Big Blueprint

Few people would have the courage to stand up in the Chapel and relive horrific moments of the Civil Rights Movement in front a crowd, or to recount getting busted, especially with their parents onstage behind them.

But thanks to the honesty of George Smith Sr. ’55 and George Smith Jr. ’83, the father-son duo who presented at this week’s All-School Meeting, students gained insight into how the highs and lows of their Andover experiences may shape their futures in ways they can’t predict.

The Smiths’ speeches seem to yield conflicting messages. On the one hand, Smith Sr. drew a blueprint early in life and structured his time at Andover to realize his plan. From first hearing about Thurgood Marshall in middle school, to becoming a Freedom Rider and renowned justice, Smith Sr. built his life deliberately. On the other hand, Smith Jr. constantly remodeled his life, starting at Andover as a little boy with a big afro, taking a dip when he was disciplined for drinking and pulling through as a star sports reporter.

The Smiths presented students with a powerful idea: decisions at Andover matter, but not in predictable ways. Those Andover students prone to plan face a conundrum. How can they set the goals here that will lead them to the success they desire, if they can’t predict how their decisions will effect their lives in the decades to come?

Perhaps this is the wrong question. Even though one doesn’t know how decisions will play out in the long run, one can focus on acknowledging the feelings of others and approaching each situation amenable to change. The stories of the Smiths show that what is most important is not analyzing what it takes to get from blueprint to building, but keeping an open mind.

This Editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXIV.