For one academic term, during a free period once a week, every sophomore at Deerfield participates in the Deerfield Academy Perspectives Program (DAPP). Students are assigned to departments such as ITS, Admissions, and Shipping and Receiving to help staff complete their daily tasks.
However, a survey conducted on 25 random members of the current sophomore class revealed that only about 30% of students understand the acronym “DAPP” and the purpose of the program.
According to Science Teacher and former Dean of Students Mr. Toby Emerson, who is in charge of the the program, DAPP started seven years ago with the intention of showing students “that there are people on campus other than their teachers who are responsible for their well-being…[and] that there are tasks to be accomplished every day…the carrots don’t get cut themselves…and packages don’t get delivered without people doing those jobs.”
Assistant Director of Food Services Mr. Brad Woodward believes that the program is also meant to “create a sense of empathy” among students. The program shows students “what we do during our day to help you,” added ITS Help Desk Coordinator Ms. Jodi Walsh.
Among students, there are mixed perceptions regarding the effectiveness of DAPP. Nailah Barnes ’18 believes DAPP is a great way for students “to understand and appreciate all of the work that goes into making Deerfield the amazing school we call home.”
However, Connor Finemore ’18 said there are “more people skipping DAPP or complaining their way through it than gaining anything,” and added, “[It is] just an excuse for students to not wear class dress.”
Amanda Cui ’18 emphasized the importance of the program but noted that “[it] isn’t taken seriously at Deerfield, and most students regard it as a burden.”
Nonetheless, as Lynette Jiang ’18 explained, “Deerfield is a really big place, and it requires a lot of people to keep it running… it is really important to be grateful for that.”
Perhaps due to a lack of understanding or lack of incentive, some students’ DAPP attendance rates are low. As Ms. Walsh mentioned, “I’ve had some students that really love to come…and I’ve had some students where I’ve had hard times just getting them here. I feel like a lot of times it’s not taken very seriously, and it should be.”
Mr. Woodward noted that most DAPP participants are respectful but not necessarily eager. Mr. Emerson added that reports on students’ behavior range from “incredibly polite, kind, [and] courteous…to entitled [and] arrogant.”
Mr. Emerson believes that “you get out of it what you put into it…[if you] skip and avoid it and not engage, well then you lose out, and that’s a part of the Deerfield experience that you’ll never have.”
Additionally, Mr. Emerson feels that whether or not students show up for their DAPP is not about getting APs but is, instead, a “question of respect, courtesy and…commitment.”
Mr. Emerson mentioned that there are students who have established “incredibly strong, meaningful relationships” with staff members from DAPP . For example, according to Shipping and Receiving Clerk Tim Wondoloski, Shipping and Receiving is “the frontrunner of ‘most sought after DAPP assignment,’” as students typically enjoy getting to know the staff there.
Ms. Walsh believes that, for the staff, DAPP is “more about just getting to know the students.” Ultimately, DAPP encourages students to understand the work behind the scenes at DA and to build meaningful relationships with members of the community they don’t typically acquaint themselves with and, sometimes, even take for granted.