Vista Walk
September 10, 2021

Matriculation welcome remarks

Head of School Raynard Kington MD, PhD, P’24 welcomes students to the start of the academic year

Remarks delivered in Cochran Chapel

Thank you to every faculty and staff member who has gone above and beyond to open this school year. It is gratifying to see their efforts result in us being able to come together over these last several days.

Before I offer opening remarks, I’d like to take a moment to honor a life—a life taken from us tragically too soon. The unthinkable loss of Lohi Ehimiaghe, Class of 2021, continues to weigh heavily on us. We will remember Lohi with a memorial service on campus in the coming weeks. For now, please join me in a moment of silence.

Thank you.

While this is my second year as head of school, I am enjoying a number of firsts—new opportunities to experience things “off line” and in person for the first time.

I had the privilege of meeting dozens of new faculty members and then seeing the entire faculty together here in Cochran Chapel for Academic Convocation.

I experienced the ear-ringing excitement of the Blue Keys cheering on new families as they arrived on campus. Equally exciting, even if a few decibels lower, we then gathered with new families on the Greener Quad to officially welcome them to the Andover community.

Dr. Kington welcomes new students to campus with cheering Blue Key Heads.

And tomorrow, the Class of 2022 will join me for the annual Vista Walk. Welcome back, seniors!

Taking place on the first day of classes, this tradition was started by 14th Head of School Barbara Landis Chase as a preview to the path that the senior class will take on Commencement day.

Traditions like these mark important passages and milestones. This is all great progress, Andover. I think we’re back!

To experience Andover’s traditions the way they were intended to be experienced—to share these moments with you and the faculty and staff, is extraordinary. Please keep these moments imprinted in your mind. And know that the health and safety protocols we are asking of you are because we cherish this community and know that we are at our best when we are together.

Students—this evening is for you. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you to a new academic year. You are the motivation. You are the inspiration for our education mission.

You represent youth from every quarter—nearly every state in the US and more than 50 countries around the world. Next week, when we gather for our first All-School Meeting, the flags of your nations will be carried into this chapel by fellow students.

We begin a new school year with optimism and excitement. Our faculty have just completed several days of orientation and professional development. And they are so eager to get back to the craft of teaching.

While the pandemic remains a challenging presence, we will do everything in our power to round the corner in a positive direction. We’re counting on you to join us in the spirit of non sibi—not for self.

By choosing Andover, you have chosen to become a citizen of a community that leans heavily on its values—one that places the greater good ahead of self, and looks out for the well-being of friends, classmates, and colleagues. A community that believes in the combination of knowledge and goodness as essential to a liberated mind.

Each of us came to Andover along different pathways, but my hunch is that all of us were attracted to Andover, at least in part, because of its values.

Among many things, I was drawn by Andover’s efforts to create a diverse student body and faculty. Even at its founding in 1778, Andover’s openness aligned with its goals to be accessible to “youth of requisite qualifications from every quarter.”

Each of you earned a place at this school on the merits of your achievements and talents, your character and potential. With this opportunity comes responsibility. I ask you to examine your individual responsibility to active citizenship—commitments to your communities of friends, classmates, teammates, dormmates, your online social networks.

Even against a backdrop of public health and societal challenges, you have incredible power to make a difference. You build that power through knowledge, by examining your own beliefs as they relate to any number of complex societal issues—social structures, politics, race, the environment, economic systems, for example.

As our returning students know, Andover does not map a pathway for you. Your teachers will guide and probe, suggest and support. But ultimately, your pathway depends on how you choose to amplify your beliefs through your actions. What you choose to DO is what will be remembered.

I am also thinking about my role as Head of School. In what ways can I foster opportunities for us to engage in conversation and debate, to listen with empathy, to think deeply, and ultimately, help us create a better understanding of Andover’s role in today’s society?

You will hear much about the faculty’s exploration of excellence this year. We are asking ourselves what it means to evolve and reimagine excellence in a 21st century interconnected society. I look forward to exploring these possibilities with you, as well, and hearing about your personal journeys.

Through this exploration, you will begin to understand the true power of your beliefs, your voice, and your actions.

The late US representative from Georgia, John Lewis, said: “We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.” I love that energizing call to action and commitment to community.

As for you, our talented students -- I know that you will do your part to make this an extraordinary year. To seize this moment in time with purpose, with Big Blue heart, and with great joy.

Thank you!

Categories: Leadership

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