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Beware - Not All Assembly Programs Are What They May Appear
by School Programs USA

It’s that time of the year to begin planning the Assembly programs for your school. At first glance this you think that this should be a relatively simple task. But upon taking a closer look you soon realize that this may not be quite as easy as it appears.

Elementary, Middle and even High Schools across the country regularly present student Assembly programs for a variety of reasons. These programs are an excellent source to enhance your curriculum, reinforce learning, student behavior and concerns, and even expose your students to live performances and theatrical arts. These programs can be fun, educational and entertaining, while creating lasting impact.

In years past booking a school Assembly program was relatively easier. You learned about programs from other schools or the district, you may have let your fingers do the walking in the yellow pages, or you may have even received something in the mail from Assembly presenters and programs in your area. Many of these presenters may have had a background in education as a teacher, counselor or administrator. Today there are many more choices covering a much broader spectrum of options. Choice is good but it can also be confusing as you soon realize there are many factors to consider.

By being an educated Assembly Coordinator, knowing the marketplace and understanding the different types of programs available will allow you to be able to wisely select the programs most appropriate and beneficial to the needs and interest of your school.

Understanding Today’s Assembly Presenters
The foundation of an Assembly program is the presenter and the content of the program. Some presenters are educators, while others are specialists in a specific field, and the latest entry to Assembly presenters is the newer breed of local or amateur entertainers.

This difference in background can often be an important factor in the style and success of a program. Many times programs presented by educators are more direct and curriculum-based. These are often presented in a format similar to classroom instruction. Programs offered by specialists, authors or guest speakers in a field tend to be rather factual and may include a more entertaining presentation designed for maximum impact. Finally the local entertainer is an area that while often being fun and interesting, a new trend has many kids party entertainers believing that just because they add a brief “educational” message or theme to their standard performance they can consider it an Assembly program.
Many times this type of presentation may lack the presentation skills required to reach, hold and maintain the interests of the students for the duration of the program.

Now these are just some basic generalizations only to familiarize you with the different styles and backgrounds of these presenters. Each type can have some outstanding programs and some less than expected presentations. This is where your work as an Assembly Coordinator comes into the process. By being aware of these different types of presenters you will easily be able to tell by simply asking some crucial questions, if they are a true professional or someone trying to disguise or pass off a less qualified program as an Assembly.

All of these types of presenters may have a place in school Assemblies, but just make sure you are booking the proper presenter for your interests. If you are looking for an entertaining fun program, the experienced entertainer/presenter may be your best choice. If you are seeking a motivational or behavior program, perhaps the zany clown or character-based program may be less effective or appropriate for your interests.

Take the time to learn about the format and presentational style of the presenters you are considering, as this way you will know exactly what you will be receiving.

Which Type Of Program Are You Seeking?
There is a much greater variety of Assembly programs available today that even just a few years ago. Theme programs, holiday programs, motivational programs, behavioral programs, arts programs, and cultural programs are among those currently available. Which program is right for you? This may depend on many factors including the time of the school year, grade levels of your students, budgets, curriculum, and other deciding factors. For example many schools will have a behavioral or motivational program early in the school year and perhaps following the holiday break to help students get back into the school frame of mind or to help them in their school efforts. Other Assemblies are based around events such as Red Ribbon Week, Alcohol or Drug Awareness and Prevention Month, testing or holiday programs.

Many schools strive to offer a variety of different programs through out the school year each based on a different criteria and perspective offering different styles and formats.

When considering programs think about where and when it would work best for you and your school. Having a plan and understanding of this will make the process much easier and less overwhelming.

Presentational Format
Assembly programs are available in a variety of presentational formats which can play a key factor in the success of your event. Do you prefer a lecture format, or would you rather have a more interactive audience participation format? Do you desire a more serious educational tone or expect a more fun and entertaining program? Is there a Question & Answer Session as part of the program, or is it a hands-on production? Which presentational format is best for the grade levels of your students? Some programs offer several different formats for different levels of students, such as one presentational format for K-3, another for grades 4 to 6 and maybe even another for grades 7 and higher. Often times programs can be adapted to the exact grade levels of your school. This is why it is suggested and often even necessary to host several presentations of a program in the same day for different grade levels.

Points To Consider When Booking An Assembly Program
Once of your tasks as an Assembly Coordinator is to separate the quality programs from the less desirable programs. In order to do this properly, there are many factors to consider that will provide you the information, confidence and peace of mind in knowing that you are dealing with a quality program. 

When seeking, researching or speaking to potential Assembly programs be sure to seek information pertaining to many of the key factors to a quality school Assembly program. These include:

Experience - How long has this program been serving the school marketplace? What is the presenter’s background and basis for the program? Do they have experience presenting for your grade level of students?

Professionalism - Is this a full-time or part-time presenter? How many Assemblies do they perform each year? Are they available locally, regionally or nationwide?

Reputation - Does the program have a positive reputation in the school marketplace? Are they well known?

Resources - Does the program have support materials? Is the host accredited?

Promotional Materials - Do they have quality materials such as a web site, professional materials, or a demo?
References - Do they have reference from other schools?

These are just some of the areas that should be researched or discussed when considering any Assembly programs. Other areas such as technical requirements, special needs and staging are also of importance.

School Programs USA offers a free Assembly Coordinator’s Planner and the special reports “The 7 Biggest Mistakes Schools Make When Booking Assembly Presenters & How To Avoid Them”  and “How To Get The Best Value For Your Assembly Dollar”. Simply visit the Assemblies page of our web site at www.SchoolProgramsUSA.com.

Where Can I Find Quality Assembly Programs?
Many Assembly programs will find you by mailers and industry directories. When receiving these, collect them and keep them in a file for future reference. Take the time to read these as they often will present some fantastic ideas for future program opportunities and possibilities.

Quality programs usually make the investment to reach you by being featured in school directories and at industry-related trade events such as conferences, conventions and showcases. If you are not familiar with the many different groups and association available, check with your school’s Principal as more than likely they can offer you some insight and contact information for those most appropriate for your school level. 

Also the internet has grown to be a source for finding Assembly programs and presenters. Searching such key words as School Assemblies, School Programs and Assembly Programs is a great place to start your online search.

Pricing for school Assembly programs can often be as varied as the programs and presenters themselves. Rates may fluctuate slightly based on different areas of the country but can range from several hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. 

Some schools plan to pay the entire program amount from their school budget, while others utilize fundraisers, sponsorships and grants to reduce or even eliminate the program costs.

Many programs offer discounts for multiple presentations in the same day, block bookings between multiple schools in one area, and pricing discounts for multiple bookings at he same time such as two different programs or two year bookings. Always ask about discounts and available pricing opportunities such as early booking incentives. This can allow you to stretch your Assembly budget and can often be the difference in hosting a quality professional program as opposed to a more budget or less qualified program.

Remember quality programs and presenters are professionals and often their presentation entails much more than meets they eye. Their commitment, background and experience should also be factored into the overall value of your program price.

One of the most common scenarios among Assembly Coordinator’s attending industry conferences is that of those who have horror stories resulting from trying to save a few dollars only to have an experience that ultimately cost them much more after all was said and done.

Do not just shop on price alone. Consider all of the many factors to determine what a professional quality program is truly worth to your students and school.

Final Thoughts
Good school programs get booked up early, so begin planning your Assembly programs as soon as possible. Many programs book up weeks and months in advance. Many book Fall dates in the Spring, and Winter and Spring dates in the Fall. Due to popularity, some schools rebook a program for the following year right after hosting the program this year. The sooner you book your Assembly the better choice of dates you will have and you will avoid the disappointment of missing out on the programs you most desire.

Remember, not all Assembly programs are created equal, but by being an educated and informed Assembly Coordinator and asking the right questions, you will soon gain the knowledge and confidence of being able to book the best programs for your school.