Behind the Scenes of Cluster Dinners

Waffles, pancakes, and sugary cereals replaced the usual dinner options on Wednesday, January 30 for Pine Knoll’s “Breakfast for Dinner” event. Upstairs, the tables were dressed with bright yellow tablecloths and littered with crayons and coloring sheets.

Cluster Dinners are held in Paresky Commons an average of five times during the year, according to Andie Pinga ’19, co-president of West Quad South. Other cluster dinners this year were Abbot’s “Shrek” themed dinner and West Quad North’s “Chicken Little” themed dinner.

According to Pinga, cluster dinners are an opportunity for the cluster’s personality and cluster spirit to show, as well as for the cluster council to have fun with choosing decorations and themes.

Pinga said, “I think the first purpose is just mainly to put some lively excitement into Commons dinner. Another thing is to celebrate cluster pride, even though it’s open to the entire school. It’s one event that cluster council can put on and get funky with it, you know… put on decorations and themes.”

Angelreana Choi ’19, Cluster Co-President of Pine Knoll, said that her cluster tried to make their decorations interactive.

Choi said, “We put paper on all of the tables, and then we put out coloring books, word searches, crosswords and crayons, just so students and especially faculty kids would just have more of an opportunity to just be creative, so that was really fun.”

According to Nicholas Masri ’19, Cluster Co-President of West Quad North, cluster dinners add fun variation to the usual Commons menu.

Masri wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “​We think that at Andover you can easily sink into the routine and it’s cool to mix it up. Cluster dinners are a fun way to bring enthusiasm into peoples day with a creative theme and good food.” 

The clusters plan their dinner months ahead of the actual event, when cluster council meet and start deciding on the different aspects of the the meal. According to Choi, the dates of cluster dinners come from a predetermined list.

Choi said, “Our cluster dean Dr. [David] Gardner had a list of potential dates…and then Sam and I basically chose a random one.”

After setting a date, cluster councils then select the type of food to be served. Campbell Munn ’19, Cluster Co-President of Abbot, explained how the Abbot cluster council picked the food from a previously fixed menu given to them by the Commons staff.

“Commons, these days, gives you a menu, and they give you options, and you can’t really mix and match anymore. For our cluster dinner, we ended up choosing something called ‘gameday’ and we got wings and sort of an American style football type food,” said Munn.

The theme options were also provided in a list by Commons along with food choices that accompany it. According to Sahil Tekchandani ’19, Cluster Co-President of Flagstaff, the themes for each cluster usually repeat.

Tekchandani said, “I think the theme is kind of rooted more in tradition. The same cluster have been doing the same kind of meals for the last couple of years.”

Clusters look forward to hosting dinners not only to decorate, but for the community-building that happens when planning, according to Tekchandani.

“I think the cluster dinners are a great way to kind of foster a sense of community, not just within the cluster, but kind of the whole school. I also think it could be something that as a group, as a cluster, and as a school we look forward to. I know the cluster council really looks forward to planning those events and the cluster council really looks forward to taking part. [It’s] something that a lot of kids welcome and look forward to and I think it’s just a great overall atmosphere that we produce,” said Tekchandani.