Morning Meeting: A look behind the scenes

Claire Ireland, Senior Editor

Each Wednesday and Friday, students and teachers file into Cressey, where for 20 minutes, the whole community gathers for Morning Meeting. As the bustling chatter of the school subsides, a slew of announcements and the occasional “friendly” house cup competitions are hosted. While for many, Morning Meeting is considered commonplace, this unique LFA tradition is ingrained within the school’s culture. 

Students gathered for a chapel meeting in 1986. (Photo by LFA Archives)

The concept of Morning Meeting has evolved over the years. “Originally, the school had what’s called Chapel, and they would gather together for what’s called daily chapel services, and eventually that turned into also having announcements and having speakers,” said Rita MacAyeal, Director of the Library and Archivist. LFA’s Chapel dates back to 1858 when the first physical Chapel was built, found on the first floor of the petite wood building that was the original LFA. These meetings consisted of “chapel concerts,” which were open to the community of Lake Forest alongside the school population. Eventually, LFA was moved to its current location, and after the prior meeting location on this new campus was damaged by fire in 1979, New Hall, the current location of the Orchestra Room, became the “Chapel.” There, morning meetings akin to assemblies occurred. Although they were similar to what is now known as Morning Meeting, they were not student-led and subsequently far more formal. In 2001, The Cressey Center for The Arts was built, and Morning Meetings have been held there ever since. 

Today’s morning meeting production requires a lot of work behind the scenes. Jason Koenig, Fine & Performing Arts Department Chair, and students in his Theater Tech Class handle the media and theater tech (lights, music, etc.), a job that tends to consist of more than what meets the eye. “It can go anywhere from incredibly easy to incredibly difficult…if it’s one of those media-heavy ones,” stated Koenig about the logistical demands of Morning Meeting. Continuing, he said, “We have a google drive for all of that information; for every meeting, hopefully, all the prefects have put everything in there…and sometimes we run into an issue like somebody didn’t grant us permission, so access to the media sometimes is a challenge.” 

Students gathered for a chapel meeting in the 1950’s.  (Photo by LFA Archives)

Alejandro Quiroz ’23, a Theater Tech student and Head of Sound, elaborated on these logistics stating, “A lot of people over-simplify what we do… We have to remember which media files work, which slideshows themselves, we show them as jpegs, we can’t click any links on them, we can’t play any embedded videos.” Quiroz explained that the system used during morning meetings is called QLab. This system does not allow for simultaneous or efficient streaming of outside media from websites like YouTube (which is why videos are asked to be sent as separately downloaded media). Quiroz also stressed that finding downloaded media to show on screen: “Naming convention is difficult because…we have to name them [the files] ourselves and if we don’t have time for that we have to do guesswork.” This guesswork includes relying on the prefects to stick to the pre-established order of announcements for the theater tech students to know which file to show. 

The prefects are the other side of student leaders who work to make Morning Meetings run smoothly. Anusha Srivastava ’23,

Friendly house cup competitions being played at a 2022 Morning Meeting. (Photo by LFA Archives) (Photo by @lfacademy on Instagram)

Health and Wellness Prefect, discussed some of the responsibilities that the prefects have during morning meetings: “We schedule the order of the Morning Meeting. It’s first come, first serve, so whoever emails us in advance with whatever they want to show or talk about, we put them on a list, and at Morning Meeting, essentially, we [the prefects] are the hosts…and we announce who’s going next.” 

All of these efforts on behalf of these different groups culminate in producing a unique opportunity for the community of Lake

Forest Academy. “I think it’s a nice way to get the school together, and it’s a different way of presenting all the announcements we have. It’s more fun sometimes just because you get to see the people and what they want to say, so it makes it more personal,” Srivastava said.

Koenig also mentioned some real-world benefits of Morning Meeting: “I think there are some larger value items there, like getting out on stage and presenting in front of 500 people. That’s nerve-wracking; it is nerve-wracking for faculty… it’s also nerve-wracking for students.” He continued, “You all are probably going out into the business world… and you need to be confident with doing that sort of stuff.” 

Next time you’re at a Morning Meeting, take a moment to recognize the work behind the scenes to make this community-gathering function an opportunity for you.