Opening of School ASM: Palfrey and Student Speakers Offer Advice

With shouts and drums echoing through the rafters of Cochran Chapel, Seniors clad in navy triumphantly marched down the chapel aisle chanting “17,” welcoming students to the first All-School Meeting (ASM) of the 2016-2017 year.

Students speaking at ASM included Co-Presidents Arthur Paleologos ’17 and Madison Pettaway ’17, as well as international student speakers, Emir Sahin ’17 and Anastasia Nikolaeva ’20. The students shared remarks regarding the start of the school year. 

Pettaway encouraged students to be ambitious while simultaneously retaining the ability to live in and enjoy the present moment. 

“During your time at Andover… it can be tempting to focus on your future destination, whether that will be the next dorm, or future college, or potential leadership position. While we encourage all of you to work towards your goals, we also challenge you to do that while we are being in the present, in every second, minute, and hour of today,” said Pettaway.

Nikolaeva articulated the importance and responsibility of maintaining an inclusive community at Andover.

“Andover prides itself on its motto, Non Sibi, which means not for self, and while [this] saying often makes you think of serving other communities…  it begins here, in our student community. I think this starts with the small things that we could do for one another each day, and to think not only of ourselves, but of our classmates. And to create a community in which we all feel included,” said Nikolaeva.

She continued, “Here [at Andover] we both have an opportunity and responsibility. We have an opportunity to serve and lead, and to take time to get to know our classmates and to learn from them and to teach them about ourselves too… But ultimately it’s the people that make the space come alive, and I think it’s our responsibility to be there for one another.”

Amid spontaneous cheering by Seniors, Head of School John Palfrey opened his speech by encouraging students to consider how they will leave their mark in the community. 

“Something that I think about enormously in this job [as Head of School] and particularly think about during this time of year is: What are the footsteps that I wish to leave as the Head of School? I am completely aware that I am the 15th Head of School, 14 have gone before, and many will go after. Whenever we go through a place like this, we leave our mark – little, gentle indentations. For me, I see it most acutely in the steps of the first and second floors of Paresky… think [about] every step you make here and how you would like it to be left,” said Palfrey during ASM.

As the presidential election in November nears, Palfrey shared some remarks regarding the political discourse that has surrounded the race.

“This is a special year for lots of reasons, but one is that it is an election year, if you have not noticed in the United States of America, it’s a doozy of an election year. To my mind, this election year throws down the honor of these… two parties,” said Palfrey.

Palfrey advised students to recognize and appreciate the multitude of political opinions held by community members.

“This is a community, intentionally diverse, which truly is academically brilliant and wonderful and caring… I want us to do better than those who are politically endowed in the political discourse… [I want you] to lay the mark in favor of respect and stability, seriousness of purpose, openness to new ideas, thinking about perspectives different than our own, [and] actually listening to one another, so that at the end of the year, I believe that we can do that. I believe that this is the place,” said Palfrey.