Thirty-Second Head of School Day Announced to Andover Community

On Sunday, Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington walked into Paresky Commons announcing the annual Head of School Day (HOSD) for the following school day. Students and faculty were also informed of HOSD by an email sent by Kington to the Andover community.

Head of School Day, an annual tradition, is a surprise day off for the Andover community each Winter Term. Kington’s style of announcement on Sunday was a nod to the traditions celebrated by previous Heads of School, but a new phenomenon for most students — the announcements for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years were disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the 2021-2022 school year, HOSD was announced a week in advance via email instead of in person, which received mixed responses from the community. Kington described how his announcement today marked a return to the element of surprise of the night-before notification. 

“We went back to the original tradition, which is the day before, as it [has] always been the day before. Because of the pandemic, we sort of changed that practice, but we decided to go back to the original practice of the day before for it to be more fun for the community,” said Kington in an interview with The Phillipian

Donning a blue top hat embroidered with the Andover “A,” Kington also hoped to continue the tradition of including a symbolic prop in the HOSD announcement.

“Historically, the Heads have used something that they were associated with in a sport. So field hockey for Barbara Chase and a squash racket for John Palfrey… I didn’t really have a sport like [those] that had an instrument, so we decided to go with a top hat, purely to give it a try,” said Kington. 

According to Kington’s email, titled “Hats off to you! HOS Day Tomorrow!,” all classes and interscholastic activities scheduled for this Monday have been canceled. In addition, instructors were instructed to adjust their syllabi and cancel assignments if needed to avoid “doubling-up” on assignments for the missed time. 

While many activities have been canceled per the email, it also outlined expectations for commitments that cannot be changed or canceled. Medical appointments, music lessons, music rehearsals, and community engagement will still take place as normal. 

Melissa Chang ’23, a four-year Senior, compared this HOSD announcement to past ones she’s experienced. She particularly felt that both the timing and notification of HOSD this year were significantly better than that of recent years. 

“I feel like this year’s [Head of School Day is] really good because [of] its great timing. While [some were] expecting it, I’m hearing some of the other [newer students] saying, ‘What’s happening on Monday?’ so this is actually quite a surprise.” said Chang. Chang also mentioned the importance of placing HOSD on a Monday, as Mondays are a day during which students have one 40-minute class period for every class. Because of the every-other-day class schedule during the rest of the week, Monday is the only day on which each class can get an equal amount of classroom time canceled. “I think having Head of School Day on Monday is one of the best days to [have it] because then we don’t have to miss one period of class while the other periods don’t have the same class time,” said Chang.

Kington expressed how he aimed to provide this day for students and faculty alike to take a break from the rigors of Andover.

“I hope that everyone takes his opportunity to have a good mental health day and just sort of chill tomorrow,” said Kington.