Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This year’s senior class gift will facilitate the construction of a playground for the Chester-Upland School of the Arts, set to open in Chester, PA, this fall. This magnet school, with its focus on rigorous academic and arts education, developed from the Chester Children’s Chorus, founded in 1994 by John Alston, Associate Professor of Music at Swarthmore College. Alston said the school is “the best thing I’ve ever done,” and “an incredible responsibility.” At the same time, he said, “There’s so much more to be done.…We haven’t gotten it right in the United States yet.”
The idea for this year’s senior gift was narrowed down from five original options. Dennis Archey, of Annual Giving, wrote in an email, “the senior class is asked to submit gift suggestions.…Those gift suggestions that are doable and affordable (the senior class has to raise the money to pay for the gift) are presented to the senior class for a vote.”
Ultimately, said Marissa Davis ’08, the greatest number of votes went to “John Alston’s school.” Now, the senior class agents are working to gather support from as many of their classmates as possible. Davis said, “By encouraging people to be part of the first class to…have close to 100% class participation, we hope to have generated the necessary funds for this initiative by the end of the semester.” Seth Hara ’08 emphasized that contributing to the Senior Gift is as much about the very act of participating as it is about accumulating funds: “Of course it’d be great to have a lot of money to donate to the [Chester] school, but the class gift is about class unity and pride. We need everybody involved to reach that goal.”
John Alston expressed gratitude that the Seniors’ proposed gift will have “made it this much easier, just a bit easier for those kids to have the beautiful school they deserve.” As he pointed out, “What is the use of a school without a playground?”