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.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Spring Term Report Card - 2017

To the Great Class of 1969:

News of the Academy

The graduating class concludes their time as students at Deerfield today, taking with them their memories and leaving behind the rest of the school to finish exams.

After an opening day loss to Brunswick, boys Lacrosse won 14 out of the next 15 games, most of them by lopsided scores. The program seems to have made a full recovery following the anomalous 2015 season in which the team went 9-7. Tennis also completed another successful season and has gone 45-24 over the past five seasons without losing once to Choate. Baseball, on the other hand, suffered its fourth losing season in a row. Over that stretch it has compiled a cumulative won-lost record of 20-45, highlighting a nagging problem that Deerfield has not been able to overcome in the traditional spectator sports.

The hockey rink was demolished over Spring Break, and construction of the new athletic complex is underway. The schedule calls for completion of the new facilities in the Fall of 2018. This signature facility may enable Deerfield to address the recent slide of certain traditionally important sports, most painfully apparent for the last eight years on the football field against Choate.

One of the more interesting articles in The Scroll described an independently conducted survey of the student body by grade on various issues affecting student life. Not surprisingly, a significant majority of the students felt under either moderate or heavy pressure to get into a good college. Whether or not all that angst paid off for the Class of 2017 will have to remain a mystery because the Academy, for the fourth year in a row, has chosen not to list in the final issue of The Scroll where the graduating class plans to matriculate in the Fall. I would think parents of applicants to the Academy would be keenly interested in knowing the results since the all-in cost to attend Deerfield next year will top $60,000, only $5,000 less than a year at Harvard. You can read about the survey and the other findings here.

News of the Class

We have begun to gear up for our most consequential reunion two years from now by beginning to put together a committee. There are various subcommittees to divide up the work, however, the focus of everyone will be on maximizing attendance. Responsibility for organizing that effort once again falls upon the shoulders of the estimable John Lacey who is rediscovering the relevance of the first year marketing course he took at HBS forty years ago. In addition to the opportunity to see what changes fifty years have wrought to once familiar faces, the 2019 reunion will mark the first time that returning classes will be able to tour both the Hess Center for the Arts (which was still under construction in 2014) and the new athletic complex. Be prepared to be amazed at not only the facilities but at how well they fit in to the campus we knew.

In other news, Steve Esthimer discovered two years ago that the cure for sleep deprivation was to retire, and he now spends his time in Chapel Hill on the various extracurricular interests that used to infringe on his teaching duties, including his band. Frank Henry left Old Main Street last year for the historic East Side of Providence where his wife Wanda is a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Brown. Zech Chafee is well acquainted with the quality of life benefits that Providence has to offer, and will be observing his 27th work anniversary in the United States Attorney's Office there this summer. AC Starkey, lifelong Princetonian and the only acknowledged "BowieNetter" in the Class, recently invited 300 of his best friends to a Bowie-themed birthday bash for his wife. I have pictures if your imagination is failing you. Ben Walbridge retired on April 1 from International Marine Underwriters where he had been Regional President of the Pacific Division for the past twelve years. Ben was last spotted trekking in Guatemala with his youngest son.

It's time once again to fire up the barbecue and to celebrate the change of seasons in the northeast. Best wishes to all for the summer.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Winter Term Report Card - 2017

To the Great Class of 1969:

Whatever your political persuasions, you have to admit the last few months have been a wild ride! The election was destined to result in a sense of time warp regardless of the outcome but who would have guessed that the Newspeak-worthy phrase "alternative facts" would propel 1984 to the top of the best sellers list for the first time in 33 years or that the ratings for Saturday Night Live would be at a 20-year high or that Ladbroke's would begin quoting odds on impeachment even before the inauguration had taken place? With just over two years until our 50th Reunion, who's to say where we will be on this long and winding road when we meet again.

The one thing you can take to the bank at this time is that our Reunion will take place June 6-9, 2019. The timeline I received from the Academy indicates that preparation for the event typically begins about two years beforehand. If you would like to become proactive in the planning or would be interested in hosting a regional mini-reunion in advance, please let me know.

Our Reunion will be orchestrated by Rachel Moore who I met on a recent visit to New York. Rachel joined Deerfield's Office of Alumni and Development last fall to head up the 50th Reunions as well as the Boyden Society which previously had been managed separately. As Tom Ehrgood knows from his work at Amherst, there is an obvious synergy between 50th Reunions and Planned Giving. In that regard, eight members of the Class are members of the Boyden Society at last count, and I anticipate that number will grow meaningfully if history is any guide.

News of the Academy

The big news this term, if you haven't had a chance to read the most recent issue of Deerfield Magazine, was that the Board of Trustees gave the go-ahead to replace the hockey rink with a new $68 million Field House which is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2018. The new athletic complex will include, in addition to a new hockey rink, more locker rooms, year round practice facilities, an indoor tennis court, a "spinning room" with 20 bikes, an elevated track and a golf simulator. Let's hope the new facilities improve the fortunes of the hockey team which had a losing record for the fourth year in a row as well as the other teams which now will be able to practice during the offseason in the Field House. The addition of new squash facilities ten years ago succeeded in transforming the squash program as demonstrated once again this year by the girls' squash team which went 14-1 and tied Greenwich Academy for the New England Championship.

News of the Class

Marty Kaiser has been named a Senior Fellow of the Public Square Program which is an initiative of The Democracy Fund, a bipartisan organization which makes grants to organizations it believes will improve the political system.

Ed Grosvenor is hoping to relaunch American Heritage Magazine which has been dedicated to improving historical and civic literacy since its founding in 1949. Ed raised money through a crowdfunding platform in December but will need additional funding to save American Heritage. You can help Ed meet his worthy objective by making a tax deductible contribution to the American Heritage Society, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit.

AC Starkey joined Rusty Young recently for a John Sebastian (The Lovin' Spoonful) concert in Delray, FL. By all appearances, Rusty has had a busy winter organizing classic rock and folk music concerts featuring music from the '60's and the '70's all along the I-95 corridor from Vero Beach to Ft. Lauderdale.

You can add my name to the growing list of retirees in the Class. I decided that 40-years on Wall Street was enough and will now be focusing on what the future may hold. The wisdom of this decision was reinforced recently by John Mills who called me to recount a harrowing personal experience and made the observation that it had forced him to recognize that life was not some sort of dress rehearsal for whatever's next.

Best wishes to all.