Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington’s Investiture Held Two Years After Selected

During the ceremony, Assistant Head of School for Admissions and Financial Aid James Ventre ’79 handed Eliphalet Pearson’s gavel to Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington.

See Arts for coverage on the Investiture performances.

Kington’s Investiture was commemorated with bagpipe performances, alongside various student performances.

Andover’s 16th Head of School, Dr. Raynard Kington was ceremoniously invested into his position on May 7. The Board of Trustees, alumni, current students, and faculty gathered together on the Richard T. Greener Quadrangle to celebrate this momentous event. During the ceremony, Kington received Eliphalet Pearson’s gavel as a symbolic handover of the Head of School’s responsibilities.

The formal event had been a tradition at Andover to initiate the new Head of School. However, Kington’s Investiture was postponed due to Covid-19, and held after he had served for a year in his position.

Board of Trustees President Amy Falls ’82, P ’19, P ’21, who led the event, spoke about Kington’s unconventional start as Head of School in the midst of the pandemic in her speech. She commended the courage he displayed while leading the school through difficult times, describing the Investiture as a symbol of hope for the future.

“Rare as these celebrations are, it is far more rare to hold one two years into the tenure of the serving head. Raynard’s first fall was marked not by bagpipes and banners, but by antigen readers and Plexiglas shields, and considerable fear and anxiety in our community… So today is an opportunity not only to welcome Raynard…but also to give thanks that we have come through the pandemic… that our students, faculty, and staff are regaining the ‘normal’ Andover experience that perhaps we treasure all the more for having lost it, or at least parts of it, during these past two years,” said Falls.

Kington went on to describe the aim that he believes every great school must seek to achieve: teaching students to understand the world with its painful flaws laid bare, while at the same time empowering students with optimism for the future. He added that much of his pride in Andover and in the U.S. comes from seeing students each day.

“Today, the truth is that it is hard to keep many of us from despairing, but whenever I’m in one of those moods, all I have to do is walk across this beautiful campus. Seeing [the faculty and staff and students] is all I need to renew my faith in the future of this extraordinary country and this extraordinary institution’s place in this country and in this world. Our students are my hope. They are the reason why I walk past the great lawn, enter George Washington Hall, sit at my desk and begin my day. They make it all worthwhile,” said Kington.
During his investiture, Kington voiced his initial disinterest in holding an investiture. In an interview with The Phillipian, following his investiture, he explained his feelings towards the investiture. In addition, Kington explained that the ceremony would not change his position on campus or the ways in which he interacts with the Andover community.

“I said in my speech that I am uncomfortable at the start of these types of ceremonies, but they do serve a purpose. It was pointed out to me that it really isn’t about me. It’s about the institution, and its evolution…what I think would make more sense, just for the record, is to have something at the end to say, ‘Okay, let’s look back and see where you’ve come,’ and have something very small at the beginning,” said Kington.

Kington continued, “I don’t see any big differences….Most ceremonies are about change and messaging and culture, and all that won’t have a big impact on my day to day.”

The Investiture closed with a speech from the 2022-2023 Student Body Co-President, Sui Yu ’23. She spoke about the significance of the ceremony and the goals she and Nigel Savage ’23, her fellow Co-President, aim to accomplish alongside Dr. Kington in the next year, like establishing an Earth Day and changing perceptions of room visitation.

“I’m very excited to see what we’ll do next year. There are a couple of big things. I was part of planning the divestment demonstration on Friday, which was a hot topic, and our intention was to bring it to the Trustee’s attention. Nigel is on the committee working on Challenging Histories, which involves renaming [buildings on campus]. And then some other things we talked about was room visitation. We’re also getting the ball rolling on creating an Earth Day On. We’re drafting a proposal, and we’re hoping we can have [Dr. Kington] share his thoughts on it,” said Yu in an interview with the Phillipian.

Frank Zhou ’22, an attendee at the Investiture, agreed with the sentiment of moving forward into a new chapter in Andover’s history. He emphasized the importance of the event in allowing Andover to move forward and create a safe, unified, and diverse community.

“As a friend and fellow sustainability advocate, I helped Sui draft and workshop portions of the speech. With their own finesse and flair, [Sui and Dr. Kington] deftly acknowledged past institutional faults and committed to fostering justice for all. Less than 24 hours before, I was shouting my throat raw into a megaphone before a crowd of over 200 holding “divest from fossil fuel” posters on the same steps of Samuel Phillips Hall; just as we have begun a new chapter in our institutional history, we must redouble our efforts to knowledge and goodness, in word and in deed,” said Zhou.