Student Alumni Representatives Stress Participation in Senior Gift?Fundraising; Urge Students to Donate to Commons Project

Among the class of 2009 are a group of brightly shining stars. Twelve members of the newly created Student Alumni Representatives, or STARs, are responsible for spearheading this year’s senior gift fund and hope to break the class of 2004’s record of 85 percent class participation. Its profits will support the Commons renovations. The student teams will organize the fundraising process. The class leaders organized the seniors into six teams of 55 students each, co-headed by two STARs. Krystle Manuel-Countee ’09, one of the STARs, said the Senior gift is one of their first projects. They thought dividing into teams was the best way to increase participation because it is “efficient and effective.” This year, the hope is that the initiation of STARs will increase the percentage of class participation. STAR Malin Adams ’09 announced at the Senior class meeting that he hopes that the class of 2009 will shatter the record and attain 100 percent participation. “Time will tell if we get [100 percent] or not, but we will definitely set the bar for classes after us,” said Manuel-Countee. In addition to the seniors’ donations, an anonymous PA alum has generously offered to pay dividends for every milestone reached. The donor will pledge $1,000 when the seniors have 60 and 70 percent participation and an additional $2,000 at 85 percent. “Hopefully when we reach one hundred percent, they’ll give us something crazy like one million dollars,” Adams joked at the class meeting. He added, “If we turn out to be a class that sets the record, [the Commons plaque] will be a symbol not only for the class of 2009 but it will also set the precedent for future grades.” If the class of 2009 is successful, the alumni newsletter, “The Andover Bulletin,” will run a feature profile on the class in its summer issue. “We know what it would mean if we got 100 percent, if we broke a record. We’re not the loudest class in history but we could do something that everyone would remember us by,” said Adams. Individual teams will compete for prizes. The group with the highest percentage of participation will be declared the winner. The STARs stressed at this Wednesday’s Senior class meeting that the casual competition “lies purely in participation” and are emphasizing contribution, rather than monetary value. Emma Goldstein ’09, another STAR and an editor of The Phillipian, said, “The most important part of [this process] is participation rates. It would be great to raise five billion dollars, but we really want to create a culture of giving. Students are really cynical about donating after graduation, but giving to the school supports the things that we love here.” Adams held a similar opinion. “The senior gift has always been viewed as a negative thing, not something particularly important. That’s why we divided into teams—there are so many incentives. Now it’s not just about giving money, we’re doing this for each other,” he said. Deborah Murphy, Director of Alumni Affairs wrote in an email that the STARs decision to support the Commons renovations was a “wonderful choice” and added that the renovations were “not fully funded.” Besides helping the school finance the expensive renovations, the class of 2009 wanted to leave their mark in a public, highly visible venue. STAR Malin Adams ’09 said, “The seniors’ choices often range from a bench to a door—something that won’t be displayed for five years that you might see once. With Commons, we get our name in a place where everyone will see it for a long time.” He added, “I’d rather have our name on a building than something that you sit on that’s cold.” Murphy wrote, “The main goal of the senior gift program is to encourage seniors to be part of something bigger than themselves and to have fun as a class. This is about giving back to Andover in some small way to show you believe in the institution and in your class.” She also wrote that seniors have recently funded new doors for the library, the Ryley Room and Bell Tower renovations and scholarships. Alumni have donated raffle prizes including Celtics and Red Sox tickets, and the STARs are also planning a huge dinner party during the spring for those who contributed. Although they haven’t finalized the items, there will most likely be other prizes as well.