Our Untapped Resource

As a tour guide, I am constantly bombarded with questions about our school: How is the food? How are the dorms? How are the other students? It is not difficult to respond to these inquiries, because I generally view Andover in a very positive light. However, there is one question surrounding a vital issue for prospective boarding students that never ceases to stump me: What activities are available on the weekends? Secretly, I want to reply, “That’s a very good question; I often ask that myself.” However, I silence my inner thoughts and move on to discuss the actual activities that the school does organize, withholding my own negative opinion. Granted, the school supplies students with the Weekender, a guide that outlines dances, concerts, and movies planned for the weekend. However, this seemingly helpful weekend guide does not give rise to a fun-filled weekend. On the whole, the dances are usually empty and the concerts and movies appeal to only a minority of the vast student body. This past weekend, Halloween, and next weekend, Andover/Exeter, are the rare exceptions when most of the student body seems to relish Andover-related activities. On most weekends, students either complain and stay in their dorms or, as a result of boredom, turn to less desirable means of entertaining themselves. Both of these situations lead to widespread dissatisfaction and certainly do not enhance PA’s quality of life. Since it is not very productive simply to complain, I would like to propose a solution to the weekend dilemma. Andover is blessed to have both a beautiful, vast campus and a proximity to the popular city of Boston. Many other boarding schools have access to only a meager town nearby, without access to a city. However, despite Andover’s favorable location, many Andover students do not take advantage of the many available offerings in Boston. Thus, the PA administration should take a far more active role in promoting attendance at weekend cultural events in Boston. Currently, our school does not take the initiative to inform students about the range of musical, theatrical, artistic, and other events occurring each week in Boston. Instead, the administration chooses, whether intentionally or not, to isolate its students from the enriching life of Boston. Boston is replete with restaurants, stores, movie theaters, performance theaters, museums, and sports arenas. In addition to a listing of school activities, the Weekender should include a listing of weekend activities in Boston in order to entice Andover students to take advantage of such a vigorous city. It should also provide opportunities to purchase advance tickets to popular events. Furthermore, the Student Activities Center should organize more weekend trips into Boston. These trips should be advertised throughout the campus. There has only been one trip into Boston scheduled so far this trimester, and only one bus load of students participated. This sight both saddened and surprised me. Many students have voiced their desire for a Boston trip, so I was bewildered by such low attendance. I attribute this to two factors: lack of information about available activities in Boston and lack of publicity about the trip. Our student body and faculty grumble about our pace of life dilemma. Although this seems to be an entirely different and important issue in itself, the pace of life and lack of varied weekend activities are unquestionably intertwined. One way to alleviate an aspect of our community’s supposedly stressful life is to add more varied entertainment. What better way to do this then to spice up our weekends with trips to Boston? The scarcity of novel and entertaining weekend activities, particularly for Uppers and Seniors, is detrimental to the quality of our lives. Weekends are intended to provide a break from a stressful and competitive week. However, at present, weekends serve only to increase discontent about the pace of life. Why not try to turn this situation around? Improving the quality of weekend life by promoting access to Boston would undoubtedly be a small, yet significant, step in the never-ending process of improving our school.