Several students are walking back to their dorm on a Saturday night. A blue car slows down with the window rolled down. A kid, about their age, sticks his head out of the window and yells, “Catboner.”
In order to shed light on the rivalry between Phillips Academy students and Andover High School students, Joseph Wilkin ’08 directed, produced and acted in a thirty-minute film entiled, “Catboners.”
This student film’s name is derived from the phrase used to taunt PA students from passing-by cars.
Wilkin said, “The point was just to make fun of the whole situation. It’s taken too seriously. It’s escalated to a point that’s bordering on violence. I was hoping with the movie to point out the ridiculousness.”
Wilkin continued, “There are so many explanations as to why [PA students are targeted]. There’s hostility because they think we think we’re better than them. A lot of people don’t care. There are only a few groups who ‘catboner’ PA students.”
“I think that [catboner] is a word that creates animosity and anger between the two communities. It’s a word that Andover High students use to create angst or fear. I don’t believe that it’s in fun,” said Cynthia Efinger, Director of Student Activities.
Efinger continued, “It doesn’t feel good [to be catbonered]. I have known students who have been affected by it.”
Chad Green, Director of Community Services and West Quad North Cluster Dean, said, “I see ‘catbonering’ as a sort of ‘recreation’ or ‘sport’ for Andover High kids as they are driving through campus. Our students have also responded in ways that were not wise.”
Green said, “I can notice trends in catbonering, as my house is located on Main Street. When the weather gets warm or Andover High kids are on vacation, those are the worst times.”
“I’ve heard of students collecting rocks to throw back at the cars. I just exaggerated this to the extreme,” said Wilkin.
Efinger said, “I think that this year it’s been pretty bad.”
“I can’t say that my movie did [soothe relations between the schools]. I’d like to think so,” said Wilkin.
Wilkin continued, “I would like to think it [the film] had an impact. My job was to form a form of some type of entertainment. People can relate to it - just about every student has been catbonered.”??
The film festival at PA was open to Andover High School students who may have wanted to see “Catboners.”
“Those who saw it liked it, and others who didn’t [see it] wanted to,” Wilkin said.
Recently, there has been a noticeable decline in “catboner” incidents.
“As far as I know, they either got bored, they just don’t care too much, or we’re not reacting. A few AHS friends squeeze out reactions from us. But we’re not reacting as much. It’s just a taunt,” said Wilkin.
He continued, “I think it’s just a friendly taunt. They enjoy when kids get worked up about it. There aren’t many things to do in Andover.”
With reporting by Shane Bouchard