Heralded by the percussive fanfare of Andover Drumline and cheers of students, international student flag bearers, the Senior Class of 2023, and faculty entered Cochran Chapel for the 2022-2023 Opening of School All-School Meeting (ASM) last Friday, September 9.
Susan Esty, Dean of Students and Residential Life, opened the first ASM of the year by acknowledging the Classes of 2026, 2025, and 2024, before welcoming in the procession of international students, the Class of 2023, and faculty. Following their arrival, Esty quoted the motto of Outward Bound, an experiential and outdoor learning program: “To serve, to strive, and not to yield.” She shared how she came to believe in this motto as it connected to the school’s newly released Core Blue community values.
“I can get behind serving, striving, and not yielding when it comes to honesty and integrity, respect for yourself, respect for others, and building and maintaining a healthy and inclusive community. So thank you all of you for doing your best to be open to different viewpoints, to live in your integrity, and to hold others in their dignity,” said Esty.
Nigel Savage ’23 and Sui Yu ’23, the 2022-2023 Student Body Co-Presidents, then took the podium to offer helpful advice to each class for the upcoming school year. They emphasized the importance of cherishing community for the Class of 2023 as they navigate their last year at the school.
“As we walk into our final year at Andover, let us think about the legacies we want to leave and the people we will undoubtedly inspire. Let us think about our leadership, our courage, and our compassion, and more importantly, let’s think about our friends, the people who have touched our lives and made our experiences what they are. Think about your community, one that you will always be a part of and one that will always be a part of you,” said Yu.
Dakota Chang ’23, Cluster Co-President of Pine Knoll, reminisced on her first ASM as a freshman. Reflecting on the influence of the Seniors during her Junior year, Chang emphasized the importance of community throughout her experience at Andover.
Chang said, “I entered as a freshman, so when I was sitting [at my first ASM], I was like ‘Wow, Americans are so loud.’ And then I [heard the Seniors] cheer, and I’m like ‘You know what? Maybe they’re not loud, they’re just really spirited. They like this place and this is how much they feel for this place.’ And being a Senior here, and being able to just shout ‘’23,’ being able to perform for the Class of ’23, have everyone get hyped up, that meant a lot to me because I think the first ASM during my freshman year held significance where I realized Andover is a school of community.”
New international students Iwo Wiciński ’24 and Maya Rogers ’25 shared personal anecdotes on what they believed were qualities shared by all Andover students. Wiciński shared how he had at first considered turning down the opportunity to speak at the assembly before changing his mind after realizing that the possibility of such an opportunity was the very reason he had decided to attend Andover.
“At that exact moment, I realized that stepping out of your comfort zone is the very beginning of creating your own better future. And what unites us all more than caring about our own futures? We all chose the best school in America, not to get comfortable, but to get better. So that we work, sweat, and at times even [shed] tears, every person could build a dream future, different for everyone, but one for us all,” said Wiciński.
To conclude the meeting, Dr. Raynard Kington, Head of School shared some closing remarks, including advice to capture the small details, focus and lean on community, and treat yourself. He concluded by wishing students a wonderful year.
“As our returning students know, your Andover days will mark some of the best and some of the most challenging times, moments that will stick with you, experiences with friends who will stick by you for the rest of your lives. So make this an extraordinary year, let’s seize this moment with purpose, with Big Blue heart, with great joy.”
Piper Lasater ’26 acknowledged that it would take time to internalize Dr. Kington’s advice. However, she noted that simply being a part of this moment has opened the door to community and opportunity.
“I think it’s hard for me to process because I think it’ll set in more when I’m older, like Senior year when I’m about to leave high school. But even just getting here, his words really did stick, because I have noticed there’s just so many great people to meet here and so many opportunities,” said Lasater.
Editor’s Note: Dakota Chang ’23 is a Digital Editor for The Phillipian.