Phillips Academy Poll Summit Urges Andover Community to Engage in Polling

The Executive Board of the Phillips Academy Poll is comprised of students Alex Shieh ’23, Patrick Chen ’23, and Nicholas Donnellan ’23, as pictured above (left to right).

On November 6, the Phillips Academy Poll, also known as the Andover Poll, held a Student Civic Leader Summit on the importance of raising awareness around and participating in democratic elections. Congressman Seth Moulton ’97, politician Adam Frisch P’24, Arnon Mishkin of the Fox News Decision Desk, and representatives from the Harvard Institute of Politics gave individual speeches on the topic.

With the 2022 Midterm Elections on Tuesday, the Phillips Academy Poll decided to hold a summit in hopes of stirring youth action in politics. Nicholas Donnellan ’23, one of the executive directors of the club, described the motivation behind holding the event.

“It’s very important that [the Phillips Academy Poll] show a side of polling that relates to the [Andover] community as a whole. This event is a great way not only to show the mission of Andover Poll but also to, during the tumultuous election cycle, really get the youth involved. And that’s something we think is important, is getting Gen Z out to vote, getting Gen Z to participate in politics at large,” said Donnellan.

Donnellan continued, “And our motivation was to have speakers discuss issues relating to voter engagement, relating to barriers in getting into politics for Gen Z, talking about activism, all of that. And so the biggest motivation which was two-fold, was to get Gen Z into politics, and to express admission of the Andover Poll in a way that relates to the public at large.” 

Each speaker, aside from Moulton, had a Q&A segment in which student-submitted questions were directly asked and answered on the spot. Anna Korczac ’24 expressed her appreciation for the wide variety of speakers. 

“As an Andover student, we have the ability to hear from some really unique and remarkable people. And two of the speakers were alumni from here. And so when we’re given the opportunity to go and hear from these people and to ask them questions, we should always embrace these types of opportunities we have,” said Korczac.

The event also attracted a variety of students, some of whom were well versed in politics and others less familiar with the topic. Sophia Tabibian ’26, despite not knowing much about politics, learned a lot from the speakers. Following the summit, Tabibian shared her biggest takeaways from the summit.

“I don’t really know very much about politics. [But] voting is just so important and making an effort to have your voice heard is so crucial to society today. They were talking about politics and the real world today. But they also centered a lot of what they talked about towards the audience, their use, and how we can get involved. I think it was great how they were able to kind of center it around how we can take action. Everyone should be making an effort to vote and to stay informed,” said Tabibian. 

While it is unclear whether another summit similar to the Phillips Academy Poll’s will happen again, board members are hopeful about the opportunity. Donnellan expressed his excitement and determination in having another event that can inspire other Andover students to voice their thoughts. He hopes that the politics-related clubs on campus can collaborate to organize future events. 

“Some of our current board members are already involved with clubs that are part of the Andover Political Union. So what [the executive board of the Phillips Academy Poll] would really like to see is for them to coalesce more and to create more multi-club events that focus on issues in politics [and] thematic issues relating to Gen Z,” said Donellan.

All speakers shared the same sentiment of empowering the youth. Luke Fernandez-Suarez ’25, a member of the Phillips Academy Poll’s associate board, hoped that the event left people with the inspiration to vote and participate in elections.

“I was hoping for people to know that polling is incredibly important. Perhaps [it’s] not exactly 100 percent science, but it’s by far one of the greatest indicators of what’s going to happen during the election cycle, what’s going to happen in the future. And if you want to perhaps change that result, then you have to go and vote for that. Especially some of the polling, what some of the presentations were saying was that many people thought that some elections were out of control, the demo does not matter. But in reality, they do. So go vote,” said Fernandez-Suarez.