A Heartfelt Thank You
I remember having the pleasure of hearing King Abdullah II of Jordan give the commencement address the year our oldest child (of four) graduated from Deerfield. There were a lot of firsts in that for me: first time seeing three helicopters land on the athletic fields, first time hearing a King of anything give a speech, and first time going through the lovely rituals that comprise a Deerfield Commencement ceremony. Sitting tentatively on a white wooden chair, I elected to watch the large figure on the TV screen as opposed to the quite distant and remote figure behind the podium. I could not have known that his speech would prove a textbook example of how to give a commencement address (note to self, just in case!), nor that his message would be so simple and yet truly compelling. The King began with his own time at Deerfield, and looking out at the audience as if in search of something, methodically and specifically thanked the people in every walk of the school who had helped define his Deerfield experience. Then he turned to the graduates, and asked them to stand and thank their parents, which they did with warm applause. After some expected words about things beginning and not ending, and a few reflections on the journey of minds into adulthood, he asked them to rise again and thank their teachers and the Deerfield staff. The roar reverberated across the quad.
Not lost on me in his succinct address is that there are things in our life that are bigger than words, and so two words should always come to mind when you aren’t quite sure what to say. Those words would be “thank you.” Now as my last child prepares to do her final walk, I wish there was an easy way to reach out to those many professionals at Deerfield who went the extra mile to make her time there so extraordinary. She found her definition more in the performing arts than on the playing fields. While others would thank coaches and trainers and inspiring teachers, my thanks flow more to dance instructors and drama coaches and, of course, inspiring teachers. A prospective parent had asked me when we sent our second child to Deerfield just what it was that made that school so special. “I never thought I’d meet people who cared as much about my child as her mother and I do,” I replied. “And at Deerfield, I think they do.” It’s hard to find a “thank you” big enough to cover that!
The Deerfield Parents Network will enter its fourth year next fall. At our meeting this spring, Marc Johnson will be nominated to be its third president. It has been a wonderful privilege for me to serve on this parent-driven initiative, and I’m especially proud that the mission has been so clearly defined as one of support for the school, with a special emphasis on reaching out to families new to Deerfield through the First Link program. It has been wonderful to see the number of parents who have inquired about ways to participate. The DPN also helps with community and campus service projects, and prepares articles and interviews for The Link, covering aspects of the school that constitute a library of shared experiences. Participation in the Deerfield Parents Network is a wonderful way to give back and get involved. Please don’t hesitate to email Marc Johnson if you’d like to lend a hand. Thank you!
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