Friday, May 25, 2018

Spring Term Report Card - 2018

To the Great Class of 1969:

News of the Academy

The School held its 219th graduation this morning, and the newest alums are leaving behind the rest of the students to complete the academic year. The self-reported college matriculation results were lower than usual, however, the most popular destinations among 158 students who did disclose their plans were Brown (12), University of Virginia (9), Cornell (8), Columbia (6), Georgetown (6), Middlebury (6), Bowdoin (5), Duke (5), Princeton (5) and Trinity (5). In total, 26.5% of the students who reported are headed for the Ivies but, in a first, none to Dartmouth.

On the admissions front, Deerfield accepted 17% of its 1,822 applicants and had a 68% yield, meaning that 11.6% of the applicants actually will enroll. Of those who will be coming next September, 21% are either legacies or have siblings on campus, 13% are international, and 38% will be receiving financial aid.

In sports, Lacrosse (13-2) and Baseball (7-10) continued their respective patterns of recent years. Boys Crew was undefeated (5-0) in the regular season and finished first yesterday in the annual New England Interscholastic Rowing Association championship.

The search firm hired to find a new Head of School has been taking soundings at regional events. A number of scheduled changes have taken place on the Board which, at its meeting this month, promised to take up the question of the dress code with the goal of reaching a decision by January 2019. Other issues on the agenda, according to The Scroll, are the upcoming renovation of the Health and Wellness Center and opportunities for improving Deerfield's use of technology.

News of the Class

Ed Grosvenor accompanied his wife this month to southern Tuscany where she had taken courses a few years ago. Ed, not surprisingly, had his camera handy and posted on Facebook some shots of Florence and a picturesque fishing village on the Italian Riviera. Tim Truby visited Iceland earlier this month and posted some stunning nature photographs. You can see those photos and more of Tim's work by visiting his websiteChristopher Beach is off to Namibia this month for his annual trip to some far off spot. Although Christopher retired in 2015 as President and Artistic Director of the La Jolla Music Society, he has found himself having to fill-in from time to time following the abrupt departure of his successor earlier this year.

No sooner was the ink dry on Edition 57 of Patent Law Fundamentals than John Mills sent off to the printer the manuscript for Edition 58. Over the course of his career as an attorney at the United States Patent & Trademark Office John examined nearly 400 patents, all of which he has catalogued for posterity. In the category of better late than never, Barry Ahearn spoke about “A Brief History of ‘Precision’” at the Ezra Pound International Conference in Philadelphia last June. Barry has been a full professor of English at Tulane University for twenty years and is an authority on Pound.

News of the Reunion

As you know by now, eleven members of the Reunion Committee visited campus earlier this month. If you had been there and were to have stood opposite the the Main School Building before anyone was stirring, you might have believed that nothing had changed since 1969. Old Main Street remains the prettiest street in America, and the school buildings that front the Street are all as you remember. It is only when the students begin crossing over from the dorms on the east side of the campus that you begin to realize that time has not, in fact, stood still. John Shanholt presciently noted this upon the graduation of one of his daughters in 2005 when he wrote, "Now I await my class reunions with more desire. Again I observe that Deerfield, while appearing to be the same school in the same place, is in so many ways a substantially different and better institution than the one I left in 1969. Now I have two fond and distinct memories - what it was then, and what it recently has been." This is a meme that I think only those who return for the Reunion will appreciate.

As I mentioned in my recent letter, we attended the now weekly school meeting in the auditorium of what we remember as the Memorial Building. You all will have the opportunity to see that the auditorium we knew, while in the same space, has been totally transformed. I invite you to experience what we witnessed with two videos. The first clip is of Kiana Rawji '18 Harvard '22 delivering her Senior Meditation  "In Search of Weight". I also mentioned that our visit was timed to coincide with the presentation of the Tom Ashley Award. See Lilly Hartley, this year's recipient, describe her personal and professional journey since her graduation in 1997. Rather than take my word, you can judge for yourselves the benefits of the return to co-education.

Arnstein, Kay, Suitor, Walbridge, Olchowski, Jacobs
The day after our campus visit, Neil Jacobs hosted the first of several regional reunions. Echoing Lacey's comments from the day before, our stringer Dave Suitor commented on how easily the conversation flowed after nearly a 50-year hiatus with Classmates we might not even have been close to when he wrote, "Our shared experiences about Deerfield life and teachers who inspired and tortured us in our tumultuous teenage years proved to be a powerful conversational bond." I encourage you to take advantage of one of the upcoming regional reunions to break the ice and get a taste of what Lacey and Suitor are referring to.

For those who may be wondering where all the years have gone, the Academy apparently agrees and has redefined what it means to be considered "Grand" under a policy adopted last year. As of a result of the "60 is the new 50" policy, we will remain known merely as the "Great" Class of 1969 until at least 2029. That is the unfortunate reality for all those in the Class who feel that they will have earned the right to be called "Grand" on the occasion of the 50th Reunion. As a consolation for deferring receipt of the honorific title, we will be invited to Reunions annually following our 60th rather than every five years, thereby guaranteeing full employment for our tireless Attendance Committee.

On a final note, the Reunion Committee has plans to infiltrate the 2018 reunion with three members of the Class. Their mission is to observe and collect information that will inform our planning and make our Reunion the standard by which other 50th reunions of our era are judged.

We will have more to communicate about the Reunion in the fall. Until then, best wishes to all.


Friday, March 09, 2018

Winter Term Report Card - 2018

To the Great Class of 1969:

News of the Academy

School will let out for Spring Break tomorrow to the relief of everyone including the parents of applicants whose wait to learn whether a Deerfield education is in their children's future will be over. If the Admissions Office has gotten it right, approximately two-thirds of those accepted actually will enroll. Applicants this year will have been able to see Deerfield's most ambitious building project ever, the $60 million athletic complex. The question for inquiring minds, therefore, is similar to the line in Field of Dreams, namely, "If you build it, will they come?"

The question is not an idle one for those alumni who are distraught about the nine year losing streak to Choate on the football field and the decline of the once proud hockey program which hasn't fielded a winning team in recent memory. For what it's worth, the squash and the swim teams were strong again this term, which suggests that first rate facilities, at least in those sports, can make a difference. A disquieting thought in view of the substantial investment in facilities is that the traditional spectator sports whose success seemed so integral to school spirit in the past are simply unimportant in the grand scheme of college admissions for most and that more students are opting for co-curricular alternatives to the sports program.

The news which eclipsed all else this term is that Margarita Curtis, Deerfield's first "Head of School", announced that she would be stepping down at the end of the 2018-2019 school year after a 13 year run. Her exit is timed such that both our 25th and our 50th reunions will coincide with a changing of the guard. Prior to the arrival of Mr. Boyden as Deerfield's first "Headmaster" in 1902, Deerfield changed the "Preceptor" every two years on average. Each of the last four heads (excluding interim Head Russ Miller) has lasted longer than the 50 prior to Mr. Boyden.

In other news, The Scroll reported that the dress code is under review (again). It was so much simpler before the return to co-education and the introduction of a rule book that, like the tax code, only seems to grow longer over time. The issue, as you might guess, involves the definition of  "Academic Dress" for the girls which, as the Head of School succinctly put it, "leaves itself more open to interpretation". No changes are going to be made without the involvement of the Board which views the dress code as a part of the Academy's distinctive identity.

News of the Class

As you know from my recent letter, the Reunion Committee has organized a series of coast to coast mini reunions which are scheduled to run from this May until March 2019. The first of these is a luncheon in Boston on May 3, a day after a campus visit by members of the Committee. The visit will include attending a school meeting, touring the new buildings, having lunch with the Head of School and meeting with the Academy's CFO.

If anyone still questions the demographic tsunami headed towards Florida, a well-attended visit by the Head of School to Palm Beach earlier this month should dispel those doubts. Anecdotal evidence from our class includes Robert Clough who left behind the cold weather in Maine and is wintering at his home in the Florida Keys for the first time this year. Jim Kay is also giving up the northeast for Florida, and AC Starkey arrives in Vero this weekend where Rusty Young now lives year round. I expect more of you to join us in Florida which now has as many electoral votes as New York (29). In case you're wondering, in 1968 New York had 43 electoral votes, and Florida had 14. Massachusetts, which was tied with Florida at the time, now has 12.

This month marks the publication of the 57th edition of Patent Law Fundamentals, John Mills' treatise summarizing current developments in that field of law. Staying current will set you back ~$1,500. Lyn Lee writes that he is in the midst of a two year sailing sabbatical and will be back in Seattle this July. Tee Johnson has been living in Knoxville, TN since 2009 where he remains involved in the music industry. In January, Tee did a show with Three Dog Celebration, a spin-off of Three Dog Night, whose best known song "Celebrate" was released in 1969.

Classes resume on March 26th. Enjoy the break!


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fall 2017 Postscript

To the Great Class of 1969:

Shortly after I hit the send button last Sunday, two issues of The Scroll appeared online. Some of the more newsworthy items from the Fall Term included the following:

Head of School Margarita Curtis began the school year by announcing plans to construct the "Jay and Mimi Morsman Tennis Pavilion" in recognition of their 99 years of combined service to the Academy. The structure will cover six of the 18 courts and will feature a roof, radiant heat and walls that can be raised and lowered to allow for year-round play. The facility will be completed in time for the 2018 season.

To their disappointment, returning students learned that a healthy lifestyle doesn't come cheaply and that a smoothie in the Greer would cost them more this year. Prices were raised modestly for the first time in five years and reflect, in part, the shift to healthier ingredients and improved selections.

A Facebook post in October by a 2016 alumna sparked a lively discussion about the various ways racial discrimination was experienced by minority students on campus and how to recognize more nuanced ways it is exhibited.

Deerfield's Center for Service and Global Citizenship announced nine faculty-led trips to such far off places as Panama, Oaxaca, the Dominican Republic, Tanzania, China, the United Kingdom, the Bahamas, Jordan and, somewhat incongruously, South Dakota.

The Debate Team represented Deerfield at the International Independent Schools' Public Speaking Competition in Winnipeg where it was judged the best American School team. One member of the team qualified for the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships in South Africa next April by winning awards as both Top American Speaker and Top Persuasive Speaker.

This fall, 35 juniors and seniors elected "athletic concentrations" as their extracurricular afternoon activity. In lieu of participating in one of the seasonal sports, these athletically-minded students were allowed to focus their energy on preparing for winter or spring sports and taking their skills to a new level. In order to be eligible for an athletic concentration, a student must participate in interscholastic sports in both other terms.

In October, the Reed Student Art Center opened on the first floor of the Hess Center in the Memorial Building in the hopes of promoting the student arts program. The gallery - which displays work by students in the studio art, architecture and photography program - is the first space on campus dedicated to student art.

As a reminder, classes resume on Tuesday, and this term you may substitute sweaters for sports jackets and turtlenecks for shirts and ties. No official word yet on whether cocoa and cookies will be served again in the lobby of the Main School Building on dress down Fridays but expectations run high.