Blue Key Heads No Longer By Cluster

Blue Key Heads will now be selected independently of their clusters, and instead the positions will be awarded to the top five male and top five female applicants in the school. Cindy Efinger, Director of Student Activities, and all 10 of this year’s Blue Key Heads proposed the change earlier this term. Cluster deans and the Dean of Students quickly approved the new policy, Efinger said. The Blue Key Society will continue to be grouped by cluster. Efinger, joined by all of this year’s Blue Key Heads in the Student Activities office on Tuesday night, announced the decision in an exclusive to The Phillipian. Efinger said that she had first proposed the change three years ago, based on problems she had noticed with the system. “We’ve been mulling it over for a while,” she said. There were problems with the selection of past Blue Key Heads, Efinger said, because of the disparity in talent and interest in the position from cluster to cluster. In some clusters, only two students applied for Blue Key Head positions, while in other clusters as many as seven sought the positions. Although current Blue Key Heads select their replacements, both cluster deans and Efinger review the list and remove students who they deem not to be “in the best interest of the students,” Efinger said. However, Efinger said that she recalls few cases, if any, where the deans had to remove students from their positions. Blue Key Heads are confident that the new selection process will result in the best possible group of candidates. Dan Silva ’08, a Flagstaff Blue Key Head, said, “Competition isn’t a bad thing.” The process, which includes practice cheers as well as practice getting decked out in the full Blue Key Head regalia, will take place Spring Term. The interview process will not change. “Be afraid,” Silva said, when asked for advice to give to potential applicants. Efinger said that students would be more likely to apply with a school-wide audition and interview process. She also said that it would put an end to the strategy and politics that have often preceded the selection of the Blue Key Heads. Students will no longer switch clusters to have a better chance at the positions, and selected Blue Key Heads will not be forced to move in order to accommodate other clusters. All of the Blue Key Heads expressed enthusiasm about the change. According to Zack An ’08, an Abbot Blue Key Head, the lack of cluster affiliation for Blue Key Heads will allow Phillips Academy to move toward its goal of being “a true community.” “We are for the whole school,” An said. The Blue Key Heads wear rainbow tie-dye shirts because they represent the entire school, Efinger said. According to Efinger, the Blue Key Heads represented clusters beginning in the 1970’s with the founding of Phillips Academy’s cluster system. She said that the clusters, then lacking organized cluster councils, needed leaders, and the Deans called on Blue Key Heads to fill those roles. Now, though, Blue Key Heads only have cluster-based roles at New Student Orientation. The rest of the year is spent working as a group, cheering for all of Phillips Academy’s teams. Blue Key Heads no longer have a prominent role in cluster sports, with intramural basketball and Ultimate Frisbee having replaced cluster counterparts. The Blue Key Heads said that the change in the selection process was independent from the decision to switch to largely intramural offerings.