Making It Our Own

As the rain falls outside my window overlooking the Great Lawn, I always get a little sentimental about my time spent at Andover over the course of the past three years. I believe I have developed a small case of senioritis, with the symptoms consisting of bittersweet feelings and mixed emotions about the conclusion of my career here. Not everyone I talk to feels this way, however; as some seniors are ready to leave at the drop of a hat and others fret about the ever-approaching June 8th graduation date. I can say with some confidence that I know the Class of 2004 is in for a long climb over the next year and a half. Life was good when I entered the school; the general atmosphere on campus was one of satisfying contentment. Now, however, I feel that campus morale has dropped to its lowest point during my time here. Andover has agendas. Note that a non-profit organization like this school still has to deal with the same issues that currently plague corporate America. The administration has to contend with finances, legal issues, et cetera – all concerns that seem, to the average PA student, to have pushed our general well-being to the bottom of the school’s docket. Why, you ask, are our administrators doing this when their priority is the student body? I don’t believe it is intentional. After September 11th, 2001, the world changed, and Andover’s face changed along with it. The world’s economy is in a sorry state; on campus, budget belt-tightening has axed some popular extracurricular programs for the next few years. We constantly talk about the pace of life, an issue that is both the fabled cause of, and solution to, all of Andover’s problems. I see such problems as evidence of PA’s inability to remain ahead of a world that is changing drastically each day. The administration is not to blame for the state of the school. Look around: so many different programs are still available for our benefit. The theater, music, and arts programs here are still great, and athletics are still successful. The rest of the country’s schools have suffered hard hits, but we endure only a few small blows, while most of our major programs still remain intact. I believe the problem with morale lies within tendencies – as administrators, faculty, and students – to become complacent about our world and not accept fault for our own misgivings. We assign blame to other places in order to distance ourselves from the problem. Even when we do see an issue, we make only feeble attempts to fix it. Because of this, every one of us at this school makes our problems worse. This kind of laissez-faire attitude does not work and serves only to exacerbate the issues at hand. We need to face our problems and try to overcome them swiftly and thoroughly. The gradual decline of life at Andover can be reversed if we look to the past and see what worked before and try to change those ideas to conform to today’s world. This school can be a place where one learns, tries new things, and meets the most interesting high schoolers on the planet. Over the past three years, however, the school has transformed into a place where most people are excited to go to a prison where the only lights at the end of the tunnel are our vacations. Ultimately, though, I believe the school can fix this problem, but we as students need to take the initiative as well. The administration knows that we like to complain all the time about everything and therefore has grown somewhat deaf to our constant droning. On a different note, trust in your student government. This office has been somewhat overlooked as a legitimate forum for our grievances. Press your class officers to bring up issues in Student or Cluster Council so that the administration can stay abreast of our problems. Have faith in the system. Contrary to what many might or will tell you, no one is “out to get” you. We have a very capable and concerned administration which, as have the rest of us, have over-analyzed and grown apathetic about the wrong issues. I’m not saying that three years ago, life was grand. Andover had its problems, and it had many, although they somehow seemed easier to bear. With the state of the world in such turmoil, the school has weathered the storm, though it now seems to be stuck in a rut. We the student body need to act as the catalyst for dynamic change. Think carefully when you vote for the next Student Council President. Believe in the system that is in place now, because it has worked in the past, and can work well for you in the present and future. Keep your head up, Uppers especially, and realize that this is the high school that you chose to go to because you are bright, talented, and concerned about the world around you. Finally, let your opinions be heard – write commentary articles. Who knows, you might just be the one that turns this school back into the wonderful place that we all know it can be.