Primer for Parents: Ten Things to Know About Spring Term
By Stacey Bewkes P’06,’09,’12; Darien, CT
1. April Showers Bring May Flowers: Nowhere is this aphorism more evident than at Deerfield in the spring. And with the ubiquitous rain comes mud, lots of it. Be prepared and make sure your student has appropriate footwear for the season—rain boots for girls and an extra pair of sneakers or boat shoes for the boys. Many a pair of leather shoes have died a dilapidated death circumnavigating the deep Deerfield spring puddles.
2. Spring Fever: After the dark winter term of internment, warmer weather and light-filled days find students longing for everything spring brings with it—the good and the, shall we say, distracting. Besides the influence of pheromones flying around, there are other factors in play. For seniors, this may mean wanting to spend more leisure time with friends who soon will be going their separate ways. It is perhaps the most challenging for juniors who need to stay focused on this very important semester. And for underclassmen, the river and fields beckon. But there is still work to be done, so a gentle reminder is perhaps in order that outdoor time is a welcome and wonderful thing but needs to be held in balance with normal school responsibilities.
3. The Pressure Gauge: And to counter the giddiness of spring fever are the surmounting pressures for upperclassmen. Not only are there high stress levels for the upcoming standardized tests (AP exam weeks commencing May 7, SATs on May 5 and June 2, ACT on April 14), there are the proctor (for rising seniors) and peer counselor (rising juniors) selection processes, and last, but certainly not least, the housing lottery (see “The How and Why of the Housing Lottery” in this issue of The Link). Any words of encouragement to lighten the load during this time period ripe for drama are always welcome! Also, any student planning on taking the SAT at Deerfield on June 2—the day after the last final exam—must notify the Dean of Students Office as soon as possible and be packed up and ready to leave right after the test.
4. Prepping for Senior Prom: Traditionally the most significant dance of the year, expect calls from your daughters and sons regarding purchasing or renting special attire for the occasion. Coming up on May 19, each senior may invite a date, from any grade or even outside Deerfield, with tuxedos and corsages required. If your daughter does not already have a dress, remind her not to wait until the last minute—the entire country is shopping for similar events and popular sizes disappear quickly. Traditionally, senior girls wear long dresses and the new shopping trend for this occasion is sites such as Rent the Runway. Formalwear for the young gentlemen can be rented locally at The Bridal Barn (413-774-2691). Also of note is the Class of 2013 prom on April 21, which is open to all juniors—with no dates, corsages, or tuxedos required. Any student concerned about the expenses associated with the dances can confidentially contact the Dean of Students Office for financial assistance.
5. Packing, Shipping, and Summer Storage: It is amazing how much students accumulate during the course of the year. Without proper planning it can be a rude awakening on move-out day. If you are traveling to Parents Spring Weekend by car, plan to bring home some winter clothing or books that are no longer needed to lighten the load later. And if you do not live within driving distance, be sure to have a conversation with your student about shipping their belongings home well before the time is nigh. The Shipping and Receiving Department on campus can help with domestic packages, and there is also the post office in Deerfield and the UPS store in Greenfield. For returning students, who have furniture or large items to store, please note that there is very limited storage available on campus so your child should not necessarily plan on this option. An email from the Dean of Students Office will be forthcoming in the spring outlining moving out and storage details. In the meantime, the two recommended local storage companies are Boomerang and Sitterly.
6. Making the Most of Parents Spring Weekend: In addition to attending classes, you will probably want to make appointments with your child’s advisor for a final check-in before the end of the year. You would have been contacted regarding any glaring issues or wonderful commendations, but it’s always helpful to have a quick summary before the long summer break to make sure expectations and course selections are in line for the fall. Junior parents will want to meet with their child’s college advisor—look for an upcoming email to schedule appointments through Pick-a-Time. The buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner gatherings in the Dining Hall are a great opportunity to get to know your child’s classmates and their families—look for class signs (2012, 2013, etc.) set up there to help you find your way. This is also a good time to include a student whose parents could not be on campus for the weekend. For some spring treats consider a trip to Richardson’s Candy Kitchen, which is walking distance from campus and an ideal spot for bringing home a little something for younger siblings or sitters, or a new Deerfield tee or cap from the bookstore.
7. The Changing of the Guard: With the graduation of the current seniors, the junior class will now be moving up into the coveted place of distinction, culminating with the Stepping Up Bonfire the evening after graduation. It is a time of pride and excitement. And of course with this comes responsibility. While the college advisors have emphasized this, it can never hurt to gently remind your juniors that they are going to have a very busy autumn term. With the importance of first semester grades and the time consuming process of applications and final standardized tests, whatever progress can be made on their college essays and tours over the summer will lessen both the time commitment and pressure come fall.
8. Seniors: The (very) Long Goodbye: Most Deerfield seniors are loathe to say a final farewell to fellow classmates and try to prolong the process as far into the summer as possible. Be prepared for a seemingly endless string of parties and get-togethers post-graduation. While celebrations are inevitable and certainly well deserved, it’s important to monitor plans closely. Parents can provide a united front outlining expectations and setting fair boundaries without putting a damper on the festivities. No longer under the auspices of the Academy, graduates are now official matriculates of their respective colleges, who more than ever, are concerned with questionable activities during this period. Students should be aware that disreputable behavior could have significant consequences for not only do they risk their college acceptances but their actions affect Deerfield’s reputation and the value of the diploma they have just earned.
9. Thank You, Thank You: Deerfield is not just a place of academic excellence but one where the development of the entire child is considered. It is about community and the importance of achievement within a setting of kind and thoughtful behavior. In our age of technological advancement it is easy to forget the timeless art of the handwritten note, but it is a much-appreciated gesture. With overcrowded email inboxes, a snail mail communiqué stands out. Following college visits and interviews, receipt of graduation gifts, as well as after any summer invitations your students might receive, a short missive will stand them in good stead. And let’s not forget acknowledging any special teachers and staff who have been particularly meaningful. The bookstore sells charming Deerfield note cards. A package of those with a book of stamps is a terrific year-end purchase to start the summer off right!
10. See You in September: For those with students returning in the fall or coming for the first time, it’s never too early to think about accommodations for Parents Fall Weekend, which commences Friday, October 12. As most of you know, we compete with other local schools for precious few spots; a list of area hotels is available on the Deerfield website. The Academy calendar now lists events up to three years ahead, subject of course to occasional changes. We suggest bookmarking the calendar to make scheduling visits and transportation a breeze!
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