A Spring Awakening

Spring is a time of profound change. Twelve days ago, a gleaming, newly renovated dining facility opened its doors to thousands of eager students and faculty. Twelve days ago, students returned to their classes, embracing a fresh term of learning and growth. Nine days ago, we elected a new School President to lead us through another year at Phillips Academy. New opportunities, new friendships, new experiences and new beginnings define spring term, and as a rejuvenated community returns to life at this institution, evidence of change can be observed at every turn. Our departing senior class is presently retiring from positions of leadership and influence on campus, and with a gentle retreat of the old comes a steady rise of the new. Younger students fill the vacated posts, becoming new leaders as the reigns are placed in their hands. After four years of late-night cramming, rigorous commitments and college applications, Seniors can soon take a well-deserved and long-overdue break, as they roll out the Slippin’ Slides and soak in the sun. Yet with leadership roles come questions regarding what makes a true leader. What aspects of an individual mark leadership potential? How does one develop this potential and hone the skills that characterize today’s most revered figures? As we get older, we encounter not only more freedom and privileges but also more temptations. New leadership is a concept you may find yourself wrestling with. If approached carelessly, leadership, with its power and influence, can cause one to fall victim to pride or arrogance. But the leaders who evoke genuine respect from the people around them are the ones who lead not with power, but with a deep sense of humility and integrity. Everyone at Andover faces challenges. In an unfamiliar environment, Juniors are thrown into a rush of new experiences miles away from home. After a year under their belts, Lowers dive into a sea of academic and extracurricular challenges and opportunities. With the college process on the horizon, Uppers are at a turning point in their Andover careers, facing increasingly more rigorous academics and pressures to meet their greatest potentials. Seniors grapple with college admissions as they prepare to bid farewell to this community and begin a new chapter of their lives. While our challenges may be different, in essence they serve to bind us. We all strive to surmount our obstacles and stay strong in our convictions. And it is through this common effort, whether in victory or defeat, that we experience irreversible inner growth. Ultimately, it is how you meet these challenges that determines how you grow and mature as a leader. If you give way to egotism and vanity, your growth will be stunted. Yet if you choose to approach life and its inevitable challenges with optimism, understanding, integrity and the greatest level of moral character, you will command the highest respect from those around you. As English novelist George Eliot once wrote, “the strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.” Leaders are born not from their words but from their actions- by conducting ourselves in the spirit of non sibi, upon which this institution was founded, we all have the potential to grow as leaders.