One hundred and ten Seniors and a gorilla in a football uniform stood screaming on the corner of Main Street and Chapel Avenue to welcome 361 new students arriving on Andover campus for registration last Friday morning.
The welcome marked the beginning of a four-day new student orientation program. In order to help newcomers better settle in on campus prior to the start of classes, this year’s orientation program was extended by one day.
Andover’s 10 Blue Key Heads organized and oversaw the orientation, while each of the 100 Blue Keys led a group of new students through the program.
“Our big goal is that the Blue Keys show the new students how much they love and enjoy Phillips Academy and get them excited for school. We want students to feel totally welcomed and excited to be here,” said Chris Capano, Director of Student Activities.
Stephanie Petrella ’13, Blue Key Head, said, “One of the big things that stood out for me [during my orientation] was that Andover seemed like the most spirited place ever and everyone was always cheering and really excited and welcoming, and I hoped to recreate that whole experience for the new students.”
As a result of the extra day, the orientation program consisted of additional tours, informative sessions and bonding activities.
This year’s program included meetings regarding campus policies and community standards, including an anti-harassment, anti-hazing and anti-bullying meeting, as well as a session on academic integrity.
Cluster Deans also organized cluster socials on Saturday night for new students and Blue Keys, during which many students played “Speed Friending.”
“Speed Friending” is a spin-off of Speed Dating and gave many new students the opportunity to make quick connections with their peers by asking questions.
“[Speed Friending] required everyone to interact with everyone in the room, instead of sticking to the first person you talk to. It was engaging, and I got to meet new people that I wouldn’t otherwise normally meet,” said Alexia Rauen ’14, a new Upper.
As in previous years, new students also played ThinkFast, a game show format trivia competition in which teams of students answer pop culture-based questions with wireless remotes.
Teddy Higgins ’16 said, “ThinkFast was energetic and fun, and it made me feel like I
was part of the Andover community faster than I had expected.”
On Sunday, Blue Keys toured students around campus to visit various locations, such as the Community and Multicultural Development office, the Brace Center for Gender Studies, Graham House and Isham Health Center. New students also participated in team building activities on the ropes course in the Sanctuary.
To conclude orientation, new students attended matriculation in Cochran Chapel.
Matriculation was originally planned to occur in Tang Theatre, but a greater number of new students required a bigger venue.
“The most memorable moment of orientation was walking into the chapel for matriculation. In the back of my head, I knew that I was just a freshman, but the ceremony and everyone attending made me feel as though I had been at PA for a while,” said Dustin Goldberg ’16.
Margot Goldberg, mother of Dustin Goldberg said, “Dropping [my son] off could not have been easier. With the Blue Keys cheering on the corner, we were all excited to be there. We loved meeting the house counselors, and the Great Lawn was a wonderful setting for our farewell.”