Each year at Deerfield begins with the same familiar scene: a steady stream of cars drive down Albany Road packed full of duffle bags, a lamp or two, a favorite pillow and something to give a dorm room that personal touch. There is a sense of excitement in the air as friends reunite with hugs and high-fives. Everyone is thrilled to be back and ready to embark upon a new year.
For the last nine years, my husband John and I have been a part of this annual ritual. Each year has marked a new beginning for us, different with each of our three children, but what has been constant is the amazing sense of community that Deerfield has offered our children and our family. My husband I were raised on the west coast, so boarding school was a new concept for us. Looking back, I cannot think of a better opportunity for all our children. Deerfield’s “well-rounded” approach has offered them exceptional academic and social experiences. Our family has always believed in the education of the whole child, and we were lucky enough to find a school that has continued to support that belief.
In our nine back-to-school arrivals at Deerfield, there has always been something new. This year, it is the new Ninth-Grade Village, which will give all ninth graders a great sense of community from day one. Two adjacent dorms will house all boys and girls in one location. By housing all ninth graders together, the hope is that the incoming class of 2019 will begin to develop strong bonds that will continue to grow throughout their four years at Deerfield. Another change this year is that all sophomores will also be housed together in paired “brother-sister” dorms. This will encourage the sophomore class to get to know their new neighbors, and to bring them into the fold. These changes reflect the school’s focus on continuing to build a strong, connected community on campus.
As Deerfield parents, it is important that we work to connect with the community as well. The opportunities to get involved are endless and I encourage each of you to engage as much as possible. One of the best ways for parents to feel a part of Deerfield is to return to campus for Fall Family Weekend on October 23rd & 24th. You will visit classes, meet fellow parents, enjoy a meal with your child’s new friends, or buy something at the town of Deerfield’s farmers market on Saturday morning. This weekend is a unique opportunity to experience your child’s daily life on campus and to connect with teachers and other parents. It is an important event that you won’t want to miss.
This year, the Deerfield Parents Network (DPN) enters its fifth year and I am happy to say is thriving. Established through a collaborative effort on behalf of the board of trustees and the Deerfield administration, the DPN is a resource for all parents. The DPN steering committee consists of 29 current parents including a executive committee of six. We work to further enhance the connection between the school and parents–all part of creating a strong sense of community–a hallmark of DA.
As I step into the DPN President role, I would be remiss if I did not thank Marc Johnson for his amazing leadership over the past two years. Marc worked tirelessly to collaborate with both parents and the administration to move this young organization ahead. Thank you also to our other departing executive committee members who have partnered with DA administrators to make various events and initiatives a huge success. We say thanks to Missy Decamp for her outstanding efforts as VP of The First Link connecting old and new families; Betsy Swindell, VP of Communications, who worked endless hours as the editor of “The Link,” our electronic parent newsletter; Scott Vallar, VP of Parent Annual Giving, who has served as a liaison and our champion to the Annual Giving team, and Louise York for serving as an amazingly creative VP of Campus Events and subsequently nominations this past year. This is truly a wonderful team of committed parents.
This year we welcome to the Executive Committee Julie Halloran as VP of “The Link,” Lesley Koeppel as VP of “The First Link,” Serena Bowman as VP of Nominating, Lauren Kelley as VP of Campus Events, and George Knight as VP of Fundraising. We also welcome 12 new members who we added to the DPN committee last May. If you are interested in helping out with one of the DPN’s many initiatives please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The more the merrier.
Welcome back and here’s to another great year at Deerfield!