“Work Hard, Be Kind, Get Smart.”
As my number of remaining nights spent in the basement of the Kendall dwindle down, I find it important to explain to you the importance of this motto. Based on a slogan created by the Charter School E.L. Haynes in Washington DC, my father has said these words to me every day since I started kindergarten. Since then this motto has become a source of drive and encouragement for me.
Placed in every corner of our community, from notebooks to all-school emails to guiding words of proctors, the motto “Be Worthy of Your Heritage” has been a similar source of guidance for Deerfield students.
In my first article for the Scroll, I found this vague and ambiguous motto to be a sign of the lack of progress our community had yet to make. Deerfield emphasizes their progressive mission statement and yet advertises our school as one where we recognize our “Heritage.” I explained why it was not appropriate for our community to default upon tradition and the infamous quote “Well, this is how things have always been done” to justify outdated relics of the past.
But in my last year, I have come to realize the true power of “being worthy of your heritage.” For some students, heritage can represent their family name, their country of origin, or maybe, even, the words passed down from previous generations and loved ones.
But what does this heritage mean in the context of Deerfield’s history as a historically white male institution reluctant to address instances of racism and homophobia, located in a town once inhabited by enslaved people who have yet to be memorialized, and still grappling with the implications of a delayed transition to co-education?
To diminish its negative connotation, I hope that as a community we can all begin our time at Deerfield defining our own heritage. Make this motto personal to yourself and to your past. Give them a meaning that will drive you and your goals.
I hope you all can identify a motto, phrase, or even a word that has shaped you into the person you are today. As a community, it is important that we can all define and name what we are being worthy of. Each day, I hope that you all…
Work Hard, Be Kind, Get Smart,