Crowds of students gathered in the lobby of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) on April 20, anticipating the traditional arrival of the new Blue Key Heads (BKHs). Following a secretive initiation that afternoon, the 2023-2024 BKHs — Adaora Mbanefo ’24, Spencer Salhanick ’24, Sebastian Valasek ’24, Cristina Donovan ’24, George Stoody ’24, Juliana Reyes ’24, Molly MacKinnon ’24, Jack Swales ’24, Josie O’Rourke ’24, and ND Nwaneri ’24 — took a celebratory lap through the first floor of the OWHL, announcing the beginning of their tenure in the spirited role.
Mbanefo, one of the newly selected Blue Key Heads, described her goals for the future in her new position. Mbanefo expressed her desire to give back to the Andover community by doing her part to raise campus spirit and morale.
“I just hope to uplift morale on this campus because we are in a place where it’s really hard… A lot of people are struggling and just for them to see a couple happy friendly faces around campus. I will always just be there, be cheering them on, and be their biggest supporters,” said Mbanefo.
In BKH tradition, each former BKH chooses a “child,” or someone to continue their legacy in the next group of BKHs. Former BKH Madison Yuan ’23 expressed excitement in watching her “child,” Mbanefo, and the other BKHs take on their new roles.
“We have a very special Class of 2024… [Adaora’s] audition absolutely blew me away. She’s such a special person. I know that the [new BKHs] will go out of their way to not just continue the traditions we have, but develop crazy new things that will make the school a better place,” said Yuan.
Similar to Mbanefo, new BKH Reyes explained her motivation to try out for the position. According to Reyes, she was driven by her experience joining the Andover community during the Covid-19 pandemic and her desire to make sure new Andover students have a lively, welcoming introduction to the school.
“I wanted to be a Blue Key Head because I wanted to be part of a very supportive community here at Andover… For example, [my Junior year] was during the pandemic, so I didn’t have that screaming welcoming. It was more like, go to your room, isolation, quarantine. And seeing how that made me feel very homesick and lonely. I didn’t want that to happen to the newer generation of students,” said Reyes.
Following the reveal in the library, former BKHs Dagny Bingham ’23 and Charles Murphy ’23 elaborated on the selection process.
“We look for big personalities that would represent the school well. So people we knew would keep it somewhat PG but also [who can be] total animals… [and] incredibly hype,” said Murphy.
Bingham continued, “It’s also just trying to remember that you are trying to show the diverse group at this school, so you have to pull from different friend groups, make sure different people are represented.”
Murphy believes being a BKH was the “greatest thing” he has done at Andover. Looking forward, Murphy hopes that the new BKHs will continue to paint themselves blue before Andover/Exeter, scream at sports games, and revitalize the Big Blue chants.
“I hope it’s the precedent we set, like going to girl’s lacrosse games in the rain. Being the only fan. Going to JV puck. Just showing up and being the only person in the stands cheering and just knowing that someone is in Andover’s corner is the legacy I want to leave,” said Murphy.