This year, Deerfield faculty and students are making an effort to ensure new sophomores are able to adjust into their grade smoothly and easily. By establishing new policies, the administration is directly addressing the difficulties many new sophomores face fitting into a class that has already formed close bonds.
In the past, Green Keys to new sophomores were all juniors but a new policy this year allowed new sophomores to be paired with returning sophomores. Deerfield’s Rising Scholar Program, where a percentage of incoming 9th-graders are given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the school a week in advance, also accepted new 10th graders this year. And, in perhaps the largest change, a new policy mandated that new sophomores will no longer live in Harold Smith (HS) due to its small size.
Helen Mak ’20, who was a new sophomore last year, said she is glad they have enacted this policy in HS. She believes, “It shouldn’t be a dorm at all as it’s way too small […] you’re just so physically away from the rest of your grade.”
Through changes like these, Mak believes that the administration is making significant improvements and addressing the needs of new students, partly in response to a survey that the entire Class of 2020 received regarding what Deerfield could do to ensure all new sophomores were comfortable.
Another fundamental change was made this year. Over this past summer, all sophomores received an email inviting them to join the 10th-Grade Integration Committee. The Committee is a new creation, designed to bring the current sophomore class together. Composed of 30 students thus far, anyone can join by simply emailing Ms. Melvoin and showing interest. As of now, they have planned several social events this year, such as the Sophomore Olympics and the Ice-Cream and Ice-Skating socials.
Ninth- and Tenth-Grade Dean Rebecca Melvoin said that she came up with the idea during spring of 2017 and sent an email to all sophomores regarding the Committee to gauge interest.
She said, “About 30 students said they wanted to join the group, which was overwhelmingly positive and blew me away.” The positive response to this initiative points towards the impact that this Committee hopes to enact on campus.
Chijioke Achebe ’21, 10th Grade Student Council Representative and member of the Committee, said he believes the events the Committee holds are crucial “if we really want each class to be cohesive … which is the goal the school is working towards.”
Even though the Committee is dedicated to improving every new sophomores’ experience, some believe it has fallen short of their goal.
Caroline Mahony ’21, a current new sophomore, said, “The events were a little effective, but … it would be better to have a little more structure to force people to talk to people they wouldn’t talk to otherwise.” Other students appear to share the sentiment.
Daniel Kang ’21 said, “It might be good to hold a more specific event with a more specific activity.”
Although some students have criticized the Committee’s events, the Deerfield administration, and community as a whole, is undeniably working hard to aid the assimilation of new students into the Deerfield environment.
As Mak put it, “The problem is lack of open-mindedness, and people are only improving and becoming more aware.”