Choate Week: Seven days full of bacon cookouts, dining hall battle cries, bonfires, and school spirit, ending, of course, with a day of intense rivalry games. What would Deerfield be without it? Unfortunately, this is something that the Deerfield community had to figure out for the first time this fall.
With this year’s COVID-19 restrictions, Choate Week had to be sacrificed in order to bring students back on campus. Although this undoubtedly impacted the spirit and morale of the Deerfield community, students and faculty have stepped up to maintain what makes Deerfield their home.
Many felt the loss of such a big tradition. Rosa Sun ’21, co-captain of the Varsity Volleyball team said, “The dress-up days did make the week more fun than usual, but absolutely nothing comes close to actually expecting a Choate Day, and having that Choate-Day-Eve bonfire.”
Even with all of the restrictions in place, however, the school was still able to offer a lot for the fall season.
Athletic Director Bob Howe added, “In September we didn’t know if we could play other schools, scrimmage amongst ourselves, or allow any type of team play. There hasn’t been one week this entire year that was an exact replica of the week before.”
Associate Dean of Students Kevin Kelly credited many staff and faculty members for achieving a safe fall term. He said, “A giant compliment needs to be acknowledged to Dr. Benson and his entire staff in the Health Center, along with Mr. Howe and his staff as they created a model that was extremely successful!”
Students were also able to appreciate the fall athletics, including Sun, who said, “I think we were all grateful that, despite all the restrictions, we were allowed to hold green and white scrimmages throughout the season.”
Although it wasn’t quite a typical Choate Day, Talbot von Stade ’21, co-captain of the Varsity Field Hockey team, still enjoyed the games.
“The final Choate Saturday felt like a very normal Deerfield weekend and made me reminisce on the past athletic game days when students are all out watching each other,” she said. She explained that she felt there was a very “bright energy” around campus.
The absence of interscholastic games, in general, had a large impact on many sports, mainly affecting the dynamics of typically intense teams. Sun and Evan Burkert ’21, co-captains of the Varsity Volleyball team, both felt that the year allowed for more growth and team bonding.
Sun said, “I felt that without real games, the team had a season that wasn’t as intense and was focused more on team bonding.” Burkert added, “I think the social role of a captain was more significant in light of the COVID shifts.”
After a particularly tough Choate Week for her team, which included a Dewey quarantine, Sun was able to maintain a positive attitude. She shared, “I thought about what our previous captain Georgia Quesnelle ’19 had said — ‘control the controllable’ — and felt that nothing was more fitting than that.”
The fall season was definitely something to adjust to, but there seems to be a consensus that students made the most out of it. Mr. Kelly said, “The level of team unity and enthusiasm was very noticeable, which is a tremendous complement to both coaches and our team captains.”
Spoken like a true cheerleader, Burkert urged students to “Cheer loudly, embrace school spirit, be rowdy, and beat Choate for the Class of 2021, who didn’t get that final chance.” She added, “Each moment is one that we should be grateful for, so continue to learn, grow, adapt, be competitive, and be proud to be wearing a Deerfield jersey.”Looking forward to the coming seasons, Mr. Howe concluded, “Knowing what I now know our Deerfield students are capable of……I expect we’ll make the most of whatever comes our way.”