Deerfield Academy - Review #6
Reflections and Advice:
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
The teacher-student relationship at Deerfield played a huge role in my Deerfield experience. First off, there is a great teacher student ratio, making class sizes small, which allows students to get to know teachers more easily. My biggest class was perhaps a physics class with 18 students, and my smallest was a French class of 4. In addition to the small class sizes, most teachers hold weekly office hours during which anyone can come by to talk to and ask questions of teachers. Furthermore, nearly all teachers live on campus, so even if you cannot make office hours, it is incredibly easy to email and set-up a meeting during a time that suits you (and teachers will always find time in their schedule to meet). Additionally, Deerfield teachers are not just a medium for teaching material. The teachers at Deerfield love their jobs, but also love the students and are very easy to converse with and get to know. Deerfield students often form very strong bonds with teachers. At the end of the year students write speeches honoring departing teachers. They deliver the speeches front of the whole school during an assembly specifically dedicated to departing teachers.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
One of my favorite experiences at Deerfield was my Alpine Ski team. Senior year I was a captain of the ski team, and it felt good to finally be at the top of a very strong group skiers. The ski team drives about 40 minutes every day during the winter to get to the mountain we ski at. This trip, though often considered an endless, monotonous journey on a cold bus, really brought our team close. As team captain, I found many of the new freshmen and sophomore's looking up to me for guidance, which was somewhat harrowing, yet also moving. I matured a lot during the ski season as I realized how much an impact an 18-year old could have on a 14-year old. I, and our whole team, took ski racing seriously throughout the season and that brought us to our 4th consecutive regular season team victory, as well as 2nd consecutive New England Championship. However, during those bus rides, we would all be joking around and remembering to have a good time in addition to working hard.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I arrived at Deerfield as a new sophomore, and though the transition was not nearly as difficult as I though it would be, in retrospect there was plenty I could have done to further ease it. Most of my sophomore year I was a bit shy, and held back a little, not really taking the opportunities and chances that flitted by. Not until my Junior and senior year did I begin to join clubs, and sign up for community leadership positions. Once I started taking opportunities, my enjoyment of the school and overall interest in extracurriculars exploded. I wish I could go back and tell myself to sign up for practically everything and put my name in different applications for summer grant programs and leadership positions sooner. I would tell new students to do just that, keep an open mind, push yourself beyond your comfort zone, try new things, and make the most of every opportunity. If you start doing so later you will lose much of what the school offers and what you yourself can gain from the experience.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
In the end, Deerfield students are really what make the campus come alive. Though Deerfield is on the smaller side when compared to many other Prep schools, it's easy to meet someone new almost every week. Deerfield students are all also very driven, intelligent, talented people. Classes are dynamic, with overwhelming participation from everyone. What separates Deerfield from many other schools though, is that in spite of this driven behavior, there is not a strong, competitive, get-the-best-grades pressure. People do not talk about much grades and scores. In fact, many aprÃ¨s class conversations involve a continuation of the in-class discussions and debates, rather than how terrible or well you did on the last quiz. So instead of being pressured to be better than everyone else, students feel the pressure of being the best THEY can be. The Deerfield student body is also very diverse. On one hall my sophomore year, of the 13 students living there, 8 of them were from different countries across the world, and only 2 shared the same state. On the whole, this diversity in the student body allows for a wide range of perspectives. Someone from Kenya will probably have a very different view of skiing than someone from Vermont.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
For visiting students I would highly recommend a few things. First, if you are hungry, visit the Greer Cafe and order a Grilled CC, which is a homemade chocolate chip muffin fried up in butter. When they serve it to you, the chocolate is gooey and warm, and you can slather a bit more butter on it to make it just that much more tasty. When on campus, make sure you visit the Squash courts, because they have an incredible view of the athletic fields and the Pocumtuck Valley. If you have some extra time, wander through either the Hess Center for the Arts (if you are more of an "artsy" person) or the Koch Building (if you are more of a STEM person). The Hess center always has a professional art exhibit on display, as well as many amazing student pieces. You can also hear people practicing their instruments any time of day. The Koch has a multitude of student research project posters posted inside, many of which are very interesting to read. If you are there during the school day you will also probably see many of the science classes and lab experiments in progress. Finally, when deciding where to live at Deerfield, I would recommend living in John-Williams dorm. Though not the nicest dorm on campus, (in fact it's the oldest) it has a certain "homey" cozy feel to it. Additionally, its location at the exact center of campus makes it an ideal place to live if you are in any way lazy about walking, which I think many students tend to be.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Academics at Deerfield are tough, no doubt about that, but the system makes it easy for students to attend classes best suited to them. Students are encouraged to push themselves beyond the comfort zone and take classes they wouldn't normally have taken. For me, it was English class. Coming into Deerfield, English class was a 45-minute period filled with apathy and misery. After leaving Deerfield, I am considering acquiring an English Minor. Many of Deerfield's humanity classes use the Harkness class method, a round-table student based discussion. Due to the small classes, no more than 11 or 12 in an English class, and literal round-table where no one can hide, everyone in the class is forced to participate. Added to that is a group of enthusiastic students and a teacher who knows how to keep a discussion going (though as I progressed through my years at Deerfield I noticed that the teacher talked less and less, and the students more and more). This type of discussion allows for a wide range of perspectives, as it not the teacher that spoon-feeds a prompt, but the students who come up with their own ideas and topics. Overall the Deerfield English class provides a diverse, easy-to-talk-in, exciting environment for all kinds students, even a STEM junkie like myself
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Cocurricular activities, as they are called at Deerfield, are mandatory each term. Most students on campus are a part of a least one varsity athletic team. However, it is very easy, and often encouraged, to try new sports. Additionally, students cannot be cut out of a sport because cocurriculars are mandatory, (they will be placed on a JV or 3rds team). Athletics provide another way to make long lasting friends and meet more peers from different grades. Nearly all teams hold pre-season trips to get some early preparation for the season and encourage team bonding. These trips range from arriving to campus a week early, to a trip to Spain. Overall, all competitive sports are taken seriously at Deerfield, whether you're on Varsity or "4ths". At the same time coaches aware that sports are an effective way to get away from and relieve stress from the difficult academics. Coaches make sure athletes are having fun, and will often change practice every once in a while just to switch things up. All athletic teams are also obligated to perform some form of community service during the course of the season. Services range from tidying up a local preschool, to lending a hand at a food kitchen.
Art, Music, and Theatre:
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
Deerfield finished renovating a brand new arts facility in 2014. The building provides a place for everyone, and every aspect of art, music, and theatre one could think of. In the two years I was privileged enough to spend with the building, I still found my self finding new places that I hadn't known existed, such as a full recording studio with editing software for multiple students. Music plays a huge role at Deerfield. The majority of students are involved in some sort of musical group: from the classical strings ensemble to jazz band, from the student run Ukulele and Bongos orchestra, to the classic all male and all female exclusive a cappella groups. One cannot walk the full length of campus without hearing someone singing or playing the guitar. All music and art teachers are extremely talented individuals who love music and have seemingly boundless experience. The theatre program is also very important on campus. Musicals are held every other year, and there is some form of play each term. Even if students do not get the part they try out form, they still have the option to work on the tech crew building the set and lighting, and helping manage the productions. Students also have the options to work on individual art forms in lieu of athletics for cocurriculars.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Deerfield has just about every club imaginable, and if perchance the club you want does not exist yet, starting a club is as easy as emailing the dean of students to make it official and receiving necessary funding. For example, Deerfield had a robotics club, but some friends and I decided we wanted to do something a little different: underwater robotics. In a little under a week we the funds and 10 other students interested in joining. In addition to cocurriculars, clubs provide another way to meet new people and get away from the stress of academics. Most students are a part of a least one club, and every club is always looking to add students to their ranks. Some examples of existing clubs include the Ukulele and Bongo orchestra, all diversity clubs such as the International students alliance, and Native American student alliance, food club, soul cycling.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Dorm life is integral to the Deerfield experience. Students begin their time at Deerfield in the freshman village, 2 large dorms (one for girls one for boys) with a one massive common area in between, and an open quad area out front. Freshmen are usually in doubles and sometimes triples. However, if conflict arises, students can usually be switched to another room fairly easily. The first year experience provides an easy way to make friends quickly, and encourages class bonding. After freshmen year all students are guaranteed single rooms unless they specifically request otherwise. Underclassmen halls all have one or two senior proctors. These proctors go through training to that help them be able to diffuse difficult situations that can arise in dorms, as well as provide an effective outlet for mentorship and companionship for the younger students who may not be used to being far from home. Proctorship is a coveted position on campus, and always sought after by many seniors. Proctors and dorm residents (all dorms have some sort of faculty member who lives in a connected private living space) provide one to two "feeds," or late night snacks, per week. Dorm selection is on a raffle system. Students that request doubles or triples have a much higher chance of getting the dorm they request.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Deerfield dining is amazing. Of course every once in a while you will just want a Chipotle burrito or some Chinese food, but 95% of the time the Deerfield dining hall will fill your appetite. The dining hall provides a full salad bar with everything you could possibly want on a salad, a fully armed bagel and cereal station, and vegetarian/vegan/gluten free, or any other dietary restriction meal substitutes at every meal. All weekday lunches, with the exception of Wednesdays, which are half-school days due to athletic events, are all school "sit-down" meals. The meals have assigned seating, which are specifically created so that students find themselves with peers that they do not have classes or sports with, and a faculty member. Each table rotation last about 4 weeks, and also includes one student as a 1st waiter who sets the table and brings the food, and a 2nd waiter who clears the food and table. All Sundays as well as Fall and Spring Tuesday and Thursday dinners are all sit down meals. All other meals are buffet style come-and-go during specified a two-hour block. The dining crew prides itself on using all fresh local ingredients, as well as diversifying meals, which all ending up tasting good one way or another. Deerfield also has two cafes with exceptional snacks.
Social and Town Life:
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Deerfield is located in a pretty rural part of western Massachusetts. During the spring you will definitely smell the sweet stench of manure wafting across campus with the early morning mist. The nearest town is Greenfield, which provides just about everything you could want in a town: movie theater, supermarkets, and various delicious restaurants. With Deerfield you get a bunch of rural, but also just enough urban. You can spend hours exploring the various trails behind the athletic fields, hiking up to the nearby "rock" which provides a fantastic view of the Pocumtuck Valley, or taking one of the many buses going into Greenfield or perhaps Northampton (a bigger town, but a bit further away) to eat at some of the delicious restaurants.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Deerfield encompasses a good work hard, play hard style of life. Mondays through Thursdays are usually a bit of a grind to get work done and manage your time effectively between classes, cocurriculars, homework, and sleep. However during Fridays and Saturdays everyone unwinds. There are usually weekly dances, which the vast majority of students attend, and every once in a while there are themed dances, such as Disco and hoedown, where everyone wears comical costumes. There is also an annual semi-formal dance after Thanksgiving break, which offers an interesting, swing-dance, bring-a-date style dance that awakens the hopeless romantic and jovial dancer in everyone. Friday and Saturday nights also offer a good time to interact with people all across campus who congregate in the Greer cafe to grab a sweet snack, talk, listen to tunes on the 80s juke box, or watch a sports game on any one of the numerous flat-screen TVs. Finally Sundays offer a slow paced end-of-the-week relaxing day. Students can usually be found all across campus, in classrooms or in the library doing homework, or outside enjoying the nice weather. Overall, though Deerfield is very academically rigorous, there is still plenty of time to socialize with all people all over campus and fill you're free time with fun activities.
Wake up, eat reakfast
Class Periods 1-3, 45 minutes each with 5 minutes passing time
Class Periods 4-7
Class day over, get ready for cocurriculars
Study and work
Wake up, eat brunch
Go to cocurricular activity if have match, if not go watch home game
Go to friend's dorms, relax socialize
Grab snacks and converse at Greer cafe
Dorm check-in, talk with friends, relax
Alumni Reviews Review School
Deerfield Academy Alumni #1
Class of 2020
Class of 2020
One unique aspect of living in the Pioneer Valley is all the outdoor activities that come along with it. Whether it be biking, hiking to the rock, running the small loop, or swimming in the. . .
Deerfield Academy Alumni #2
Class of 2019
Class of 2019
Deerfield is smaller than many other boarding schools in New England, leading to a very tight-knit community. Each student gets to know people in every grade level very well. The tradition of sit-down meals help. . .
Deerfield Academy Alumni #3
Class of 2018
Class of 2018
Deerfield has a very student-centered learning environment that encourages students to learn to ask for help and use all the resources available to them. Deerfield also has “feeds,” when the hall associate on duty for a. . .
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