Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 17, 2013

Fairs show options for gap year, summer

The Andover Townsman

---- — Although it will be a few months before winter gives way to spring, a pair of free, public fairs this weekend will help high school and middle school students get a jump on their summer and fall plans.

Andover youth can attend Phillips Academy’s 23rd annual Summer Opportunities Fair on Sunday, Jan. 20 or the new Gap Year Opportunities Fair on Saturday, Jan. 19. Both fairs are free and open to the public.

The Summer Opportunities Fair will be held on Sunday, Jan. 20 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Smith Center, located off Route 28 near the intersection of Salem Street on the Phillips Academy campus. The event is sponsored by the Phillips Academy Summer Opportunities Office and the Parents of Students of Phillips Academy.

This fair will give students and their families a chance to meet with representatives from more than 100 local, national, and international summer programs. Among the wide range of programs that will be represented at the fair are those that focus on academic programs, language study, community service, camps, sports, arts, research, internships, outdoor adventure, and international travel.

In the past, information about gap year programs was included in the annual Summer Opportunities Fair. This year those programs will be grouped into a separate fair sponsored by USA Gap Year Programs, which holds 30 such fairs across the country each year.

The Gap Year Opportunities Fair will be held on Saturday, Jan. 19 from 3 to 5 p.m. in Kemper Auditorium, located in the Elson Art Center on Chapel Avenue, across from the Andover Inn.

A gap-year is a year that high school graduates use to pursue other experiences before going off to college.

At Saturday’s fair, high school students and their parents will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with representatives from nearly 40 reputable gap year organizations that focus on education, service and personal growth. Jason Sarouhan, a counselor at the Center for Interim Programs in Northampton, Mass., will serve as a featured speaker at the event. He will discuss the gap year experience as well as the application process and the logistics of deferring college for a year.

Ben Krapels of Andover, who graduated from Phillips Academy in June 2012, is currently in the process of doing a gap year that he set up through an organization called Thinking Beyond Borders, according to the school. Over the course of eight months, Krapels is spending time living and working in rural villages in Ecuador, China, India, South Africa, Peru and Cambodia.

In the first entry of his blog, Krapels wrote about the goal of his gap year, saying, “Examining environmental sustainability, agriculture, education, and public health, in the first four countries respectively, I will do my best to break down and analyze the issues facing each nation. How the issues facing each of these developing nations originated, why they have persisted into the 21st century, and what can be done to bring these nations into the developed world.”

As of this writing, Krapels has finished up his time in China and is now teaching at a local school in Jaipur, India.

For more information about either fair, call the Summer Opportunities Office at 978-749-4480 or visit the Summer Opportunities website at or the Gap Year website at