When Azariah Jones ’21 revisited Andover, her first surprise was the April snow. Jones has lived in Kingston, Jamaica for most of her life, where the temperature during the winter can reach 75℉degrees.
Entering as a new Lower this year, Jones was attracted by Andover’s wide range of academic and extracurricular resources. Jones is a passionate dancer, and Andover’s dance program especially appealed to her.
“I just really wanted a change, an upgrade, from the school I was going to in Jamaica. It was good, but there weren’t as many opportunities that I could get compared to Andover. You can travel, the education you get from the faculty… that was what made me want to come here, the opportunities it would give me in school,” said Jones.
According to Jones, her enthusiasm for the school enabled her to ease into the school year.
“The transition was really smooth for me because I was ready… it was a decision that I made and my parents backed me up on, so I was ready and there wasn’t a lot of nervousness, there wasn’t a lot of hesitation. It was just me being like, ‘Alright, let’s go. Let’s do this,’” said Jones.
On campus, Jones fulfills her passion for dancing as a member of the groups Blue Strut, Hypnotiq, Fusion, Andover Dance Group, and SLAM. Compared to her previous school, which did not offer clubs or on-campus dance groups, Jones says that Andover offers a much more advanced dance program.
“I think the connection and bringing together my education and the fact that I can do dance here… is really amazing — being able to put the two together and have them work side by side instead of two separate parts of me,” said Jones.
Jones said she believes that her time at Andover has helped her grow as an artist. She finds the variety of dance programs offered by the school to be especially beneficial.
“I like that there’s a lot of diversity in what you can do. It’s not only ballet and modern which was what I was doing. We have Hypnotiq and hip hop and tap and jazz, so it’s really good. And the people that are involved in it are really amazing,” said Jones.
According to Emerson Judson ’20, a fellow member of Blue Strut, Jones’ involvement in the dance program has also allowed her to connect with more people at Andover.
“I feel like dance has allowed [Jones] to make friends outside of her grade and dorm. She’s an amazing dancer and is part of nearly every dance club on campus. The dance department is one big family that is very supportive and fun to be a part of, so I feel it has definitely helped her transition,” said Judson.
In addition to the various facilities and programs that the school offers, Jones said she also appreciates the faculty’s commitment to her education and wellbeing.
“I would say that the teachers here really care. [They] really want to see you do your best, and are invested in the students. That’s a big thing for me because back in my old school we didn’t have that,” said Jones.
In addition Jones’s appreciation for the support of Andover’s faculty members, she is also grateful for her peers. According to Jones, Andover’s collaborative environment is another aspect of her education that she lacked in Jamaica.
“There’s a lot more collaborative work and learning how to work with people. [In my old school] we would work together, but it wouldn’t be equal,” said Jones.
Jones said she finds the diversity of expression and the welcoming atmosphere at Andover to be a refreshing change from Jamaica’s overall conservative and stricter nature.
“People here are much more open-minded to other people and what they have to say. Jamaica’s a very conservative country, a very religious country, so schools are all Catholic,” Jones said.
Jones continued, “That was another big thing: the diversity not only in religion but in the type of people that come here; the minds that the people have.”