A Benign Tradition

You’re not crazy Carlos, just misguided. In last week’s Phillipian, Carlos Hoyt called for the year-opening All School Meeting to live up to its name as a Celebration of Community. This is something we wholeheartedly agree with. However, we believe that he failed to notice one simple fact: it already does. Mr. Hoyt presented a rather idealistic view of what the ASM should consist of. In doing so, we believe that he not only portrayed false emotions, but also presented a watered-down, rigid version of what is currently an enthusiastic event. While reading his piece, we found it hard to believe that people would be reduced to tears by a simple 45 minute gathering. As a result, we believe he exaggerated his optimistic dream of what the ASM really should be. For instance, he describes what he believes to be a creative endeavor in singing the school song in Latin (in doing so, perhaps drawing a parallel to Dickens’s Dotheboys Hall). When we read this, we did not see an innovative expression of school pride. Instead, we saw a shocking resemblance to a funeral procession with applause. We see Mr. Hoyt’s vision as relatively solemn and dull when compared to the current joyous and light-hearted status quo. We feel that Mr. Hoyt misrepresented the intentions of the Senior class. He rushed to portray their actions as, “oppositionalism thinly masked as enthusiasm” and called them, “narcissistic, self-indulgent and obnoxious.” Quite frankly, we think he is projecting a false state of mind on the Senior class. To suggest that Seniors enter the ASM with the explicit purpose of shouting over and disrespecting the faculty is absurd. From our viewpoint, the Seniors are simply celebrating the culmination of their four-year struggles and achievements. Furthermore, the Senior class’s cheering is not strictly limited to cheering for themselves, as Mr. Hoyt implies. He conveniently omitted the fact that they are celebrating their involvement and experience as part of the Andover community through their cheering. They are not simply lauding their own class. The Senior class is not engaging in “narcissistic exhibitionalism” at the expense of the other three. In fact, their strong spirits and proud voices uphold and exemplify the nature of our institution. This is a positive event and a welcome into a vibrant community. One would be hard-pressed to come across some student expressing unhappiness at being “bullied” by their exuberant elders. As such, we don’t find the idea of underclassmen alienation, as presented by Mr. Hoyt, to hold water. There are good traditions and there are bad ones, yet the joyful cheering of the Senior class can hardly be construed as malicious or harmful to the community. On the contrary, it is a benign tradition that we actually look forward to. With regards to the speaker’s experience at the ASM, we concede that being interrupted by enthusiastic Seniors is irritating. But we hope that the Head of School can see this event for what it is: a happy celebration. As such, we respectfully ask her to partake in one brief session of happy hullabaloo per year, in exchange for the preservation of a delightful tradition. The crux of this argument boils down to whether the senior celebration takes away from the Phillips Academy community experience. Although we understand that Mr. Hoyt’s intentions were pure, we do not agree with his contentions. We see this as a tradition that does not deserve to be broken. We hope that one day we too can walk down that chapel aisle, brimming with school pride. Charlie Cockburn is a two-year Lower from Washington, D.C. Chris Meyer is a two-year Lower from Darien, CT.