“What I love most about Deerfield is the school spirit — it feels like home.” This is what tour guides often tell prospective families when they tour Deerfield. There is no doubt that Deerfield fosters a family-like environment through shared experiences: hikes to the rock, sit-down dinners, and Choate week, to name a few. However, should a place that one calls home be abandoned as soon as the weekend comes? Unusually, many students have been leaving campus weekend after weekend with, bringing into question their willingness to buy into the community
The Board acknowledges that there can be circumstances that require that you leave campus: mental health issues, college visits, pursuits of excellence. These are legitimate reasons. But what about when people are leaving for less important reasons?
Statistics from the Student Life Office show that most of the signouts are for reasons other than those mentioned above. The weekend before Parents’ Weekend, 96 students left campus. Six students left for college visits, and another six left for pursuits of excellence. These statistics show that 84 students left Deerfield campus for other, unknown reasons .
This data also seems pretty consistent based on the number of signouts on the weekend of Oct. 4, 2019. That weekend, 84 students were signed out. This means that, consistently, about 10% of the student body is leaving Deerfield on a weekly basis.
This is not a good sign for two main reasons: not all students have the privilege of leaving Deerfield and this pattern makes Deerfield into a means to an end, a place to collect accomplishments rather than a community to participate in. The Scroll Board encourages all students to reconsider what Deerfield truly means to them. Is Deerfield simply a week day job that you can abandon when the weekend comes? Why did you come to a boarding school if you leave every weekend?
Second, many students are unable to leave. For instance, international students, or any student who is not from the Northeast, do not have an option to leave campus during the weekends. Going home to Chicago, Atlanta, California, Texas, or abroad simply isn’t possible.
One of the greatest selling points about Deerfield is that it truly feels like home. We ask that people remember that not all of the students here can leave on the weekends. Leaving on the weekends is a privilege — one that should be used mindfully and sparingly.
Weekend events such as the Denunzio Disco and the Semi-Formal dance are packed with excitement and anticipation. The Student Life Office puts in many hours organizing these events. However, these are not the only opportunities that are available throughout the school year to socialize with your friends. There are events that are thoughtfully planned every weekend that don’t get as much attention from students, such as the haunted house or cookies-and-canvas.
It is these smaller events that can come to define your Deerfield experience. We have found that the best of times are often times you never thought you would have. By leaving campus because you are not expecting to have a good time over the weekend, you are missing out on the unexpected. You are missing out on the last minute hikes to the rock at sunset, the impromptu dance parties in the Greer, the late night movies in the dorm. You are missing out on those unique friendships, those little moments. When you leave on the weekends, you are missing out on making Deerfield your home.
Seniors, we don’t have much time left at Deerfield. Much to everyone’s surprise and amidst the stress of college applications, senior year goes by very quickly. The Board would like to remind all of the students to fill their time here with memories of weekends spent with friends in this beautiful place that we call home. Whether it be cheering your friends at sports events, binge-watching movies on Netflix, hanging at the Greer, or playing pick up in the gym. This is our last year that we have together Let’s make sure we spend it here.
Deerfield is truly what you make of it. And this recent trend of students leaving every weekend suggests that Deerfield is not a home for some students.
The Board would like to invite all students to consider the place that Deerfield has in their heart. Next time you feel the urge to leave campus on a weekend, we ask that you simply take the time to consider whether or not it is something you truly need.