The Blue Keys Heads cheered to passing cars on Main Street. Students decked in blue face paint and tie-die t-shirts maneuvered students around campus. Bag pipes squealed up the Great Lawn. These were the snippets of Orientation activities recorded in the photos and memories of 360 new Phillips Academy students who arrived to campus this past Saturday.
“I think with all the cheering and all the excitement [during orientation], we are trying to show [new students] how much we enjoy PA and hope that it rubs off on them. We want to make them feel welcome and excited to be here because it’s a really cool place,” said Chris Capano, Director of Student Activities.
After turning the corner of Chapel Avenue and passing spirited Blue Keys and decorative banners, new students registered in George Washington Hall and then gathered with their families in the Case Memorial Cage for a welcome luncheon.
Once new students had unpacked their furniture there was a cluster cheer-off.
“I liked when we had the cluster cheer-off on Saturday because it was fun and there was lots of spirit. [My favorite cheer] was the Exeter red meat [cheer],” said Maddie Broccoli ’15.
Later new students met their respective Blue Key orientation leaders, said goodbye to their families, and then proceeded to dinner in Paresky Commons with their advisors.
The first day of orientation involved welcoming new students and helping them unpack, while the second day of orientation consisted of campus tours and team-bonding activities. New students toured the Brace Center, Graham House, CAMD, and learned about Community Service opportunities.
Linda Griffith, Dean of Community and Multicultural Development at Phillips Academy said, “As always we had a blast preparing for the [CAMD] skits. There seemed to be a lot of energy in the room.”
“Through skits, the Power Players tried to relay the message that Andover is an all-inclusive community and that we need to go outside of our comfort zones to make friends who at first might seem very different but who you might realize you have a lot in common with.”
“Our other main goal [during orientation] is to encourage new students to try some of the CAMD clubs,” said Griffith.
New students also ventured into the sanctuary with their Blue Keys to overcome challenges on the ropes course. Volunteers from Search and Rescue ran the activities.
“Playing games in the sanctuary made it easier to interact with new people because we were put into situations where we had to work and come up with ideas together,”Hallie Bletzer’15 said.
Matt Mattia’12 bonded with one of his Blue Keys during one of the challenges in the sanctuary. “We were doing the ropes course and one of my Blue Keys, Carter Paige, was walking on a tightrope line with one rope and I was spotting him. When he finally made it through, we fist pounded and he said ‘good teamwork,’” said Mattia.
Omegar Chavolla-Zacarias’12 also found the ropes course activities fulfilling. “One new Lower was struggling as she took on a challenge [in the sanctuary]. I was spotting her and motivating her to get to the end, and when she did, she jumped off and told me that [completing the element] had really boosted her self-confidence. We didn’t know each other, and I thought it was great that this teamwork brought us together,” said Chavolla-Zacarias.
“The games in the sanctuary were fun because they were all trust tests and team bonding exercises. Everyone was always laughing [during them],” said Hannah Sorkin ’14.
In the afternoon, new students and Blue Keys played “Think Fast” to learn about more new students in groups before preparing for Matriculation ceremony.
“I really liked Think Fast because it was really fun and instead of listening to speeches and sitting next to new classmates, you get to interact with them in a game show. [My group] was best at answering TV show questions and Harry Potter questions,” said Nick Kochakian’15.
During Matriculation, Uday Singh’12, School President, spoke to new students about pursuing what they love to do.
“I tried to explain to kids that at Andover, people might get carried away by other people’s expectations, but at the end of the day, what brings us all together is doing what we love and following our passions,” said Singh.
Zoe Leibovitch’15 said, “I thought matriculation was really informative. I liked when Uday spoke because it was fun to hear advice to new students from someone who already attends Andover.”
By Sunday night, some new students had begun to feel comfortable and oriented on campus. “When I first came here, I’d get lost in any direction, but now I can find my way to classroom buildings and Commons much more easily,” said Kochakian.