In Depth

The Road to Blue Key Society, a Thorough Process

In the first days of September, the incoming Junior class will be welcomed to Phillips Academy by a group of cheering, enthusiastic Blue Keys on the sidewalk of Main Street. The Blue Keys are responsible for leading the orientation program in the opening week of school, attending athletic events, demonstrating school spirit and mentoring new students throughout their first year at Andover. The application process for the 10 Blue Key Heads is very selective, and only the students showing the most commitment and exceptional school spirit are selected. This year, in response to problems in past years with cluster representation, the Blue Key Heads were chosen from a school-wide pool and then assigned to individual clusters. Cynthia Efinger, Director of Student Activities, said, “We selected the Blue Key Heads school-wide this year for a variety of reasons. First, there have been clusters in the past which are not represented, making it difficult to find enthusiastic candidates. Also, it promotes school unity and school spirit during orientation. The Blue Key Heads wear rainbow tie-dye shirts during orientation to represent their support of the entire school, not just their individual cluster.” She said that the Blue Key Heads, cluster deans and herself also keep diversity in mind when selecting candidates; however, it is not a deciding factor. Efinger said, “We usually get lucky in that we have a diverse applicant pool, which leads to a diverse Blue Key Society. We choose the most enthusiastic and dedicated candidates, and it usually ends up that we have a diverse group.” The Blue Key Head application process consists of a written application, an interview with previous Blue Key Heads, and “try-outs” by leading students in cheers and other activities to demonstrate enthusiasm and school spirit. According to Efinger, Blue Key Heads are chosen by collaboration between the former Blue Key Heads, cluster deans, and herself. She said that all components of the application are weighted equally, and students who are well-rounded but also able to commit to the position are selected. Students who demonstrated school spirit, attendance of student events and athletic games and commitment to the position are usually selected. Efinger said, “We try to choose students who are already active in student activities and who have demonstrated that they love Andover and its students. We look for nice, approachable students who will serve as good mentors for [incoming] students.” Students’ other extracurricular commitments are also considered in the application process. Football players, fall captains and prefects cannot apply because of conflicting schedule during the opening weeks of school. Blue Keys are expected to attend all orientation events and to reschedule any other conflicts that may arise, including athletic practices, community service programs and club meetings. For this reason, students are strongly advised to consider their Fall Term schedule and extracurricular commitments before applying. Club leadership positions or time-consuming commitments are also taken into account when selecting Blue Keys. Efinger said that it is sometimes difficult to balance a candidate’s involvement in student activities and clubs with the time that he or she will be able to commit to the position. She said, “Blue Keys need to be able to commit substantial time to Orientation and other commitments in the fall term and throughout the year. They must be able to attend the full orientation in the fall, Saturday home games, and pep rallies. Blue Keys must also act as mentors and stay in contact with their assigned students throughout Fall Term and the entire year.”