Phillips Academy Recognized as Both A Resource And Point of Tension in the Town of Andover

Although the residents of the town of Andover and members of the Phillips Academy community benefit greatly from sharing resources, according to Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski, past confrontations between the students of Phillips Academy and Andover High School have created tension. He said, “It’s just the philosophy of the Board of Trustees of Phillips that they want to have a campus that’s open to the world. They’ve got [students from] every country in the world attending school there, and their approach to their facilities and relationship with the community reflects that.” Cynthia Efinger, Director of Student Activities, said, “In my opinion, [the PA/AHS animosity] is mostly due to envy or jealousy on the part of both schools. There are advantages and disadvantages to both public and private educations. Students are aware of these differences, and that is the source of the problem.” Peter Anderson, Principal of Andover High School, said, “The interactions between PA and AHS students are not really animosity or recreation, but somewhere in between. The recent problems are clearly the result of a relationship that has not been given enough attention in the past.” Chad Green, Director of Community Service and West Quad North Cluster Dean, agreed, attributing the interactions between students to an assortment of reasons. He said, “The relationship between the two institutions is fine. It is not particularly strong, but there have been examples of collaboration in the past.” However, Stapczynski said, “I think Phillips Academy adds a lot to the Town of Andover, and the Town of Andover adds a lot to Phillips Academy … The town-gown relationship is very helpful and vibrant, and it has been that way years and years; and all parties work hard to keep it that way.” Administrators at both schools agreed that only a small number of students are involved in hostility or animosity between students. Efinger said, “There is a very small percentage of kids making a big noise, which is kind of blowing the issue out of proportion. I would guess that the number of students involved is probably less than five percent.” Green said that the mindset and the actions of these few individuals are certainly not indicative of any larger, more serious tensions between the two schools. He believes that there is no harmful intention behind any of the name-calling or shouting. Both Green and Efinger have known students who have felt disturbed or targeted by name-calling or “catbonering”. Green said that students should not have to feel uncomfortable with the atmosphere or interactions, but should know that there is little that can be done on the part of administrators. Anderson said that last year these verbal interactions went too far, and in response, administrators from both schools met to discuss how to improve the relationship between Phillips and Andover High students. The Dean of Students Office and Student Activities are also collaborating with students and administrators from Andover High School to coordinate a social event to bring the two schools together. An effort to organize an ice cream social for eleventh graders from both schools failed this winter because of scheduling conflicts. Anderson said that he hopes that the schools could collaborate on a wider variety of activities. “We should find ways to do things together year round, such as athletics, orchestra or community service. There are definitely things we can do to improve relations. We just need to get together.” Cameron Boll ’09, one of the students involved in the planning of this ice cream social, said, “When we started, we had no idea what kind of event we wanted to do. We had to think of a way to coordinate a good time when students from both schools would come, otherwise the event would fail. That is why the scheduling was such an issue.” Administrators from both schools said that students could look forward to future plans for a social event between Phillips and Andover High students. Efinger said, “I think that organizing a social event between the two schools would be a good idea to bring the students together. There are probably plans with the Dean of Students office to do something next year.” Green also said that organizing a social event would be a good way for students to bridge the gap between the two cultures and see eye-to-eye. He said, “We can do more to strengthen relations between the two schools just because it is the right thing to do. There are a lot of misconceptions and false stereotypes on both sides.” Boll said that students from both schools are open and friendly at the personal level, but that the impersonal interactions obscure both sides. Efinger said that sports competitions are one instance in which PA and Andover High students can get together and help create unity between the two schools. Green said, “The [PA/AHS] athletic competitions are usually good-natured. On the athletic field, both teams respect their competitors as equals.” Green also cited the PALS program as an example of collaboration between Phillips Academy and Andover High Students in community service. PALS is a program in which students from PA and Andover High get together to tutor younger students in the Lawrence public schools. Green said, “PALS is a great example of PA and AHS students getting together in the local community…More Andover High kids are participating and working alongside Phillips students.”