In the halls of NT, from about late November to early December, you see many students laughing about the posters that the December 6th assembly committee has put up. Not the posters with the statistics, but the ones that have a picture of binoculars with “birdwatcher” beside one checkbox, and “stalker” beside another underneath it. Unfortunately, NT students didn’t just make fun of these posters; they later were snickering about the December 6th assembly itself.
As it does every year, the assembly began with a clip from Polytechnique, the movie based on the Montreal Massacre, in which Marc Lepine killed 14 women studying to become engineers, merely because he considered career women to be feminists, whom he hated. This year, however, the clip was much shorter, and only showed the part when Lepine shot the women.
“It was the very beginning of the assembly, and all I heard was an incredibly loud shot,” said a grade 11 student. “They shouldn’t have made the volume so loud, or at least warned us that it was coming.”
The White Ribbon speeches came next and went over well; female students love seeing their male comrades publicly express their love for the women in their life. Jake Gorenkoff’s speech about his Grandma Shirley shocked everyone because they never knew how sensitive he really was.
“So many girls came up to me after and were like, ‘Wow, Jake, you’re so sensitive!” Jake says bashfully.
Richard Greenwald’s speech was very nice, as well. However, not everyone was the biggest fan of Alec Sherman’s shout-out to Ms. Ratzlaff. Even though his intentions were good, it was still weird that he would write such a loving speech for his vocal teacher.
“It was unexpected,” says Sarah Ratzlaff, Ms. Ratzlaff’s daughter, “but a very nice sentiment and message.”
Later in the assembly Alec did a singing duet with Olivia Cummings. Although there were a few complaints that Alec’s voice may not have been up to its usual standard, it was still a moving piece that well accompanied the heart-wrenching statistics on violence against women. As always, I got teary-eyed reading them.
I thought Alec sang wonderfully, especially when I found out that he had screamed his lungs out at the Marianas Trench concert the night before. A sore throat and hoarse voice could even tug on Adele’s powerhouse voice.
The statistics playing while Alec and Olivia sang were met with criticism from the student body; many students were questioning their legitimacy. When had they taken these surveys to get these statistics about students at NT and their involvement in violence against women? No one has ever received any type of survey, or been asked, so people were quite doubtful to whether or not these statistics were completely true. In all probability, the survey was legitimate at one time, but time has made the statistics outdated.
Despite the questionable success of the survey, Alaiza Alcasid and Rachel Loo’s performance of “Mad World” by Tears of Fears received only laudatory comments. Alaiza’s soulful voice along with Rachel’s elegant viola playing captured the ominous and dark tone of violence against women in a beautiful, thought-provoking way.
Andrew Kim was unable to be received as well as Alaiza and Rachel because his guitar playing and singing of “Heart of Life” by John Mayer was quite inaudible to anyone sitting past the second row. Although people were originally eager to hear him sing the final song of the assembly, most situated throughout the auditorium were abruptly met with disappointment when they could not hear him.
There was also criticism, or more likely confusion, over the lyrical dance, “It’s You”, about women recovering from abusive situations. Choreographed by Norain Chang, the dancers started off weak and frail but became strong and stable by the end of the dance. They all wore shirts that had inspiring words on them, such as “freedom” and “strength.” Many students criticized the girls for “not dancing all together” and didn’t see the message within the dance. But Mr. Zohar disagreed; he thought it was effective that they weren’t all dancing together, showing how abused women are often disoriented. Unfortunately, many NT students were unable to have such insight as Mr. Zohar.
Overall, the assembly was very well done, and even though there was criticism, people still became educated and aware about the issue of violence against women.
“The assembly took literally six months to plan,” said Catie Delany, one of the heads – along with Michael Cheney, Norain Chang, Jen Boctor, and Alicia Royle – “but it was worth all the work. At the end of the day, we educated people about an issue that isn’t taking seriously enough in society today”.