Big Blue umbrellas, trinkets, and Senior DVDs adorned the first floor of George Washington Hall last Monday as Andover’s Campus Closet opened for its monthly sale. Campus Closet is one of the many efforts to raise funds and organize student events for the Andover community done by the Parents of Students of Phillips Academy (PSPA).
The PSPA, a parent-run, non-profit organization, was formed to organize a parent staff that would help facilitate parent participation and engagement in student-related activities. Some works include regularly updating parents and guardians on school information, allowing local parents to staff in campus events, and financially supporting student activities, including Andover-Exeter weekend and West Quad South’s Casino Night.
“The way we give back to [Andover] is by sponsoring the class activities, or Casino Night, or the faculty breakfast…the pre-prom party, the parent reception, the CAMD scholarships. We also give back endowments and sponsor Weekend-Wellness at [The Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center],” said Maria Ronga, Co-President of the PSPA Board.
Michael Fleming, First Vice President of the PSPA board, said in an interview with The Phillipian, “[PSPA’s] mission is really to support the students, the school, the faculty administration, and helping to run certain programs. It’s for parents to get involved in the school, and contribute and volunteer in different ways…We educate parents with what’s going on on campus and inform them about some of the really important things that Phillips Academy does for our students.”
The PSPA website also hosts a Speaker Series, where faculty members inform parents about important topics concerning Andover once a month. The PSPA records and uploads these faculty-led videos to their website. This allows parents to watch and participate in school affairs indirectly through the online website.
“I personally came to the PSPA because I was curious about what it was all about. I went to one of those monthly meetings, and sat in and just listened. It was a good opportunity for me to hear what the group was involved in, and at the same time asking if I would like to volunteer. I’d encourage any parent who is able to to reach out in any way they can,” said Fleming.
Jackie Welch, Co-President of the PSPA board, said, “PSPA provides an opportunity and a vehicle for parents to become directly involved in activities that support the community. So it’s a wonderful way for parents who are either local, or have boarding students to be involved in a specific way that helps contribute to the community. That’s why I got involved, and I think that’s why any parent who’s involved in PSPA is.”
Some parents join PSPA through the Campus Closet, which opens at all the major campus events and at least one Friday every month. According to Fleming, volunteering for the Campus Closet is the simplest way for parents to get involved in PSPA events.
Angelreana Choi ’19 said, “I really appreciate the Campus Closet because [it is] a great way for us to buy Andover gear… The parents always are very kind.”
Abhinav Tadikonda ’20 said, “They have everything you’re looking for — raincoats, slippers, sunglasses, pajamas, anything you need throughout the year… I think they do a great job of stocking the closet and also being there to help students get what they need.”
The organization recently donated a peaceful water feature to the Wellness Center in coordination with the building’s recent opening. According to Ronga and Welch, the feeling of adding to the community was a very rewarding experience.
“We’re so grateful to the faculty and to the staff, certainly to Mr. Palfrey, for everything he does and everything they do for our children. So it’s a very personal way for us to say thank you,” said Ronga.
In the future, Fleming hopes to strengthen PSPA’s connection with the school administration and provide a platform for parents to contribute to the school. PSPA also strives to have a greater social media presence through Instagram and Twitter, in addition to a Facebook page.
Ronga said, “Our whole goal is to give back, to the families, to the students primarily, to the faculty and to provide information. We try to give the school the feeling where parents can still be involved. Being on the board is a great way to do that because you actually come on campus and have a meeting once a month. It’s just a lot of fun to be together as parents and do something where we can see a value tangibly.”