Academic Evolution

As I think about returning to Andover I remember my first days as a freshman. Having never stayed away from home for more than a month and never left my parents for more than three days, I arrived nervous and homesick. The night before classes I laid out everything that I could possibly need for the next day and set three alarms. But it seemed my worries were in vain because the next morning I woke before all of my alarms, got a filling breakfast at Commons and made it to my English class with time to spare. Then the bell rang and I realized I was in Gelb.

Despite all the clever images that circulate every fall of broadly grinning children in new jeans and sneakers skipping into a schoolhouse, the truth is that going back to school can be difficult. Suddenly the hours that seemed abundant in July get swept away into a rigid schedule, and assignments swoop down to snatch any remaining minutes. There are appointments to keep, classes to attend and disasters to deal with, like a printer choking on an ill placed piece of paper ten minutes before the essay is due.

Now, there’s nothing pleasant about trying to log onto Cisco Agent everytime you want to access the internet or having English classes in Graves, but these changes are uncontrollable. What matters is the kind of change you can control. After all, not all change is bad.

Change is in the very nature of Andover. For centuries the school has evolved to match the pace of the world, and in the coming year, we’re going to have the chance to do it again. With Mr. Palfrey’s tenure having just begun, it’s safe to say change is in the air. What will happen is unclear. Undoubtedly though, this will be the start of unique beginnings.

When facing this wave of change we all have two options. Either we can balk at the idea of having our precious familiarity destroyed or we can use this rare opportunity to change things for our benefit. What Andover needs this year are leaders who can push the school forward into the future.

I understand that dealing with change can be difficult. When I came to Andover as a ninth grader I had just spent eight years at the same school. The pull of familiarity is tantalizing, and I could have spent year nine at public school in my hometown. But, like all who are reading this, I was presented with a unique opportunity. And, like all of you, I took it, even though it meant having to deal with change. Sometimes, there are things more important than personal comfort. I said I understand that dealing with change can be difficult, but I understand someone letting a chance slip by, simply out of fear. Though some fail, it is often those who take risks who receive the greatest rewards.

It is with this attitude that we all must approach this year. And remember, when you walk through that classroom door for the first time, everything’s going to change. –

Joey Salvo is a three-year Upper from Schenectady, NY, and an Assoicate Commentary Editor for The Phillipian.