Volume 4: Fall, 2012
DPN: Building Future Traditions
By Jim Alexandre P'06,'08,'11,'13; Haverford, PA
President, Deerfield Parents Network
One aspect of Deerfield that I've come to appreciate as our fourth child to attend enters her senior year is the context the school gives to traditions. There are so many things that link Deerfield students to what has gone before, but the leadership of the institution never stops asking, "What could we do differently--what 'traditions' for future members of the Deerfield family will we be glad we initiated today?"
In that context, the school launched a major new initiative, the Deerfield Parents Network, that now enters its second full year. I’d like to urge new parents and “old” ones alike to get involved--it’s a great way to learn more about Deerfield, and also to enhance the sense of community so essential to the Deerfield experience.
Last spring, DPN Executive Committee member Penny Ashford sent a note to existing parents asking if they would like to participate in the First Link, a DPN program that provides a point of welcome over the summer for new Deerfield families. The response was overwhelming! We had matched off each new family with a volunteer contact within days. I know from first-hand experience that the range of needs for new families is very broad--everything from “I have no idea what to expect...” to “Thanks for the call, we’re pretty dialed in on what we’re doing...”
The First Link program is part of a subtle message to parents that you don’t have to "go it alone" when navigating the complex seas of Deerfield. There is a great deal of prior experience that we work to make accessible to all Deerfield parents. For instance, the DPN has helped arrange sessions to inform parents on coping strategies for stress (see Straight Talk on Student Stress in this issue)--my own children frequently reminded me that boarding school probably amplifies issues that are prevalent during the high school years in any setting. Deerfield has worked hard, however, to provide abundant help outside the class in many forms, from tutoring to counseling. Kate Upson, a Deerfield parent who edits The Link newsletter, has assembled an archive of articles that address how those resources can be identified and used. Helping Kate think through issues of interest to parents and signing on to write about them is another volunteer opportunity.
I met recently with Dean of Students Amie Creagh and Head of School Margarita Curtis. They challenged the Deerfield Parents Network to be creative regarding the way in which parents can help other parents. We treasure a Deerfield experience for our children that is on a level playing field. Can that shared feeling spur us to think more broadly about the implications for parents as well?
The other element of the DPN’s work is to help with outreach to the local community, specifically following on student-led initiatives in areas like food drives, clothing collections, or book donations to benefit a local school. Along the way, we’ve coordinated parent volunteer activities--such as planting several hundred daffodil bulbs around the campus--to add some emphatic spring colors when the Pioneer Valley winter finally relaxes its grip. Phyllis Powers and Kelly Pasciucco have helped with both those efforts and will be leading another planting brigade on Parents Fall Weekend (see “Parent Weekend Planting Project--Back by Popular Demand”).
So please join us! You can send me an email at email@example.com, or feel free to follow up with one of us on campus or with the Dean of Students Office.
Straight Talk on Student Stress
By Sharon Macey P'14; Wilton, CT
STRESS! We all live with it, as do our kids. Because it is such a hot-button topic, some 85 parents attended a Parent-to-Parent Panel over Parents Spring Weekend entitled Stress: Real or Perceived? Deerfield Parents Network President Jim Alexandre moderated the panel, which featured school counselors Dr. Stuart Bicknell and Dr. Sheila Fritz and Kristin Loftus, health issues teacher. Here is a recap of the presentation:
One thing that became apparent during the discussion was that whether DA student stress is real or perceived, it doesn't matter. If the kids perceive it, it's real.
Stressors, as reported by students and counselors, were predictable:
- Homework issues
- Social issues
- College preparation
- Family concerns
The question is: What can be done to reduce students' level of stress?
GO TO SLEEP ALREADY!
Mrs. Loftus spoke of the vital importance of sleep. In 2008, DA delayed the start of class to 8:30 a.m. in an attempt to allow kids to achieve the eight hours of sleep they so desperately need. As part of the Independent School Health Survey, students were asked on a Tuesday how much sleep they got the night before. About 30% said seven to eight hours. In the Independent School Gender Project survey, only 10% of seniors reported getting more than eight hours a night. A quick review of sleep studies shows a strong correlation between more sleep and increased efficiencies in work–more sleep led to better grades. Most important is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which stimulates the areas of the brain responsible for learning, helps the brain organize and commit to long-term memory what it has recently learned, and improves immune system functions. REM periods occur for the longest periods of time between six and eight hours of sleep. Lack of REM sleep means the student is more likely to perceive various stressors, have their sense of wellbeing disrupted and, quite possibly, get sick.
Moreover, students should try to be consistent in the number of hours they sleep each night and avoid sleep “jet lag” by not altering bedtimes by more than one and a half hours. With the bravado that surrounds staying up really late to finish homework (“look how busy I am!”) the challenge is to figure out a way to make it both cool–and possible–for the students to sleep eight hours a night for the sake of their health and wellbeing.
BUT WAIT, IT’S THE WHOLE CULTURE THAT’S STRESSFUL
"Stress is the result of a chain of events, which sometimes leads to a crisis. How that crisis is managed can help reduce the stress or exacerbate it," said Dr. Fritz, who further advises that we adults can start by “normalizing” stress. If we acknowledge that it is a stressful environment, talk about what that means and let kids know it's okay to talk about what they find particularly stressful–that alone will decrease their level of stress.
Dr. Fritz suggests "parents and students need to recognize that DA is a challenging place...and that stress comes with the territory. It's part of the prep school culture, Deerfield is not unique." There is no way around it being stressful with 600-plus high achievers as a peer group. It can be argued that the stress caused in this type of competitive environment is good and leads to the development of many positive traits. However, striving for excellence is one thing, striving for “excellence plus” is another. Dr. Bicknell pointed out “as parents, we would like our children to be well-rounded. Some of us encourage excellence.” But what the counselors are increasingly seeing is a push to combine the two: striving for excellence in everything. That is hugely stressful, according to Dr. Bicknell, and quite often unattainable. This trend plays into perfectionist tendencies and pushes kids to overachieve, resulting in a host of unhealthy issues. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our kids could “master” one or two subjects and/or activities and feel content that they have achieved something significant?
The counselors view stress on a continuum; ranging from positive stress that increases an individual’s effectiveness to perform, to negative stress that decreases an individual’s effectiveness to perform. Positive stress contributes to a sense of wellbeing, negative stress takes this away. This year the counseling department saw more students asking for help managing their level of stress. Within the first three months of school 50% more students came forward or were brought forward because their sense of wellbeing was shaken.
Counselors can help students develop positive coping skills by helping them build their own toolbox of solutions. They can provide relaxation techniques and help them regain “control” after a particularly stressful time. Even one minute of slow deep breathing can bring anxiety levels down.
WHAT WE CAN DO AS PARENTS
Be a consultant, not a manager, in our kids’ lives. Employ reflective listening--asking how can we help, acknowledging that our child needs to talk or that they are going through a difficult stretch. We need to better figure out the partnership among school/parent/student and how best to manage those inevitable late night panic calls. Don't over-react when you receive the middle of the night phone call, unless you perceive it be an emergency. The Health Center is open 24/7 for issues such as this. Assure them and yourself that they are capable, talented, and well-adjusted. Tell them you are sure they are not alone in this experience.
Dr. Fritz views the uptick in students being seen in the counseling office as an opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of negative stress and the chance we have to begin a dialogue surrounding these experiences. We need to ask why these stress levels are climbing and what can Deerfield, at the institutional level, and parents, at the family level, do to change the narrative. While the parent panel probably raised more questions than it answered, with more dialogue, the answers will come.
A Conversation with Amie Creagh,
Dean of Students
By Julie Alexandre P'06,'08,'11,'13; Haverford, PA
This fall Amie Creagh succeeds Toby Emerson as the Dean of Students, after serving as an Assistant Dean for five years. Since coming to Deerfield in 1999 she has also worked in the Admissions Department, taught Spanish, and coached field hockey and lacrosse. Amie is a graduate of Andover, where her father was the Dean of Students, and Haverford College. She and husband Brendan, a science teacher and hockey and soccer coach, are the parents of two young children.
Q. Right now every parent is thinking, "What are those first couple of days going to be like?" Please describe how the first week is going to work for new and returning students.
A. A quick overview: proctors, peer counselors, Green Keys, and International Student Orientation leaders arrive on Tuesday morning, September 4, as do peer tutors and members of the Disciplinary and Academic Honor Committees. They attend a leadership training session and luncheon. International students arrive on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday morning new students arrive and in the afternoon varsity candidates. On Thursday the 6th returning students move in, and on Friday classes start. With the opportunities offered by the revamped "opening days," we have put particular emphasis on the "new student experience" and leadership training for those named leaders.
Q. Last year for the first time there was a camping trip for ninth graders. Is that happening again this year?
A. Yes, on Wednesday night. We realize that for ninth graders arriving in the morning and then departing in the early afternoon can make for a disconcerting first day. However, the upside is that everyone is fresh and open to a broad array of new friendships. Overall we feel that the overnight away from campus is an important bonding experience for our ninth grade class. Last year's ninth graders noted that it was a formative experience for them both individually and as a class.
Q. That is a whirlwind first week. When my children were new, each was assigned a Green Key to shepherd him from place to place. Is that still the case?
A. Yes, new students will be assigned to a Green Key, who is a returning sophomore, junior, or senior, but this year for the first time each Green Key is going to be responsible for three to four students. And the Green Key will be linked to housing. In the past we did one on one assignments with varying degrees of success depending on how well the two students got along. Last spring we decided that selecting fewer Green Keys would benefit new students by giving them an easy way to meet each other. Green Keys are expected to be proactive in their commitments and show empathy for new students as they make the transition to Deerfield life. For many boarders, this is their first time away from home. That's a big deal.
Q. And what about parents who are new to Deerfield, do you have a program planned for them?
A. Yes, we are offering an orientation program for new parents on Wednesday afternoon. While new students are involved in games and activities, we will run a session with members of the DPN and other returning parents. This two hour New Parent Orientation will be a condensed version of what their children will experience, with fewer "trust falls" and "human knots"! We really want students and their parents to feel like they're involved in a shared experience.
Q. Classes start on Friday the 7th. In previous years classes began on the Monday. Why the earlier start?
A. This year all our students will attend Academic Orientation sessions before classes begin, and then after one day of classes will have time to debrief and put in place the tools they need to manage their workloads. We hope this will make everyone better prepared for the first full week of classes. Many thought that our previous opening days schedule lacked a clear emphasis on academics. We are a school, after all! For some students, the first day of classes felt like jumping on a moving train. The Friday start coupled with the Academic Orientation sessions should set a more reasonable and appropriate pace.
Q. Is there going to be time set aside for students to meet with their advisors?
A. Yes, all students will meet with their advisors before classes start to review their schedules and again during the first weekend. New students will be introduced to their advisors soon after they arrive on campus.
(To learn more about advisors, please see the Fall 2011 article "The Fine Art of Advising.")
Q. Are the Dorm Olympics going to happen during the first weekend?
A. No. The first weekend will have a more academic focus. Also the Olympics, while fun for many, were sometimes difficult and overwhelming for new students. Our mission during the first week is to have all our students feel connected and prepared.
Q. Thank you for talking us through the first week. Looking at the school year as a whole, how would you describe what the Dean of Students Office does?
A. Again I come back to the theme of connection: the Dean of Students Office connects students to opportunities in the school and to relationships with adults and peers. We help them expand their connections in our community. The goal of our office is to ensure that students are gaining something beyond the normal high school experience from living here. So we focus on aspects of Deerfield life that are not academic or cocurricular.
We work to make sure that our residential program is running properly by managing everything from campus wide initiatives like Connect4 to issues raised on behalf of individual students. We are also responsible for disciplinary matters resulting from events that occur outside the classroom. We coordinate a wide variety of school activities from the Orientation programs in the early fall to the junior and senior proms in the late spring. And we oversee the Advising program with the Office of the Academic Dean.
Q. Having grown up on a boarding school campus, how do you think about discipline?
A. I do not separate discipline from education, as there is always an opportunity to learn from mistakes, whether your own or others'. I also harken back to what my dad as the Dean of Students at Andover used to say to his more challenging students and to me in my early high school days: "You're doing your job by testing boundaries, I'm doing mine by putting up guardrails."
Deerfield students are strong and capable young adults, and this is why we have high expectations for how they behave, the choices they make, and how they treat one another. We want them to practice behaviors anchored in our school's core values that will carry them through a lifetime. However, they're teenagers and I think they should feel like they can make mistakes and have the space to move on, with support from their friends and from adults.
And like my dad, I want students to know that I care about them and that is why I'm involved. My goal is to establish a relationship with each student such that if there is a disciplinary issue, it can be put within a broader context. I relish the informal conversations that happen around campus. This is one of the reasons I am trying to learn the names of all the new students before they arrive. It is a great springboard for getting to know them.
Q. Your office oversees the Disciplinary Committee, which is made up of faculty and students. It seems like the Committee met more frequently last year than in years past. Why did that happen?
A. We do not really have an answer as to why the number of disciplinary hearings increased last year. So last spring we did ask if for instance there was more drinking on campus or were we just better at catching it. Students did not have a clear answer either. What was most bothersome to us was that similar mistakes were made by different students. In other words we did not see the usual ripple effect of learning from others' mistakes and not repeating them.
Q. Is there anything you are doing this year to try to make the outcomes of individual hearings more relevant to the entire student body?
A. We would like to make the connection between hearing outcomes and school values clearer, be more deliberate in making that connection. First we have updated the Student Handbook to clarify the expectations that we have about behavior at Deerfield. Second, I have worked with Peter Warsaw, the Academic Dean, to create greater consistency in structure and personnel between the Academic Honor Committee, which his office oversees, and the Disciplinary Committee. And third, we are considering having an adult speak along with a student at School Meetings about the broader ramifications of individual hearings. Right now students alone announce the outcomes. But it is important to show that adults and students agree on how to address problems and thereby maintain our community standards.
Q. Let's talk about dormitory life, which is another big part of your job. Last year you spearheaded the Connect4 program in the freshman and sophomore dorms. How does the program enhance the dorm experience for underclassmen?
A. Connect4 formalizes the role of proctors in the dorms. The proctors along with faculty members Becca Melvoin and Mike Schloat create shared dorm experiences around a monthly activity meant to highlight issues that matter here on campus. Also Becca and Mike give feedback to the individual proctors, so this is a chance for these students to grow as leaders on their hallways. Underclassmen have better connections to others on their hallways through Connect4 activities as well as a sense of the priorities of the broader school community. And they live with proctors who through Connect4 feedback keep evolving as a resource during the school year.
Q. This year Connect4 is expanding to the upperclass dorms. How is that going to work?
A. For the first time peer counselors are going to be residentially based, and they along with faculty members Kristin Loftus and Sam Bicknell are going to lead the Connect4 program in the upperclass dorms. Leadership is going to be the theme this year with legacy next year. We hope that the program provides a format for meaningful conversations about behavior, choices, and decision-making.
Q. Do day students get a chance to participate in Connect4 programs?
A. Connect4 is a residential program geared to boarders, but we have tried to include day students as well. First, day students are allowed to sleep over in dorms on weeknights when a Connect4 program is happening in the late evening. The Connect4 schedule is published well in advance so that day students have ample time to make arrangements if they are interested in participating. Second, some sessions happen at 7:30 rather than 9:30 making it possible for day students to participate before leaving campus.
Q. Switching gears, when is it appropriate for parents to contact you or other members of your office?
A. A parent should feel free to pick up the phone or send an email to a Deerfield adult if her child is having difficulties. If you sense that your child is adrift, unhappy, or struggling, the first person to contact is your child's advisor. Most likely the advisor has a perspective on whether your child has had a bad moment, bad day, or bad week and can meet with him or her directly. However, some situations require more input and we are always available to help.
During the last five years as an Assistant Dean, I have had many conversations with students, their parents, and their advisors (what I call "the triangle") about allowing students to find the right balance of challenge and success at Deerfield. More than anything, I'd like to ensure that students and their parents have someone to go to when there is an obstacle to tackle or an accomplishment to celebrate.
Q. As the new school year begins, is there any advice that you would like to share with parents?
A. Not advice but perhaps an unusual perspective. I am a big believer that we should do everything we can to put the Deerfield experience on an equal footing for all students. For instance, we issue each boarding student furniture that meets our fire code and is the same across all dorm rooms. Though it may seem like a small matter I'd ask that parents maintain that uniformity by using only school-issued furniture in their students' rooms. It can make a big difference to the spirit of a hallway!
Q. Amie, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
(For important contact information, please see "Who’s Who in the Dean of Students Office" in this issue.)
Performing Arts Preview
By Peggy Harris P'10,'13; Amherst, NH
Chances are that if your child is on a Deerfield sports team, you've seen a game or two. Events are held during both fall and spring parent weekends, and you may have even experienced the excitement of Choate Day. But, did you know that in addition to watching athletes compete, there are also opportunities to see some pretty amazing artists, musicians, dancers, singers and actors at Deerfield?
Last fall, students performed Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs to sold-out audiences and the Deerfield Academy Madrigal Choir was among the semi-finalists in the WGBY-TV Together in Song competition. In the winter, Deerfield hosts college groups at their annual a cappella fest, where our own Rhapso-Ds (female a cappella group) and Mellow-Ds (male group) perform as well. After months of practice, the full academy chorus and orchestra last spring took to the Memorial Building stage to perform all 25 minutes of Franz Schubert's Mass No. 2 in G Major. The minute it was over, the amazed audience rose to their feet to give the performers a standing ovation.
Deerfield Academy is one of the few New England boarding schools that offers dance not only after school, but during three class periods as well. Performances each term include ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap and modern dance numbers. After Parents Fall Weekend performances, dancers get busy creating a completely student choreographed and produced winter showcase. The year ends with a spring dance concert that includes senior projects. Students who have participated in the dance program have gone on to dance at Julliard, the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia and the Harvard Ballet Company (to name just a few). One graduate became a professional dancer, and later founded the dance program at King's Academy in Jordan, where he is currently director.
Some of us never think to attend a performing arts event, especially if our own child is not involved. The first time I went to a Deerfield student-run play my son was a senior and I realized I'd missed three years of great shows. When my daughter started, two years later, I attended both the winter play (which included a pre-performance reception) and the spring show.
Deerfield welcomes parents to the campus throughout the school year. Before you know it, Parents Fall Weekend will be here beginning Friday, October 12th and with it the opportunity to see Deerfield's ancers and musicians on stage. After an early evening of parent receptions (by class) and dinner in the dining hall or tent on Plunkett Lawn, come to the Memorial Building at 7:30pm to sit back, relax and enjoy the Performing Arts Showcase, followed by a reception at 9:45pm--a seamless, terrific evening on campus.
Whether your child is an active member of the performing arts community or an athlete, watch the calendar for opportunities to see our students shine! Below is a tentative list of performing arts events for the upcoming school year. While you are in the Memorial Building, be sure to walk through the downstairs hallway to view the current student visual arts display.
||Performing Arts Showcase; Parents Fall Weekend
|Oct 30-Nov 3
||Fall Theater Performance: The Laramie Project
||Fall Chamber Music Concert
||Holiday Vespers Service in the Brick Church
||Holiday Revels and Carols
||Student Choreography Showcase
||Winter KFC; Performances in the Koch Center by members of the Deerfield community
||Winter Chamber Music Concert
||Deerfield A Cappella Fest (tentative date)
|Feb 28-Mar 2
||Winter Theater Performance: Little Shop of Horrors
||KFC (tentative date--see also May 4)
||Spring Dance Concert
||KFC (tentative date--see also Apr 26)
||Acting Tutorial performances; Spring Parents' Weekend
||Dance and Band; Parents Spring Weekend
||Music concert followed by Investiture and All School Sing
||Student film festival
||Spring Theater Performance--TBD
||Spring Chamber Music Concert
||Dance (senior projects) and Choral Music Concert; Commencement weekend
Historic Deerfield and the Academy:
Past and Culture Interwoven
By Cate Magennis Wyatt P'14; Waterford, VA
I suspect you remember it like yesterday.
The first time you turned off Route 5 and 10, into Deerfield, and caught your breath as you rolled down the elm-lined street that has welcomed visitors for centuries. You'll recall wishing you could freeze-frame each glimpse. You slowed your approach to absorb the architecture that evoked tradition, constancy, stability, and hundreds of years of stories to explore.
And then you turned onto Albany Road and gave Deerfield Academy your all, either yourself, or your child, and never again explored those initial feelings of wonder.
The irony is this: what you and I fell in love with in those first moments of arrival in “old” Deerfield are so much more than the warmth of historic enchantment. What we felt was the humbling and inspiring sense of permanence and respect for excellence. What few know is that much of what we love about Historic Deerfield is tied directly to the contributions of Deerfield Academy’s Headmaster Frank Boyden, our Trustees, and their shared commitment to excellence.
Here it is: every member of the DA community should take enormous pride in the existence of Historic Deerfield and more, might reconsider those initial urges and continue the tradition of supporting Historic Deerfield, which is cited by the National Register of Historic Places as “one of the most effective community restorations in the Untied States.”
This very high praise was well earned. The citizens of Deerfield were among the first in the country to create a society to preserve their heritage, naming it the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association. In 1878, when Deerfield Academy (founded in 1797) needed a larger facility, its building was purchased by this association and opened as a museum. Few of us knew this until this past Parents Spring Weekend when many accepted the invitation from the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association to tour this museum’s outstanding collection of early Americana and stroll through Deerfield Academy’s original home.
Early in his tenure, legendary Headmaster Frank L. Boyden understood the importance of preserving the historic structures in Deerfield and personally sought out the support of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Flynt, whose son Hank (Henry N. Flynt, Jr.) entered Deerfield in 1936. This was much more than a partnership in historic preservation. It was a shared recognition, as articulated in the Academy’s 1929 fundraising book, on the importance of respecting the appearance of Deerfield because it mirrored the traditions of the Academy. “The whole atmosphere is rich in the traditions of courage and the character which made America. An investment in Deerfield...is an investment in the strong character...out of which America was built.”
The resulting impact of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Flynt’s combined vision, under the leadership of Mr. Boyden, cannot be overstated. Beginning in the late 1930s the Flynts began purchasing historic homes, first for the Academy’s use, then to preserve the sense of place, sometimes simply to ensure the structures did not fall into the hands of those who might not appreciate the seamless importance of context. Along the way, as they sought out the counsel from conservators of Colonial Williamsburg, they determined that the stories of those who lived within these homes must be shared with the public and accordingly became some of the most significant collectors of American furniture and artifacts. Their collection fills the ten homes now open to the public as well as the Flynt Center of Early New England Life. In 1952 the Flynts created The Heritage Foundation, now known as Historic Deerfield, the non-profit organization dedicated to sharing these stories and places with all visitors.
In a letter to Mr. Boyden in 1940 Mr. Flynt wrote, “There are certain places one goes to from time to time which are an inspiration and at the same time there is stirred within oneself a feeling of real friendship and devotion. Deerfield is such a place with us...it is a result of the spirit of the place which you two [Frank and his wife Helen Childs Boyden] have so forcibly caused to be so manifest."
Others from throughout the country and indeed around the world have long had visiting Deerfield on their bucket list. For good reason. The three vibrant historical societies within Deerfield make it easy for visitors to explore 350 years of historic architectural, cultural, and decorative arts collections found within two museums and through historic homes tours offered every hour.
This Parents Fall Weekend, we will have the opportunity to explore further.
On Friday, October 12 at 4 p.m. join Amanda Rivera Lopez, Director of Museum Education and Interpretation, at Hall Tavern (Historic Deerfield’s Visitor Center) for “The 1704 Deerfield Raid Walking Tour.” On the following day, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Philip Zea, President of Historic Deerfield, invites all to visit the Flynt Center for refreshments with a discussion on “The Williams House Door: A Deerfield Academy Icon.” (Pre-registration is required for both events. Sign up here.)
As the story of Historic Deerfield is so closely interwoven with the history and the culture of Deerfield Academy I found it curious to learn during a recent visit to the Flynt Center that “very, very few of those who visit are parents of DA students.” On your next visit to campus, consider reversing this trend. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Parents Fall Weekend Lineup
Deerfield Parents Fall Weekend commences Friday, October 12 with your child's first period class at 8am sharp. The morning features class visits and a welcome from Head of School Margarita Curtis at 10am in the Memorial Building auditorium.
After lunch, you will have the opportunity to meet with your child’s teachers and advisor, learn about summer travel opportunities with Deerfield faculty, attend a “Pathways to College” session with Martha Lyman, director of college counseling, and Peter Warsaw, academic dean, or join “The 1704 Deerfield Raid Walking Tour” (see Historic Deerfield and the Academy in this issue).
Class receptions (parents only, please) begin at 5:15pm followed by the buffet dinner in the Dining Hall and tent on Plunkett Lawn. At 7:30pm, don’t miss the Performing Arts Showcase (see “Performing Arts Preview”) and the reception to follow at 9:45pm.
You will have more opportunities for parent-teacher conferences on Saturday, as well as participate in the Deerfield Parents Network’s second Annual Bulb Planting Project from 8:30-10:30am (see “Join Fellow Parents at Planting Project”). At 1:30pm Peter Warsaw and Peter Nilsson, assistant academic dean, will discuss “Creativity and Technology in Education Today.” Historic Deerfield will present “The Williams House Door: A Deerfield Academy Icon” at 3:30pm.
Be sure to cheer on Big Green in the athletic contests beginning at 3 p.m. A full schedule will be available on game day.
If you have not already done so, please register here for Parents Fall Weekend. The Historic Deerfield events require pre-registration. You will receive an email the week of October 1 from the Academic Dean’s Office to schedule faculty conferences though the Pick-a-Time system.
Planting Project: Back by Popular Demand
By Kelly Pasciucco P'10,'13; Greenwich, CT, and Phyllis Powers P'09,'10,'13; East Sandwich, MA
The Deerfield Parents Network is thrilled to announce that we will be hosting the second Annual Bulb Planting on Saturday, October 13 from 8:30am to 10:30am during Parents Fall Weekend. As part of our First Link Program, we will once again connect new families with current Deerfield parents by gardening together in carefully laid-out areas on campus. Our first planting was tremendously successful, as evidenced by the friendships fostered that autumn morning and the colorful daffodils and tulips that bloomed in the spring.
In addition to the Bulb Planting we would also like to reach out to our local community and host a Book Drive for the elementary school in Greenfield, MA. We invite you to bring a book with you on Parents Weekend and drop it off in the designated area by the Bulb Planting Tent on campus. Deerfield continues to teach social responsibility to our children, and we, as parents, support their efforts and hope these endeavors will not only create a strong bond within our parent network, but simultaneously help support Deerfield's mission.
We welcome all parents, new and old, to participate in both projects during the weekend. The DPN is coordinating the planting program with Denise Dwelley at the Physical Plant and will continue to put in place a multi-year plan for planting zones on campus. To volunteer for the project, please email event coordinators Kelly Pasciucco or Phyllis Powers. View the complete Parents Fall Weekend schedule.
Packing Tips from the Pros
By Susan Dragone P'14; Atlanta, GA
Exciting but daunting best describes a parent or guardian's mindset when preparing for a child's first year at boarding school. Relax, we have been there and are here to help.
Who's Who in the DOS Office
Pictured here, left to right: Kevin Kelly (Assistant Dean of Students); Dee Dee Pielock (Administrative Assistant); Toby Emerson (Assistant Dean) pictured in cutout in the center; Amie Creagh (Dean of Students); and Peg Scarborough (Executive Assistant to the Dean of Students).
Why Giving to the Annual Fund Is Important
By Marc Johnson '74 P'08,'11,'14, Greenwich, CT and Scott Vallar '78 P'12,'14, Bedford, NY
Parent support at Deerfield last year continued to put up impressive numbers, thank you! Deerfield consistently ranks at the top in average gift per family when compared to the other boarding schools in our peer group, and last year was no exception. While most families give $100 or less, Deerfield is fortunate to have families that give $100,000 or more. One area that we do need to improve on as a community is overall parent participation, as this number has been sliding in recent years, from more than 80% to 68% last year. DA is now in the middle of the pack in this important category.
Improving the current parent participation rate is a focus of annual giving this year, and current parents will hear more about this as the school year develops.
It costs approximately $78,000 to educate a student at Deerfield, well in excess of the annual tuition of cost of $47,500. This “gap” of $30,500 is, in part, covered by annual giving from parents and alumni, with the balance provided by Deerfield’s endowment. In 2012 Deerfield raised $5.63 million in annual giving, which equates to $8,950 per student, or approximately 30% of the funding gap. Deerfield relies heavily on these Annual Fund contributions, as the annual yield from DA’s endowment is not large enough to fill the entire funding gap of $30,500 per student. As such, Annual Fund contributions represent the margin of excellence that guarantees an unparalleled education for Deerfield’s 630 students and keeps Deerfield at the very pinnacle of secondary school education.
It is also important to note that Deerfield would not be the school that it is today without a solid history of parent support. Through the years, parent giving has been instrumental in creating a school with rock-solid financial stability, along with a diverse, uniquely talented faculty and student body. This has enabled Deerfield to retain the community focus established by Frank Boyden over one hundred years ago, accentuated by sit-down meals and close faculty/student relationships in the classroom, on the playing fields and in the dorms. By preserving the past, and preparing for the future, Deerfield remains a school in first-rate condition. Parent giving continues to play an important role in DA’s development and is worthy of our ongoing strong commitment.
Did You Know ... ?
Fast Facts about Deerfield
Here are fast facts from the "Did You Know?" informational poster boards presented by the Deerfield Parents Network over Parents Spring Weekend:
* The Deerfield Academy motto is "Be Worthy of Your Heritage." It is a simple, memorable sentence that emphasizes integrity and can be applied throughout the life of a Deerfield student.
*Deerfield maintains many traditions that have long since been abandoned by other boarding school peers, such as a “Jacket and Tie” dress code and sit-down meals with assigned seating and an adult member of the community at each table. Although modified over time, these traditions continue because they are important in helping the school achieve its mission. No Saturday classes is another tradition that sets Deerfield apart from its peers…and one that creates ABSOLUTELY no controversy within the Deerfield community!
*“The River” and “The Rock” define the western and eastern edges of the Deerfield campus, and both are universal experiences in the life of every Deerfield student. Hike to “The Rock” or go down to (or swim in!) “The River” with your child to learn more.
|EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE |
Linda Whitton, Board of Trustees Liaison
Jim Alexandre, President
Marc Johnson, Vice President and Nominating Chair
Penny Ashford, Vice President and First Link Chair
Kelly Pasciucco, Vice President and Community Outreach Chair
Scott Vallar, Vice President and Liaison to Parent Fundraising
Phyllis Powers Philie, Vice President and Parents Weekends/Campus Events Chair
Kate Upson, Vice President and Communications Chair
|STAFF LIAISONS & ADVISORS |
Margarita Curtis, Head of School
Amie Creagh, Dean of Students
Patricia Gimbel, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid
David Thiel, Director of Communications
Danae DiNicola, Electronic Communications Specialist, Communications
Bill Barry, Director of Parent Programs, Alumni Office
Mimi Morsman, Director of Alumni Relations, Alumni Office
Denise Dwelley, Groundsperson, Physical Plant
|OTHER USEFUL RESOURCES|
Cake Request Form
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