During the cold and taxing months of Winter Term, Head of School Day (HOSD) traditionally offers “the gift of time,” allowing the student body an extra day free of responsibilities. However, Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington has decided to break with the 30-year tradition of announcing HOSD during Winter Term; HOSD is postponed for the Spring Term, according to Dean of Studies Raj Mundra.
Beginning in 1991, after 13th Head of School Donald McNemar noticed a surplus of students at the former Isham Health Center, HOSD has remained a beloved tradition through four Head of Schools, according to a 2019 The Phillipian article. Notably, HOSD has historically been announced by the raising of sports equipment: a field hockey stick for 14th Head of School Barbara Landis Chase and a squash racket for 15th Head of School John Palfrey. Due to Andover’s virtual setting this past winter, Mundra believes HOSD will be appreciated more this upcoming Spring Term rather than this past winter.
“HOSD has been a day for the community to all-together take a day off. Our community was so scattered in the winter term remote learning in so many places. We felt that it would be better to have a HOSD when much of the community is back together,” said Mundra.
Echoing Mundra, some community members agreed that the postponement of HOSD better accommodates the semi-virtual setting of Andover’s past two terms. Given the abundance of long weekends this past term, Amanda DiNatale ’21 believes HOSD may be enjoyed more this spring.
“Well, I’m okay with [the postponement]. I think it’s actually a good idea. It felt like we had a lot of time off in February, especially with the three-day weeks. And I think in the spring—when we have a longer stretch of time—it will be more beneficial to have that day off… When most people are in person, everyone will be able to enjoy it with their friends rather than just spend another empty day at home ” said DiNatale.
During remote learning in Spring Term 2020, a second HOSD was announced by former Interim Head of School and current Assistant Head of School for Admission and Financial Aid Jim Ventre ’79. When reflecting on that HOSD, Emily Huang ’21 noted that the day off is valued just as much to remote learners as it is to in-person students.
“I think we were remote already when it happened, and so the announcement was definitely not as big—it wasn’t this whole squash racket entrance, it was just Mr. Ventre emailing us a video of him pulling out the Head of School Day shirt from his closet. So I would say though, generally, it was probably pretty exciting. It was a big deal for people,” said Huang.
Huang continued, “Being at home is stressful for people physically or mentally. So I think [HOSD is] helpful that way. And the other thing is tradition, which I feel like you can’t break tradition. Head of School Day has its own culture, so I think regardless of the circumstances, we should keep it going.”
For those who have not experienced an Andover Head of School Day, DiNatalie suggested catching up on sleep, reaching out to friends, or taking a mental health day. Given the rigor of the Andover course load, many students suggest others to take advantage of the gift of time.
“Just make the most of it. Hang out with friends. Catch up on, or do whatever you want. And definitely go to [Paresky Commons] when it’s being announced, because it’s so much fun… It’s a really nice tradition that we have, because work here is so stressful, that having that one day really means a lot to many people here,” said DiNatale.