Friday, June 01, 2007

Spring Term

To the Great Class of 1969:

Final exams ended this morning for underclassmen after which many said their goodbyes and drove off until next September. Others are staying one more night to participate in the the SAT subject tests in the morning before hitting the road. Dorms will be cleaned and tents will spring up all over campus as the Academy welcomes over 800 alumni and spouses for Deerfield Reunions at the end of next week. It is a busy time but also a very special one at Deerfield.

Last Sunday marked the 208th Deerfield Graduation and included Mark Ewing P'99, '07 among the attendees. The graduation followed a day of awards which included the Christopher Beach award for excellence in the performing arts, established in his honor in 2003, and was preceded by the "Senior Cry" in Memorial Hall where the graduating class gathers each year until the early hours of the morning to regale their classmates with reminicences about their Deerfield years.

No sooner had the 189 members of the Class of 2007 transitioned to become Alumni and headed off into the sunset – many of them on party buses for destinations known only to their closest confidants – than the returning students asserted their newfound status. As was described to me by one eyewitness, the rising juniors assembled that evening on what is referentially referred to as “senior grass” in front of the Academy Building and then led the rest of the returning students down Albany Road to a bonfire on the Lower Level to celebrate their succession to the next grade, leaving aside for the moment the minor detail that they all had exams to pass the following week. There was, for a number, a collective sigh of relief that they were no longer subject to suspension for having accumulated too many Accountability Points, or “AP’s” in the vernacular.

For those who are curious how things have changed, the Academy decided at some point along the way since 1969 that a suitable method of enforcing discipline would be to assign demerits for various infractions such as skipping a class, missing a sit-down meal, etc. A student who accumulates more than a certain number of AP’s during a term goes on restriction and, beyond a point, is suspended. For those who manage their AP’s like a checking account, the system went awry this term when the seniors, for their class prank, “kidnapped” the underclassmen. The girls were taken to the river and quickly discovered. The boys, on the other hand, headed for the rock where they cavorted most of the morning and, thanks to some day students with cars who ran into Greenfield for supplies, were able to barbecue and miss the entire day of school. The administration didn’t take this lightly since Deerfield has fewer school days than any peer school except Andover, and a large number of students discovered that they had accumulated a precarious number of AP’s – in part because the school left it to the discretion of the individual teachers to allocate AP’s – and found themselves skating on thin ice. With the slate now wiped clean, the affected students can all breathe more easily until they return in September.

Class News

As some may know, Christian Liipfert, successfully completed the 2007 MS 150 bicycle tour from Houston to Austin last month and raised, individually, over $7,000 for Muscular Sclerosis which afflicts his brother. Sandy Weissent wrote that he had “just finished a successful, two-year-long, corporate turnaround of a Midwest-based lumber and building material supply business. Any classmate with a business that wants to spend some free time on the phone chatting about business improvements, I'm happy to talk.” Sandy is a graduate of the University of Chicago Business School where he remains active and has done over two dozen turnarounds for private and public companies from most business sectors all over the country since 1985. I spoke with Jamie Rawles recently to clarify an incident that took place freshman year when he and John Shanholt conducted an unauthorized science experiment which had some unintended consequences. Those of you who were there at the time may recall the effect of this experiment on John's appearance. Jamie, who returned to Virginia after graduation, hasn't lost any of his fondness for Deerfield and has four sons ranging in age from 14-24. One of his boys lived only a floor away from the dormitory shooting at Virginia Tech. That tragedy has spurred many schools, including Deerfield, to re-evaluate the adequacy of their security measures.

You also may recall that Rusty Young discovered a second career as CEO and impresario at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey where he recently hosted a fundraiser that featured Brian Wilson (pictured with Rusty) and surprise guest Bruce Springsteen. This June 30th he will once again be hosting the FabFaux for anyone who wants to experience the best Beatles tribute band around. AC Starkey, taking a break from David Bowie, was among those who attended last year.

Steve Sheresky has been given a reprieve as class agent after accepting the position as head of the Senior Class Gift for the 2007-2008 school year. Steve has a steep road to climb since the Senior Parents participated to the tune of 95% and are expected to contribute around $2 million this year.

Class Trivia

Please let me know who you think the classmate on the left is. Hint: He also wore a baseball cap at Deerfield, although he seems to have outgrown his glasses.

Eric Tompkins was the first to identify Ed Grosvenor at the podium in my last mailing. The event was a conference in Toronto which Ed attended to accept an award on behalf of his great grandfather, Alexander Graham Bell. AGB had the honor of being the first “laureate” to be inducted into the “Telecommunications Hall of Fame” at a black tie dinner in Toronto in October 2005. The curator of the Bell Homestead National Historic Site in Brantford, Ontario presented the AG Bell laureate award to Ed who accepted on behalf of the Bell family.