Since there is little chance I can provide a satisfying single story to encompass all of my years at Andover, I have decided to instead give you some enlightening life lessons in the form of fables. May you find them instructive.
_The Little Student Who Couldn’t_
After holding the honorable title of shortest in my class for seven years at my old school (I was only once beaten by an Asian exchange student) I was eager to gain a few inches. This desire only intensified after one All-School Meeting, when a faculty member approached me in the front row (I was sadly too short to sit in the back) and asked if I needed help finding my parents. Fortunately, tenth grade proved to be a transformative time for me.
_Moral: Growth sometimes comes when you least expect it._
_The Bovines and the House Counselor_
Having lived in a small house with thin walls for my entire life, loud music was an infrequent luxury. When I came to Andover, I realized I had to embrace my new independence. The proud moment came one fateful Thursday night of Junior year in Rockwell. Thrice came the knock of doom before I cracked open the door for the biology teacher/House Counselor, simultaneously revealing an entire hall of boys crowded around my computer. “What are you all watching in here?” he asked. I met his gaze. “BBC’s ‘Planet Earth,’” I replied. After confirming that we were indeed watching a documentary about wildebeest migrations, he mumbled to keep it down and departed.
_Moral: Learning is a powerful tool._
_The Boy Who Cried Wolfram Alpha_
From the beginning of my time at Andover, I made it my goal to be the geekiest on every Exeter Geek Day. Freshman year I started off small. I had a relatively simple costume: big black glasses with tape wrapped around the nose bridge, a ruler sticking out of my pocket and the infamous lion (or is it a griffin?) printed on my t-shirt.
Unfortunately, I am afraid most of it was lost on my peers. The clear scotch tape and transparent plastic ruler did not make much of an impression, and, it being a cold day, no one saw my t-shirt underneath my heavy sweater. By Senior year, however, I had paper cup goggles (“ex-specs”), a jetpack made from twin turbo paper towel rolls wrapped in duct tape and a cardboard helmet vaguely resembling something the members of Daft Punk might wear. Who did I think I was? Simple. I was Iron-Oxide Man, the less beloved comic-book hero, capable of rusting everything in sight. I had achieved my goal to be the geekiest kid on campus. Although to be honest, it probably was not the rocket boosters that got me there.
_Moral: You cannot escape who you truly are._
_The Lion’s Mouth_
A few years ago, while cheering for Andover at an away game with Exeter, I convinced a friend to go sit with me on the wrong side of the field hockey pitch. Across from us were rows of blue, while we were surrounded by a sea of red. We cheered as loudly as anybody, deflecting every dirty look that came zinging towards us with a shield of unparalleled conviction. Of course, when the Exonians started yelling distasteful threats we realized it was time to move on.
_Moral: When facing adversity, you must always have an easy escape route and a friend who will watch your back when it’s time to admit defeat._
_The Sounds of Silence_
Last Halloween, a very close friend and I decided to walk through the graveyard. The moon watched us tentatively from behind a cloud. There were no stars. The ground softened our foot steps as we walked slowly down the rows, her hand in mine, the silence wrapping us in the tranquility that comes from the presence of death. We drew each other closer, using our collective body warmth to fight the chill. We listened. How strange, that the quiet of death led us to the sounds of the breath of life. Voices in the distance soon reminded us of the world we had just left. They came from beyond the gates; inside, everything was simpler. Inside, everything was still.
_Moral: The most unlikely of circumstances can yield the most beautiful memories._
_For Whom the Bell Tower Tolls_
When I came to Andover four years ago, I was a younger person in every sense of the word. I remember leaving home, walking down the wooden steps and onto the cobbled walkway, feeling as though I was losing that which I loved most. Like every other student at this school, I had foregone the familiar in favor of a new life. My life. Now, each time the Bell Tower chimes, all I can think of is that another hour past is one less hour left. How can I describe the feeling of walking out of the newsroom for the last time, turning in my keys to Student Publications, of closing the door to the theatre classroom, of locking my dorm room as I carry my belongings down the stone steps and out onto the hard pavement outside Taylor Hall? How can anyone describe the sadness that comes from leaving, after four long years, your teachers and friends, all that you have built, all that you have cared for and all that you have loved? In the end, it is simple. It is the same feeling that comes from leaving home.
_Moral: Home is where the heart thrives._
_Joey Salvo is a four-year Senior from Schenectady, NY, and a Commentary Editor for _The Phillipian_ Volume CXXXVI._