First In-person All-School Meeting in Over a Year Highlights Unity of Andover Community

After an entire year of virtual All-School Meetings (ASM), all Andover students filed into Cochran Chapel to attend their first in-person ASM in over a year on September 17. Continuing tradition, the Opening of School ASM commenced with international student representatives entering the chapel carrying their home country’s flag. Shortly after, to the rhythmic beats of Andover Drumline, chants and cheers of “22” welcomed the Senior class, followed by the faculty procession.

Friday’s ASM featured speeches by Student Body Co-Presidents Mary Muromcew ’22 and Sean Meng ’22 followed by new international students Vicky Nakaweesi ’24 and Langston Reid ’24, and Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington, who offered closing remarks. Through personal anecdotes and past experiences, speakers highlighted Andover’s inclusivity and extended advice for the upcoming school year.

The long-awaited return of in-person ASMs excited many students, including Claire Song ’22. In contrast to last year’s Zoom webinars, Claire highlighted the energy of having the entire student body in the Chapel—an auspicious start to Senior year.

“I really do believe that one of the most things I missed about in-person ASMs, especially after having experienced it again today, was the environment that we’re in, the positive vibes that we get from people cheering, and the snaps that we hear when someone says something inspirational on stage,” said Song.

Muromcew and Meng delivered the first speech, which offered meaningful advice to the younger Classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025. To conclude their speech, the Co-presidents reminded the Seniors of the importance of their class legacy and what that might look like.

“With all the external stress and with the next step in our lives so close, let’s also not forget our responsibilities while we are still here this year, to the school that has given us so much. Be the role model that you looked up to your first year here, care about those you interact with, and lead in a way that makes Andover proud. Leave your best possible mark on Andover,” said Meng.

Following Muromcew and Meng, Reid shared his reason for choosing Andover from his multicultural perspective of someone born in Ohio and raised in Switzerland. For Reid, it is the community and people that make Andover so special.

“Andover has a majestic campus, an extensive course catalog of over 300 to pick and choose from, and more electives than I care to count right now. That is not why I chose Andover. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are important, but it was not the main driver for me. I chose Andover for the people,” said Reid.

This sense of community resonated with Song, who shared a similar pride in “the people” at Andover. As a four-year Senior, Song reflects on how her appreciation for community has changed throughout her time at Andover.

“I really connected with that coming in my freshman year. I knew that I wanted to come here for the people as well, but I didn’t realize how much that would have meant to me after four years. And so I really do believe that Andover is really what it is because of the people and the things that our community can do [when] united,” said Song.

After traveling from Uganda, Nakaweesi expressed similar sentiments towards the Andover community. Although far from home, Nakaweesi has felt supported and comforted throughout her first weeks at Andover.

“Here at Andover, we’re accepted and welcomed in the community for who we are. People here want to know our journey. They want to know how, why, and when we got here, and most importantly who we are and what we want to add and gain from this amazing community,” said Nakaweesi.

Sakina Cotton ’24 experienced her first in-person ASM this past Friday. Although this is her second year at Andover, she felt that the new international student speeches were especially powerful at introducing and reinforcing the significance of community to new and returning students.

“I think it was really important to bring those conversations to the beginning of the school year because a lot of people need to know that the place that Andover is is one where you grow your mindset on your different ideals because of the people that you have to talk to and interact with,” said Cotton.

To conclude ASM, Dr. Kington emphasized Andover’s core value of “Non Sibi,” encouraging the students to embody the spirit of kindness and selflessness. Echoing Reid’s remarks, Kington reminded students that the relationships we make on campus define our Andover experience.

“We’re counting on you to join us in the spirit of Non Sibi. Every one of us is a citizen of a community that leans heavily on its values. One that places the greater good ahead of self and looks out for the well-being of friends and classmates and colleagues. A community that believes in the combination of knowledge and goodness as essential to a liberated mind,” said Kington.