October 02, 2017

For Legacy Family, Andover Is ‘Always Home’

Claudia Arrigg Koh ’67 reflects on her Andover experience
by Rita Savard
Claudia Arrigg ’67, right, with classmate Nancy Erdmann

Claudia Arrigg arrived at Abbot Academy in 1963, wide-eyed and ready to begin a new adventure. More than 50 years have passed, yet she remembers like it was yesterday.

Abbot Circle. Draper Hall. Jean St. Pierre’s English class. These are the places where unbreakable bonds were forged and character was built.

“There’s something special about this place and the people you find here,” says Arrigg, whose classmates turned out in full force for their milestone 50th Reunion in June, swapping stories, laughs, and hugs as they retraced their steps back to where it all began.

At Abbot, Arrigg and her classmates discovered more than a school—they found a second family.

Beloved English instructor St. Pierre opened their minds to a lifelong love of reading and exploring books, and also helped unlock the meaning of “Andover for life.”

“Ms. St. Pierre made us all feel that everything we said was important and significant,” recalls Arrigg, now a successful ophthalmologist with a busy practice at Arrigg Eye & Ear Associates in Lawrence, Mass. “When you’re 13 years old, that gives you a lot of confidence.”

Carving out a family legacy at Andover, the next generation—Steven Koh ’00, Daniel Koh ’03, and Katie Koh ’05—not only share “numbers after names” with their mother, but also have a special mentor in common.

St. Pierre was one of a handful of Abbot instructors who continued to teach at Phillips Academy after the 1973 merger. Her signature course, Man and God, remained among the Academy’s most popular until she retired in 2004.

“When each of my children started at Phillips Academy, Jean St. Pierre put a note in their mailboxes to welcome them. The note read: ‘If you ever need to talk, please come and see me. My door is always open.’” Arrigg was honored to stay close with St. Pierre until she passed away in 2016.

St. Pierre believed in the power of education to transform people, and those who were back on campus in June were proof of that power as they celebrated one another and their “golden days” at Abbot.

“It was a joy to see old friends and hear the fascinating stories of the various journeys we have all taken,” Arrigg says. 

It was particularly wonderful to reconnect with Lotte Elmenhorst-Volz, who traveled from Germany to join us. I had not seen her since graduation in 1967!

Over the years, Arrigg has remained involved with Andover through her children’s activities and has served as an alumnae trustee, chair of the Andover Giving Board, director of the Abbot Academy Association, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Alumni Council. She does this, she says, because of her commitment to non sibi and to making a difference in her community.

With a whole new generation of Kohs carrying the torch for PA, returning to Andover, she says, “will always feel like coming home.”

Steven ’00, Katie ’05 Daniel ’03 with Mom and Dad at Andover-Exeter.

All in the—Arrigg Koh—Family

Tucked inside the family photo album are snapshots of graduations and high-energy Andover-Exeter football games—memories of Andover that now echo across a half century and two generations.

One school. One family. Four graduates. Their journeys at Andover were uniquely different, but they all share the same school spirit.


Steven Koh ’00

In 2016, Steven, an international lawyer, visited China where he reconnected with his advisor and closest mentor at PA, Dr. Peter Warsaw. After catching up for the first time in years, the pair happened to wander into a PA reunion at the Hong Kong hotel where Warsaw was staying. Steven says the alums were “delighted and astonished” to serendipitously meet up with two more members of the Andover community.

“It was a powerful reminder of the genuine affection and loyalty that Andover engenders among students from every quarter.”    


Dan Koh ’03

Another Koh with a passion for public service, Dan is the former chief of staff to the mayor of Boston and says his love for learning about other cultures flourished at Andover where the motto “youth from every quarter” really hit home.

“At a young age I met peers from all across the world—from cultures far and wide—who all came to Andover to learn and grow,” Dan says. “Andover was a place that was truly alive intellectually, with a warm, inviting culture that was open to all.”


Katie Koh ’05

The depth of human relationships that Katie, chief resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, fostered at Andover has made it one of the most formative experiences of her life.

“My closest friends to this day are from Andover,” says Katie, adding that the maids of honor in her July wedding were her two best friends from PA. “In addition to friends, I felt the faculty truly cared about me as a person, not just as a student, and made an effort to support and nurture my growth in every way.”

Categories: Alumni, Magazine

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