Denise Simon ’94
January 24, 2024

Absence. Change. Renewal. 

Three alumni photographers put their focus back on Andover
by Denise Simon ’94

Denise Simon began her media career as a writer and editor working with multiple publications, independent producers, film festivals, and local universities. After serving as a photographer for various nonprofits, she established a New York–based studio specializing in portraiture and documentary photography.

Absence. Change. Renewal.

My memories of life at Andover are somewhat fragmented—a mixed collection of experiences and images, friendships with other students and adults, and intellectual and artistic pursuits.

At a school like Phillips Academy, the campus is a central character in our collective story, a story that spans generations of “youth from every quarter.” The spaces where we study, sleep, eat, and socialize deeply influence our personal and academic growth.

I’ve returned to campus several times, but there has always been a full schedule of events, with little time to explore. This project gave me the room to reflect on my time at PA, camera in hand.

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My first home on campus was in a three-story building named Abbey House. One of my earliest recollections is of making the trek to and from Abbot, through morning fog and cold, and dark evenings. Years later, during my final winter at Andover, I would stand outside Paul Revere one night, alone in the midst of a snowstorm, taking it all in.

There were classes in Bulfinch, Sam Phil, and hours spent in the library. I learned my way around a darkroom and joined other students in the Addison’s galleries, newsprint and charcoal in hand, for figure drawing and pizza. As an Af-Lat-Am member, I attended Friday night meetings, parties, and sleepovers in Cooley House.

Borden Gym—where I finally found the nerve to jump from the balcony for the ropes class and danced until curfew on Saturday nights—is well preserved. The dance studio where I took ballet is also there, although today students dance in a new, modern, light-filled space in the Pan Athletic Center.

The chapel still sparks memories of All-School Meetings, and the fare at Commons—where I shared meals and spent many quiet Sunday mornings—is a bit fancier. I miss the wooden tables.

Categories: Alumni, Magazine

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