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Telling Stories Across Campus
Helen Mak '20 Staff Writer
October 17, 2019

“Stories are for joining the past to the future,” said writer Tim O’Brien in his book The Things They Carried. “Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are.”

We tell stories everyday. Whether sharing homework in class, talking about your favorite meal during sit down, or hanging out with your hallmates in your dorm, sharing stories is an integral part of Deerfield life.

What O’Brien claims to be the power of stories — that they can join the past and future — holds true to those moments in Deerfield life when you share an aspect of your identity beyond Deerfield. Whether you are sharing your background, special memories, or even funny anecdotes, people relate to stories.

The Deerfield Stories program creates the opportunity for any member of the community to share a story with the rest of the school.

The program started in 2015 as a response to interest in sharing senior meditations to a larger audience. A handful of English teachers believed that this expansion would allow the community to connect with each other more and encourage individuals to share their experiences and ideas.

“One thing that distinguishes [the program] is that the stories are not gathered in any publication,” English Teacher and Head of the Deerfield Stories program Andy Stallings remarked.“To hear them, you must be present at school meeting. In that sense, they are oral literature.”

In regards to the significance of this program, Stallings continued, “By hearing stories which we might not otherwise hear, we learn more about what the stories are, and thus what the lives are, that make up our community.”

Credit: Natasha Leong

By sharing a story, anyone can enhance the dialogue of the Deerfield community. This prompts people to have more productive, respectful conversations. Good stories can change perspectives, give good reminders, or lift people’s moods.

English Teacher Anna Steim-Miller, who also helps run the Deerfield Stories program, said, “Sharing a story is an act of courage and of vulnerability, and… this act is contagious — the more we hear others’ stories, the more we are inspired to be vulnerable ourselves.”

Stallings elaborated, “People often mention Meditations such as those of Duncan McKay ‘17 and Miles Menafee ‘17, which revealed at greater depth the struggles that those two students undertook in order to become the members of the community that they were by the time they graduated.”

Steim-Miller and Stallings agree that the most memorable stories are ones that have a powerful voice rather than just good writing.

Last spring, Nikita Pelletier ‘20 shared a Deerfield Story about her delineated thoughts during a long car ride, an aspect similar to O’ Brien’s storytelling.

Pelletier said, “When we choose to tell a story, we choose the worst and best aspects of them, which allows us to keep at least part of the truth and the spirit alive.”

If any community member is interested in sharing a story during school meeting, they should contact Mr. Stallings. Slots are given on a first-come, first-served basis (except for seniors, who are given preference).

Besides this opportunity to share a story aloud, there are many other ways to share stories in Deerfield: The Scroll allows anyone to write an op-ed in their Opinions section, Albany Road shares stories through the visual arts and literature, Little Brown House Review publishes student works from English class, and everyday interactions with your peers.

Go on and share.