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Official Article

Awesome School Assembly Memories

Sometimes the daily grind of elementary school could be tough. Failing a math test, soggy fish sticks in the cafeteria or embarrassing yourself in a tetherball match were all too common occurrences. But every once and awhile the teacher would use a magic word that washed away all the struggles of pre-teen life, that word was ASSEMBLY!

The truth is that any excuse not to be sitting in class writing a report about another Judy Blume novel was welcome, but knowing you were getting out for a "show" was even more exciting. My school administrators came up with some pretty sweet reasons to break us out of our regular routines, so here's my 5 favorite school assembly memories.

Olympic Gymnast Peter Vidmar

With the exception of Michael Phelps, it feels like the day of the celebrity Olympic athlete has passed, the shine is off the Wheaties box, if you will. But to kids in 1989, anybody who could lay claim to a Gold medal was a superstar. So when our principal gathered the student body in the courtyard to meet world class gymnast, Peter Vidmar, we were pretty psyched. Of course the message was supposed to focused on setting goals, working hard and perseverance, but I had a different experience.

The truth is, I actually saw Peter at church every Sunday (along with pop singer Donny Osmond, weird I'll admit) but at 7 years old I didn't quite grasp the nature of his accomplishments. So when Peter started talking about winning Gold and Silver medals at the 1984 Olympic Games I was yawning a bit. But as soon as he started doing standing backflips and handstands, you better believe I woke right up. I finally got it, "Oh, he's a super human. They gave him medals for being awesome." 

Adventure Playground Presents Mud Man

Speaking of super heroes, in 4th grade we got a visit from a mighty man of muck who gave The Toxic Avenger a run for his money. Our city had built a kids park called Adventure Playground where children age 7-12 could build forts, slide down tarp covered hills on a makeshift water slide and slop around in an unlikely attraction, The Mud Pit. To promote this civic world of wonder, they sent an ambassador of fun to peak our interest. When Mud Man took the stage, we couldn't believe our eyes. 

In my young mind it might as well have been Swamp Thing come to life at our school, a creature of living muck brought to life out of our collective dreams. Though in retrospect it was a just a college student hired by the city to get silly in a mud soaked jumpsuit and goggles. As you can imagine, I went right home after school and begged for a visit to Adventure Playground. My Mom did me one better by signing me up for an after school program that had weekly excursions to the park and for the next 2 years I was in heaven.


Aside from a few lessons involving baking soda volcanoes, Science was hardly a favorite subject in school. That's why when we got word that a "Bubbleologist" was coming for an assembly I wasn't expecting much. When it was revealed that this doctor of Bubbleology was just the Mom of one of my classmates, I was even less impressed. "Uh, what school of Bubbleology did you graduate from exactly?" But once the presentation started, we were treated to an interesting spectacle. Now I'm sure there was some discussion of surface tension or viscosity, but all I saw were massive bubbles floating off the stage toward me and my classmates. 

She had all sorts of gadgets to make these translucent spheres appear during the 15 minute display, but her finale was truly amazing. The Bubbleologist invited a few kids up to be volunteers and then had them stand on a platform inside a plastic kiddy pool filled with soapy water. Next, she brought a hula hoop down over the kids and into the bubble solution. Finally, she raised the hoop up and a giant bubble formed around them. They were inside a bubble! AHHH! It blew our minds, we let out a collective gasp and started shouting for joy. What a triumph of showmanship!

BMX Stunt Team

Along with skateboarding, BMX Biking hit its peak in the 80s and I'm pretty sure I personally witnessed the last hurrah at my elementary school. I remember seeing ads for Jolly Ranchers featuring a pro BMX biking team and of course there was the pack of BMX kids in Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Past 1990 though it was pretty much abandoned as a hip sport in pop culture and it was during this decline in popularity that my school got a private show on the blacktop.

I remember shuffling out to the the basketball courts with my class one morning to find 2 ramps and an obstacle course set up. Suddenly, rock stars in helmets on tiny silver bikes came riding out and began doing tricks. They were spinning their handlebars while balancing on their back wheel, flying 10 feet in the air off the ramps and even bouncing on just their front tires. The bike-crobatics on display were truly RAD and though I've never seen the movie of the same name, I'm sure it can't compare to the unforgettable live show I got to enjoy that day.

Medieval Times

While all of these previous experiences were pretty cool, nothing can compare to the pageantry and excitement of medieval knights on horseback battling for the pleasure of 200 First through Sixth graders who should have been taking their Vocabulary tests. Yeah, it really happened. For those who never saw Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy, Medieval Times is dinner theater where knights of various colors attack each other in an arena while you chow down on rotisserie chicken. How they ended up at my elementary school, I'll never know.

Even in the moment I realized how absolutely privileged we were to see a jousting match with live horses on the same field where we played tag every day at recess. As the knights fell off their mighty steeds and began slicing at each other with swords, we only got more exhilarated. When the victorious knight stopped to hand a rose to one of the younger, prettier teachers we were disgusted, but amused. The field was holy ground from that day forward.

Of course this once in a lifetime event was designed as promotion to get us to demand Medieval Times as the location of our next birthday party and it worked. My buddy Erik was the one to pull the trigger and had us all in paper crowns within 3 months handing over Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to him amidst the medieval carnage on display in honor of his birth. Mission accomplished, Sir Promotional Exhibition.

So what assemblies do you remember from your school days? Do kids still get awesome events like these to give them a break from long division? Sound off in the comments below.
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mickyarber Posted on Aug 04, 2017 at 05:18 PM

We always had pretty good assemblies in elementary school here. My personal favorite was the yearly magic show featuring local magician Dave Vaught. He came once a year and put on a show for the whole school, and would spend time throughout the day visiting each class room to perform an additional trick and answering questions about magic, and explaining how important things like Math were to his tricks.

My second favorite was the assembly we would have on the last day of school before Christmas break. They would put all the students on the bleachers in the gym, and roll in 5 televisions spaced out across the floor and show a movie. One year was Ernest Goes to Camp, and another year we watched Ernest Saves Christmas. I also remember watching The Boy Who Could Fly one year as well.

Another fantastic article my friend.

twcfan92 Posted on Jul 28, 2017 at 11:39 PM

Wow, we never had assemblies like that! All of ours were (if I remember correctly) no-name speakers. None of whom I remember.

pikachulover Posted on Jul 27, 2017 at 02:05 AM

One school I went to spent a lot of money on school assembles. Most of the time they were just puppets that told you about the dangers of fire, strangers, or riding your bike.

We had the duo of Janet and Judy come perform at our school. After the assembly the teacher handed out mimeograph work sheets about them.

Slim Goodbody was supposed to come to my school, but he couldn't come so his people sent some replacement guy who talked about the environment. He was ok, but I really wanted to see Slim in person.

I forget who was supposed to come, but it was cancelled because of the LA riots.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jul 22, 2017 at 07:44 AM

I have no memories at all of Elementary School assemblies. I don't think we had any, actually. Now later, in high school, we did. But the only ones I have any memories of were anti-drug people coming in to warn us of the dangers of Mary Jane.

Looking back on those days now, and on the opiate problem this area now faces, they would probably beg us to smoke marijuana.

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