March last year, I ran home from school to see my mom standing in the kitchen holding up a letter whose first word was “congratulations!”
I jumped up and down in excitement. Ever since I could talk, I had wanted to go to Deerfield. My dad, Pres Romeyn ’81, often told me of his experience, which inspired me to come.
However, now that my freshman year is almost over, I realize that the Deerfield I know is quite different from the Deerfield my father told me about.
The largest difference is, of course, girls. Deerfield returned to co-education in the early nineties, so my dad was here with all boys. Without girls, Deerfield tolerated much more “kooky” and wild behavior. One winter, for example, the health center ordered all boys to wear long socks to protect their feet from the cold, as many of the students weren’t wearing any socks.
The day after this announcement, my dad and his twin brother showed up to class with long socks that went up to their thighs, but they weren’t wearing any pants. Their first period science teacher, Mr. Milne, just laughed, and the two went about their day without any pants on. They didn’t receive any punishments either!
Dorm life was also very different thirty years ago. My dad told me stories about pranks he and his friends pulled on each other in the dorm and how wildly they acted. Since Deerfield tolerated a different range of behaviors, the students were quite rambunctious in the dorm. One of my father’s proctors had a long, wooden stick called the “proctor stick.” He would chase his proctees around the dorm, banging on walls and doors.
Another difference I didn’t consider between my father’s Deerfield and mine is that times have simply changed. The dorms my dad lived in, Plunkett and Wells, were both taken down in the late eighties and early nineties.
Even the ways students at Deerfield have fun has changed. My dad recalled that he and his friends typically played around outside, played stick ball and football, and had snowball fights with his friends. They never watched movies on Hulu or played X-box and chatted on Facebook. English teacher Frank Henry ’69 simply said, “We didn’t have computers and cell phones back then; we had type writers… so we spent most of our time playing racket ball against the back of the memorial building… and playing stick ball.”
The school has obviously changed since 1981. However, it still affects the lives of everyone who lived and went to school here.
“Deerfield changed my life and the way I view the world,” said my dad, “as it does to everyone who is a part of the community.”
We learned to live on our own. We cleaned our rooms (hopefully!), prepared our laundry every Monday morning, and made sure to get to meals and classes on time.
Deerfield has pushed us in the classroom and in athletics. Deerfield is, as we all know, an academically and athletically rigorous school. Most students here were top student-athletes in their previous school. Naturally, in a community where all the best students and athletes are brought together, most of us aren’t at the top as we used to be. This makes us work a little harder and makes us push ourselves, even if we don’t realize it. It happens naturally.
Finally, most freshmen have tried things that they’ve never done before. For example, I tried crew this spring, and it has worked out incredibly well. I built a house over March break with Mrs. Cabral and the Cambiando Vidas program. I never would have guessed I’d build a house in my high school career!
Of course, there are still those who remain in the Deerfield community since the time of my father: Mr. and Mrs. Morsman, Mrs. Lyons and Mr. Dickinson, Jim Antone, Norman Therien, the Bonannos, Mr. Henry, the Moorheads, and many, many more. Some of Deerfield’s greatest traditions are still alive today, such as Choate Day, swimming in the Deerfield River, and competitions between dorms.
My Deerfield experience has been a lot different from my father’s. However, as we, the freshmen, become sophomores, we will love Deerfield just as my father did and become even more rooted in the community. Deerfield will change us for the better, no matter how different it may be from 1981.