Dear Dr. Austin,
Thank you very much for taking the time to write to the Deerfield community, particularly the seniors. I greatly appreciated your two requests: welcome the new students and stay true to yourselves. I write on behalf of the senior class to share some advice and guidelines as you begin your very first year at the Academy.
Coming to a new school is hard. I can only imagine how hard it must be when everyone is looking to you for direction. I do know that, from the dozens of candidates considered for your position at Deerfield, our administration thought that you would be the best choice to protect our traditions, maintain our values, and lead us in becoming an even more inclusive and diverse school. We are excited that you bring in a fresh perspective and hope that you use your time at King’s and St. Andrew’s to implement new traditions. No matter what decision you make, have faith in yourself; we all believe in you.
I believe that the greatest challenge that we face is the lack of dialogue around the world and at Deerfield. During your time here, I would appreciate if you listen to both sides of the argument — not just to listen, but to understand. No matter how different your initial biases may be, please understand that what is as important as physical diversity is the diversity of thought. No one’s opinion is correct, but everyone deserves to, at the very least, be heard.
Carpe diem. Seize the day. I ask that you not only act as our head of school, but also as a member of our community. Seize your Deerfield days, Dr. Austin, just like you’ve done already. Go to the games. Cheer on the students. Sing at the top of your lungs before school meetings. Join students at the Riv. Join us in not only building a better school but a better community.
Last spring, when the graduation tents rose, many of the seniors shared the same phrase with me: “I’ll miss Deerfield, but I’ll miss the people the most.” It is not for nothing that many alumni share these exact sentiments. What makes Deerfield Deerfield is not the flashy new athletic complex, the academic dress, or its myriad traditions— it’s the people. It is the staff, faculty, and students who have defined and will continue to define what this institution is.
I understand how overwhelming it must be to be introduced to around 900 people, including students, staff and faculty. However, I hope that you make it one of your priorities to get to know everyone’s names. These are the people that make Deerfield worthy — not the other way around. It means a lot for students to hear the Head of School address them by name. They immediately feel a personal connection; they feel like they belong here; they feel at home.
Dr. Austin, guide us in being worthy.
Jae Won Moon