In this week’s Letter to the Editor, Head of School John Palfrey announced a change in the plans to renovate Pearson A, a classroom in Pearson Hall, for the Academic Skills Center (ASC). With the new plan, Pearson A will remain in its current state and used for courses, the ASC will replace the Tang Institute in Pearson C, and the Tang Institute will temporarily share Pearson D with the Classics Department before relocating to the the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) following renovations.
“[The original plan to renovate Pearson A] was something that was working its way through the [planning process], and a number of people reached out to me in a variety of ways… I got involved personally, and a number of people came to see me. I met with the Classics Department, I met with [the Office of Physical Plant], I met with members of the planning committee, [and] I met with staff at the library [and] staff at the Tang Institute. At the end of that, I had a sense that there might be another solution, and I asked the committee to meet again with some people and to see if they could come up with something that matched more of the interests of everyone involved,” said Palfrey in an interview with The Phillipian.
In response to the initial plan to renovate Pearson A, Jake Zanazzi ’18 worked with fellow students Carson Teitler ’18, Anna Cambron ’18, and Charlie Mayhew ’18 to discuss what they could do to preserve the classroom. Zanazzi created a petition on Change.org. called “Save Pearson A,” which has been shared on many social media platforms. Since then, the petition has garnered over 930 signatures.
“The night after I found out [about the plan to renovate Pearson A], there was a group of us that I’ve been taking Latin and Greek with for four years, and we all knew what [Pearson A] meant to us, so we wanted to do something. So we kind of split up and did different things, and so I started the petition,” said Zanazzi.
Teitler commented that Pearson is not only representative of the Classic department, but Andover’s history as a whole.
“The room hasn’t always been just for Latin or Greek. There’s a picture from 1933 or 1934 of Pearson A, and there’s an English teacher teaching in that room… On those old desks, you can see names engraved from the 1940’s,” said Teitler.
While the petition provided a much-used platform for members of the Andover community to express their opinions on the renovation plans, other components also played a role in this new and revised plan.
“[The petition] was one of a series of factors… Those who took the time to come see me and to engage in a serious discussion about it certainly had an impact, and that included lots of members of the community. But, I’m always very happy to hear student input and to weigh that in serious decisions we’re making,” said Palfrey.
Since Student Disability Services (SDS), located at the ASC, is governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act As Amended (ADAAA), the school must ensure that services are easily accessible to individuals with disabilities. The disability accessibility and relative location on campus are critical in finding a new location for the SDS, and Pearson A was functionally an ideal location on campus.
Palfrey said, “My understanding is that the Academic Skills Center is a crucial part of our academic program and something that has had a growing need over time. It needs an appropriate space, and my fond hope is that Pearson Hall will be a good home for the ASC. It’s very central, it’s close to the library, and even after the library renovations, it will be a good home for it.”
In response to the new plan, Zanazzi said, “I’m super excited but also super relieved. I think it’s super important that this class remains the way it is and I think it’s super exciting that it’s not [being renovated]. I think it just shows that so many people cared about this space and that counted for something. So it shows that what we did as students can make a difference and can matter.”