The temperature is rising, and on days that rain is not pouring, the sun is a welcome sight on campus. It lights up our classrooms and beckons us to pick-up frisbee games on the Great Lawn. It is on days such as this that the approach of summer is palpable, and while the obvious reaction is to rejoice, a part of everyone knows that nothing is over yet. Now is the time when grades suddenly become a priority and tests loom in the near future.
In many ways, the end of school this year marks the conclusion of a great deal more than just classes. It is the end of May, the end of spring and the end of Spooning. It is a final farewell to Julie Bernson of the Addison, the Efingers of the Theatre Department and WQS, Carroll Perry of the History Department and Jane Fried of the Admission Office among others. Most notably, it is a goodbye to the colorful Class of 2012 and, of course, to the respected and loved Mr. and Mrs. Chase.
Change is in the air, along with the delightful humidity and ever-constant threat of a downpour. Bulfinch will be put under construction (R.I.P. Debate room), and a throng of freshman will soon swarm Andover.
To make matters worse, looming tests are waiting to devour our last seconds of freedom on campus, ready to demonstrate our success or lack thereof. In the days ahead, it could be difficult to keep our eyes on the goals we initially set out to accomplish or remember why such goals should be accomplished in the first place. We may be torn between survival and sentimentality, eager to enter summer vacation but worried about getting there.
A friend of mine once told me that the goal of life is to live every day to the fullest. Of course, this was during his nihilist phase, and his advice could have continued with “because once you die, that’s it.” Nevertheless, his words struck a chord somewhere in the folds of my subconscious. My own motto at the time had been something like, “It will all work out in the end. Probably. Won’t it?” It was far from satisfying, so I began to think about my friend’s alternate view. Could it really be so simple to cast aside the future and concentrate on the present?
The future is something we plan and looked forward to, but no matter how hard we strain against the shackles of time, we shall always remain firmly fastened in the present. In the end, all we can do is work hard and hope for the best. In the meantime, we should overcome the illusions of certainty covering our own eyes and taste reality for once, unfamiliar though it may be. Because one thing is for sure: time is short. It is an unfortunate truth that we often require the loss of something to understand its importance, and once we do so, it may be too late. We sometimes think of education as an obstacle to overcome or a boundary that can be crossed (especially when it comes time to apply for colleges). And yet, in our haste to make it over the wall of acceptance, we fail to recognize the ultimate purpose of all the testing, studying and general worry.
Ultimately, what we want is to learn, and learning is far from an occasional process. These tests we face are not the end, but merely a milestone. It is a milestone that needs to be crossed, nonetheless, but by no means does it mark the end of the road.
Before we run out of precious time, we should take a good look at what really matters. Not the tests themselves, but the level of understanding they require. Not the losses that come with finality, but the gains that comes with beginnings.
The object of a school like Andover is to absorb learning to the best of one’s own abilities not kill oneself in an attempt to reach perfection. It is to respect and care about the people who are Andover, and to realize how valuable they all are to the world. So I ask you to break through the surface of paper and breathe in the atmosphere in which you live. Enjoy the final moments of your familiarity, because change is on the horizon.
Joey Salvo is a two-year Lower from Schenectady, NY.