A package of rainbow, nostalgic fun, in the form of 7,000 plastic balls was recently intercepted by Andover’s Central Services. They had been shipped to the mailroom, provoking the suspicion and uncertainty of the mail staff. After they intercepted the package, Jennifer Elliott ’94, Dean of Students and Residential Life, was quickly informed and the contents never made their way to the students who initially placed the order.
The students behind this unconventional order were Seniors living in Taylor Hall. Motivated to make the best out of an empty room in the dormitory, they collectively came up with the idea of transforming this vacant room into a ball pit. Asa Ackerly ’17 took the leading role in the completion of this plan.
“It started when our friend got removed from the dorm and we just sort of had a spare room on our hands. We tried to think of creative but realistic options that didn’t seem too typical for a boarding school dorm room. We finally decided on a ball pit. It’s colorful, it’s fun, it’s relaxing and who wouldn’t love to come back from classes every day to a giant pool of childish fun?” said Ackerly.
According to Ackerly, thorough planning had gone into the perfecting of this idea, with the objective of making it a realistic and viable option.
Without consulting with any faculty members, the students went through with their idea, and ordered what would be required to construct this ball pit.
‘‘We ordered 7,000 plastic balls on eBay to the mailroom. Many suggested that it still wouldn’t be enough to completely fill the room. We had plans to order as many as necessary if that initial order wasn’t sufficient. We also had plans to construct a custom wooden barrier at the woodshop to prevent unwanted spilling of balls,’’ said Thomas Godwin ’17, one of the students involved with the ball pit concept.
According to Ackerly, the construction of this ball pit would not have had any negative consequences, however, the faculty had a contrasting opinion. Despite no explicit rule disallowing the possibility of making a ball pit out of a student’s room, the Seniors were not given the opportunity to capitalize on their idea.
“A lot of it seems to do with reputation. Given Taylor’s previous record of misconduct, a lot of faculty were skeptical that we would try to do something crazy and inappropriate with the balls. There was also most likely an aspect of Murphy’s law where some faculty probably envisioned a plastic, colorful nightmare that would go on to haunt them for years to come. Some faculty members also cited sustainability issues,” said Edward Elson ’17, a friend of Ackerly and contributor to the plan.
Despite the intentions of the students, the plan was not able to be executed. By request of the Dean of Students, the 7,000 plastic balls are on their way back to the manufacturer to be put to use elsewhere.