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It’s Time to Step Up, 2021
Mark Chung '21
April 11, 2020

When I first came to Deerfield, I never thought I’d see myself as a leader. My reserved, quiet personality, I thought, would never be able to take on the roles I saw around campus; proctorship, alliance boards, and club leadership all seemed to require some form of natural skill, as well as a massive amount of time and effort.

Fast forward three years, and we are all now in the same position as our former proctors, alliance leaders, and captains. With our final year at Deerfield looming ahead of us, it’s hard not to think about what the next few months have in store. 

Normally, these next few weeks would be a time for us juniors to reflect on our time here and prepare to take on the responsibility as the new leaders on campus. Normally, this is an opportunity for us to connect with the senior class, learning from them the skills necessary to take on these roles. But, evidently, this year is anything but normal. 

With the world coming to a halt, it may seem natural for us to slow down and step back from the work we are given and the responsibilities we are expected to embrace. While this may seem inconsequential at this point, these next few weeks are as important to our class as it has been to any other year. Regardless of the current circumstances, the next time we step foot on campus will be as seniors, and now is the time for us to step up.

Junior spring is one of the most formative times for a student throughout their Deerfield career. This term is our first glimpse at the college process, one of the first times many of us truly begin to think about our plans beyond campus. It is also a time for us, as a class, to expand our service to our community as we take on the challenge of representing Deerfield as a whole. However, current circumstances have not only changed how we approach our classes, but also how we tackle the challenge of hosting club meetings, interviews, and service opportunities from the distance of our screens. Many aspects of campus have changed, and now we don’t know what to expect. 

With the world approaching the rest of 2020 blindly, we are instinctively beginning to neglect the structure we were meant to build for the coming year. The unpredictability of the past few months has led to many taking on an “it is what it is” approach, embracing the fact that what happens around us at this point is uncontrollable. A class of juniors stuck at home can’t change the fate of a global pandemic, but what we can change is how it affects our final months together on campus.

As a freshman, I always looked up to the senior class as a role model for the rest of us. They incentivized me to engage with the traditions I have come to embrace in the past three years and pushed me to uphold Deerfield’s values whenever I was able to. As seniors, this is now our responsibility, and we must take up this role in order to ensure a smooth transition back to campus.

Despite the numerous barriers placed between all of us, our current circumstances have given us the rare opportunity to bring our initiative beyond campus. Such service is already evident — the numerous groups and fundraisers led by Deerfield juniors have not only continued to spur our class’ creativity and drive, but have also allowed us to spread positivity to those back home. With our current conditions requiring us to expand our viewpoints and the ways we can serve our communities, we might be inclined to let this momentum go as we return this fall. I ask that we remind ourselves that this is not a one-time responsibility. As much as what is happening right now seems out of our hands, the responsibilities we have taken on beyond what we find comfortable is the same drive we require as we return to Deerfield as the new senior class. Don’t let the experiences you have in the next few months go simply because you feel as though you won’t need them anymore. Find ways to transfer the determination our class has exemplified.

It’s time to step up, 2021.