Guide to Commencement Weekend

This information is adapted from an article in the Spring 2013 Link newsletter, titled “Your Guide to Commencement” by Peggy Harris P’10,’13; updated November 2017.

For Commencement information and RSVP’s, go to

Things to Do Before Commencement Weekend

Reserve Lodging Early

Make room reservations well in advance. Seasoned Deerfield parents know that lodging in Deerfield and the surrounding area fills up early for the Memorial Day weekend. Since many hotels start taking reservations a year out, parents of juniors often check websites at the end of the school year to reserve their spot for the following year’s commencement. The Deerfield Inn takes reservations two years in advance, and Memorial weekend is the first to fill. You’ll find plenty of choices in the area by searching for rooms in the 01342 zip code, or checking DA’s Lodging page.

Send out Invitations and Announcements

Send out invitations and announcements promptly. Parents receive a box of 10 invitations to Commencement. In the case of divorced parents, Deerfield Academy has sent each parent a box of invitations along with a reply form. In this instance, the Academy expects two reply forms for the graduating senior. In addition, many parents also like to send graduation announcements to friends and family who will not be attending Commencement. Since announcements are not provided by Deerfield, parents may use the DA logo to design and order their own announcements. You can find the logo on the Deerfield Parents Network site.

Return your RSVPs

Guests should return RSVPs to the student’s parent, who will RSVP for the entire group by the designated deadline. It is especially important that you know the number of guests who will be attending the Class Dinner Dance on Saturday evening. Also note that if your guest list changes after your RSVP has been submitted, you can email your updates to Note about Guest Limits: While Deerfield has never capped the number of guests per graduate, we hope that 10 invitations are sufficient. Please contact Jenny Hammond ( if you need more invitations. Extended family members are welcome to all events planned by the Advancement office.

Start Packing for Move-Out

Many parents say that moving out was one of the most stressful experiences during commencement weekend. Graduates will be expected to be out of their room and off campus by 2 pm on Sunday. Since Commencement is usually over around 11:45 am, you won’t have a lot of time to get everything done. To lighten the load on move-out day get packing supplies early, have your child box up what is no longer needed, and remove as much as you can before Sunday. If you plan to be on campus Spring Family Weekend, this is a good time to get started. Additionally, there is a block of time on Saturday morning and we hope families will use this time to their advantage.

Handicapped Seating

Handicapped seating is available under the Commencement tent. Be sure to indicate on your RSVP if you or a guest wishes to sit in this area during Commencement.

What to Bring for the Weekend

With the variety of activities going on over the weekend, you may want to bring a couple of different selections of semi-casual attire which includes:

  • Class Dinner Dance: “festive” attire — no tie required
  • Commencement: coat/tie, dresses or nice pants and top
  • Recommended student attire for the Commencement ceremony: a blue blazer, white shirt, khakis and Class tie or a white dress.
    Please note: New England weather is famous for its unpredictability – layering your clothing is recommended and be prepared for rain as well. The average temperature range for May is between 69 F (high) and 45 F (low) (21 – 7 degree Celsius).

Commencement Weekend

Once Commencement arrives, relax and enjoy the weekend. The best way to do that is to know what to expect from each day. A few of the activities you’ll want to start out with are listed below.

  • Consult the Schedule Even if you’ve been to a previous graduation, be sure to look at the schedule, upon arrival. Each year, things are done a little differently, and this is no exception. A tentative schedule is listed at the end of this Guide.
  • See the Play Deerfield Academy’s last theater performance is held during Commencement week. Shows generally start Tuesday and run through Saturday. If you arrive a day early, try to catch the Thursday evening performance.
  • Remember: It’s a Closed Weekend While this is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your child, remember this is their big weekend. Students enjoy those last few nights in the dorm, getting a chance to say “goodbye” to friends. Since all students are required to return to the dorm by 11 pm, be sure to allow enough time to get your child back before curfew.

Saturday Events

Get the most out of your last days on campus. Here are Saturday’s highlights:

  • 1:15 pm — Music and Dance — These events includes performances by several musical ensembles, including the Mellow-D’s, Rhapso-D’s, and Chamber Singers, as well as senior dance numbers to celebrate those students who have participated in the dance program.
  • 4 pm — Theater If you haven’t gotten a chance before Saturday, be sure to catch the last theater performance, late Saturday afternoon.
  • 5:30 pm — Senior Parent Donor Reception – This event is in honor and recognition of gifts made at any level and to any fund in the senior year.  The Head of School as well as the Senior Parent Gift Chairs announce grand totals and give an update on the Senior Parent Gift project.  All family members over the age of 21 are welcome to attend.
  • 7 pm — Class Dinner Dance The Class Dinner Dance is a fun night to celebrate with the whole class, along with student families. The tent opens at 6:30 pm with plenty of tables for everyone. Once the band starts playing, the evening is spent moving around, finding friends, dancing, and enjoying your child’s last day as a high school student. For entry into the dinner dance, all guests will need to check-in with a Deerfield employee upon arrival at the tent. Note: Current students from classes other than the graduating class are NOT permitted to attend, unless they are an immediate family member.
  • 9:30 pm — Senior Class Meeting with Head of School Expect to say goodbye to your child at 9:30 pm on Saturday when students will leave to attend their last senior class meeting. Also referred to as the “Senior Cry,” this is an opportunity for seniors to share fond memories from their years at Deerfield. This event often lasts late into the night, allowing every student who wants to share a story an opportunity to do so.
  • Day Student Evening Arrangements DA encourages day students to stay on campus after the Senior Class Meeting. Those who plan to go home should make arrangements with the Student Life Office ahead of time. Keep in mind that Massachusetts restricts drivers under the age of 18 from operating a motor vehicle between the hours of 12:30-5 am. Please let us know if you have any questions, or if we can help in any way.

Commencement Day

Here’s what you can expect on Commencement Day.

  • Parking There are always plenty of places to park. When you arrive on campus, follow the directions of Security. Also, don’t forget that if you have any handicapped guests who will need extra help getting around, please indicate that in your RSVP.
  • Continental Breakfast A continental breakfast will be available under the tent in front of the dining hall beginning at 9 am. Some students may show up, but chances are you won’t see your child before graduation.
  • Commencement Tent Seating — The Commencement tent opens promptly at 9 am. Sections will be set aside for graduating seniors, underclassmen, faculty, trustees, handicapped and other guests. Before the weekend, Deerfield will provide you with a diagram indicating the sections for guest seating. Large screens at the front of the tent will provide you with the best view of the event, including the commencement walk down Albany Road. There really is no bad seat in the tent!
  • The Walk down Albany Road Graduating seniors line up on the lawn between the Field and McAlister dorms. At 10 am, they begin their procession down Albany Road, which will be broadcast on the screen in the tent. The path will be lined by undergraduate students. Guests are asked to be respectful of this journey, allowing plenty of room for the cavalcade to comfortably enter the tent.
  • Taking Photos and Video — What you see on the screen may be available live stream and is also recorded, and will be available for download after Commencement. There will be professional photographers on hand to get a shot of your children as they walk up, and when they receive their diploma. So, when the ceremony begins, sit back and relax. If you decide you want more photos, you can take shots from your seat or politely scoot to the end of the center aisle when your child walks back, diploma in hand, to his or her seat.  After the ceremony, you will want a family photo in front of the Deerfield door at John Williams dorm.
  • Buffet Lunch Commencement is usually over by 11:45 am, and a buffet luncheon is available to any and all who have attended. Keep in mind that seniors are expected to be off campus by 2 pm, so if you decide to stay and eat, and will be helping with the move out, eat quickly.


In addition to sharing fond farewells with classmates, and thanking friends and relatives who have attended, both students and parents will want to say their goodbyes to faculty members. These adults have played such a central role in our children’s lives and are often the unsung heroes of graduation. Carving out time to thank and bid farewell to these folks is more than worthwhile. They will be lasting touchstones for our children in the years to come.


Commencement Weekend Schedule

(Tentative Schedule: subject to change)


Friday, May 22, 2020

5:00 pm Baccalaureate

For Seniors/Juniors/Faculty only

6:15 pm Parent-run dinner for graduates and parents/guardians only

Please contact the Deerfield Parents Network VPs for Campus Events for more information

7:00 pm Spring Theater Production


Saturday, May 23, 2020

1:15–3:45 pm Music and Dance Performances
4:00 pm Spring Theater Production
5:30 – 6:30 pm Senior Parent Donors Reception
7:00 pm Class Dinner Dance

For the seniors and all guests

9:30 pm Senior Class Meeting with Head of School

Required for all seniors


Sunday, May 24, 2020

9:00 am Continental Breakfast
10:00 am Class of 2019 Commencement Exercises
11:45 am Buffet Luncheon and Farewell Reception