PKN Dorm Feature: The First in a Series of Cluster Features

Analogous to their Pinetree-shaped green crest, the dorms of Pine Knoll Cluster are scattered between the looming pine trees of the Sanctuary in the private Northeastern corner of the Andover campus.

Led by Cluster Dean David Gardner, Instructor in English, and cluster co-presidents David Kwon ’17 and Malika Dia ’17, the cluster is comprised of five dorms: Fuess, Stimson, Stevens, Stuart, and Nathan Hale.

With a mix of unique students from various age, race, and gender groups, Pine Knoll possesses a wide range of talents and ingenuity.

“[My favorite part of the cluster is] the students. Pine Knollers value community, they are kind to one another, and they never cease to amaze me with their talent and creativity,” said Gardner in an email to The Phillipian.

“I love going to performances, sporting events and club activities where I get to see Pine Knollers doing the things that they are passionate about. I look forward each week to our Wednesday munches,” he continued.

Pine Knoll serves as a second family and home to many boarding and day students.

“Seeing Pine Knoll members in their common room, interacting with their house counselors and proctors, and at the Pine Knoll munches and events makes me really feel like I have a smaller family in addition to the larger community of Andover,” said Dia in an interview with The Phillipian.


Fuess House

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Every Saturday night, Fuess residents ritually gather around the Harkness table in the common room for their weekly ranked Fuess Poker Series. These matches often last until two or three in the morning, and help unite the Fuess community. These bonding activities help new residents adjust to their lives at a rigiorous and fast-paced school.

James Kim ’18, a new Upper, said in an interview with The Phillipian, “I think that the environment of Fuess, and all the friendly people here have made it a really easy time to acclimate to the environment overall at Andover. More specifically, with the poker games, I feel like they help improve the dorm bonding aspect a lot and allow me to be…more friendly with people that I might have not had the chance to meet otherwise.”

Housing around 38 students, Fuess House builds a strong dorm community through numerous dorm bonding activities, said James Jusuf ’17, a proctor and returner to the dorm.

“For a very long time, Fuess has been a dorm that has a very good community… all the dorm members don’t just know each other… but they take pride in living in Fuess and have a specific dorm culture that most of the people try to follow,” he said.

“Bagels and Bonding” is one of major Fuess dorm bonding activities. The event involves students eating Perfecto’s bagels and travelling to the Sanctuary where they perform team-building exercises during the first weekend of school.

“I got to speak to and interact with people that I wouldn’t necessarily have gotten to otherwise, and learn a little about who they are, and that was something that was really great in terms of bonding,” said Drake McFaul ’19, a new student to Fuess.

“We’re also going to have the dorm brunch soon, where we all dress up and go to Samuel’s at the Andover Inn, and that’s a lot of fun,” said Jusuf.


Nathan Hale House

Nestled in the crook of the Sanctuary, Nathan Hale, the largest Junior girls’ dorm on campus, houses 42 Junior girls. As the only Junior dorm in the Pine Knoll cluster, Hale’s students add fresh spirit to the cluster.

“All the Hale freshmen girls are incredibly excited and remind the upperclassmen of why we chose and love Andover,” said Malika Dia’ 17, co-cluster president of Pine Knoll, in an interview with The Phillipian.

“Hale’s really big… so it is super high energy all the time, which is wonderful. It is a very diverse community, [and a] very uplifiting place to be,” said Miriam Feldman ’18, current prefect and former Junior at Hale, in an interview with The Phillipian.

Residents of Hale said that the dorm’s large size gives it a distinct identity, but can become a double edged sword at times, especially when dormmates begin to form relationships with one another in the start of the school year.

Kaitlin Lim ’20, a Junior at Hale, said, “[Hale] has a large [number] of students so it’s… more separated compared to other dorms…difficult to get to know everyone, but it’s still a pretty close community.”

To accommodate smaller communities within the dorm, Hale split up into five different halls: upper east, lower east, upper west, lower west, and annex that bridges through the center. Each hall plans to conduct unique bonding activities, such as designing nametags and bowling, through which students will develop a closer sense of community.

“I think the halls are really nice because it gives you a smaller community within the dorm… As a prefect, I’m…responsible for one hall…[and] we can do hall munches and hall bonding activities and [gives students a] tightknit feel even within such a huge dorm,” said Feldman.

While Hale hasn’t arranged dorm bonding activities yet, the community often comes together in the dorm’s common room.

“We have great dorm munches, and a bunch of different instruments…in the common room, so we have these jam sessions… where we put the percussion option on the piano and make weird beats and someone just freestyles – and we have cake in the fridge and we all just take that cake, it’s so amazing,” said Lim.


Stevens House

Located across the street from George Washinton Hall, Stevens is one of the largest dorms at Andover, housing 40 girls and three house counselors.

Stevens consist of singles and three-room doubles. The exterior walls of the building are made of red brick, giving a homey, cabin-like feeling. Inside, girls gather and snuggle in the furniture of both Sevens’ expansive common room, which is surrounded by tall, glass windows.

We have a great common room culture [in Stevens]. Whenever you walk into the dorm, you can always see girls sharing food, doing homework, and hanging out,” said Sarah Ding ’17, one of Stevens’ dorm representatives.

“I felt right at home when I stepped into Stevens on the first day. Our dorm is not at all cliquey. Each of us has a strong relationship with our proctor, our house counselors, and each other,” said Serena Liu ’19.

Since the dorms in the Knoll are fairly large, off-campus dorm activities are harder to manage and implement.

“I have lived in a different cluster all my previous years. I was a [Junior] in Hale, and my roommate and I have been talking about returning to the Knoll ever since Lower year,” said Ding.

“I clearly remember playing the man hunt freshmen year. I think we should bring that back, and overall use the Knoll lawn more,” she continued.


Stimson House

Tucked between the cemetery and a grove of pine trees, Stimson is home to 40 girls and three house counselors on campus.

“I came to Stimson as a new Lower and stayed because I really like the warm dorm atmosphere… everyone is friendly and fun to talk to!” said Shoshi Wintman ’17, a proctor in Stimson.

“You would think we aren’t as close because it’s such a big community, but everyone hangs out and cares for each other. Since our proctors also have nights on-duty, they are always here for us to talk to and share funny stories with,” said Minnie Mills ’19, Stimson’s dorm representative.

Residents from Stimson expressed their tight relationships with proctors and house counselors.

“This is my third year in Stimson. I have always had a sense that we are a family… We are hoping to do an applepicking activity. Logistically, it is tough because we are a big dorm, but it is definitely something we are looking forward to. On a smaller scale, I would love more arts and crafts bonding activities with the girls in the dorm,” said Karina Hernandez-Guarniz, a house counselor in Stimson.


Stuart House

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Although Stuart House is home to more than 40 students, the dorm promotes strong connection between residents by dividing the building into a system of four pods, each with their own common room.

Myers Hogan ’19 said in an interview with The Phillipian, “There’s a close connection between the people in each pod, whether it’s Upper South, Lower South, really whichever one you live in…”

Hogan described how the dorm’s facilities promotes a sociable environment.

“We have the dorm set up completely for social activities…board games, ping pong, TV couches, [and] six common rooms. Even if we don’t socialize all the time, we always have the opportunity to and we do have a good amount of the dorm that actually does take advantage of that,” he said.

Shu Sakamoto’17 highlighted how unlike dorms closer to the center of campus, Stuart offers a quiet and cozy atmosphere. He also noted that the dorm houses open-minded students who embrace different culture and customs.

“[Stuart] is pretty international, and…all of us are really open minded, so maybe it’s not a super athletic dorm, but it’s still great people and it’s a really cozy place to live… Also, the fact that it is right behind Gelb, rather than in the middle of campus where it’s really loud or too far away, is great,” said Sakamoto.

Card games can bring the dorm community together, but activities such as ping pong or board game tournaments often led to heated arguments.

“[The games] get intense sometimes. We argue a bit, and might hate each other temporarily, [but] we all come back together afterwards,” Hogan said.

Oct 12, 2016