Spring Term at Deerfield: A Primer for Parents

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Spring Term at Deerfield: A Primer for Parents

Signs of spring are all over campus!  Students, faculty and staff are enjoying the warmer weather by putting away the winter coats and getting outside. The final term of the school year often flies by and so parents, here are a few notes on what to expect in the spring.

Spring Fever: After the cold, dark winter term, warmer weather and light-filled days find students longing for everything spring brings with it—the good and the, shall we say, distracting. For seniors, free time is spent with friends who soon will be going their separate ways. For underclassmen, the river and fields beckon. It is perhaps the most challenging for juniors who need to stay focused on this very important semester, but all students continue to have work to do. A gentle parental reminder that while outdoor time is a welcome and wonderful thing, it needs to be held in balance with normal school responsibilities.

 The Pressure Gauge: Countering the giddiness of spring fever, many students feel increased stress and pressure in the spring.

  • Standardized Tests: AP exams are already underway and many students will take standardized tests in the next month. SATs and SAT Subject tests on June 3* and ACTs are on June 10.
  • Final Exams (science, math and English) are the last week of school for underclassmen.
  • The selection processes for proctor (for interested rising seniors) and peer counselor (for interested rising juniors) have been made and the housing lottery for next year is underway. Students enter the lottery with friends they’d like to live near next year. Note that housing assignments come out in on the last Friday in June (and in August for 9th graders).

Any words of encouragement to finish the year well and to lighten the load during this time ripe for drama are always welcome!

*Note that any student planning on taking the SAT at Deerfield on June 3—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.

Making the Most of Spring Family Weekend: Coming up this weekend, don’t miss the opportunity to visit campus May 12-14 for Spring Family Weekend.  It is a great opportunity to visit classes, hear from the Head of School, enjoy performances and arts showcases as well as sporting events.  You can also join in the All School Sing!

In addition to attending classes, you may want to make an appointment with your child’s advisor for a final check-in before the end of the year as, unlike the fall weekend, there are no formal conferences scheduled in the spring. You would have been contacted regarding any glaring issues or wonderful commendations, but you may want to connect prior to summer break to ensure expectations and course selections are in line for the fall. Junior parents will want to meet with their child’s college advisor and should have received an email to schedule college advising appointments through Pick-a-Time (junior parents only).

Meals in the Dining Hall or at area restaurants are a great opportunity to get to know your child’s classmates and their families. 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, for home made chocolates or ice cream. It’s an ideal spot for buying a little something to bring home for younger siblings or sitters as is the school bookstore where you can find a new Deerfield tee, cap and other school memorabilia.

 Long Goodbye to Seniors: 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. The “formal” farewells begin Friday night of Commencement Weekend (5/26-28) with a dinner hosted by the DPN for seniors and their parents.  A more formal dinner is held on campus Saturday night and the weekend culminates with commencement and a final lunch on Sunday.

Senior families should 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.

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.

Rising 9th graders, sophomores and juniors will want to make sure they complete any required summer reading and have picked classes for the fall.  Rising sophomores and juniors may want to begin standardized test prep as well.

 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 (link to DA website with storage information on right side-bar).

 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 technology-focused age, 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!

 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 2017 Fall Family Weekend, which commences Friday, October 20. 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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