With the help of student feedback last year, a committee of faculty and staff members changed this year’s opening days’ schedule to ease academic and social anxieties students face in their first week of school.
“The previous schedule didn’t feel like a ‘shared experience’ for new students,” Dean of Students Amie Creagh said. “Some new students felt connected immediately, while others felt out of the loop. That’s not right. We want each new student to feel equally prepared and connected.”
Co-ed corridor teams will rotate around stations in key campus locations on Sunday to learn about Deerfield culture. These activities will replace Dorm Olympics, an inter-dorm competition in activities ranging from sponge relays to boomerang tosses.
Science teacher Dennis Cullinane said Dorm Olympics was counterproductive for new students in the first days.
“My experience with Dorm Olympics was that we always started as a dorm, but then the returners would flock to their friends when we got down to the field, which really defeated the idea behind the event,” he said.
Dr. Cullinane continued, “I’m a firm believer in community service, sports and social growth being important components of the Deerfield experience, but we have to remember that academics need to come first.”
Another schedule change is the addition of Friday classes and weekend academic orientations designed to prepare students for Deerfield’s academic rigor.
“Many faculty felt the opening days were off balance: lots of social emphasis and not enough academic,” Ms. Creagh said. “This is an opportunity to find a better balance between the two.”
Science teacher Rich Calhoun said, “I plan on using the day to have a relaxed conversation to get to know my students and answer questions rather than holding a more formal class.”
Green Key leaders, proctors, peer counselors and members of the Disciplinary and Academic Honor Committees will discuss ethical leadership and how to build cultural understanding on campus in the leadership program Tuesday.
“This is a new initiative, and I think it will allow us to be far more deliberate about what we want for and from our named leaders,” Ms. Creagh said.
Faculty members primarily support returning from break five days earlier, and many believe it will benefit students in their classes later in the term. Students, however, seem to be hesitant to embrace an early start.
“I’m pretty ambivalent about the changes,” Anna Lu ’13 said. “It was strange to arrive after the returners, but on the other hand, it was also nice that everyone else was already moved in and excited to welcome the new students.”
“I do not understand how it is going to make things less hectic when returners arrive the day before classes begin,” Shanisha