Phillips Academy Sustainability Coalition Hosts Earth Week Summit

Students from Andover and surrounding public and private schools came together for PASC’s Earth Week Summit.

Students from Andover and other public and private schools gathered in the Kemper Auditorium this past Sunday as part of the month-long course of events hosted by the Phillips Academy Sustainability Coalition (PASC) to celebrate Earth Week. The Summit was the first in recent Andover history to invite students from other schools to attend and share in climate education.

Allison Guerette, Campus Sustainability Coordinator for Phillips Academy, spoke to the PASC’s overarching goal with Earth Week. She emphasized the work student event organizers have done in actively pursuing new opportunities to deliver information on sustainability.

“Earth Week is [really] to celebrate the work that we’re already doing on campus for the environment, and also to bring new people and new ideas into the environmental and climate movement. It is very refreshing to see students take the lead on creating educational events for not just students but adults on campus, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the events,” said Guerette in a previous interview with The Phillipian.

Attendees noted their excitement regarding the various workshops offered and the presentation delivered by the keynote speaker, youth activist Shiva Rajbhandari. One such attendee, Jonathan Oh ’27, expressed how he felt that the event was relevant to current events globally.

“A main takeaway that I had was about speaking out. Specifically, from Shiva, a message that struck me was that although it may seem that you’re the only one in a movement, or that your efforts are insignificant, it’s certainly still better than nothing at all, and these initial advocates are what drives the movements. I encourage people to come to future events, and it’s super important to learn this stuff right now, especially with the relevance to modern issues,” said Oh.

Sebastian Lemberger ’25, who helped organize the event and works as the External Affairs Coordinator for the PASC, handled the majority of the outreach for the summit. He discussed difficulties that the PASC faced in bringing other schools to campus and his vision of bringing together students from private boarding schools across the Northeast.

“[Andover] has really, really strict policies in relation to letting people from off-campus come to campus because of safety and liability reasons. So, those were just a pain to deal with in general. Also, outreach was tricky because in most cases we just had to cold email people who we didn’t really know, and most of them didn’t really get back to us. The event is also [difficult] because it’s in April and on the cusp of AP exams, and the event wasn’t really at a great time for a lot of schools. So outreach was difficult. I think it’s a really good event. We should do more stuff with other schools because really the extent of our interaction with them in most cases is like athletics. Athletics are great and all, but we have a huge school with lots of resources and it’s good to sort of share and communicate with other educational institutions,” said Lemberger.

Another attendee of the event, Saketh Lingisetty ’27, commented on his experience as a first-time attendee of Climate Summits in general. Lingisetty, who was drawn towards the conference by an interest to learn more about what was organized by the students of Andover, talked about how he was inspired by Rajbhandari’s call to action.

“I went to the Farmbot workshop, and it was a really nice way to see how people who are interested in STEM can get involved in climate education… I’ve never been to a climate summit until now, and I’ve heard a lot about climate summits in general in the past… I had a key takeaway from the keynote speaker. He really talked about how you can’t just go to a school board meeting and just tell them your ideas and hope that they take them in and implement them. You need to actually barricade them. You need to force them to listen to your ideas, to make them understand that you have ideas that might work in favor of you and them, and try to make an impact not just through suggesting ideas, but through trying to make them happen,” said Lingisetty.