Broadening Horizons?

The events of last weekend’s 225th Anniversary celebration brought together the entire extended Andover community – students and alumni, faculty and administration alike. However, by gathering the community together in contrived discussions and all-school assemblies, the Planning Committee seemed to lose sight of the meaning of the weekend. Were we there to rejoice in our appreciation of Andover’s past, present, and future, as the administration claimed, or did the weekend stand only as a festive end to Campaign Andover? Although some students engaged in interesting discussion during the required sessions on Friday afternoon, others ran around campus in a “Scavenger Hunt” to find facts about Andover, while competitive athletes were exempt from the events to attend practices. The administration’s priorities seemed misguided, as a few of such gatherings fulfilled the “goal” of bringing alumni and students together in an open forum for discussion, whereas others did not accomplish such a feat. Also, even as flyers touted the weekend as a celebration of Andover’s success as an academic institution over the last 225 years, the All-School Meeting on Friday night signaled a drastic shift in the focus of the festivities and turned the spotlight on Campaign Andover. No one can argue with the importance of the six-year fundraising drive to the Academy’s continued success, and by no means should the work that the administration and the Board of Trustees have accomplished go unnoticed. But why did the school disguise the celebration of the campaign in the cloak of the “225th Anniversary” title? Perhaps the administration or the Planning Committee could have taken a cue from themselves. The “Broadening Horizons” program, now in its second year, brought together members of the Alumni Council, special guest alumni, and students nominated by faculty members to participate. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, students and alumni involved in the special panel discussed life after Andover. These sessions served as forums for free and open discourse, during which students and alumni shared their views on their time spent at Andover and on where the road after Commencement may lead. For the few students who were invited to attend “Broadening Horizons,” the results were only positive. As many students agreed after the event, it was the first time in their two-, three-, or four-year Andover careers at which they could speak with adults, without the trappings of an agenda. However, after leaving the morning sessions, students once again faced a bombardment of information on Campaign Andover. Phillips Academy extends far beyond its home at 180 Main Street. Our talented alumni host a faculty of varied expertise and experience. It is time for Andover no longer to celebrate its fundraising efforts, but the people behind it. Campaign Andover was nothing without the support of alumni, and it means nothing to us as a student body unless we learn more about what made these donors give so generously to our small community. We must take a look at our past to see what the future may be, and remember that it is our past that has created our present.