Andover’s Alphabet

Another year, another autumn, another hoard of Juniors to roam the paths in congested droves. There are some parts of the start of the Andover school year that seem to repeat themselves each September as we lean into days defined by brisk mornings and sweltering afternoons. Another batch of awkward name games, another day student locker to forego, another lesson in the importance of keeping off the grass. Returning students will recognize the patterns.

And so, like clockwork, the kickoff of Fall Term brings another slogan students should use to define their Andover experience. This year, new students have been introduced to the five Big Blue Values: Authenticity, Balance, Courage, Diversity, and Empathy, otherwise referred to as ABCDE. Andover loves a good rallying slogan. The ABCDEs are sentiments like “Smart with Heart” and the ever-popular “Big Blue Nice” repackaged to articulate what Andover values in its students. These are great traits and values to emulate: vague enough to interpret in a variety of ways, and catchy enough to grace the back of a t-shirt.

Just as Andover expects its students to honor these core values, we as students expect a certain level of accountability from our classmates. As has been explored in many start-of-the-year discussions, the class of 2021 is matriculating at a time of significant national turmoil. The explicit hate and violence displayed at rallies in Charlottesville and Boston drew further attention to the institutionalized racism and anti-Semitism that permeates many facets of American culture, as evidenced by racial profiling by law enforcement and disproportionate rates of poverty. Acts of terrorism and genocide like we have seen in Myanmar have left the international community reeling, and natural disasters have left thousands displaced — and some dead — domestically.

Here is where Andover students must set themselves apart: we must take these traits and values that the admissions office promotes and apply them to the times we live in. Some returning students have already begun to set expectations for their peers’ participation, taking action with events like the DACA phone-a-thon outside Paresky Commons. Forums, events, and statements organized by students set a powerful standard for how our mottos, ABCDE, Smart with Heart, and Big Blue Nice, must be put to work, we need only to step up to the plate.

The importance of participation cannot be stressed enough; that’s why it comes up in Head of School John Palfrey’s opening speech every year, and that’s why orientation leaders always add extra emphasis to showing up and getting involved on campus. This is the most important part of existing in full at Andover. The mottos the school gives us to live by are intentionally vague so that we may find a way to apply them in a dynamic manner. These are the ideals that we must strive to live up to.

This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXL.