A History of Collaboration and Animosity Between AHS and PA

The rivalry between Phillips Academy Andover and Andover High School is apparent today, through athletic events and frequent “catbonering.” Supposedly, this rivalry has gone on since the founding of the two schools. Ruth Quattlebaum, school archivist, describes this rivalry as “kids being kids.” “I think ‘catbonering’ stems from Andover High School kids’ curiosity of what goes on here. To them, it’s a mystery,” said Quattlebaum. Despite this rivalry, the two schools have cooperated on a few programs such as an academic exchange where a public school student can come to Phillips to take higher level courses in math or a foreign language. Public school students do not usually take these classes, though it is an option for Andover and Lawrence Public High School students. Andover High School and Phillips also share an athletic rivalry. Quattlebaum believes this rivalry for some sports teams, like baseball, is heightened because members of both teams know each other. Quattlebaum said, “The rivalry becomes bitter because both teams really want to win.” The Academy’s and Andover’s athletic rivalry has spurred certain incidents, such as one that occurred in the early 1990s. When PA built new dugouts, Andover High students spray-painted them. Quattlebaum said she believed the incident was a result of the two schools’ athletic competitions, rather than a random act of vandalism with malicious intent. Another incident occurred on September 16, 1990, when a group of “white teenagers, many with shaved heads or spiked hair, leather jackets and Army boots,” according to the Andover Townsman, yelled racial slurs at a group of PA students. The group of freshman – three black and three white students – was downtown buying schoolbooks when they were verbally assaulted. The local teenagers then chased the new students back to campus No physical contact occurred, though Cathy Royal, Dean of Multicultural Affairs at the time, said in the Andover Townsman that the new students were scared and questioned whether they belonged at the school. The same group of teenagers was found on campus later that day, allegedly making more racial comments, and they were taken into custody by the Andover police. Phillips Academy pressed no charged against the teenagers. Another unusual situation occurred during the massive Blizzard of 1978. Roads were completely blocked and PA students were called into town to help shovel snow. This cooperation helped soothe previous strained relations between the town and the Academy. Victor Henningsen ’69, Instructor in History, reminisces about an incident that took place when he was a senior at PA. On Memorial Day in 1969, several PA students wore black armbands to protest the war in Vietnam. The owner of the “The Coffee Mill,” a coffee shop that used to be next to the Andover Shop, refused to serve these students. The Andover Police had to remove some students who were blocking the entrance to the coffee shop and refused to move. Henningsen wrote in an email, “I do recall one PA student saying to a policeman: ‘I have a constitutional right to free speech and to freedom of assembly, and I’m exercising my constitutional rights. Federal law protects my actions.’ To which the cop memorably replied: ‘Don’t cite federal law to me, kid. This is Andover.’ ” That same day, an Andover Senior protesting the war and a young serviceman from town got into a fight. Henningsen said, “Those encounters were about the Vietnam War and undoubtedly reflected something of a class division [as well as a political one] between students at the Academy and a number of local residents, but I wouldn’t call them broadly reflective of town and gown relations at the time.” With reporting by Sudhandra Sundaram