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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks to the Phillips Academy Board of Trustees in Andover, Massachusetts


Thank you all. Excuse the slight delay. I was out there talking to the captain of Andover's victorious football team, Tony Pittman. I don't know whether he came in with us. Is he there? I want to show him off to you guys that came here with me. Small but fast -- [laughter] -- tough. I don't know where he went. Is he coming? Tony, get up here now. I need them to see my excuse for my being late. I don't want to embarrass him. Stay there.

I single him out, not to embarrass the poor guy, which I probably have just done, but to make a point about this school. One of the things that I, at least, got an awful lot out of was the athletic program. And I saw my old mentor, Frank DiClemente, sitting in the front row there. And I thought, my gosh, I haven't even left the place -- he looks just the same as he did back in those highly competitive days.

But I want to thank Headmaster Don McNemar for arranging a wonderful visit -- a fine reunion, if you will. Again, I want to single out the two Congressmen that were here with me, back here, Andy Ireland and Tony Beilenson, standing way in the back there, as enthusiastic as I about the return to Andover Hill. And of course, to the board and to Tim Ireland, who really did a lot of the planning on this and working out the schedule -- old friend. And of course, David Underwood, whom I've known for years, fellow Houstonian, now serving so unselfishly as chairman of this board.

And again, I don't want to miss by failing to emphasize the affection I have for members of the faculty, present and past. We did a little interview a minute ago with not only the editor of the Phillipian but from the Lawrence paper. And I pointed out that those of us who studied here were privileged to be taught by outstanding faculty. And it's still, I'm sure, just exactly that way.

I'm very sorry Barbara's not here. She just didn't feel well -- but she's doing well. And I'm very, very proud of her. And she had been looking forward to this very much.

I was going through the yearbook the other day. It said something about: Captain Bush was a powerful batter at the plate. It's marvelous how a little time takes care of a lot of myths, you know. [Laughter] But, freedom of the press -- we're all for that. [Laughter] And those of you from Washington, I hope you'll note it.

I emphasized in that little interview we had the importance of friendships. Doesn't matter whether you're President of the United States or a senior at Phillips Academy or just beginning here or whatever. Friendships matter. And the friendships you make here last you for the rest of your life, and I'm grateful for that. Some other things don't change. Kindness doesn't change. The education and service that is embodied in the Phillips constitution -- talk about -- it says both goodness and kindness form the noblest character and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind. And many young people have passed through these halls since those words were written. And yet, Andover's mission -- excellence in education -- remains as true in 1989 as it was when President Washington visited Phillips Academy 200 years ago to this very day.

The Andover mission states that education has always been the great equalizer and uplifter. And that, public or private, large or small, the schools of America are precious centers of intellectual challenge and creativity. And yet, they're more than that. For it is in school, as it was for me here at Phillips Academy, that we come to understand real values: the need to help the less fortunate, make ours a more decent, civil world.

As a student, for example, I remember we had in those days the Society of Inquiry, it was called. Community service -- we did drives, sponsored by what was then known as the Society of Inquiry. And today, you have the Blue Key and the Community Service Program. All three reflect service to nation and service to neighbor.

And as a student, too, I learned, as I said, about education through some absolutely outstanding teachers. I don't like to single them out, but I was talking to Don about it. And I think my favorite was Dr. A.B. Darling. He lived right around the corner. We always tried to avoid his house, because you were summoned over there if you did real bad. [Laughter] But I learned from the discipline of his classes, and it's gone on for years and years in this great institution.

Today, as Don observed a few minutes ago, a new generation of teachers are helping to challenge and inspire. Excellence in education -- a belief that we were put on Earth to help others. And back in the early forties, this formed the essence and character of Phillips Academy. And you can still feel its power today. For Phillips has much to be proud of as it enters a brand-new decade. Its curricula has never been more extensive. Its exchange program is broadening its horizons. Its minority recruitment and scholarship programs have brought a new vital diversity to the student body, and keeping Phillips such a special, even wondrous place. A place where we forge friendships for life with faculty, housemasters and ministers, administrators, and yes, our classmates.

Even the Father of our Country was impressed by Phillips Academy. As he wrote his nephew, and Don referred to some of this, in a letter after visiting the community: ``Schooling, board, washing, and lodging will not much, if any, I am told, exceed a week for each boy.'' Now, costs have changed a little since then. [Laughter] Quality has not, and in the capable hands of this headmaster, of this faculty, of the board, it will not.

And so, thank you for ensuring Andover's excellence, making one of America's oldest academies one of America's finest academies. And thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for what has been a joyous occasion, one I shall not forget. And I'll go back to work tomorrow feeling uplifted in knowing that I have the friendships that really make a difference. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:01 p.m. in Borden Gymnasium. In his remarks, he referred to Frank DiClemente, faculty member emeritus; and David Underwood, chairman of the board of trustees. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.

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