Blue Keys Lead New Students Through Orientation Programs

Blue Keys spent hours yelling on the corner of Main Street and Chapel Avenue cheering and dancing to welcome new students to Andover this past Saturday. The 2010-2011 Blue Key Society led a three-day orientation program this weekend for the 323 new students. The orientation was aimed at helping the students become accustomed to campus life. Teddy Smyth ’11, Blue Key Head for Pine Knoll said, “The best part [of orientation] was definitely the cheering on the corner. Our Blue Keys were fantastic and people driving up to campus really got to see how great and spirited our school is.” New student William Young ’14 said, “We pulled up to what seemed like the longest red light ever, but [orientation] was something I had been looking forward to since my sister told me all about her first day.” Chris Capano, Director of Student Activities said, “I was surprised at how much energy all the kids had. They were willing to go until the last second. I was thoroughly impressed by how much they all loved this school.” New students spent Saturday morning registering and moving in with the help of their Blue Keys. Dormitories also had their first meetings as house counselors and complements greeted their new boarders. Ryan Ramos ’12, Prefect of America House, said, “When we first gathered all the kids in the dorm together, it was like they all already knew each other. My freshman year in America House was a great experience and I wanted to make it a memorable one for them too. We’re off to a great start.” Capano said, “I was especially impressed by how hard the Blue Keys and Blue Key Heads worked. I heard that they were getting very involved everywhere, whether it was in George Washington Hall helping with registration or carrying boxes and suitcases into dorms in Pine Knoll.” In the afternoon all of the new students and their families entered Cochran Chapel for a formal welcome to the school. Barbara Chase, Head of School, and Paul Murphy, Dean of Students welcomed the new students to the Andover community along with Mike MacKay, School President, and other school leaders. Parents of new students then separated by cluster to meet with their children’s cluster deans and the presidents of the clusters. As the parents were in their meetings, the new students gathered on the lawn where the Blue Key Heads introduced a few school cheers and involved the new arrivals in their first Andover pep rally in order to give them a taste of school spirit. Then the students broke up into clusters to play games facilitated by the Blue Keys. Smyth participated in orientation last year as a new Upper when the new students gathered on the Great Lawn under pouring rain. Smyth said, “I was really happy it didn’t rain like last year. It was really nice to be able to go outside with good weather and see Andover with the new students.” Alex Smachlo ’11, Blue Key, said, “I had a lot of fun with the orientation, especially meeting new students and showing them around campus. I remember how much I enjoyed my first weekend here and I wanted to give the new students the same experience.” The school offered an Interfaith Leave-Taking service for families as an opportunity to say goodbyes before the mandatory departure time for parents of new students. Following the Leave-Taking, Blue Key orientation leaders took their students for their first meal in Paresky Commons. On their first night, the new students gathered in Gelb to meet with Department Chairs and work on their schedules with their advisors. The day then ended with the Blue Keys showing the new students back to their dormitories, where they started getting accustomed to their dorm mates and living away from home. Ryan Ramos ’12 said, “None of [the new students] really seem scared to be living away, and I could already see them adjusting well to their new-found independence. It was nice to see them all bonding as friends.” Orientation continued Sunday morning with group breakfasts. Blue Keys then led their students around the campus, from the sanctuary to Graham House to familiarize the new students with all of the campus facilities. In the evening, all new students gathered around the Armillary Sphere on the Great Lawn before the matriculation ceremony. The students formed a procession led by bagpipers to enter Tang Theatre, where the school celebrated each cluster’s matriculating students through representatives. Students then formed circles by class in order to receive their matriculation certificates in the traditional way, where students pass around each certificate until it reaches its owner. Capano said, “The matriculation ceremony was especially nice. It was a more serious occasion and everyone was dressed up. It was a very nice moment.” Monday acted as a more informal part of orientation. Blue Keys took students downtown to buy books and showed them the buildings where they would be taking classes. “I think it’s great to add new blood. The kids were definitely excited, and the welcome from all the seniors with smiles on their faces was very nice. I loved the entire weekend and I’m glad I was able to be a part of it,” said Capano. Smyth said, “Overall, it was a lot of fun and I think everything went very smoothly. I hope the students are all well accustomed to Andover by now.”