Following the last wave of registration on Saturday, September 3, the Andover community was greeted with a new orientation program. The program extended through the first two weeks of classes and was accompanied by a special schedule with 40-minute class periods.
According to Paul Murphy ’84, Opening of School Coordinator and Instructor in Mathematics and Computer Science, the administration hoped this schedule would provide more opening of school transition time and increased opportunities for community building. Murphy explained that the schedule aimed to make the opening of school feel less rushed and sudden.
“The idea was to create space for new student orientation and to build community faster. That first day of classes in any school year always feels like cold water in your face after summer. [We hope] it was good for some kids to start [slowly], see their teachers and meet from the beginning. We also hope that [class activities] will pay dividends in terms of people getting to know each other a little earlier than that might’ve happened. We’ve now seen two big kinds of very different models and I think we have to figure if we like one or the other or maybe there’s a middle one we like even better,” said Murphy.
A supplementary orientation was hosted for new international students, organized by the New International Student Orientation (NISO) team. NISO member Wambui Nyiha ’25 discussed the importance of the program’s ability to help new international students adjust to an unfamiliar environment.
“NISO does help especially with a smooth transition to Andover. It is much harder coming to PA as an international kid and in the few days that NISO runs, it creates a safe environment for the new international students, [helping] them know that they’re not alone in the really hard transition and that every other international kid went through the same thing that they did,” said Nyiha.
Similarly, Ananya Madduri ’23, Co-President of International Club (I-Club), spoke to the positive effects of having a separate orientation for international students. However, Madduri also mentioned the challenges of organizing NISO around the new orientation schedule.
“NISO historically occurred before the regular orientation so it was really important to have that before new international students were to go into the Blue Key orientation. The struggle that we were having was there was really little time between the time of orientation and the time to register on campus because they were not bringing that many students back [on campus] that much earlier, so it was definitely impacted, but everything turned out quite positively. It was just really exciting to see this new group of students get familiar with the campus that two months later they’re going to know by heart, and to see students mark the beginning of their Andover journey,” said Madduri.
Many students found this year’s orientation successful in terms of the hopes Murphy highlighted. Theo Wei ’26, a Junior, expressed how the orientation events allowed him to create more connections during his first week on campus.
“I liked the activities and schedules as a whole because [they] allowed me to meet new people and friends. I [think] that the orientation events have provided me with a smooth transition to Andover and I liked the half days in the middle of the week because it gave students free time to catch up on any homework or expand their social life more,” said Wei.
Adele Ciociola ’25, a new Lower, expressed that she enjoyed orientation as a whole, as it provided bonding opportunities. She noted, however, that she wished there was more free time to interact with dormmates and meet people outside of the structured activities.
“I think some of the activities were really fun and a really good way to bond and connect, but there [was] a little too much briefing and isolation sometimes. I feel like it was definitely very busy and there could’ve been more free time for new lowers to kind of interact with people in your dorm and form your own connections. I [still] think it was good to have this transition period into classes,” said Ciociola.
Another student, Adaora Mbanefo ’24, had a mixed response to the program. She felt that although the execution of the plan could have been improved, the orientation schedule offered a good opportunity to meet new people and settle into campus.
“I think class bonding-wise, the plan was very good, just the execution needed a little work. For me personally, no matter how long you’ve been here, you’re never going to know everybody and it’s always a good chance to meet new people. It’s a chance to meet everyone and see the faces of people in your grade. This year there was a lot more time to settle in, unpack, get ready, prepare for school, which I think is very important to start the school year off right,” said Mbanefo.