Students Help Enhance George Washington Hall, Creating Space for Greater Involvement

For their work duty, a group of students made three interactive bulletin boards that are currently posted in front of the mailroom in George Washington Hall. The group consisted of Peter Elliot ’24, Elise Minor ’24, Maris Moody ’24, Matt Leonard ’24, and Christina Yen ’24. According to Leonard, due to the large number of students, new work duties were created to accommodate the extra people. Lesley Shahbazian, Administrative Assistant for Dean of Students, who was in charge of creating the bulletin boards and suggested that the task become a work duty, acted as the group’s advisor.

According to Shahbazian, work duty is a commitment in which students do administrative work for certain groups on campus. All lowers are required to complete a work duty throughout the academic year. At the beginning of the year, students are given the choice to choose their work duty, which varies from running a club on campus to cleaning Paresky Commons.

Elliot was one of the first people who joined the group. He was assigned to propose ideas to make the bulletin boards more interactive. Along with Elliot, the five students volunteered to work on the project and began to meet.

“We were asked to assemble a couple bulletin boards [and] make GW feel like a more approachable and a more friendly workspace. It’s not used as much as faculty hope it is, so they especially wanted us to make some interactive bulletin boards that would draw people into the space. We spent a couple days just brainstorming potential ideas, then we ordered our materials [and] got to work,” said Elliot.

The group designed three different bulletin boards: a tic-tac-toe board, a world map board, and a national holiday board. The world map has stickers and pins, sorted by grade level, and allows students to pinpoint where they come from. The borders of the map are also decorated with flags to encourage students to check off the flag of their country of origin.

As a day student, Leonard commented on the challenge of realizing the diversity of the Andover community. However, he noted that the world map would connect students and allow more people to gain a visual sense of the diverse campus.

“It will help connect everyone, and it’s really good to be able to see where everyone’s from. Especially as a day student, being from Andover, it’s really not that easy to get a grasp on the diverse place everyone’s from just walking by them. So going to the map is definitely a great way to expand peoples’ point of views and perspectives,” said Leonard.

Moody thinks that the bulletin boards have enhanced the space. According to Moody, the newly designed boards would help add some personality to the student spaces in GW.

“GW is a great space where kids hang out, but I feel like [the bulletin boards] add something. The bulletin boards were just such plain, boring slates that we wanted to fix. So I feel like it adds a little bit of life to the room. It adds something you can interact with and do and create something to distract from work or just something to participate in,” said Moody.

While some students gather in GW, many students utilize other spaces, such as the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) or Paresky. The Office of Students and Residential Life has been working to increase student activity in the space by finding different ways to improve its environment.

“We’re trying to reimagine these spaces so they’re more welcoming and inviting to not only day students, but boarders also – a place where people feel really comfortable hanging out and having fun. One of the things we came up with is perhaps creating interactive bulletin boards so students could interact with them and talk about them,” said Shahbazian.

Shahbazain added, “We’d like to get more kids here involved in different things in this area. So we’re looking for ways to improve the space for students. Right now, we are going to survey students to see what they would like in terms of features if we were to redesign the space.”

Elliott hopes that the bulletin boards have made GW a more inviting space to work. He has been pleased and excited to see how students have engaged with the group’s work and how the team helped attract more students to GW.

“It’s just pretty fun to know that what we’ve created is actually being used, especially in a space [like] GW [which] is not typically a place students like to go and work. People tend to go to the library or some other workspace. But it’s pretty [cool] to see that what we’ve created has potentially drawn people towards that area as a place to go work or hang out with friends and just liven it up a little bit,” said Elliot.