Investiture of Head of School Palfrey to Take Place Sunday

On Sunday at 1 p.m., John Palfrey will accept the gavel of first Head of School Eliphalet Pearson from 14th Head of School Barbara Chase, marking his official investiture as the 15th Head of School of Phillips Academy. The passing of the wooden gavel serves as a symbol of the transition of leadership of the school from the former Head of Schools to the ascending Head of School. “This is a time where institutions reflect on their history, mission and values and come together to celebrate the next chapter of the school as well as welcome the new Head of School,” said Nancy Jeton, Special Assistant to the Head of School. The investiture will take place on the lawn in front of Samuel Phillips Hall. Victor Henningsen ’69, Instructor in History and Social Science, and Heather Thomson, Senior Manager for Operations and Maintenance, and Hemang Kaul ’13, School President, will greet the 2,000-person audience, following an opening from Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School, according to Jeton. Henningsen, an alumnus and senior faculty member, will speak on behalf of the faculty, according to Jeton. Having grown up on Andover campus, Thomson will speak on behalf of the staff about her ties to Andover. Peter Currie ’74, President of the Board of Trustees, will present the Charge of Duty to the ascending Head of School, and Anne Gardner, Director of Spiritual and Religious Life and Protestant Chaplain, will deliver the closing benediction. Prior to the investiture ceremony, a procession led by bagpipes will celebrate Palfrey’s initiation as Head of School. The procession will include members of the Andover student body, faculty and staff, as well as 20 representatives from other schools. Cluster Presidents will lead the parade and represent the student body by carrying flags of Phillips Academy, Abbot Academy, Massachusetts, the United States and the United Nations. To celebrate the diversity of the student body, 46 international students will follow, carrying the flags of their countries. The academic procession will consist of 120 members of the Andover faculty and 20 additional visitor representatives, wearing caps and gowns that bear the colors of their academic programs, as well as their affiliated colleges, universities or secondary schools, according to Jeton. Palfrey’s parents will lead the academic procession representing Harvard University, the oldest American university. Traditionally, the oldest institution marches first while the rest follow in the order in which they were established, according to Jeton. Although a few international universities, such as Oxford University, were founded before Harvard, Harvard and other American universities will precede the international ones, in deference to Palfrey’s family. Each participating institution selected its own representatives. While most academic processions take only one representative from each university, all who volunteered will be allowed to march. Judy Sizer, daughter of 12th Head of School Theodore Sizer, will represent Brandeis University. The community procession will follow and include faculty members who are not walking in the academic procession, as well as any staff volunteers and faculty emeriti. The event is open to all alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students. Nearly all of the current trustees will attend, along with 12 former trustees. The ceremony will also be streamed live on the Andover website. No physical changes will be made to campus for the investiture, according to Jeton. “This [decision] is for two reasons: we are who we are. On one hand, we really want to celebrate. On the other hand, we want to be very responsible towards the Academy’s finances. I think we made some judicious decisions about where that money would be spent,” said Jeton. The Alumni Affairs Office and Head of School’s Office began planning the investiture program in May. In order to ensure that this year’s ceremony would adhere to tradition, they referenced the school archives for several past investiture programs. “[Andover’s] community does an amazing job putting on these kinds of events. People have been unbelievably generous with their time and thinking to put this whole thing together. It is a lot of work for a lot of people,” said Jeton.