Commentary

Appreciation

By the end of the Fall Term I was a tired trooper and very much looking forward to winter break. By the end of winter break the prospect of having to rev up for the return to school and the associated sprint-speed multitasking that is Andover life was a bit daunting. Now we are back – and if you are like me, any cobwebs that formed in the brain spaces you left empty over break (the homework, email, meetings, meetings, meetings, classes, practice, projects, presentations…brain spaces) have already been blown away by the resumption of activity. If you are like me (and I hope you are in this respect) what has also been renewed (in addition to the Andover lifestyle) is an appreciation for what that lifestyle provides. I will not attempt to count all the ways that I am appreciative of this precious little village; I will limit myself to just one. As I was rushing from my office in the Dean of Students suite in the basement of GW last Friday in order to arrive on time at Borden for Instructional Basketball, I hustled past a scene that, if not uniquely possible in this place, was, I’m sure, highly improbable beyond Andover. Just outside my office, five Andover citizens were intensely engaged in a discussion of the politics of the day. This, of course, is not so unusual a thing to come upon, but what was uniquely emblematic of what Andover makes possible is the constellation of individuals involved in this conversation. Sitting behind her desk was a staff person who works in the Dean of Students office. To her right, perched on a file cabinet, was a cluster dean. To her right, also sitting on a file cabinet and leaning against the office printer, was a Junior day student. Seated adjacent to him was a Senior boarder. And rounding out the circle of dialogue, leaning casually on the partition attached to the staff person’s desk, was the Dean of Studies. I did not have time to take in much of what exactly was being said between the participants. I was informed later by one of them that some passionate and provocative opining, debating and jocular jousting were all in effect. It was not planned. It was not private. It was not performance. I’m sure that each of the participants was on his or her way to some other activity. Each, no doubt, had some pressing thing or things to which she or he should attend. Each inhabited roles and realms in our school community which on paper would not suggest this sort of intersection. And that was the beauty of the moment. At that intersection these individuals, on their way to wherever they were bound, had arrived at the promise of this place: plurality and community. The break was good. But it’s also very good to be back at a place as cool as this.