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Interim Head of School Jim Ventre ’79 Announces Head of School Day 2020

COURTESY OF PHILLIPS ACADEMY

Head of School Day has been an Andover tradition for almost 30 years. The above video, title “What Would Gunga Do?” announced the 19th HOSD.

Interim Head of School Jim Ventre ’79 sent a video to the Andover community titled, “What Would Gunga Do?” on the morning of Sunday, February 16. The video featured Ventre asking school mascot Gunga how he should announce the annual Head of School Day (HOSD). At the end of the video, Ventre donned his Andover varsity sweater to announce that Monday, February 17, would mark Andover’s 29th HOSD.

Per tradition, Ventre canceled all classes and most athletic commitments for Monday. Typically, HOSD is announced by the Head of School the night before in the lobby of Paresky Commons. Ventre’s decision to make his announcement by video instead of in person came to Owen Bae ’21 as a surprise.

“I think it’s interesting that [Ventre] announced it with a video this time. It was a welcome surprise even though I would have liked a little more of the tradition of walking into Commons and just revealing the sweater there,” said Bae.

Ventre explained that sending the announcement by email allowed all members of the Andover community to receive the news at the same time. Additionally, Ventre’s decision was made so that the announcement could be followed up by another email detailing information concerning dorm sign-in and Paresky Commons hours.

“My decision… was the result of [thinking] about how many of our students and faculty and administrators and staff are affected by Head of School Day. I wanted to offer an opportunity for our whole community to get that news at the same time, including day students and their families that might not be on campus. That was the strategy, to try to impact everyone,” said Ventre.

Ventre’s second email contained details on how HOSD would affect academic programs, music commitments, athletics, boarding life, and more. According to Saida Ibragimova ’22, the follow-up was a welcome surprise, as it took away a lot of the confusion that comes with Head of School Day. Moreover, some students found that the early announcement relieved stress concerning homework and assignments, especially since long competitions for both the robotics and debate teams were held over the weekend.

“I was really happy because I have so much work and [because] I was not on campus yesterday. I think it’s good that [Ventre] sent the email early in the morning, because if he didn’t, everyone would be really stressed and would be waiting for dinner. Everybody has a different approach, [maybe] Mr. Ventre is more official and formal. I liked it. I also liked the details about sign-in, they were pretty helpful,” said Ibragimova.

The extra time off is intended to help students and faculty catch up on sleep, future assignments, or simply to decompress. Ventre himself spent the day catching up on work and delivering breakfast to admissions officers in Shuman. For Adaeze Izuegbunam ’20, Head of School Day was a welcome opportunity to relax and take her mind off of work.

“I did not leave my dorm. I ate. I watched TV. I didn’t do as much work as I should have, but that’s okay. I feel like you’re always like, ‘I need to do work, I need to do work, I need to do work,’…I’m definitely behind, but it was just nice to have a day to exist… I haven’t really realized how much I need that here until Senior Year, and whenever it’s those days I try to take advantage of them by doing that,” said Izuegbunam.