Chandler-Wormly Vista Dedicated to Honor First Black Abbot Academy Alumni

Pictured above is the Vista, which extends from Samuel Phillips Hall to the Great Lawn.

Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington, MD, Ph.D. P ’24 announced that the Vista would be named the “Chandler-Wormly Vista” to honor the efforts taken by Abbot Academy’s first Black alumnae; Beth Chandler AA ’55 and Cheryl Wormly AA ’55. 

From the Senior Walk in the fall to Commencement, the Chandler-Wormly Vista represents the center of campus and is a core aspect of many of the traditions on campus. According to Kington, the decision to dedicate the Vista was started by a donor’s interest, which encouraged Andover to start researching who would be appropriate to dedicate the Vista to. 

“It was prompted by a donor, who also had given the funds to rename the [Richard Greener Quadrangle] and asked us to think about other naming opportunities. So a group of us thought about a range of different options. And at some point, I ran across information about the first [Black] girls at Abbot Academy. And the more we learned about them, the more we thought that they warranted recognition in some way.” said Kington in an interview with The Phillipian

Additionally, Kington highlighted the challenges that were faced with the integration of African-American students into Abbot Academy. According to Kington, while Andover enrolled its first African-American student, Richard Greener, in 1864, Abbot Academy would not enroll any Black students until nearly 100 years later. Kington explained how this was primarily based on individual hold-outs on the Abbot Academy board who resisted and halted any change, until 1951, when Chandler and Wormly enrolled into the Academy. 

“The exclusion of Black students was driven largely by families, particularly board members on the Abbot board who didn’t want Black girls, and perhaps even more importantly, they didn’t want the boyfriends of a Black girl, they didn’t want the Black boys. And it took a while, literally for the board members to oppose it to die, and eventually the last one who was opposed to it died, and the principal was waiting and was ready to act. They reached out to networks of their alum who in turn reached out to largely the Black elite, so the Black educated, middle and upper-middle-class communities in the cities, and they found two girls, one from Washington and one from Atlanta. And ultimately, they were willing to come and interested in coming,” said Kington.

In addition to Kington and John Palfrey, Andover’s 15th Head of School, in attendance was Suhaila Cotton ’24, the student representative during the event and Co-President of the Black Student Union (BSU) at Andover. Cotton expressed her excitement about having African-American women and their role in the Academy’s history recognized, and the power and recognition that comes with this dedication. 

“I thought it was about time that they honored Black women because we have the Richard T. Greener Quad right from [George Washington Hall] for the first Black Alumni from Phillips Academy, but he was a man, oftentimes, Black women are their achievements and left out of the story. It was really about time that the achievements of Black women were honored as well. It’s just for everyone to know them. Or even if they don’t know Chandler and Wormly themselves, they will always see that name, and that’s power,” said Cotton. 

On May 5, an event was held to commemorate the dedication of the Vista. Daniel Romero ’24, spoke about the success of the event and the speech made by Palfrey. Additionally, Romero noted how he wished these gestures were possible without philanthropic donations.

“I thought it was a great event overall. It did start raining during Mr. Palfrey’s speech, but the event continued and I learned a lot. Overall it was a great event and super nice to see such monumental people to our Academy history get recognized, although, at the same time, it is a little upsetting that they wouldn’t be getting this recognition without an act of philanthropy,” said Romero. 

Editor’s Note: Daniel Romero is a Business Manager for The Phillipian.