Sunday, June 01, 2014

Spring Term Report Card - 2014

To the Great Class of 1969:

Neil Jacobs '69
The Academy celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2014 at Commencement last Sunday and sent the sleep deprived undergraduates home five days later for a needed rest. You will be interested to know that one of our own (pictured to the left) was chosen by this year's graduating class to be the Baccalaureate Speaker. The Scroll wrote of him, "During his time at Deerfield - where he has twice filled in for Philosophy and Religion teachers on sabbatical - Deerfield alumnus Neil Jacobs '69, senior counsel at Wilmer Hale in Boston, has made an indelible mark on students in his ethics and philosophy classes. He has been widely praised for his ethical presence and warm heart on campus". Those returning to campus for the 45th Reunion next weekend will be able to hear Neil and Frank Henry talk about teaching at Deerfield today.

News of the Academy

Looking back at prior posts, I can appreciate that most of you are tired of hearing each spring what an exemplary season Boys Lacrosse just had, yet the same is true this year. Deerfield Boys Lacrosse once again dominated the Lower Level this spring, losing only to Taft, 8-7. The team ranked sixth nationally and second only to Darien in New England. I had mistakenly thought we had gotten all the best that Fairfield county had to offer but there appears to be some additional work to be done.

On the sports front, Deerfield has had to be selective in which areas it wants to excel athletically. The result of this would seem to be that it has chosen sports which tend to play to Deerfield's advantage with the most selective colleges. As a result of the decision not to double the size of the Academy when co-education was re-introduced, Deerfield has had to pick its spots which may be why, for the second year in a row, this year's graduating class never experienced a win over Choate in Varsity football. This might not seem so extraordinary but for the fact that the last time this happened at either school prior to 2013 was in the 1940's.

Several years ago I mentioned that the Academy now feels compelled to instruct students about what constitutes acceptable conduct. This is evidenced by a 100+ page rule book (when none such existed when we were there) and a system that assigns "Accountability Points" (or "AP's") for skipping classes or required meals, etc. A student who accumulates more than a certain number of AP's during a term goes on restriction and, beyond a certain point, is suspended. In response to a student proposal earlier this year, the school decided to do an empirical experiment and find out whether not actually awarding AP's made students any more or less accountable. Behaviors were tracked daily without sanctions and, after just two weeks, the experiment was terminated because - lo and behold - students were accumulating AP's at a faster rate than ever!

Missing from my usual Spring Term Report Card this year is news about where the graduating class is heading. Unfortunately, The Scroll no longer posts those results online, and so I will have to see if I can find a hard copy next weekend. I hope to provide that information in my summary of the 45th Reunion.

News of the Class

While I expect there will be some last minute walk-ons, my best guess is that we will be lucky to have twenty returning classmates next weekend, down from 30 five years ago. Despite a commendable recruiting effort by John Lacey, a number of classmates appear to have decided that they would prefer to hold out for the 50th, an actuarial bet that will prove safe for 92.7% of males our age according to the government tables. Rob Almy will miss this year's reunion because he literally has a prior "engagement" which is to be wed on Nantucket on Saturday. I understand that when he learned that his wedding plans would conflict with the Reunion, his plea for a change of venue to the Brick Church was denied by family members.

In other news not involving attendees, King Carter continues his spirited opposition to wind farms in Maine. King, a founder of the Maine Green Party and two time candidate for Governor, has come to the paradoxical realization that, in his words, "just because something is renewable doesn't make it de facto clean and green". Christopher Beach, who will be traveling in Botswana and South Africa, recently posted next season's artistic schedule for the La Jolla Music Society which he has headed since 2005 and received favorable reviews for the diversity of the program.

Best wishes to all.