A group of students and faculty gathered at the foot of the Memorial Bell Tower on the morning of last Friday, October 6, waiting for Head of School John Palfrey to open its doors. As Palfrey released the lock, he stood and welcomed all those who came to climb the Bell Tower for a special view of campus.
Sara Parker, House Counselor in Stowe House, said, “There were a lot of students up there. It was a little crowded, but the views were pretty awesome. You could see the [Cochran] Chapel. You could see the [Gelb] Science Center and beyond. It was beautiful… I didn’t know if I would ever be able to go up there again so I was really glad that I got to.”
With many students off campus for the four-day weekend, Palfrey announced the event via email Thursday evening. Palfrey’s invitation reached out to all grades, inviting them to participate in what has long been a Senior class tradition.
According to Max Rigby-Hall ’18, a group of Seniors led the charge to the top of the Bell Tower up the several flights of stairs. Through its four windows, the Bell Tower offered community members views of the fall foliage, the Quads, and Main Street. Current Seniors added their names in marker to a wall already covered in signatures from previous Senior classmen.
In the past, few people could say that they have looked down on campus from the Bell Tower before Senior year. Going to the top of the Bell Tower has traditionally been exclusively for Seniors in their Spring Term. As a popular item on many students’ Andover bucket lists, many students wish to climb to the top to experience this Andover tradition before graduation.
This time, however, non-Seniors such as Claire Brady ’20 decided to go to check a box off her bucket list even before her Senior Spring.
Brady said, “Going to the top of the Bell Tower had always been on my bucket list for Andover. And when Mr. Palfrey let everyone know that it was open I thought it would just be a great time to go up while I could because I didn’t know when I would get another chance to do it.”
Rigby-Hall shared a similar thought in wanting to complete the activity. In the beginning of the year, he and his advising peers had written their Senior bucket lists. Rigby-Hall said that he had two final tasks left, one of which was going to Holt Hill, while the other was going to the top of the Bell Tower. Knowing that his Spring will be busy, Rigby-Hall decided to complete one of these final tasks on Friday.
While Ora Cullen ’19 anticipated her climb up the Bell Tower, she said that she felt strange doing an activity that is usually reserved for Seniors. Nevertheless, she said that this experience has given her deeper respect and appreciation for those who ring the tower’s bells.
Cullen said “It felt really weird. It felt kind of like cheating because you’re only supposed to do this senior spring when you’re about to graduate.”
Rigby-Hall said that although he was initially surprised when seeing a non-Senior friend at the Bell Tower, he felt that it was an appropriate gesture to include all grades.
Rigby-Hall said “At first I was a little annoyed because this was sort of the Senior’s thing and the underclassmen can do it in the following years. But… I think this time [the event was]… less about senior bucket lists and more about the mood on campus. [It was] something fun to do for anyone who was still around because so many people went home, so I don’t think there was any harm in bringing the underclassmen at all.”
While Palfrey did extend this invitation earlier in the year, he still plans to organize this event again for the Seniors in the Spring as usual.