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January 29, 2015

Dear Parents,

The following is the story of the Bridge Point Morning Assembly….

Back in the 1980’s I was principal of Bad Aibling American School, a K-8, 250 student school in southern Germany.  Our school educated the American children of military and Department of Defense families stationed overseas.  My friend, Dwight Miller, at the time an assistant principal in Fresno, California, (and now retired Superintendent) told the story of a school he visited that conducted a daily morning assembly.  He wondered why I couldn’t do the same in my little school.  I liked the idea but lacked the reasoning (and commensurate courage!) to impose it on my school.  Fast forward several years to the mid-nineties.  As principal of Cedar Creek ES in the Eanes ISD it was time to institute the daily event.   Studying Thomas Sergiovanni’s book titled Building Community in Schools, the rationale for a daily morning assembly became clear.  And with the clarity the idea became an imperative.    Knowing much more about organizational change and how to manage it, (it sure would be easier to simply be King!), we introduced the idea, educated the staff and community and got it off the ground.

The following year we opened Bridge Point Elementary School.  I remember the spring and summer days during which we transformed this beautiful new building in preparation for its first day ever.  We knew the school was BIG, complex, linear and scattered.  Schedule and location could make it so students and colleagues could go days or even weeks without seeing each other.  How does a sense of community evolve if members rarely interact? We adopted the Morning Assembly idea as a foundation to our creation of a new school community.  Bridge Point, we declared, would be a school reflecting the kind of community embodying these elements:

            A Kinship – a unity in the sense of a “we” identity, much like families.

A Sharing of Place – My school, my neighborhood, my class, my town

A Bonding of Mind – a mutual binding to a common goal, shared set of values and shared conception of being…in our case including the powerful idea of preparing our children for success in all the complex elements of the adult world they will enter.

The Morning Assembly contributes to this kind of community.  It brings together the shared purposes of our school and all the people who are a part of it.  Kindergarteners see their Fifth Grade schoolmates…every day. They both know each fully belongs and their presence defines Bridge Point for them.  Teaching colleagues are able to sit in the same space, even if for minutes, reaffirming their mutual purpose.  Parents are enthusiastically included; Bridge Point is not Bridge Point without them.

Our Morning Assembly is thoroughly and strategically intentional.  It allows for that sense of community; that recognition of our kinship and shared purpose at Bridge Point.  It creates a model for our students, staff and parents.  It provides definition.  To achieve this result, we mutually participate in traditions and rituals such as the flag salutes, Lifeskills, birthday recognitions, awards, celebrations, performances and more.  We talk together.  Fridays we sing.  We also conduct mutually relevant business and reinforce the ideas and language of our place.

To the newcomer Morning Assembly appears messy, though what congregation of close to 1,000 in a defined space is not?  Then the bell rings, the students align and our day together begins.  Every student, every teacher, every staff member and any visitor begin together in the same place, in each other’s presence sharing kinship and purpose.  The gathering symbolizes and sharpens our sense of community.  And, as Bridge Point is primarily a learning place, we believe better learning occurs in a place where a sense of ownership and shared purpose is heightened.


M. Bradford Wirht

Click HERE to view the rest of the Bridge Point Of View