Reflections on the Deerfield Journey

How did four years go by so quickly? Our daughter can hardly believe that her time at Deerfield Academy is nearing an end. We knew it would be an extraordinary education, but Deerfield exceeded our expectations, proving to be warm environment in which the faculty and staff nurture each student’s intellect and character. As our daughter prepares to graduate in May, we reflect on the incredible journey she has taken with gratitude and respect.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS:

We arrived at the dorm on a steamy September morning, schlepping bedding and clothing up to the second floor. Our daughter’s four year journey began here. She chose Deerfield because as she walked the paths and entered the buildings when visiting, it simply “felt right”. We wondered if we made the right choice. We helped put away her clothes and watched as she shyly introduced herself to her new neighbors. We had barely finished making her bed when it was time for tryouts. Her proctor whisked her off to the fields as we were still hugging her and trying to whisper our last words of wisdom and support. She left with several new friends and a huge smile on her face. We lingered in her room, fluffing her pillows and rearranging her desk and shoes which would soon be a “teenage mess”. Her hall resident walked through the dorm, checking on students and parents. Her smile was warm and genuine. She spoke to us about our daughter, seeming to already know her. It was time to leave. We walked to our car, receiving smiles and hellos from students, parents and faculty. A warm and happy feeling spread over us. It did feel right.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES:

We now have packing and moving in and out of a dorm down to a science. For parents, “less is more” when packing and storing items for the summer, but “more is more” for our daughter as she packs her duffle bags to return to campus. We begin to wonder how we will ever move her out when she graduates. That seems so far away, so we push those thoughts aside. We are now into a rhythm that consists of the typical high school ups and downs. Happy and enthusiastic texts and phone calls are received. “ I had a great weekend; my team beat Choate; I got an 89 on a history paper; there was a hypnotist Saturday night; the Denunzio Disco; Sadies; Semi; A 93 on a math test; Ken Burns was on campus”. They are interrupted by the occasional, “ I’m so tired; I got a 74 on a math test; I have a bad cold; How will I study for the SAT, write my American History paper, and go to my away game?” More often than not, we are unable to be on campus to share these moments with her. We know that she sometimes needs a hug and sometimes needs a push. We must rely on her Deerfield family – friends, teachers, hall residents, coaches, faculty members, and other parents who are on campus to celebrate with her, comfort her, and encourage her. But, we talk, Skype and text each other regularly and have watched her grow intellectually, socially and emotionally. Each time we speak with her and each time we see her, she has become a little more self-confident, determined, and graceful.

 THE JOURNEY ENDS:

Senior year begins with the same enthusiasm as the previous years, but there was also a sadness. As freshman year was filled with firsts, senior year is filled with lasts. We hear many times that “this will be the last time…”. This is the last Denunzio Disco, Sadies, Semi, Hoedown. We hear many times that “I am really going to miss”…..going to the rock….going to the Sugar Shack…..E&R Laundry……warm Sunday afternoons at the river. College applications have been submitted, graduation is looming, and the longing for more time on the idyllic New England campus has begun. We can see the deep friendships our daughter has forged with both students and faculty. The ease at which she offers help and guidance to underclassmen brings back memories of the way others helped her freshman year.

We started this journey by searching for the strongest education possible for our daughter. The outstanding academics, superb athletics and beautiful facilities make Deerfield a top choice for families seeking the best education. We wanted our daughter to be challenged and inspired academically by teachers who are passionate about their subject matter and their students. But looking back on our four years at DA , it is how Deerfield made our daughter and our family feel that we value most. The little things that may go unnoticed are what strengthen this community and enhance our good feeling – the friendly smiles and hellos on the paths to class, the sit down meals shared with a family of adults and students from each grade level, the staff in the Koch Cafe who know her breakfast order, the teacher who sees her efforts and struggles and meets with her well after the school day is over, the faculty in the health center who know when she needs more sleep and who drive her to doctor’s appointments, the friends who make her laugh, the friends who she can cry with, and the faculty who reach out to parents offering their help and words of wisdom. It is all of the standards of good character that students and faculty follow each day that make this a happy, strong, connected campus.

Our daughter continues to say that Deerfield just feels right. And, we think it does too. We know she will cherish the memories and lessons learned here. Does she have any advice for underclassmen and future Deerfield students? She says there are four things you can do to enhance your experience: Get involved; Go on Deerfield trips; Don’t be afraid to ask for help; Talk to as many people as possible – there are lots of interesting people here!

We hope that she will return to campus often and visit the people who make Deerfield so special. With our sincere appreciation, we thank everyone at Deerfield for the time, talents and interest you share to make this community extraordinary. What a gift our daughter has received! What a journey!

DPN – Building a Partnership | Parent Guide to Commencement Weekend

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