This fall, the Co-curricular Committee granted 32 students exemptions from participating in sports, dance, theater, community service, or yearbook. Twenty-one of those students had art exemptions, while 11 pursued other passions.
After completing his own film during the exemption, Dane Scott ’16 stated, “There’s no disadvantage to pursuing what you love and are passionate about.” He added, “Getting exemptions allows you to do something that’s completely ‘you.’…I’ve grown so much as an artist because I use my time in the same way I’d use it outside of school, or in life.”
Coco Spagna ’16 and Derek Alvarez ’17 completed photography exemptions. Spagna compiled photos of athletic leaders in the Deerfield community, while Alvarez created analog prints of summer expeditions around America.
Spagna explained, “Having a photography exemption was a great way to de-stress my senior fall.” However, she also noted that she found herself increasingly lonely on afternoons. “On Wednesdays and Saturdays, if I didn’t go [to games], I would hardly see anyone in the dorm,” she said.
Alvarez’s exemption allowed him to take on a time-consuming project, since it takes about eight hours to make a single quality print. He said, “For me, the hardest part was not having the collaboration of a team sport. At first, I thought working alone would allow me to focus, but I got really bored some days.”
Lucy Beimfohr ’17, who worked on a watercolor landscape, nude sketches, a photography collage, and a self-portrait, explained, “You aren’t getting assigned projects, and you aren’t being graded, which is really liberating.” However, she acknowledged, “At times, I found it difficult to motivate myself without deadlines,” because “It’s really tempting to just procrastinate without a lot of direction.”
Several other students worked outside of the arts. Alex Kaminsky ’17 and Kent Yamamoto ’16 had robotics exemptions. Kaminsky, with the help of Markus Feng ’17, worked on programming a robot for a spring competition, because he “was more passionate about robotics than any fall sport the school offered.”
Kaminsky does not see “any disadvantage to having an exemption… other than that it limits the number of interactions you might have with your peers.”
Yamamoto used his time after school to further prepare for the robotics season and plan, with Mr. Bakker, the meetings for the night. “I told myself that because this is my last year participating in DA robotics – and since I created the original team four years ago – I wanted to put in 150% and win everything this year,” Yamamoto said.
Lucas Tupinamba ’16 used his exemption to expand Deerfield Foods, a student-run hunger relief non-profit. Over the summer, he worked with students at Middlebury College and Deerfield alumni Conor Kennedy ’14 and Gordon Xiang ’15, and earned federal non-profit status for the organization in October.
This fall, Tupinamba began to work on the state papers so that Deerfield Foods can become involved with SNAP, the government’s food stamp program. He also invested time in social media platforms, accounting, and the introduction of new marketing strategies. Tupinamba was drawn to this exemption by its positive impact: “We help real families with a serious issue that afflicts millions of Americans,” Tupinamba said. “When 14% of Americans are food insecure, and I can do something to help change that, I’d personally take that over sports any day.”
Tupinamba added, “I believe that there are many ways to make a positive impact in any community. Perhaps by playing sports and hosting sporting events student-athletes’ performances binds the student body together and harnesses our Deerfield school spirit. Others focus on the arts, broadening our creative horizons and stimulate thought. Personally, out of all the possible opportunities for positive impact here at Deerfield, Deerfield Foods has been the most rewarding.”