Friday, June 10, 2005

June 2005 Letter

To the Great Class of 1969:

With thunderstorms forecasted for the next several days, over 500 alumni (including King Abdullah ’80), have begun to descend on Deerfield for Reunion weekend. Here’s what I can tell you in what I expect will be my last note this academic year.

Recent Additions

Since the last Class-wide e-mail, I am pleased to have added Zech Chafee and President Charlie Olchowski to the distribution list. While this brings the total to 89, there are still far too many absentees, including a handful whose addresses have gone out of service in the past year. Please forward to me the e-mail addresses of any long-lost Classmates you are in touch with or let me know if you have a preferred e-mail address for future distributions.

News from the School

The final issue of The Scroll arrived this week, and it included a first page story disclosing that the estimated completion date for the Koch SM&T building is now January ’06. The building should be fully enclosed soon at which time “the electrical and fiber optic systems, along with the glass staircases (emphasis added) will be installed”. I confess that I became a bit concerned about the fate of the Greer Store where a number of us can remember hanging out when I read that the café in the SM&T building “will offer a more upscale menu including Panini sandwiches”.

In a second item of note for anyone who is paying the annual tuition of $ 34,250 (up from $ 3,100 our senior year), the Academy continued its virtually unrivalled record among New England boarding schools in placing seniors in the most desirable colleges. The three most popular colleges (in alphabetical order) with nine matriculants each were Brown, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. By my own unofficial arithmetic, the results improved vs. last year and may, when all of the decisions are finalized, rival those of the strongest classes in recent years. Should you wish to address the more than ten-fold increase in tuition since we graduated, the easiest way is to get out your credit card before month end and go online at Deerfield Alumni and click on the link to the left "Giving to Deerfield".

Last – but not least – there is much focus on the succession plans which should be of particular interest since we were the first class in 66 years to experience this phenomenon. I am told that the search is being conducted by Russell Reynolds and that the Trustees hope to make a decision at the fall meeting or, at worst, in January. If you have comments to make about the search for a new Headmaster, you may e-mail them to

Class News

Rob Almy fulfilled a long held wish when he returned to referee the alumni game as well as the Deerfield Exeter game on Saturday, May 21st. The victory over Exeter (which required no assistance from Rob) as well as a win over Northfield Mount Hermon in the final game of the season enabled Deerfield (15-1) to clinch at least a tie for its 4th consecutive WNE Division I title. More significantly, the Varsity Lacrosse team also ranked # 11 nationally. Look for a fuller description of Rob’s activities in a future issue of Deerfield Magazine and remember that you can e-mail news to Classnotes.

The Performing Arts Initiative I first mentioned in April took a major step forward when Tee Johnson, the inspiration for the project, visited campus on May 21st for meetings with a handful of the School’s technical staff which the Development Office arranged and hosted. The project – the aim of which is to provide updated media equipment and technology to students pursuing interests in communications and the performing arts – is in the process of being defined while the School more accurately details the extent of its needs in the area. The significance of this, which I hope will not be overlooked, is how a lifelong interest of yours might coincide unexpectedly with the School’s needs.

I checked in with John Shanholt who had the honor of seeing his younger daughter graduate from Deerfield in May. Here is just some of what John had to say,

A misty rain rinsed the top of a sprawling green-and-white tent, stretched out as big as a soccer field across the lawn to the west of the Main School building. Led by pipers, the Seniors walked, arm in arm, down Albany Road. Underclassmen lined the street, cheering and waving to their older schoolmates. When the Seniors, with girls in white dresses and boys in blue blazers, finally entered the tent, a roar went up from the thousand family members. The faculty followed, to continued applause from the Seniors and Parents.

A woodwind ensemble filled the tent with amplified classics, setting the tone for the Headmaster's typically wry, gracious introduction. Speeches, awards, and diplomas followed in a rehearsed but unrushed ceremony. Two immense video screens showed all the action, with close-ups of the speakers and graduates, for those sitting too far back to see.

I will certainly miss my frequent parental visits to Deerfield, and 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.

May Class Trivia

Well, I was feelin' so bad, asked my family doctor 'bout what I had,
I said, "Doctor, Doctor, Mister M.D., can you tell me, what's ailing me?”

The Young Rascals, 1966

Had any returning alumni/ae thought to ask the question originally posed by The Young Rascals, the Great Class of 1969 would have been prepared: In attendance at the last Reunion were ER physician Lare Huber, gastroenterologist Jamie Rawles, cardiovascular surgeon Bob Clough and cardiologist Ken Huber. On call was sports medicine doc Dave Leffers for any overworked weekend warriors as well as plastic surgeon Bill DeLuca for anyone disappointed in how they had aged since graduation. Jack Spitznagel also was available by phone in the event anyone wanted a root canal as were OB/GYN Burt Harden and internist Dick Prokesch.

There were many correct responses to the picture of Dave Leffers in last month’s photo trivia contest which didn’t fool many. Here’s my “Mystery Classmate” for this month:

This Classmate is the fifth generation in his family to be involved in the media industry and now heads a private company. Previously he was CEO of a public company and co-produced with another Classmate a documentary on an American who fundamentally changed the way in which people now communicate. How many of you know who this is?

As long as I am on the “captains of industry” theme, who among you can answer the following question:

Who was the first member of the Great Class of 1969 to head a publicly-traded company?

Last Thoughts

In the last year since our 35th I have enjoyed composing these e-mails and hearing from a number of you. E-mail correspondence has become a great convenience since I last did this a few years back, but it also can be a one-way street when I push the “Send” button and my message heads off into cyberspace. I count on feedback from all of you – whether it is simply news or, as I always ask, a contribution to the Academy by going to Deerfield Alumni and clicking on the link "Giving to Deerfield". Although the final numbers have yet to be counted, I know that we have made great progress on the participation front this year. I also am told that there has been a lot of back channel communication among those on the distribution list for these e-mails which is an unmeasured benefit. With only a few weeks left in the Academy’s gift year, I ask those of you who have not already contributed to reflect upon the unique status of this secondary school of which we are all alumni and to join me and many of our Classmates in providing support if you have not done so already.

Thank you and best wishes to all.