Chapel Talks undergo a virtual transformation

Chapel, held every Monday and Friday, is a hallmark of a Hill School week. In a typical year, the entire student body would gather in the Chapel twice a week in the morning. The service would consist of a school hymn, some prayers, and a reflective, motivational or personal talk from a current 6th former or faculty member. As students go through their time at Hill, many often try to imagine themselves standing at the podium. 

“It means a lot that I will be able to have this experience and share what I have written with everyone, especially after watching so many other talks over the years,” said Ellinor Lagor ’21, who has grown up on campus and watched her own siblings stand at the podium.

Although this year’s speakers are not able to deliver their speech live, the tradition is being upheld in a new light. This year, Chapel is prerecorded and watched in a classroom with one’s advisory. The speaker records their talk in the Chapel a week before it is released for the rest of the school to watch. Both speeches for the week are recorded on the same day so that there is enough time to edit. With only a few present during the process, the speaker has a very different experience in delivering the talk. Instead of addressing the community as a whole, they look out into the empty pews and are told to make eye contact with the camera lens.

Bella Basile ’21, reflecting on her experience, said, “I was nervous to look into the camera, and it felt super unnatural at the beginning, but, besides that, I am very happy that I was still able to get my message out into the community.”

Despite the foreign situation and initial awkwardness, there are some benefits to having prerecorded Chapel. With the ability to have a proper recording with both audio and video, the talks are able to be shared easily among family, outside friends, and the broader community, including alumni. Social media has taken on a new role as Hill’s spiritual life Instagram account is now able to post clips and behind-the-scenes shots. The community is also able to sit and reflect on the subject due to the extra built-in time in the advisory schedule.

“This is our chance to continue to create community outside of the traditional spots like the Dining Hall and Chapel. I hope students will see this as an opportunity to honor each other in smaller spaces; that way they will appreciate the larger spaces much more later,” said Firestone Endowment Chaplain Rev. Khristi Adams.