Earlier this month, the Strategic Planning Committee began meeting to discuss how to improve the Andover experience. In short, this team of faculty, administrators and Trustees will decide what path this school will take for the next few years. Anything and everything is on the table at these sessions, and we will know what Andover’s fate is only when the Committee’s findings are released over the next few months. Obviously, the Committee will be painstakingly thorough in evaluating the school. Andover might represent the top high school experience in the country, but that hardly means that it can not improve. Even the top scholars can study a little bit more. But what can Andover do? The last time the Steering Committee got together, in 1998, Campaign Andover was born. We can thank that massive fund-raising initiative for many things, among them a new science center and hockey rink. So how about in 2003? For starters, no amount of fund-raising can fix trust. That goes in every direction. As the theme of this week’s All-School Meeting demonstrates, Andover is a community. We are a community of students, teachers, administrators, and staff members, and the virtue of trust needs to connect all the different groups. Students need to be able to trust in their teachers, and those same teachers need to trust their students. Although the feeling that the administration lacks faith in the student body should change, students also need to stop doubting the motives and decisions of the administration. And how do we get everyone in our community to believe in one another, to think really and truly that we are all in this together, playing on the same team? What about making this 500-acre campus a bit smaller? The advising system is a foundation, but it can be so much more. Currently, how many advisors do more than sign off on course selection sheets and add/drop slips and make a few minutes of small talk every two weeks? Ideally, advisors would help young Andover students navigate the tricky waters of Academy Hill. An advisor is a member of the faculty with whom students feel comfortable asking not only about what courses to take, but more importantly, about anything they want to know during these most important years of life. But why stop there? Why not let students make this kind of connection with as many adults in the Andover community as possible? As it stands now, there might be two or three adults, by the time a student graduates from Andover, that this young alumnus can say truly knew him or her. These personal relationships can really make a difference in the Andover experience. Both the faculty and administrators, as well as the students, have to work together to tear down some of the barriers–major and minor–currently dividing us all.
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