I went to parochial schools through the end of high school. At my elementary school, each month we would have a praise assembly. All the classes would gather in the sanctuary, each class assigned a pew or two. There would usually be some singing and a skit put on by one class about that month’s theme – joy, patience, kindness, something like that.
One time it was our class’s turn to run the assembly, and we did a skit about nobody wanting to play with the new girl. The name of the new girl in the play was Lauren, and our class decided that Laurel should play that part because her name was similar. Perfect logic for a six-year old, right? I’m pretty sure this was when I was in first grade, because I think that’s the only year we had a Laurel in our class.
I was chosen to play a character who goes home and tells her mom about no one playing with Lauren and talk about how God wanted us to include her. I remember studying my lines and at one point going to my mom and saying, “I know all my lines for the assembly,” and saying them all one right after the other with no pause in between.
The other thing I remember about praise assemblies was the awards. Each month the teachers would pick one or two kids from each class that exemplified the theme that month (and by the end of the year, each child had gotten an award once). They’d call your name and you’d go down front where you were handed a certificate printed on colored paper. Then you’d stand with the principal and your certificate while the school secretary took your picture with a Polaroid camera. The picture would be taped to the middle of the certificate and you’d go back and sit down while the rest of the names were called.
Sometimes you’d get a little pin, too, but the Polaroid pictures were the best part of winning. When you got back to your seat, the other kids in the pew would lean over as far as they could to watch the Polaroid develop. We’d still clap when the other names were called, but while they were getting their pictures taken and taped to the certificates it was back to watching the picture slowly emerge. Even when you were in sixth grade and trying to be a cool and nonchalant about it, you still would watch that picture develop out of the corner of your eye. I remember many times going through a mental list of who had already won an award and who hadn’t, trying to guess who would win and then purposely sit next to that person so I’d get to watch the picture develop.