PA and Andover High Share Tenuous Relationship

The following comes from an investigative report written for the English Department’s Journalism elective. Phillips Academy students visited Andover High School for a day and polled students and faculty. Both Andover High School (AHS) and Phillips Academy (PA) have made attempts at fostering a healthy relationship via various academic and extracurricular programs. Although some members of the Andover community would like to see more joint programs between the two schools, others believe that inherent differences make joint programs unrealistic. Besides a few current programs, the only central place where AHS and PA students converge is downtown Andover. Local shopkeepers expressed varying sentiments about the relationship between the two schools. In 1972, AHS and PA attempted to participate in an academic exchange in which students from PA would take classes at AHS and vice-versa. However, the students at both schools stood firmly against such a program. According to a 1972 issue of The Phillipian, one PA student argued, “My parents did not send me to PA to go to public high schools.” An AHS senior girl seemed to have a similar opinion. She stated, “We really don’t pay that much attention to PA, so why would we want to go to classes with them?” However, administrators from each school felt that this exchange would benefit both communities. 74 percent of 31 PA students polled said that they think AHS and PA should not attempt to work together in integrated programs. Presently, AHS and PA collaborate on PALS (Phillips Academy Andover High Leonard School) Partnership, in which students from both institutions tutor at a school in Lawrence. PALS Faculty Coordinator Roxanne Barry thinks that the program is successful. Barry said, “Community service is a nice medium [in which] to collaborate. It’s hard to do collaborations in other areas” because of scheduling difficulties, she said. According to Barry, the invitation is always open for AHS students to attend PA events. “Some AHS kids feel like it is more of a PA effort and some of them feel excluded from planning,” said Susannah Gund ’04, one of the PALS student coordinators. However, Gund also said that PALS is “a great way for [students from both schools] to get to know each other and it is a great way for them to clarify assumptions about the two schools.” Town government officials have for years been working to integrate PA more into the community. “I am big on integrating PA into the town. The Sitelines project is an example of the town and PA working together. We need more of that kind of cooperation,” said Town Manager Stapczynski. Because there are few formal connections between the two schools, AHS and PA are most visibly connected when students from both schools convene in the same downtown area. Downtown merchants regularly encounter students from both AHS and PA. “Phillips students seem more mature,” said Bertucci’s Manager Mark Olson. According to Olson, PA students leave larger tips and fewer messes on the tables of this central downtown eatery. Mimi Queen, the owner of Sweet Mimi’s Candy in downtown Andover, disagreed with Olson. She does not see any difference between her patrons from PA and those from AHS. “Absolutely not. They’re all kids. They’re all good,” she said. Athlete’s Corner Manager Jack Norton agreed that the differences between PA and AHS students cannot be generalized. None of the three merchants currently sees any animosity between students from the two schools. “I’ve been in business for 14 years, and I have seen only one fight in front of my old store. I think a kid took another’s hat. It was nothing,” said Queen. Norton claimed that he used to hear comments about PA students from the AHS students who worked at Athlete’s Corner; however, the comments have stopped and he “thinks the kids in town became more mature” over the years. “AHS kids care that they have to share the town with us. We [PA students] are always downtown. [For AHS students], I don’t really think any tension is the result of a jealousy thing but more of an ‘invading our turf’ thing,” said former AHS and current PA student Angela Monaco ’03. As one current student at AHS wrote in his anonymous survey, “PA kids have always tended to be in their own world and forget that Andover is really AHS’s town.” According to some students, a condescending attitude of the PA student body, rooted in tradition, may contribute to any existing tensions between PA and AHS. Phillips Instructor in French Hale Sturges observed that in the early 1970’s, Academy students and members of the town of Andover coined the phrase “the hill, the till, and the mill,” to describe the town of Andover. The “hill” is where the Phillips campus is situated. The “till” is the location of downtown Andover. The “mill” is the location of AHS. On a map, these places are situated on three distinct planes, each progressively lower in elevation than the other. Phillips students used the phrase to describe the social relationship between PA and the town of Andover: PA sits upon a hill and “looks down: upon both the till of the town and the mill of its “rival” school.