Abbot Association Approves Almost $276,000 In Abbot Grants, Approves 22 of 33 Proposals

On May 17, the Abbot Academy Association Board convened in one of the year’s bi-annual meetings to listen to and discuss 33 proposals for spring 2007 Abbot Grants. Since the establishment of the Abbot Grant program shortly after the merging of the schools in 1973, the Abbot Association has distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund projects proposed by faculty, staff and students. It was through Abbot Grants that the Brace Center for Gender Studies, the counseling services at Graham House and the Community Service program, came to exist. The amount of proposals this year was unusually high– possibly the largest total number of requests presented at any meeting. The Board approved 22 of the 33 proposals, with a total financing cost of $275, 939.74. Most of the Abbot Grants will be used throughout the ’07 – ’08 with a few projects requiring support through ’10 as well. “The Board was impressed by the students’ intelligence, thoughtfulness, and talent and by their commitment to building community. The student presenters showed poise and spoke well,” said faculty coordinator, liaison and instructor in French, Natalie Schorr. She continued, “[T]he relatively large number of proposals showed that many students are becoming aware of the opportunity afforded by Abbot Grants.” Among the recipients are Lanita Foley, Associate Director of College Counseling, and Randall Peffer, instructor in English, who received an Abbot Grant to travel with 30 faculty members and a student delegation to the National Association of Independent School (NAIS) 2007 People of Color Conference, which will assemble at the Boston Convention Center in late November- early December. This is the first year that PA will send students to the conference, and to the best of Foley’s knowledge, PA will be the first school ever to send thirty faculty members. Another division of the conference, in which over 1,000 students from around the country participate, is the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). “In terms of the SDLC, it provides training and activities that help to both build leadership skills and provide knowledge and information surrounding diversity. Ultimately, students will come away with the ability to both implement and share new initiatives in discussing diversity-related issues within their own school communities,” said Jay Rapp, Director of Programs for Leadership, Education and Diversity from the NAIS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Charles Clerc, instructor in French, has been granted funds to develop a summer program in France for PA students. Clerc’s proposal cited that, “[T]he faculty of the French Department now feels prepared and motivated to offer a creative, authentic, and engaging interdisciplinary experience to its students.” The program, which would include a home-stay, language classes and a community service component, will commence in Summer ’08. Clerc plans to use the Abbot Grant to lay groundwork for the program and specify an exact location for the trip. Another recipient, Simone Salvo ’08, plans to use an Abbot Grant in her study of gender and identity issues in northern Thailand. The funds will be used to purchase of art supplies, which she will use to create a visual dialogue with women and children in the area. Erin Strong and Judy Wombell, both instructors in dance, have received a grant to bring the renowned modern-classical José Limón Dance Company, including current artistic director Carla Maxwell, to work with students at Andover in the coming year. Several students will use Abbot Grant Funds to bring performers to campus next year. Stephanie Yu ’10 has been given an Abbot Grant to finance a visit in February 2008 from Wang Chang-yuan, celebrated musician and composer of the guzheng, or Chinese table harp, for a performance and possible collaboration with the Phillips Academy Orchestra. After playing the guzheng herself in an All School Meeting, Yu said she received very positive feedback from both teachers and students. “I wanted to bring a professional player so the school can get to know the instrument and Chinese music,” she said. Lisa Lian ’08, the newly elected head of Asian Society, will use an Abbot Grant to bring comedian Jo Koy to perform at next year’s Asian Arts Festival. The Abbot Academy Association Board will meet again to choose from proposals next fall. Schorr urges applicants to carefully develop and prepare a thorough budget as it allows the Board to consider the proposal more comprehensively.