Donning their pleated blue kilts for the first time, the new Blue Key Heads for the Class of 2014 raced through the Garver Room after the Class of 2013 Blue Key Heads formally announced their selections Tuesday evening.
Unwana Abasi, Theo Agbi, Andries Feder, Pearson Goodman, Henry Kennelly, Rhea Lewis, Laz Nyamakazi, Chia Okorie, Steph Petrella and Becca Wagman, the Class of 2013 Blue Key Heads (BKH), officially passed down their skirts to Grant Bitler, Austin Gaiss, Kasey Hartung, Catherine Haseman, Cooper Hurley, Daniel Kim, Marjorie Kozloff, Stephanie Nekoroski, Adella Pierre and Matt Simon as the BKHs for the Class of 2014.
This year, there were 36 applicants for BKH, the highest number of applicants in the past five years, according to Christopher Capano, Director of Student Activities and Advisor of the Blue Key Society.
As in previous years, the process involved a written application as well as a live audition before an audience of students in Lower Right of Paresky Commons. Auditions included serenades, pushups and cheers with the goal of demonstrating their ability to get the crowds “a little bit rowdy.”
“We were particularly looking for students who are not afraid to put themselves out there for the school. We want people who would not be afraid of screaming their lungs out at a game for the Big Blue,” said Nyamakazi.
Some controversy arose after this year’s auditions in Paresky.
“Overall, the auditions this year exceeded all expectations! Every applicant definitely gave this process their all, and demonstrated their love for Andover,” wrote Wagman in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
“On the other hand, this year’s auditions, especially the serenades, seemed to be more sexually oriented than in years past. I don’t know when or why this shift occurred, but being a BKH is about promoting PA and cheering on the Big Blue. Regardless, we could not be happier with our decisions, and we look forward to seeing BKH ‘14 rock those skirts like pros.” she continued.
“It’s perfectly fine to go crazy for the Big Blue; I think BKH ’13 made that clear enough when we walked around campus bare legged during the winter. However, many of the auditions this year were over the top in a way that highlighted the applicants’ enjoyment of attention instead of the enjoyment they find in amplifying school spirit,” wrote Abasi in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
“Speaking with other students has made me realize that the pressure to take each audition farther might have willed some applicants to act in ways that crossed appropriate barriers. I understand that, but one job of a Blue Key Head is to appeal to grandparents, faculty children etc., in addition to high school Seniors. Finding a way to exemplify Big Blue Spirit in a manner that is PG-13 at the highest is definitely one of the keys to being a great Blue Key Head that was missing from many auditions,” she continued.
Next year’s BKHs experienced varying levels of anxiety and nerves before their auditions, but all enjoyed the process overall.
Pierre said, “The best part of auditioning was getting the support from everyone who was there. I wasn’t expecting to get such a wild response since the room was only half full when I entered lower right. I was expecting it to be hard to get everyone amped up, but everyone there was really into it.”
“Though I felt well-prepared, as I had been practicing my serenade and the cheers repeatedly, I couldn’t quite shake the nerves. Fortunately, the moment I ran into [Paresky] Commons blowing my whistle and screaming my cheers, the nerves changed to adrenaline,” wrote Hasemen in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
Similarly, Hartung said that although she was a little nervous about her audition, the energy in Lower Right helped her to perform with confidence and vigor.
“Other than playing sports, I really haven’t had many opportunities to do anything public, so this was a perfect opportunity to really show the other side, the true part of me. To put myself out there in front of the whole school was a huge step for me, and I am more than ready, more than excited to be a Blue Key Head,” she said.
Hurley said that despite some nerves, he was not scared at all. “If I was scared, then I would not be in the position I am in now. I overcame it by thinking of where I wanted to be,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
Nekoroski’s nerves were more pronounced. “Seconds before I ran out in front of everyone, I was ready to sprint back to my car. I couldn’t believe I was going through with it, but I just closed my eyes and screamed. Somehow it worked, and I am still floating on cloud nine,” she said.
Two former BKHs were in charge of each candidate’s audition. The candidates were asked unprepared interview questions. All the 2014 BKHs said that the questions asked by the former BKHs during their interview were difficult to answer.
For Kozloff, the hardest part of the audition was when Henry Kennelly ’13, a former BKH, asked her to make him laugh. “I sat there in silence for at least ten seconds. Then I completely butchered a joke, and all I have to say is that he and Rhea were definitely not pleased,” she said.
As a new Upper, Kim said that he was hesitant to try out at first because he felt that most people did not know the new Uppers, and he was still becoming familiar with the Andover community.
“At first, the stigma of a new Upper did scare me. But then I remembered Pearson leading the cheers for Abbot during my orientation, and me gawking inside of my head, wondering, ‘Wow, this guy is unreal. Why can’t I be like him?’” Kim said.
Bitler also wanted to become a BKH because the group helped him get rid of his worries about leaving home to attend a boarding school when he arrived at Andover as a new Lower.
“What really changed my attitude about the whole transition [to Andover] were those crazy and loud students wearing blue skirts running down the chapel aisle at one of our orientation meetings. I want to make everyone else show the Big Blue Blood in their veins,” Bitler wrote in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
Gaiss said, “After experiencing roughly 73.6 percent of Upper year, I know how much of an emotional toll this school can have on some people at times, myself included. My major goal as a Blue Key Head is to make people happier and reduce this toll as much as possible. Whether this is through Valentine’s Day kisses or just cheering at games, I want to be there for the rest of the student body.”
It is a tradition for the two BKHs who are conducting the interview to look as bored and intimidating as possible while the applicant performs his or her serenade and cheers.
“Henry and Stephanie are incredibly nice in real life, but they can be incredibly scary when they want to be. It was hard to read what they were thinking and even harder to answer their questions, but I guess that just means they did their jobs well,” wrote Simon in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
BKHs organize and lead new student orientation, act as cheerleaders at all Andover home games and prepare the Fall and Winter Pep Rallies, according to Capano.