Alumni Parents Rally to Support Boarding Students

Led by Molly Andrus, parent of Emma ’12 and Izzy ’20, the Athenian Parent Alumni Group launched this fall. Its mission? To continue supporting current Athenian students, even after their own children have left the nest.

Its focus this year was the boarding community. Molly and team worked closely with Director of Residential Life, Emily Shinkle, to learn how they could serve this group. Many, due to COVID, were unable to travel home.

Julia Borchers ‘20 and Lexi G. ’22 made cakes for students celebrating birthdays and the parent group delivered the cakes to campus and provided festive décor. Birthday boarders also got candy vases and small gifts. The group sponsored catered dinners that allowed students to choose meals that served up flavors from home. Individual dessert boxes were also delivered–a student favorite!

The parent group is also underway with seed transplants and plant beds for a boarding community garden. A final event will take place in May, one which will allow members of the parent group to interact more with boarding students given the easing of COVID restrictions.

“This parent group has been amazing,” said Emily in praise of the program. “Molly does an incredible job mobilizing parents. I’m so excited the boarders will get to see the program volunteers in real life this time. They’ve been wondering who these generous parents are!”

Plans are underway for a final event of the year at the home of Board President Beth Borchers, and the parent group is already looking forward to expanding the scope of thier activities to a broader set of students on a reinvigorated campus in the fall.

The group is always open to new members; please reach out to for more information if you would like to get involved!

From Texas to Athenian: What I’ve Learned from Four Years in the Dorms

by Garrett Vaughn ’16

IMG_3325The words ‘senior’ and ‘graduation’ still seem so foreign to me, but pausing for a moment to consider that it’s already April, and with every college letter that slowly trickles in, it should be hard to deny these two words. I’ve been boarding at Athenian for four years, and while watching the boarding community grow in both students and on-campus faculty has been great, I am also struck by the small, insular, and thoughtful community I joined three years ago.

Freshman year was a year of transitions: moving from a small, quiet town in Texas to Danville, California was quite a change in pace, and the world I knew expanded. As an only child for fourteen years, suddenly I had a roommate and seventeen other brothers all with their own patterns and routines. Communal living was challenging and required a different sort of patience then I was used to. I had to be patient with my roommate and came to the conclusion that sometimes when I wanted to go to bed, the lights might be left on for another hour as he completed his homework. Several years later, I considered that maybe I should have been more patient when talking to Dorm Assistants (Dorm Prefects as they are now called) and not have been so combative when I thought they were being unreasonable to make me work dish crew on my day off.

I also had to learn to be patient with myself. One of the hardest transitions was going from a public school to Athenian’s experiential academics. I had to give myself space to grow as a learner and to go easy on myself when I fell below my personal expectations. Likewise, I also learned to be proactive and to seek help when I needed it.

I’m thankful for that small community I found when I first came to Athenian. I am still struck by the friends that I’ve made these last four years. And while our relationships haven’t always been perfect, I don’t know who I would be without these people. I’ve lived with Paula now for four years at Athenian, and her room is still a place where I unwind and decompress, go through a thousand or more flashcards on Anatomy terms before a test, or go to watch movies on the weekends. These are the kinds of simple experiences that highlight my Athenian career.  Athenian has molded me into a critical thinker, a pursuer of truth, and a questioner of the world. But what I’m most thankful for is this wonderful community that has pushed me and given me support and the small family that has grown around me.