Taking the Driver’s Seat

If Andover students are anything, we are driven. We are driven, driven at a breakneck speed (or pace of life, if you will) towards the promised land of Success. I often hear people talking about the place called Success, but I’m still unclear exactly where it is. From what I can piece together, I would venture that it is most likely in New York City, or Washington, DC, though it might have an enclave in Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. The scary the thing is, I don’t think anyone in the Class of 2006 knows where Success is. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m worried. This is a problem: we’re all supposed to be going there together, and we don’t even know where the place is. How will we find our way? Ah, wait, I can hear an awesome chorus of my peers with ready remedies for my anxiety. “Relax,” they say, “you don’t have to find Success on your own, for we’re driven, you see. Didn’t you get the book?” All of a sudden, a girl appears and hands me a red and white, inches-thick volume entitled The Road to Success: 934 Absolutely necessary Steps to reserve Your Place in Paradise. Well, now that’s a relief. I’m surprised though; I wasn’t aware that the Princeton Review was in the business of making travel guides. From what I can surmise from the book, the only way to get to Success is to take the bus. That’s alright though, now we can all study along the way. Herein lies the beauty of being driven towards Success. There’s no need to keep an eye on the road, no need to stress about the myriad uncertainties of driving oneself to Success (or even worse, having to choose one’s own destination.) Whoever put this trip together sure is offering a hell of a deal. All you have to do is pay for your ticket, take the tests, don’t disturb others, say the right things, put the formulas into your calculator, don’t talk to strangers, cross your T’s, dot your I’s, and pretend you actually care about the people and places and ideas that rush by your window. Most importantly, you should know about the bus driver. No one knows his name, so we all just call him the Man. He’s always shouting threats back at unruly students warning that he can turn the damn bus around, and that would end our precious field trip pretty damn quick, wouldn’t it? We may not all be packed into a real, moving vehicle hurtling down some highway. But good old Andover is a bus unto itself, a Magic Preparatory School Bus (you call can guess who Miss Frizzle is). It’s plain to see that most of us are positively giddy about securing a ride on the road to Success. Not because we are actually happy right now, but because we’ll be happy in 40 years when we’re the multilingual, multi-talented, multi-home owning mandarins that the fates have prescribed us to be. Enough. I apologize. I have done the wonderful people at this school an injustice. I could not be half the person I am today without this place. To harp on in satire about the failings of Andover would be treasonous to the students and faculty who have enriched my life over the past three years. It would be tragic, however, if I were to part ways with this school without sounding the call for change. The time has come for Andover students to stop being driven along the paths most taken, because none of us are doing any better for ourselves by being slaves to our grade point averages, Marlys Edwards, and the College Counseling Office. Just forty years ago the youth of America hopped off the bus and took to the streets and changed the world forever. Our generation cannot languish as we do now, in apathy and disunion, and expect the world to get better on its own. We cannot for much longer be deferent to authority. We cannot be fooled into thinking that fighting the Man is just stupid teenage nonsense, for it is the duty of every generation to ask questions of its elders and demand that they be answered. If ensconced authorities are left unchallenged and unaccountable, then our generation will have nothing to do but reap the manifold whirlwind: dirty wars, tyrannical administrators, standardized testing, sycophantic media, corrupt government, thoughtless bureaucracy, and insurance companies. I don’t want this to happen. To everyone that’s with me: let’s stop being driven, get off this bus and face up to the task at hand.