Michael Ebner ’70 Prepares for 225th Anniversary Events

Celebrating its 225th anniversary, Phillips Academy is preparing for a birthday bash filled with alumni/ae visits, student activities, and a few surprises. The Phillipian discussed the event with Director of Alumni Affairs Reverend Michael Ebner ’70. Phillipian: For how long have the plans for Andover’s 225th anniversary been in the works? Ebner: The committee was formed in August but started gathering in early October, a very short time for such a large task – but we are almost there. Phillipian: Who was involved in the planning? Ebner: The committee consisted of faculty and staff from a variety of departments on campus. We also worked with [Former Acting Head of School] Becky Sykes, and now [Head of School] Barbara Chase. The Music Department has been an incredible part of the event as we focused in on our current student body. When people see the art, music, and theater of Andover, as well as the commitment to community service, they are overwhelmed with the talent and dedication. Additionally, since the end of the campaign was never celebrated in the summer or fall, we incorporated that celebration into the weekend so the Office of Academy Resources staff was involved. Phillipian: What are the main events? Ebner: The committee wanted to it to be educational and fun, so the events surrounding the weekend offer variety. From scavenger hunts and building a 70-foot labyrinth to classroom sessions on gender and notable alumni/ae, we have put together a variety of panels and activities. We are thrilled with the response of faculty and alumni/ae who are already busy enough but who saw a great opportunity to celebrate a very significant milestone. There is also an All-School Meeting with voices of the past and present students of the school, followed by the awarding of the [Former Headmaster Claude] Fuess Award for service. The meeting will be followed by a dinner celebration with 16 serving lines offering four varieties of food from different regions of the country. We’ll be giving out dessert in a special 225th anniversary mug for every student. Phillipian: Which notable alumni/ae plan to speak? Ebner: In addition to the listed classes and events, which include notables such as Kayce Freed, former producer of 20/20, we are also offering a Saturday program called “Broadening Horizons,” which will be offered to a select group of Uppers and Seniors nominated by the faculty. They will join with notable alumni/ae and the Alumni Council in exploring what the journey after Andover is like. They include Brian Henson (Muppet fame), Chris Agee (leading international poet), Dane Smith (national director of the Peace Corp), Hillary French (Director of World Watch – a non profit group), Laurie Gallagher (an MIT Ph.D. at 25 and teacher), Tom Seligsen (producer and director), and 10 other women and men who will hold small group sessions on the meandering paths they took after Andover. We did this program last year and received rave reviews, and this year, we have an even more diverse group of actors, writers, corporate and world leaders. In short, we’re psyched. Phillipian: What is former President Bush’s role in the celebration? Ebner: One part of the weekend is a celebration of Campaign Andover. The former President was honorary co-chair of that, so he will come as he did in 1998, when the campaign was developing, and offer his words in the Chapel. His speech will be short and focused on his involvement with the school for these many years. Phillipian: What security and logistical issues will President Bush’s visit involve? Ebner: The Secret Service works with our security people and the Andover police. Phillipian: How does the 225th celebration fit into Andover’s fundraising plan? Ebner: The 225th is not a fundraising event, although keeping alumni/ae connected to the school always is important for any future fundraising.