“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,” said Student Body Co-President Keely Aouga ’19, quoting a line from Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy.”
Along with Co-President Nick Demetroulakos ’19, Aouga spoke at the Andiver’s first All School Meeting (ASM) this Wednesday, September 12.
This first ASM also featured an international students’ flag-bearing procession, a faculty procession, and annual entry of the Senior class led by Drumline and the Blue Key Heads. With drums and chanting, the energy in Cochran Chapel was set high for the start of another school year.
“I thought the ASM had really great energy and watching my Senior friends walk down the aisle was exciting but also intimidating knowing that I will be doing that next year,” said Samantha Lee ’20.
In their speech, Aouga and Demetroulakos reminded students that memories, including those saved on social media platforms like Snapchat, carry important emotions with them.
“Some of these memories are filled simply with laughter, the jokes long forgotten, the results immortalized. These Snapchat ‘memories’ reflect, I think, what my memories of Andover are truly like. They are events, things that really happened that I can attach a label to, and there are feelings, the things where you can’t remember when or why but they’re there nonetheless,” said Demetroulakos in his speech.
Aouga echoed Demetroulakos’ sentiment, urging the student body to remember the simple happiness in life.
“For many of you this might be your last first All School Meeting. It may also be your very first. Whether it is your last or you have many to go I want you all to think about the people in the room that make you smile and the activities you do that make you forget about the rest of the world. For me I like to remind myself once in a while by just writing down a list of the people I love and the things that make me happy,” said Aouga.
Along with their memories, the co-presidents highlighted the idea of gratitude, Andover’s “theme” for the year, according to Head of School John Palfrey P’21. Aouga noted that although she holds a “complex” relationship with Andover, she truly values her experiences here and looks forward to the future memories she will make this year. Aouga and Demetroulakos engaged the audience in reflecting on their actions.
“Nick and I challenge you all to be grateful for every moment you have this year whether it be big or small and take notice of them. Be mindful of each passing day and make everyday special. Even if it is in the smallest way. Disrupt your schedule, do something that scares you, be spontaneous regardless of how many days you have left. They are precious,” said Aouga during her speech.
Palfrey also emphasized gratitude in his address.
“Now it’s important as a community value but it also turns out it’s good for you. Does anybody know this? There’s scientific data to show this very consistently: gratitude is strongly associated with a series of things that we like, more positive emotions, reliably good experiences, coping skills and resiliency when things get tough. In other words, the ability to handle adversity is strongly correlated with gratitude toward others,” said Palfrey in his address.
Palfrey concluded his speech with, “We want people to be grateful. It’s good for you to be grateful.”
Olwethu Ngubo ’21 and Maximilian Hunger ’20 addressed the community on behalf of the international students.
Although only having been on campus for a short time, Hunger shared his thanks “from the bottom of [his] heart” to the community,and particularly to New International Student Orientation (NISO) for helping him in his transition as an international student.
“Moving into a dorm for the first time and learning an entirely new culture are pretty difficult tasks on their own, but doing so thousands of miles away from home can be a pretty daunting challenge. However thanks to the people that make NISO possible, you’re not alone on your journey away from home,” said Hunger in the speech.
Ngubo says she is eager and grateful to be a part of Andover, offering an open invitation to greet her on the path as meeting new people is her “new favorite thing.”
“I might not even remember your name the next time I see you and chances are you’ve already forgotten mine but I would love to meet you,” said Ngubo. “I know for sure that all the international students, me included, look forward to making this beautiful campus a home, a place where we feel we belong, a place where we have fun, a place we try newfound things, a place to love and to be loved and lastly a place to make mistakes. Mistakes that will build our characters.”
Miraya Bhayani ’21 said she appreciated the energy and thoughtfulness apparent throughout the ASM.
“The first ASM was a lot of fun. I enjoyed all the speeches; I thought that each speech was so unique in its own way. And I loved how the Seniors had so much pride to be in their class. And I can’t wait to be a Senior, too,” said Bhayani in an interview with The Phillipian.
Palfrey reminds us to stay aware of our potential legacies and the impact they will make for future generations. He mentioned his favorite place on campus, the steps in Paresky Commons between the first and second floors, to connect to his main message of legacy.
“It’s where you see in the marble, the literal indentations of generations of generations of generations of footsteps… it makes you realize that your tread does matter, what you do here. For students, you might think about what is the legacy that you want to leave in the form of those footsteps and every student has the opportunity to do that… to think about the history that you carry with you and the history you will leave us,” said Palfrey in his speech.