Abbot Class of 1973 Launches “Abbot Initiative”

At a dinner for Abbot Academy alumnae and Andover students on Saturday evening, Leslie Hendrix AA ’73, member of the Abbot Advisory Steering Committee, announced the new Abbot Initiative to revamp Abbot’s involvement with Andover going forward. The goals of the initiative include assisting with efforts to expand the Abbot archives, supporting Andover’s goal to provide an exemplary coed environment, enabling Abbot alumnae to act as resources to the school, and advising Abbot alumnae on ways to foster meaningful interaction with the school and its students. Hendrix, now program coordinator of the Initiative, said that Abbot alumnae have recently become frustrated with misspellings of “Abbot” in newsletters and mislabeling of Abbot alumnae in photographs in the Andover Magazine. Hendrix said that an article in Andover Magazine’s Spring 2013 issue about the Coed@40 celebrations was “condescending” and “factually incorrect.” Hendrix said that one of the first steps of the Abbot Initiative will be to create a comprehensive webpage. “We want the web page to be an informational ‘clearing house.’ So say somebody is doing an art project where they’re using materials from out of the archives and she wanted to get feedback or hear experiences from any Abbot alums or wanted to get specific donations of letters or diaries that a lot of us alumnae just have just sitting in attics, then she can post about it on the website and get in contact with us,” said Hendrix. In developing a larger connection with the school, Abbot alumnae hope to contribute to the ongoing dialog on topics such as gender, race and socioeconomic status. Hendrix said that such topics were discussed at Abbot Academy at “town meeting,” a form of student government, where students could submit their concerns and the student body would vote on issues. “Town meetings on issues like gender and race and socioeconomic class is one of the possibilities for something that [the Abbot Initiative] would perhaps want to sponsor. One of the things I heard this past weekend is that there isn’t a discussion amongst the school as a whole, including the students who don’t think there’s a problem. A town meeting might be one way to reach out to those students,” said Hendrix. By establishing the Abbot Initiative, Abbot alumnae hope to further cement their roles as resources for Andover community members. “I realized that there were a lot of issues that I had no idea were going on such as the attire for dances. I thought ‘Oh my god, 40 years later and we’re still talking about the same stuff.’ There are so many things that have changed for women and for this diverse student population as a whole, but sadly, so much has remained the same. Since we’ve gone through these issues, we can be helpful and a part of the dialog without pushing any agenda except to be a resource and a contributor,” said Hendrix. The Abbot Academy Steering Committee is currently working on a letter to be sent to all Abbot alumnae asking for their contribution to this endeavor. The letter will introduce the Abbot Initiative to all Abbot alumnae and ask for their support and contributions to the Abbot Archives and webpage.