A Rightful Response

On Thursday, May 22, my friends and I were eating takeout in my room. I can’t even recall what the subject of our discussion was anymore, but it was what we usually talk about on a Thursday afternoon: how difficult the math test was, what was happening the coming weekend and what had happened with so-and-so the other day. The usual. Then, someone in my hall stormed in, asking us if we had read “the email,” asking everyone to go to the chapel at 3:45 for a mandatory meeting “regarding an important community matter.” The atmosphere of the room changed completely. Suddenly, everyone tried to come up with possible answers as to what this mysterious meeting could possibly concern. Suicide. Racial slurs. Oscar Tang decided to fund an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii for the entire school (that one was seriously considered for a second). Or maybe it was just a test to see how fast we could all assemble together when needed. In any case, it certainly generated a lot of commotion amongst a group of six freshmen girls. When we finally did find out the details of the incident, I didn’t really know how I felt about it. On one hand, we had – and have – no cause for worry. Our extreme response to the situation came in part because of our relative inexperience with this sort of thing. Coming from a public school in California, threats and intimidating graffiti are almost commonplace. In comparison, Andover is located in a relatively privileged, upper-middle class neighborhood where an event like this would, predictably, spur a lot of attention. On the other hand, who knows? What if something does happen? Even though the police have assessed the situation and deemed it “not a credible threat,” no situation is 100 percent predictable. There is always that slight amount of unpredictability, and that worried me. However, the response to the incident was commendable. In a case of emergency, we now know that the entire school can be assembled together in one spot quickly and efficiently. Throughout her address to the students, Mrs. Chase emphasized the increased security personnel, lighting, security cameras and caution taken throughout campus. We are probably safer now than we’ve ever been before. And the decision to shut down Commons construction last Friday is evidence that the situation is being handled with the utmost caution, however small the risk may be. I am proud of the way our Head of School chose to respond to the situation by deciding to inform the community, even against the advice of others. I am also proud of the way the rest of our school responded to the situation. Now we know that the students of this school are capable of showing maturity in the face of distress. If you are reading this now (on or after May 30), congratulations. We’ve (probably) survived. And we’ve also come through with the knowledge that Andover has the ability to overcome adversity, even if it comes in the form of a construction worker armed with a sharpie in a porta-potty. Michelle Ma is a Junior from Walnut, Calif.