Commencement on Vista
March 31, 2023

Chandler-Wormley Vista honors Abbot Academy’s first Black Alumnae

Dedication ceremony planned May 5

Head of School Raynard S. Kington, MD, PhD, P’24, recently announced the naming of the Chandler-Wormley Vista, a distinction that honors the first two Black alumnae of Abbot Academy. Beth Chandler and Sheryl Wormley graduated in the Class of 1955; both are deceased and will be represented by family members when the Vista is dedicated on Friday, May 5.

The naming is made possible thanks to an anonymous donor, the same individual who collaborated with the school in 2018 to establish the Richard T. Greener Quadrangle, honoring the trailblazing alumnus and graduate of Andover in 1865.

The Chandler-Wormley Vista is a visual pathway that begins at Samuel Phillips Hall in the Greener Quad and extends west, bisecting the Great Lawn, and continuing into the infinite distance. Both patches of land figure prominently into the school’s traditions, most notably Commencement. Members of the senior class process along the Chandler-Wormley Vista to the Greener Quad and take their seats in front of Samuel Phillips Hall. They recede in the opposite direction before assembling for the distribution of diplomas.

Recognizing the men and women who broke ground in our march toward a more inclusive school speaks profoundly to what we stand for as an institution today.

Raynard Kington MD, PhD, P’24 Head of School

Sheryl Wormley AA’55

“We hope that this naming will reinforce the richness and complexity of our community’s history,” stated the donor. “We honor these women for their courage and willingness to help Abbot, and ultimately Andover, become even better aligned with its values.”

“We are excited to once again partner with our generous and thoughtful donor who believes, as we do, that Abbot and Andover’s histories remain resonant today,” said Kington. “Recognizing the men and women who broke ground in our march toward a more inclusive school speaks profoundly to what we stand for as an institution today.”

While PA celebrates these trailblazing women, Kington also notes that their Abbot experiences reflected a time when civil rights was a flashpoint for many in the U.S. “Both girls were very well prepared academically, but they were not uniformly welcomed,” he said.

Beth Chandler AA’55

According to Abbot’s history captured in A Singular School by Susan Lloyd, three parents withdrew their daughters when they learned that two Black girls had earned admission in 1953 and would be coming to Abbot that fall. Still, Chandler and Wormley were undeterred and eager to experience the kind of academic rigor that was not available at their high schools in Atlanta (Chandler) and Washington, D.C. (Wormley).

“I don’t see anything wrong with me,” Chandler is quoted as saying. According to Lloyd’s account: “She looked forward to everything Abbot, Andover, and Boston had to offer. She had decided she wouldn’t care whether she made friends or not.”

Biographical Information

Beth Chandler was the daughter of Gladstone Chandler, a professor of English at Morehouse College and mentor to civil rights icons, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Her mother, Erdie Wade Chandler, was a researcher and social worker. Her grandparents worked on the Phillips Academy campus as porter, gardener, and laundress.

Beth Chandler graduated from Wheaton College and earned a master’s degree from Simmons College. She built a career in social services and served for a term as chair of the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Sheryl Wormley was the daughter of Howard University faculty. Her father, Stanton Wormley, Sr., was a professor of languages and served in several leadership roles including acting president. Her mother was a professor of English and American literature. Her maternal grandfather was E.E. Just, the renowned biologist and zoologist.

Sheryl Wormley graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and earned a master’s degree from Georgetown. She was early in the information systems industry, working for Washington, D.C., firms, including Maxima Corporation when it was one of the largest Black-owned businesses in the United States.

Categories: Alumni, Philanthropy

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