Good morning. Gentlemen you may loosen your ties; ladies, you may un-tuck your shirts. Please report to the Arts center.
Students all know what that wonderful announcement leads to: "Beyond the Books" Day. Every year, the administration excuses them from their classes for a day when they explore issues outside of the classroom to discuss ideas such as diversity, leadership, integrity, and community as well as touchier aspects of society.
Beyond the Books and its Middle School counterpart "Community Day" do more than just cancel classes; they are days that are designed to make Bullis a better place and its students better people. They are meant to drive a point home and are what students make of them.
The problems of school and society are presented one morning for Bullis students to discuss and come up with ways to improve their community in the long term. This only happens in a perfect world, though, as the day after BTB or Community Day usually has a “business as usual” vibe to it.
Some of the most common criticism from students include excessive length and insufficient interactivity. While students are not seated for the whole day, being seated is counterproductive, especially when the purpose of the day is to make the student body actively form solutions and find a way to make Bullis a better place.
So, a day where students are all on their feet? Maybe that’s too extreme, but engaging activities instead of standing and sitting if a statistic applies to said student, icebreakers, and “partner-talks” ought to be created for the sake of the day leaving a lasting impression.
Students are used to a lecture type of setting on a daily basis. If it’s "Beyond the Books", activities shouldn’t remind students of their everyday lives. The best way to bring everybody together for a day of communal repair is a seminar style, although it doesn’t always encourage audience participation. However, the format will allow students to get out of the day exactly what they put into it.
In its current form, the big ticket event of the day, for most, is the company of a guest speaker or group that the administration invites. While the message pertains to the purpose of the day, the way that the guests convey their messages always has a different twist. People such as Dwayne Betts, Scot Robinson, and Mark Elliot have openly discussed their life’s challenges including crime, drug abuse, and Tourette’s Syndrome, respectively; if students remember anything from these days, it’s these people.
"Beyond the Books", "Community Day", and the various other types of events at Bullis designed to improve how our community functions are imperative. Days that can help everyone - students and teachers alike - should be observed with more appreciation for what they are, not for being an escape from schoolwork.