Thursday, August 04, 2005

August 2005 Letter

To the Great Class of 1969:

Our alma mater recently held its 206th commencement, a feat exceeded by only two peer secondary schools in America. The year was marked by many significant milestones:

Over 1,600 applications were received — a new record, and evidence of the School’s ongoing appeal;

Graduates continued to matriculate overwhelmingly at the most competitive colleges and universities;

Annual Support, the financial lifeblood of the School, exceeded $4.1 million and surpassed 51% participation, once again demonstrating the generosity of Deerfield’s graduates and providing a subsidy of more than 10% towards the cost of a first-class education to Deerfield’s 600 students;

Sports remained an integral part of daily life with both Boys’ Varsity Crew and Lacrosse each distinguishing the School this spring by winning New England championships and receiving national recognition;

An unmatched, secondary school state-of-the-art science, math and technology building neared completion, now less than six months away; and

The School began the search for a new Headmaster, the first change since our 25th Reunion.

A record number in our Class responded to my appeals this year on behalf of Annual Support. Others found different ways to demonstrate their appreciation for what the School has meant to them. My purpose in writing is to tell you something about the various ways our Classmates support the School and to ask that you take a moment to tell me what you would like your relationship to be with the School in the new academic year.

Annual Support

Our Class achieved something unprecedented this past year: the number of contributors exceeded that for our 25th Reunion. I am unaware of any other class that has ever achieved this prior to its 50th Reunion and, if so, doubt that it was achieved in a non-Reunion year. In addition, we received contributions from 18 Classmates who had not contributed in fiscal 2004, including some who had no prior record of having given. While the median gift was unchanged at $200, individual contributions of around $20 reinforced the fact that no gift is too small: class participation exceeded the school-wide average for the first time.

If you are among those who held back because you would prefer to know how your contribution is being spent, please note that the Academy has been letting donors designate six different areas of interest: Arts, Athletics, Faculty Support, Financial Aid, the Library and Technology. The School has also taken steps to facilitate online giving at Deerfield Alumni and by accepting gifts by credit card (which a number of Classmates chose to do this year for the first time).

Capital Gifts and Gifts in Kind

Some Classmates prefer to make unrestricted gifts to the endowment or gifts to one of the more than 600 individual endowment funds. In the past year, The Christopher Beach Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts was established. This year’s recipient was recognized at the Saturday awards ceremony during Commencement Weekend. Other funds established by classmates in prior years include the David S. Brown ’69 Arbor Fund and the Grace M. Henry Book Fund, which are listed each year in the Annual Report.

The School proved receptive this year to matching its needs with the interests of Tee Johnson. Tee has submitted a proposal to lend his design expertise to the School and to upgrade the radio station and the auditorium in the Memorial Building with high-performance audio and video equipment. Along these same lines, as the proprietor and general manager of Alexander Valley Vineyards, Hank Wetzel has made contributions-in-kind of wine to Reunion Weekend.

Career Guidance

Awhile back some students expressed a wish that the School organize an event featuring alumni/ae speakers who were pursuing various interesting careers. In response, the School established the PATHWAYS series, and both Zech Chafee and Howie Carr have returned to campus to speak with interested seniors about their occupations. They have been joined by dozens other alumni/ae from a range of professions at this event.

The Boyden Society

The Boyden Society was founded 15 years ago to accommodate benefactors wishing to make legacy gifts. Classmates who have made planned gifts to Deerfield through the Boyden Society are listed in the Annual Report each year and include Steve Esthimer, Joe Moriarty, Stuart Ray and Casey Reed.


These examples demonstrate some of the worthwhile ways our Classmates remain a vital part of the community of alumni as well as the ability of the School to accommodate graduates with varied means and talents. I hope that you will consider the basis on which you might support the effort to maintain Deerfield’s position at the forefront of secondary education. Deerfield has moved on in so many ways from the School we once knew while preserving that which was best. As one of our Classmates wrote, “From my point of view, it's a substantially different (and better) school than the one we attended. When I visit, I have the surprising reaction that it has the same buildings and location, but is really a new institution with the same name.”