9:43pm in the Scroll newsroom. I plug the final Wednesday score into InDesign and shut off the computer monitor. Josh flicks the lights off and yells back at me to close the door. I turn back and take one last look at the dark room before closing the door behind me.
7:30pm on the lower fields. The sun is beginning to set and the sky is painted with deep strokes of purple and orange. Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” blares out of the JBL speaker set on the bench as my friends’ silhouettes dance across the soccer field.
6:27am in the Field House because 5 minutes early is on time and on time is late. I greet Ronnie before taking my seat on the stationary bike set aside from the turf. Everyone lines up along the edge of the field and begins to stretch as the sun rises through the windows in front of us.
Deerfield, for me, is a collection of moments like these. It is not the grade on DAinfo or the record in a stat book. It took me nearly three years to realize this, and it takes many students until the last term of their career, but what I have come to learn is that Deerfield is more than a prep school.
Prep School— a private school that prepares students for college. Deerfield by its very nature is a prep school, but what gets misconstrued is what preparing students for college really means. Preparing us for college does not mean making us identical robots and slaves to the College Board. Preparing us for college does not even mean getting us into college. In my opinion, preparing students for college means giving us the tools that we will use to be successful after Deerfield.
When I think about the most important tools Deerfield has given to me to succeed, to be “prepared for college”. I think about the relationships I have made and the lessons I have learned. These are lessons that I was mainly blind to before the weight of college was taken off my shoulders, but these are also lessons that have had a far greater impact than any college commitment ever could.
Failure is inevitable, and I have certainly experienced my fair share during my Deerfield career, but failure is also formative. It is at my lowest points at Deerfield that I have grown the most because it is at my lowest points that I have developed resilience.
My failure is not going to stop after Deerfield, and my advisor never fails to remind me of this. He also reminds me that my failures at Deerfield are going to be more valuable than any single one of my successes.
Everyone at Deerfield works hard. But what gets lost in the grueling hours of hard work is what we are actually working for. When we are mindlessly cramming for AP exams or finishing a research paper at 3:00 in the morning, we are not working hard for ourselves, we are working hard for a result and not with the passion and genuineness that we could otherwise have. It is the passion I have seen others put into their work when they are not working towards the idolized goal of college that has taught me to work, not only hard, but genuinely.
I’ve also learned about the little things. It is easy to get caught up in your own life at such a fast-paced school like Deerfield, and trust me, I have. But when things slow down and I take time to appreciate the little things, they are no longer little things. Kindness and authenticity from others has far more impact in my life than any accolade or award. I have seen firsthand the impact of the little things in my own life, so I try everyday to make the same impact in others. Because, at the end of the day, the connections that I foster here will far outweigh any individual achievement.
Now, it would be hypocritical of me to say that I have not used Deerfield to get into the college of my choice, and I believe that every student should use the Academy for this purpose. However, I do not believe that it should be what dominates the Deerfield experience. When college is taken out of the picture and students spend their time doing things they feel passionate about, not only will they be happier, they will also leave Deerfield more prepared to face the world outside of the “Deerfield Bubble.”