Screaming Seniors

We say the end depends upon the beginning. The journey we take at this school – and how we come out of it – depends on how we start. If these things are true, then new student orientation provides an interesting analogy to the Andover experience. In one way or another, the Andover experience is encapsulated by the screaming Seniors at the corner of Salem and Main on new student move-in day. Although the students drove the spirit and the cheers and the overall sense of welcome which pervaded the campus, they did so with some help- the help, for instance, of administrators who delivered water bottles to the hot teenagers. The effect on new students is immeasurable. After all, how could anyone forget his or her first impression of Andover after such a terrific introduction? The same dynamic is true for the Andover experience. Although it is the students who make Andover great, they could not do so without the help of a thoughtful and enthusiastic faculty, staff and administration. This dynamic makes Andover an outstanding place to be. No one will ever forget his or her first impression of Andover, and no one will forget his or her years here. Yet like anything this place and our beginnings here have flaws. We could improve orientation. Smaller grouping, especially when new students were touring the campus with their Blue Keys, could have enhanced the overall experience. Similarly, issues like grading discrepancies or the insurmountable insanity of final assessments represent challenges this school continues to face. They are significant and deserve a great deal of consideration on both the part of the adults and the students in the community. This school’s flaws, however, are nothing more than that: flaws. Everything has flaws: the Mona Lisa has flaws, American democracy has flaws; even the Pope has flaws! At the end of the day, the sense new students get of Andover when they first drive up Main Street will be the sense they leave with. Phillips is an extraordinary place of extraordinary people. We leave behind the relaxed lives most teenagers lead for the late nights and early mornings of Andover’s academic demands. We are never complacent and are eager to challenge each other and ourselves. We scream on street corners until we are hoarse, and then we scream some more.