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.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fall Term Report Card - 2017

To the Great Class of 1969:

News of the Academy

The fall term ended on Friday. Unfortunately, news is unusually sparse this term because the only issue of The Scroll was published in mid-September. I did, however, manage to locate a list of where the most recent alumni indicated they would be matriculating in the fall. For reasons that never seemed compelling, the destination of the graduating classes has been on a need to know basis since 2014. For 2017, colleges with five or more matriculants included Cornell (10), Georgetown (9), Trinity (7), Brown (6), Columbia (6), Princeton (6), Williams (6), Dartmouth (5), Tufts (5) and Yale (5). In total, the Class of 2017 dispersed to 82 different colleges in all regions, guaranteeing another busy year for the Placement Office.

On the sports front, a much improved Deerfield football team squared off against Choate at Jim Smith Field on November 11th in a game that was streamed live. The day was sunny but as the shadows grew long, the hope of beating Choate proved elusive for the ninth year in a row. Deerfield held Choate to its lowest point total of the season (28) but could only muster one touchdown in response. Despite the disappointing outcome, the team finished the season 6-2 which was its best record since 2010.

The location of the cameras on the Deerfield side of the field provided occasional glimpses of the state of the new, 130,000 square foot Athletic Complex which is scheduled for completion next fall. For a preview of what this stunning facility will look like, go here.

News of the Class

Since my letter in July, we have added several more members of the class to our Reunion Committee and assigned responsibility for the major tasks to a handful of subcommittees, of which Attendance is receiving the greatest focus. While the Reunion is still some time away, it's not too early to mark your calendars for June 6-9, 2019. Registration will begin in January 2019.

Hank and Maggie
Hank Minor, his wife and his falcon Maggie packed up and left North Carolina for Oregon earlier this year where he continues to pursue what was once known as the sport of kings. For those who may not recall, I first profiled Hank's interest in falconry five years ago. In other news from the West Coast, Rick Swig honored Baseball Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda with the "Mensch Award" and induction to the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Northern California. The award is presented annually to an athlete who is not of the Jewish faith who exemplifies the qualities of generosity, accomplishment and community service. Rick is a hotel consultant in San Francisco who frequently is quoted in the press on the state of the local hospitality industry.

On the opposite shore, John Mills recently was appointed to the faculty of Cooper Union where he received a B.S. in Engineering many years ago. John has been a renowned expert in patent law for decades and is the author of the eight volume Patent Law Fundamentals. Outside of work, he has taken up sailing in the Chesapeake Bay in his free time. For classmates who may be in New York this fall, the Conrad New York Hotel is displaying through December 15th a series of watercolors by Todd Stone depicting the evolution of the City's skyline following the 9/11 attack as seen from Todd's studio on the 67th Floor of 4 WTC. Earlier this month, Todd gave a talk at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum where some of his work is also on display.

In Florida, where a number of classmates are relocating, Rusty Young completed organizing for the fifth consecutive year concerts featuring music from the '60s and '70s. The concert venues range from Melbourne to Fort Lauderdale on the East Coast and include a couple of spots on the Gulf Coast. Here's the schedule for 2018 if you're in the area.

For a change of pace, Robert Clough went on an "Ancient Empires" cruise last month and reportedly ate his way through Sicily. The trip also included visits to Pompeii, Malta, the Amalfi Coast and Rome.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.