Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 30, 2013

So long, high school

Campout prank, ice cream signal end for seniors

By Dustin Luca

---- — Andover High School’s graduating seniors weren’t about to let their last day of classes pass without notice last week.

Chanting “five more weeks” to the underclassmen getting off the bus Friday morning, the graduates-to-be made sure to rub it in that it was their last day of school — and their high school careers — while the rest of the student body still had more than a month of classes to endure.

The seniors kicked the day off by blocking the front entrance of the high school and holding a “campout” both outside and in the main lobby, senior class adviser Aixa de Kelley said.

Bill Hutchins, another senior class advisor, said the prank was done with the approval of Principal Chris Lord, who is reaching the end of his first full year at the helm of Andover High. An ice cream social in the gymnasium capped off the day, ending with a controversial ceremonial “last lap” around the school for some students, who faced suspension for their actions. See related story, page 1.

The final events surrounding the 456-member-strong class of 2013 will wrap up Monday, June 3, with a graduation ceremony at the Tsongas Center in Lowell. The ceremony, which starts at 5 p.m., will honor two beloved Andover High faculty — one as a commencement speaker and the other as an award recipient.

Spanish teacher Thomas Powers will speak for the class.

“The students felt overwhelmingly that he’s an approachable person. Whether you’re in his class or not, he made an effort to know you,” Hutchins said.

The Distinguished Citizen Award will be given to veteran social studies teacher Brian Parker, who recently took a leave of absence from school due to a medical issue.

Parker is known around the high school and town because “he basically runs Pomps Pond and has been highly active with community service projects,” Hutchins said.

Despite his condition, Parker is expected to be at graduation, de Kelley said, and will be able to speak and accept his award. “He’s working really hard to do this,” she said.

Families attending the graduation ceremony are encouraged to arrive well in advance of the start time to avoid the traffic issues that surround the ceremony every year, according to Hutchins.

The commencement ceremony will follow a senior week marked by trips to the region’s beaches, Six Flags in Agawam, a dance and more.

SENIOR WEEK ACTIVITIES FRIDAY Seniors' Last Dance, 7 to 10:30 p.m., Andover Country Club SUNDAY Interdenominational Baccalaureate Service, 7 to 8 p.m., St. Augustine Church, Essex Street. A more than 30-year tradition coordinated by the local faith communities and put on for and by the graduating seniors, it offers a chance for students to express themselves and their gifts in meaningful ways. The program will include poems, readings, scriptures, songs, instrumental pieces, personal reflections and more. All seniors and their family and friends encouraged to attend. Senior slide show, 8 p.m., Collins Center, Andover High MONDAY Senior Awards Breakfast, 9 a.m. to noon, Wyndham Hotel, Old River Road Graduation, 5 p.m., Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell Senior Safari, 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Andover High School field house Safari seeking volunteers The class of 2013 will have one final hurrah with its Senior Safari held in a jungle-transformed field house at Andover High School following Monday's graduation. Safari, a drug- and alcohol-free celebration, serves as a final chance for the class to come together "in the same place," parent Chris Vecchi of the event's decorating and setup committee said. The event typically starts late in the evening and runs until the early morning hours Tuesday. "It's a night of fun, food, memories, and kids have a great time," she said. Next year, however, the event faces a challenge. Several longtime members of the parent community that organizes Senior Safari annually are leaving as their youngest children graduate and depart from Andover. That includes Vecchi, who said she has helped run the event for the last eight years. "It's 100 or so parents, plus members of the community, who come together to offer what has traditionally been a 95 percent attendance graduation party," she said. "We're really hoping to pass the torch to more interested parents."