Get Ready! Helpful Pointers for New (and Returning) Families

The First Link Committee of the Deerfield Parents Network (DPN) has put together this list of pointers containing useful information that we hope you will find helpful as your child gets ready to leave for school. If you have questions or comments about the First Link program, feel free to contact the Co-Chairs: Travis Acquavella, Leslee MacKenzie, Mary Read, and Julia Van Nice.


  • Check the List of Important Dates for the 2023-2024 school year.
  • If you plan to come to campus for the Fall Family Weekend (10/20/23-10/22/23), please be sure to make travel arrangements and book hotel rooms as soon as possible. Please note that parents and guardians are invited to attend classes with their children, and those classes start at 8:30 am on Friday morning, so you may want to arrive on Thursday if your schedule allows. Students may leave campus with you after their cocurricular ends on Saturday. Our Fall Term Holiday is Monday, October 23, and Tuesday, October 24 (no classes). Students should plan to return to campus on Tuesday, October 24, by 7:45 pm in time for Study Hall. Please note that the dorms remain open during this long weekend in the fall for students who do not plan to leave campus.
  • Hotels book quickly! If you don’t have luck with a hotel room, there are also many local Airbnb options. Look at Deerfield’s Lodging List and Travel Information.
  • Please help your child to be content with their housing assignment. It will work out, even if they don’t get the dorm they wanted or are not placed with a close friend. They will make new friends in their dorms. Dorm life can be an adjustment, and you can help to make it easier for them by accepting where they’ve been placed.
  • Less is more in terms of what your son or daughter brings to school. Due to limited storage space, err on the side of bringing less than you think they need. For example, leave the winter clothes at home for now and bring or send them to school for Winter Term. Here is the suggested packing list for fall. You can always ship anything they need, but…
  • Please hold off shipping to DA until the second half of August. Shipping and Receiving is located in the garden level of the Chen Health and Wellness Center. Joe Garey and Danny Brooks make sure that all your packages reach your student. Amazon delivers anything and everything to Deerfield, and it gets there quickly. You can send boxes/packages the last two weeks of August, and Joe and Danny will hold them for your student.
  • Label your child’s clothing to help prevent laundry mishaps and headaches with lost or borrowed clothing. We recommend something like the Name-Dropper StampMabels Labels or even a laundry pen by Sharpie works well.
  • Laundry: You have the option to sign up for weekly laundry service with E&R Laundry, Swift Cleaners in Greenfield, or students can do laundry themselves in their dorms. Many students opt for a laundry service because the service will launder clothing as well as dry clean coats, ties, dress shirts, and blazers. Others prefer to launder their own belongings using the dorm facilities. For those doing their own laundry, a refillable laundry card is available through the Finance Office, and students may purchase laundry cards when they arrive on campus. A laundry card costs $25 and is preloaded with that amount; it should last awhile as each load of laundry only costs one cent. It’s up to you, but worth discussing before they head off to school.
  • Discuss communication with your child before school starts. Make a plan with your child regarding how often (and in what mode) you’ll communicate. (And don’t make it too frequent … remember, they will be busy!) Sometimes a quick text exchange is more feasible than a conversation. Try to be content with the time they can give you, as they have a full plate with classes, activities, and adjusting to a new environment.
  • Meet the proctors and teachers/faculty members on your child’s hall when you drop off your student. They will be valuable resources since they live with your child.
  • Don’t be surprised by how your child handles the “goodbye moment” when you drop them off at school. Every child responds differently—some will be upset, others will barely say goodbye, and for some, it will be uneventful. Remember to give them space—boarding school is a steppingstone to independence and self-confidence for your child. They are in good hands and the dorm residents and proctors are well equipped to help with the transition.
  • Understand that students are busy. Their schedules are packed with school, cocurriculars, sit-down meals, study hall, dorm feeds, and lights out. When they have a free moment, they are forming relationships with new friends, doing homework, studying, getting involved with clubs, participating in school activities, attending mandatory meetings and lectures, etc. In addition, they are having fun! So be patient with them.
  • Explore the Academy’s website, and get to know the school better.
  • Explore DAinfo, where you can see your child’s schedule, their teachers, their classmates, and access the family directory to communicate with other parents. This is a password-protected site so make sure you remember your password. If your contact information ever changes (address, email, phone), please do not delay in having it updated on DAinfo by emailing Alumni Records and letting them know the new information.
  • Check out the Students Bulletin. This newsfeed can also be found under the Students drop-down tab at the top of the homepage. While it is primarily for students, it can give you a sense of daily happenings on campus.
  • Consider creating a network of parents that live close by you for package deliveries or ride sharing. We know a group of parents from one area that emails their “network” to see if anyone is headed to campus when they need something brought to their student or if they are looking for a ride-share or carpool. This is often more efficient and less expensive than Fedex—and you’ll have the chance to make new friends as well.
  • Encourage your child to solve problems on their own as much as they can and hold off on “picking up the phone” to solve it for them. Foster their independence. Encourage them to speak with their advisor for help or advice. You can also share relevant information with your child’s advisor, confidentially, that could help your child.
  • Remember that the staff are busy teaching, coaching, mentoring, and caring for your child. No place is perfect, and everyone is doing the best for your child. If things don’t go your child’s way, let them handle any problems and encourage them to seek help at DA if needed. If necessary, go to their advisor for any concerns you may need to discuss. Please be respectful and ask your child to do the same.
  • Your First Link is a wonderful resource. They are available and ready to answer any questions you may have now or during the school year. They are also current parents who remember what it was like to be new to DA, and they are excited to help you in any way they can over the year. Your student has their Green Key to help them, and you have your First Link. Please use them!


Save the following important phone numbers in your phone or planner. You never know when you might need them, and you don’t want to scramble last minute:

  • General Contact Information
    • Main Switchboard: 413-772-0241
  • Your Child’s Advisor and Dorm Resident numbers are located on DAinfo
  • Non-emergency Issues: During the school day please email or telephone your child’s Class Dean at their office number listed below; after hours, please contact the School Officer in Charge (SOC) at 413-772-9070
  • Dean of Students: Sam Bicknell, 413-774-1485
  • Dean of Residential Life/12th Grade Dean: Becca Melvoin, 413-774-1423
  • 11th Grade Dean: Brian Barbato, 413-774-1681
  • 10th Grade Dean: Drew Philie, 413-774-1543
  • 9th Grade Dean: Heather Brown, 413-774-1459
  • Associate Head of School for Student Life: Amie Creagh, 413-774-1454
  • Emergency, Health, and Safety Contacts
    • Security (24 hours): 413-772-9880
    • Security (office): 413-774-1558
    • Health Center: 413-774-1600
    • Sexual Response Resource
    • SOC (School Officer in Charge): 413-772-9070
  • Student Mail/Packages
    • Postal Mail: Student Name, PO Box 298, Deerfield, MA 01342
    • UPS/FedEx: Student Name, 7 Boyden Lane, Deerfield, MA 01342

For you and your student, the first year arriving at Deerfield Academy is exciting! We hope you feel welcome and well informed for the upcoming year. Please reach out if you have any questions—we are here to help.

Your First Link Co-Chairs,

Travis Acquavella P’25 ,’27
Leslee MacKenzie P’21,’24
Mary Read P’24
Julia Van Nice P’24,’25