This Sunday, the farthest reaches of the Andover community will converge on the steps of Sam Phil for one of Andover’s oldest traditions: the Investiture of a Head of School.
As with many of Andover’s rituals, the Investiture will begin with a procession on the Great Lawn. This cavalcade of Andover’s students, trustees, faculty and a large body of representatives from colleges, universities and Andover’s peer schools, draws representatives of a usually disconnected world into Andover. At a rare historical moment, the extended community comes together as one to celebrate a new beginning for Andover.
At its heart, the Investiture shares its pomp and circumstance with Andover’s other traditional gatherings. Bagpipers and trustees and academics in cap and gown will thread in reminders of Commencement. Students will line the Vista to welcome a procession to the Great Lawn just as they do at Matriculation. At this unusual moment, Andover will return its most central ceremonies—just as it should—and will preserve its academic traditions and the fabric of Andover education.
Outside of its familiarity, the Investiture will bring to campus representatives from major academic institutions across the United States. According to Nancy Jeton, Special Assistant to the Head of School, John Palfrey, Sr. and Judith Palfrey, Mr. Palfrey’s parents, will lead the procession on behalf of Harvard University. Representatives from other universities and from Andover’s peer schools will follow.
This procession, of academic minds and great thinkers, will allude to the potential that a new Head of School brings to an often static school like Andover. In fact, the Investiture’s inclusion of outside academics calls to mind the most important aspect of Mr. Palfrey’s “Connected Learning” initiative: ensuring that Andover continues to work, on its own, with its peer institutions and beyond, towards the common goal of educational innovation. Andover has a responsibility, as a center of pedagogical thought, to not only consider its actions in the context of Andover but also to remember the impact of its decisions on the broader educational conversation.
As students crowd the Vista on Sunday morning, they should consider the dual significance of this ceremony. Though steeped in traditions of the past, the Investiture ceremony ensures a strong foundation for future growth and leadership.
This Editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXV.