All of us have role models. We all know someone on campus who we can look up to, who leads by example and sets the standard that others strive to achieve.
In Head of School Dr. John Austin’s letter addressing the class of 2020, he wrote, “Schools like Deerfield rely on their seniors… because you have prominence, visibility, and influence—put simply, you have a power that other students do not possess.” Reading these words empowered the senior class. We came into this year knowing that we possessed a certain power, one which gave us a sense of place and authority, the likes of which we had never known before. But this power is not intrinsic. This power is a result of the trust that the student body places in the senior class. It is manifested in every small action, every ounce of respect. Put simply, we do not have this power unless the underclassmen grant it to us.
Through the beginning of this year, however, we’ve noticed that some underclassmen seem unwilling to follow tradition. Members of the senior class have seen underclassmen dancing across senior grass, walking ahead of the seniors in school meeting, and sitting at the senior table in the Greer. While these traditions may seem insignificant, they were an integral part of our own experiences as underclassmen. We were once the ones who avoided senior grass like the plague and ate breakfast in the North bubble of the dining hall. We waited, because waiting makes it worth it. We can only hope that, when it comes to your senior year, you find the same satisfaction in doing these things for the first time.
We want to become leaders. We want to possess the power that Dr. Austin so eloquently articulated in his letter. We want to be your role models, but you have to let us. Value your proctors. Look up to your captains. Listen to the class of 2020 when they offer you sincere and constructive advice. We’ve all been where you are standing now. Respect and value the senior class because, one day, when you yourselves become seniors, you will want that same respect.
To the great class of 2020: this is our year and this is our time. We only get one shot at senior year — let’s try not to blow it. Let’s make this year the year. Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, King of Jordan, said it himself: “My senior year at Deerfield was undoubtedly one of the greatest years of my life.” It is up to us to make his words ring true.
We are calling for the underclassmen to respect our leadership. But, before they can respect us as leaders, we have to first be leaders. Regardless of whether we have a titled position, every single one of us has the responsibility of being a leader on this campus. We need to start acting like ones. Just as showing respect is manifested in small actions, leading is an accumulation of little things. If we want the underclassman to buy in, we cannot be sitting down during cheerleader tryouts. If we want the underclassmen to listen to us, we have to first greet them on the paths. If we want the underclassmen to let us lead, we have to lead by example.
Seniors, lead the way.