Students in class
January 28, 2022

In honor of

Alumni salute those who gave them hope and friendship

It’s the guidance counselor who believed in you. The teacher who honed your talents. The friend who held your hand. Those who inspired, demanded excellence, and brightened your days.

Everyone has someone who influenced their Big Blue journey—and today alumni are finding personal ways to recognize these radiant figures and bottle their spirit for future generations. Here is a snapshot of three donors who did just that by establishing Knowledge & Goodness gifts.

The Mentor

“It’s amazing what force of character can accomplish,” says Torrence Boone ’87.

At Baltimore’s Roland Park Junior High School in the 1980s, Marie Bessicks was a formidable woman with an “amazing vision of getting a handful of poor Black kids from the inner city into prestigious secondary schools,” recounts Boone. Bessicks was adamant that Boone, an exceptional learner, apply to Phillips Academy—a school he’d never even heard of.

“You had a sense that Marie was looking out for your best interests,” says Boone, still in touch with Bessicks to this day. “She had really good intuition. She was a guidance counselor but also a mom and a friend and a coach and a disciplinarian. When she said, ‘you should go for this’ or ‘this could be transformative for your life,’ you really listened.”

Boone was awarded a full scholarship to PA—the only way his family could afford to send him—and he has now renamed an earlier gift to the campaign for the woman he credits with launching his future successes. The Marie Bessicks Scholarship continues her efforts to expand academic opportunities to all deserving students and further enhances one of Andover’s top priorities. Boone hopes other alumni who knew and loved the counselor will contribute to the scholarship.

“It’s a big chance to honor this incredible woman,” he says. “She singularly changed so many lives. When I went to Andover, the aperture opened in terms of life’s possibilities, and it set me on a completely different trajectory. So much of that is because of her.”

The Teacher

Kate Friskin always strode across campus with a purpose, remembers Trustee Emerita Elizabeth Parker Powell ’56, P’84, ’90, GP’19.

Friskin, Abbot Academy music instructor from 1922 to 1961, spent her days speeding up the stairs to chapel and coaxing arpeggios from young pianists in Draper Hall. To this day, Powell can recall Friskin’s kindness and the C scale she once taught her. “Her motto was never give up,” she says. “Try it two or three times, take a pause and try another piece, and then come back.”

Powell has named a practice room in Andover’s planned music building—currently in its final funding stages—in her teacher’s memory. The purpose-built structure will not only keep Friskin’s zest for teaching at the forefront, but will also ensure that Abbot Academy’s vibrant musical history continues to reverberate into the future. “I’d only practiced in my home before coming to Abbot,” says Powell. “Training up in those rooms on the top floor of Draper was a real experience for me. And now, Andover needs this state-of-the-art building! The students deserve more room for practice, rehearsal, and performance.

“Kate Friskin was interested in developing music in any way she could. She gave me confidence and supported me playing my flute in Andover’s production of The Mikado. Thanks to her,” adds Powell, “music has been a joy my whole life.

“Part of the reason you attend an independent school is to expand your mind and your abilities, and Kate Friskin could not have done it better.”

The Friend

“Melissa Brown ’89 and I met when we were brand-new students at Andover,” says Jessica Livingston ’89. “She was such an important part of my high school experience—she was this gorgeous, super smart, genteel Southerner, and I was this wannabe Deadhead from Boston. She had such a great sense of humor and when I was struggling, she was there for me, supporting me.”

After graduating from PA and Dartmouth, Brown became a nationally renowned artist before succumbing to breast cancer at 30. In tribute to her friend, Livingston endowed the Melissa Brown ’89 Scholarship for PA students interested in the visual arts.

“I remember her painting at Andover,” says Livingston. “She took a variety of art classes, and it evolved into this amazing thing. I want today’s students to be able to develop their own talents in this space.” Indeed, the Academy continues to foster one of the country’s top visual arts programs, spanning mediums from painting and ceramics to printmaking and digital photography.

“Melissa died so young,” Livingston adds. “We lost touch, and that’s another reason I wanted to create this scholarship—I missed the opportunity to see her and reconnect with her. I really wanted to do something to keep Melissa’s spirit alive.

“There are many ways to give back, but if you’re going to donate and there’s someone who really influenced your life, creating an endowed fund at Andover is a great opportunity to celebrate a friend, teacher, or family member.”

To learn more, please contact Nicole Cherubini, director of development, at
[email protected].

Originally printed in The Vista: Views from the Knowledge & Goodness Campaign, fall 2021.

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