From sit-down dinners to weekly school meetings, Deerfield celebrates many traditions. One of the biggest parts of being a Deerfield student is gathering in groups to sing.
In the days when Deerfield was an all-boys school, the pep band performed the Cheering Song at football games. After touchdowns, the band would play the song and the crowd would sing along. Now, the song is typically sung by individual teams on game days.
“On the lacrosse team we usually sing [the Cheering Song] on the bus ride back from games right when we pull into the school,” Olivia Jones ‘18 said. “Whether we are celebrating a win or mourning a loss it brings our team together.”
The student body also sings the Cheering Song at School Meeting, with piano accompaniment previously provided by the Director of Research, Innovation, and Outreach Peter Nilsson. Recently, Mr. Nilsson has reached out to Joshua Fang ’19 to continue this job.
“I can still remember the first time I played at school meeting,” Fang described. “When students realized there was somebody else at the piano and a buzz swept through the room. People began to sing with new energy.”
According to Mr. Nilsson, the Evensong has only been sung in its current fashion for the past five to six years.
Mr. Nilsson explained, “Students spontaneously and organically started singing arm in arm just last year.”
Another regular school event that used to occur every week was an all-school sing, during which the Deerfield boys would go to the Brick Church on Main Street to sing. They would sing hymns, the Evensong, and popular songs for an hour.
The all-school sing has since vanished almost entirely except for during Family Weekend. During this event, Math Teacher Marc Dancer performed another traditional song that the community might know of, but doesn’t sing regularly: the Deerfield Song. The lyrics to the Deerfield Song are printed on the cards provided in the Dining Hall during Sunday night dinners — directly opposite of those of the Evensong.
In regards to the significance of these traditions, Fang commented, “It’s something that links our community in the present moment. We put aside our differences, sway together, clap together, cheer together. Deerfield unites us — it’s what we all have in common.”
Fu observed, “Music, like sports, brings people together. We go out and support friends at their games. We unite together and cheer everyone on. Deerfield songs are essentially the same thing. We come together as a community and sing in unison. … Without it, Deerfield would be so different. It’s one of my favorite traditions.”
Reflecting on the impact that singing as a community brings, Mr. Nilsson stated, “I think the experience of singing together builds a sense of shared identity and there’s something about the act of singing itself that resonates with literally and figuratively within people.”