Weekend Fair To Preview Summer Programs: Event Will Showcase 75 Opportunities

The annual Summer Opportunities Fair this Sunday will provide PA students with a unique opportunity to survey over 75 programs. Directors, representatives, and former participants of the programs will be available to answer questions on the second floor of Commons between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. General program themes include cultural immersion and international home-stay, internships, academic enrichment, community service, and outdoor adventure. Representatives for interim year programs will be in Ropes Salon. They will be featured again during the first Interim Year Mini-Fair, to be held the following Monday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. This event is unique in its focus on high school-level programs. While camp fairs featuring traditional sports and arts camps are widespread, the Summer Opportunities and Interim Year Office and Parents of Students of Phillips Academy (PSPA) work to ensure that the programs shown here are sophisticated and purposeful. The event gathers a variety of programs that are often scattered throughout non-age specific exhibitions. Mrs. Roxanne Barry, Head of the Summer Opportunities Office, estimates that over 75% of the programs are appropriate only for grades nine through twelve. This helps attract not only the public, but also the program directors who contact Mrs. Barry looking for a mature audience for their presentations. Since directors must apply to rent space at the fair and may opt to buy ad space on the program listing, the fair is one of PSPA’s biggest annual fundraisers. It is expected to raise over $10,000 that will be funneled back into the school for programs such as community service projects and student activities. The Fair also offers an opportunity to make an impact on local communities, as representatives from other towns, high schools, and local colleges often attend. The Fair also guarantees to an extent the reliability of the programs shown. “We do try to be somewhat selective,” said Mrs. Barry. The most popular programs tend to center around community service, cultural immersion, or some combination of the two. According to Mrs. Barry, “A lot of these organizations have a really nice balance of things,” combining outdoor adventure with ecological study, or international travel and community service. Experiment of International Living organizes host families for students and offers a variety of cultural and service activities. “My time in Germany and the Czech Republic was life-changing and the best summer of my life,” said Mary Strong ’09 of her participation last summer. She continued, “With community service projects, World Cup parties, and a five hour rafting trip down a river in rural Czech countryside, I was able to meet and get to know so many interesting people from around the globe. And while we had an organized day, we had the afternoons free… so we could really understand the German lifestyle on our own.” Much of this information is present on the Summer Opportunities Office website as well. “I strongly encourage everyone to take a look,” said Mrs. Barry. “People use it from all over the U.S. I’ll get phone calls from someone… and then find out that they live in Arkansas.” The website contains information and student testimonials on many programs, as well as links to their websites. The website is available on the Andover website, under the academics section, below the off-campus tab. Mrs. Barry also encourages students to stop by her office any time to review their options. Her office is open from nine to three, Monday through Thursday. The office has hundreds of pamphlets and booklets, guides to various activities, contact information, applications, she will offer her advice on what to choose and why. “[Summer programs] give you sound direction for an upcoming interview or essay,” Mrs. Barry said. She continued, “Everyone should go home, but some at point in there, there should be something a little more focused, something you don’t have an opportunity to do during the school year… Summertime is wonderful to do something, explore something you don’t have a chance to otherwise.”