, drop their backpack wherever it’s convenient and hustle to their seat in the auditorium to sit, engage, and listen to that week’s senior speeches. This routine is universal for students and St. Paul Academy and Summit School, these Friday gatherings even have a name: Blue/Gold assemblies. What most students at SPA do not know, however, is that the name of this periodic assembly has a purpose further than it being called so because SPA’s school colors are blue and gold.

The Senior Speech program began in 1985 and soon became a graduation requirement. Before the Huss Center, before giving speeches in the gym, students from 1985 to about 1996 gave their speeches in an auditorium that was situated in what is now the second floor of the Summit Center. The room had benches for students, faculty, and parents to sit on and the stage was small as its sole purpose was for senior speeches. US Math teacher Jim McVeety reflects on the old space as he attended many speeches there.

“It was a more intimate space. Certainly much better than the gymnasium in terms of comfort of the benches that we had and also the focus on the speaker was possible in that auditorium,” McVeety said.

Additionally, back then grades 7-12 would attend speeches. However, this auditorium was fairly small and only seated half the school, so to accommodate advisories would be assigned a color, blue or gold, and each Friday there were blue and speeches and there were gold speeches. This meant some advisories would miss seeing speeches if the senior speech color did not align with the advisory color. Thus, these routine assemblies every Friday are called Blue/Gold assemblies because of this, not because of SPA’s colors.

Over time students feel they have permission and feel they have the safety and freedom to give speeches that are very personal”

— US Math Teacher Jim McVeety

Much like the actual space in which delivering speeches has changed over time, so has the content of speeches. In 1985 when seniors learned they would have to give a speech, unlike the classes before them, it was seen as a nuisance and not an opportunity to leave their mark on SPA. McVeety believes that as senior speeches have continued to thrive in the community, they have become a staple for SPA and not simply a graduation requirement. Given the fact that SPA has had senior speeches for over three decades, it is only natural that students have increasingly been able to open up to the community and share more than original classes did.

“Speeches have evolved over time. We are at a point now where we’ve had people giving speeches whose parents gave senior speeches here. Their speeches overall have really improved. The first classes to give senior speeches resented having to give the speech. I don’t think there were explicit restrictions, but over time students feel they have permission and feel they have the safety and freedom to give speeches that are very personal. There have always been some, but now I think students have a greater feel for freedom for speaking from the heart,” McVeety said.

With the class of 2017 being finished with their speeches and off to senior projects, reflecting upon the 32 years of senior speeches invites insight and a comparison of where speeches have been and where they are now. Aside from the literal new space speeches are in as they are no longer in the old small auditorium, the actual content of speeches have naturally shifted which reflects each class as a whole.

“Senior speeches I remember the most. Now we honor top senior speeches, but there are many good ones to choose one. It would be wonderful to have more opportunities to highlight some of those past speeches,” McVeety said.

Although there are no tangible ways to honor senior speeches built into the Senior Speech program, students are welcomed to continue conversing about speeches and reflect constantly. This has never changed as the location for senior speeches has changed. After all, the space in which a speech is delivered does not matter, what matters is what is being said.