Furthering the Partnership of the DPN

By Jim Alexandre P’06,’08,’11,’13; Haverford, PA

Our fourth child’s final year at Deerfield is on the horizon this spring with Parents Weekend in May. I’m struck not only by how much she has learned through her experiences at Deerfield, but also by how much we as parents have learned from the cumulative experiences of her and her predecessor siblings.  You name it and we’ve seen it: a bad injury during ski season, a kid focused on socializing at the expense of sleep, a teacher and a student not on the same page, urgent entreaties from them (in vain!) about senior parties, and realizing what winter in Deerfield can really be like (and this year wasn’t it). We could write a book. 

In a nutshell, that “book”–authored by current and past parents in the very ink of their experiences–is what the Deerfield Parents Network (DPN) is all about.  The DPN’s signature initiative is the First Link, a program coordinated by the Admissions Office that offers a point of contact to every incoming family with the family of a current or recent Deerfield student. The value of that contact is not only practical in providing a context on questions (“How do you get to know the advisor?” or “How much homework is there really?”) but also in sending a broader message that Deerfield is a welcoming community that extends well beyond the bounds of a lovely campus. (For more on the program, see “First Link Starts the Chain” in this issue).

Another service the DPN provides is The Link, a thrice-annual publication that runs through the workings of the school and offers advice on ways to get information or help regarding common challenges faced by parents and students. The Deerfield community has dealt with great success and genuine tragedy over the years with grace, dignity, and caring. In turn, it is likely that there is almost nothing those brick walls haven’t seen in the more than 200 years since Deerfield’s founding. Learning from those experiences, and providing a searchable database of issues facing students and parents alike, is an ongoing goal of The Link.

The DPN has also looked for ways to have a positive impact on the community, including public service initiatives. Last year it coordinated a daffodil planting program on campus to add a bit of spring color. Future plans include assisting the student-led initiatives of a clothing drive and food donations during Parents Weekend to benefit the surrounding communities.

The Steering Committee of the DPN has about 30 parents, and all of our activities are closely coordinated with (and supported by) Dr. Curtis and the Board of Trustees. We’d love to have you involved in any way. Do you have a suggestion, but aren’t sure where to go with it?  Would you like to be part of the First Link effort? Is there an article you’d like to research and write for the benefit of other parents? Would you like to be involved with the community service initiatives? The Deerfield Parents Network is a great way to expand your involvement with Deerfield. Please contact our Community Outreach Chair Kelly Pasciucco, our Communications Chair Kate Upson, or me. You can also email DPN@Deerfield.edu. We urge you to seek us out over Parents Spring Weekend at the DPN coffee and refreshments table in the Caswell Library, or at any of the other parent gatherings throughout the weekend.

Now it’s back to the dorm for a preliminary round of year-end packing, another panicked dialogue on summer plans, and a review of logistics for upcoming college visits.  I’m sensing another Link article is in there somewhere…

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