This piece is a modified version of Post-Graduate Fitz Bowen’s statement at the student culture forum.
Coming from a public high school that had a student body over seven times the size of Deerfield’s, it took me a long time to adjust to this lifestyle, but I really like it. I was asked to talk about a few things I would like to see improved in this school, so here they are:
The consequences for making mistakes are far too extreme. In my opinion, it is in people’s teenage years when they are supposed to experiment to find what works for them and what doesn’t. Good kids sometimes make bad decisions.
I feel like suspensions and expulsions happen regularly here, which is very different from what happened in my old school. Frank Boyden was quoted in John McPhee’s, The Headmaster:
“For one foolish mistake, a boy should not have a stamp put on him that will be with him for the rest of his life…There is no flexibility in a system like that.”
I know that all situations are different, but I think students would learn a lot more from being punished with community service hours than a suspension from school.
The boy-girl relationships at Deerfield are also pretty different from what I’m used to. Some of my greatest memories from the past four years have been when I was hanging around watching TV with a few guys and girls.
Here, I feel there are three options on a weekend night: Go to the Greer which is packed with over two hundred kids, get parietals with your significant other, or stay in the dorm and watch a movie with some guys.
I wish it were more socially acceptable here to have group parietals, because from experience I’ve seen that some of the best conversations happen in those small group, co-ed situations.
I have noticed on a few separate occasions that there have been articles published in the Deerfield Scroll that upset a good portion of the community. Just as an example: the socioeconomic class newspaper that came out last week.
We all know that there are privileged kids at this school. However, no matter what kind of background people come from, they all have control over the way they act around others. What we should focus on is eliminating any feelings of entitlement in the community, because that is what creates divides.
I think in the first week of school, there should be a time when every single student in the school introduces themselves and shakes hands with every other student, staff, and faculty member. This idea may be overboard, but the more familiar we are with people on campus, the easier it will be to eliminate divides.
Now on to the things I love about Deerfield: I love that I get to do my own thing. It’s nice not being told to put on more layers by my mom every time I leave the dorm.
Secondly, I love the sense of community here. From the feeds within the dorms to school meeting to Sunday night singing after dinner, I feel I am a part of something.
Lastly, I like going to sports events. The school spirit here is unmatched.
Every night when lying in bed, I ask myself a simple question: “Today was I the best person I could possibly be?” Some days I say yes and some days I say no.
Since September, there have been various times when I’ve given up my values in order to fit in with a certain group of people and as a result, there have been nights when the answer to my question before bed was “no.” But I learn from those times and move on.
I am sure that, with a little bit of self-evaluation, our community will come together more so than it ever has in the past.