A Deep Dive Into the Lecture Hall Series

Investigating its origin, criticisms, and future.


Whether you love them or hate them, you have definitely attended one. The lecture hall series is a continuation of last year’s practice of having grade-wide meetings in the lecture hall during study hall. They are mostly grade-specific, and with seven scheduled for this year, they are becoming a new Magnet staple. With their increasing importance at Magnet, I have decided to interview Mr. Perlmutter and students on their opinions on the lecture hall series.  

According to Mr. Perlmutter, “we needed a way to get information out to whole classes, and it was important information” and so the lecture hall series was born. Throughout the year, there is a plethora of important information that needs to be distributed around classrooms, and with the lecture hall series, the information is delivered in one place without needing individual announcements per study hall. There was a lot of support for this program as “the parent groups were really invested” and expressed that “college preparation was the first priority.” So thank you to those supporters! Mr. Cosgrove added that the “Lecture hall series is a much-needed venue for in-depth reviews pertinent to each grade. Students should keep in mind, it’s still a work in progress, and feedback is appreciated. From what I’ve heard, everyone’s gotten something out of the series, from study tips for freshmen to interesting invited speakers. It’s definitely filled a gap in student programming.”

Students have given mixed reviews about how they feel, with some describing them as “honestly not that bad” and others saying they have “fallen asleep during every single one.” Some honest criticism from Lilly Skinner is “they would be more beneficial if they were optional because having people there that don’t want to be is less conducive to learning.” Students have suggested “they let us vote on the topics beforehand” or “be shorter because magnet kids don’t have that long of an attention span.” There have also been some louder complaints from some students claiming they would “rather spend [their] time being productive” but an anonymous student going by the name “#NightRaptor” said, “people are dramatic, like people at that table *points,* it’s not horrible.” Overall the large consensus seems to be that the lecture hall series is not as bad as some say, but could benefit from being shorter and having more student input. 

When asked what he had to say about some of the criticism the series has received, Mr. Perlmutter said, “Some of them are fair and some of them are not.” He “expected some pushback but the same people who pushback and say ‘oh don’t take my study hall’ then want early outs so they can go sit on the beach or something like that so they’re trying to do a balancing act and make sure everyone gets the information they need.” Some of these criticisms included complaints that there were programs dedicated to college applications, but no programs for things like different awareness months. He explained that the lecture hall series was started during a pandemic and because it involved bringing a large number of students into one space “they had to prioritize what was immediately important to kids for their very immediate future.” In response to the criticism from students reported earlier, he said, “they were fairly legitimate ” and “we tried to make them shorter this year and not the full ninety-minute block.” One unfair criticism he has heard is students complaining about having a test the next day because the series is planned eight months in advance and “it’s impossible to plan around every test that every student would have in seven periods. What we can do is try to make them optional and try to make them shorter.” 

While the lecture hall series is not perfect, it has housed some helpful lectures and interesting guest speakers. When asked how he feels its gone thus far Mr. Perlmutter said he has “been very happy with it” and “we had some wild cards – when you have guest speakers you’re not exactly sure what they’re ever going to say – and sometimes its a real pleasant surprise and other times its not. But overall it’s a real positive.” Due to the new nature of the series, it is constantly evolving, hopefully for the better, and Mr. Perlmutter would like to “see it be more student-driven” and he thinks “they’re going to find out what works and what doesn’t work.” Something he is hoping to add is more student celebration at the start of each lecture. It is impossible to have a press release for every student accomplishment “but what we can do is clap up these things in front of other students” so he hopes “to have the first five minutes of each lecture hall series event be dedicated to student recognitions.” 

Personally, I understand the importance of having the lecture hall series and have found some lectures very beneficial, but I wish students could have more involvement in deciding the topics. I can see how this could be difficult with the lectures being planned in advance, but I feel that more student engagement would make the most out of the program. It seems like a perfect venue for student recognition, and I look forward to seeing the lecture hall series grow over time. 

Full lecture hall series schedule: