As last August came to an end, I watched friend after friend pack up and head off to college. I was there for each good-bye and was the last one still home as Labor Day passed by. I was excited to leave home but very uncertain. While my friends were on their way to less structure and a lot more freedom, I was headed to Deerfield for my fifth year of high school—to more structure than I had at home and many more rules than I was used to. I was convinced that I was going to use my “victory lap of high school” to better myself in any way I could. Yet I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. As cliché as it sounds, deciding to PG at Deerfield was the best decision I ever made. So here’s a note to the new PGs this year, so that they might get as much as they can out of their Deerfield experience.
In the first few weeks of school you’ll most definitely be confused by the traditions and customs. These are some things that I wish someone had told me at the start of fall last year:
1. The grass in front of the MSB (Main School Building) is Senior Grass. So you can walk on it, but don’t be surprised if fellow seniors yell at you before they realize you’re a new senior. (I learned this one on the first night.)
2. Put effort into the songs sung at School Meeting and Sunday sit- down dinner. It’s a lot more enjoyable when you know the words than when you’re aimlessly mouthing them.
3. Cheerleading at Deerfield is different than at most high schools. There is no tumbling, no pom-poms and no stunting. But there is more spirit and pride than I knew was possible. Go to cheerleading tryouts (in the first few weeks of school) and learn the school cheers so you can be more a part of games and pep rallies.
4. Prepare for friendliness. When you’re walking from class to class, most people will say hi or ask how you are. Look up, say hello and get to know the people around you.
The people at Deerfield are unlike anywhere else. From freshmen to seniors, from the deans and teachers to the staff, take the time to get to know people. If you walk through the MSB after lunch and grab candy from the administrative assistants and admissions officers, you can see they are definitely people worth knowing, and who appreciate company. Don’t feel caged by your “Post-Grad” title. Befriend students in every grade. Yes, you are a little bit older than other students, but don’t let that stop you from building friendships with freshmen, sophomores and juniors as well as your fellow seniors. One of the best friends I made at Deerfield was a junior girl on my hall whom I wouldn’t have gotten to know if I’d been worried about my age. Keep an open mind about others, and others will keep an open mind about you.
Attend improv meetings and get your hands sticky at the baking club. Go to the dance showcases and the school plays. Join clubs or be a tour guide. Do things spontaneously; get out of your comfort zone. Most importantly, go to the Rock and the River (you’ll soon know what these are) as many times as you possibly can. Appreciate the comfort of the campus and the valley. You might not believe this now, but you will greatly miss all of these things next year. I already do.
Simply put, the best way to get the most out of “getting your master’s in high school” is to become a part of Deerfield culture and the Deerfield community. Get involved in whatever way works for you and get to know the people who surround you. You only have a single year at this special place, and I am hoping each and every one of you makes the most out of it.