Family Weekend is a long awaited mid-fall break and often the first time students see their families since leaving home in September. Many activities and events are scheduled throughout the weekend to allow parents and relatives of students to catch up, get to know their children’s teachers in classroom demonstrations, watch sports games and mingle with other parents.
This weekend seems like a win-win situation for all. But this is not the case for all families.
Andover has a diverse student body. Our families are representations of ourselves, and for students of different backgrounds, this can be daunting. Families are unprotected by the carefully practiced accents, learned mannerisms and certain brands of clothing that students have been pressured to hide behind.
At the Family Weekend cocktail parties, wealthier, more networked parents seem to know each other, often automatically intimidating parents who may not have the same economic, social or cultural capital. Some people feel at ease at the idea of attending a cocktail party, while for others it simply is not part of a typical weekend schedule.
In classroom demonstrations on Saturday, teachers often associate students with their parents. Parents who are not fluent English speakers may feel afraid that their students’ teachers may perceive their students differently and inadvertently disadvantage their children.
The school has made Family Weekend more inclusive in recent years. The name itself is an improvement from the previous “Parents’ Weekend.” The Financial Aid Office has made arrangements for transportation and lodging for guardians of full-financial aid students. Such efforts have made it possible for more families to attend Family Weekend.
Andover celebrates its intentionally diverse student body, yet there is still work to be done. Andover should be a place where students are fully comfortable with themselves and their backgrounds. To make Family Weekend an equally fulfilling event for all is a task that would take much discussion. Perhaps a less formal, more relaxed environment at school-organized meals, or opportunities for all families to find others with similar backgrounds and socialize. We do not have the solution at the moment, but we urge our community to recognize and celebrate all our differences.
_This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVII._