Over the eight week winter break, multiple construction projects took place including the assembly of an outdoor ice rink, the construction of a heated dining pavilion, and the renovation of campus buildings into day student dorms.
The outdoor ice rink located on the quad between the Koch Center and Harold Smith dormitory was officially opened to students on January 22. At the moment, students are only able to skate in the outdoor rink on weekends through reservations of thirty-minute time slots with their dorm squads, while usual hockey practices for the recreational, junior varsity girls, and junior varsity boys teams are hosted in the outdoor rink during co-curricular times on weekdays.
“The goal of constructing the outdoor ice rink was to bring a sense of joy and festivity to what might otherwise be a bleak winter,” said Assistant Head for Student Life and Language Teacher Amie Creagh. With open rink times available throughout the weekend, students have been able to experience first-hand whether Ms. Creagh’s testament that the ice rink has brought together the Deerfield community and added joy during these particularly challenging days rings true.
Carson Belaire ’23 said, “The rink is a place to hang out and relax with your friends. It provides extra space for the hockey team to practice but also allows those who don’t skate to experience the sport.”
Deerfield also built a heated dining pavilion – colloquially referred to as Hogwarts Hall – in order to revive its treasured tradition of sit-down lunches while also adhering to the de-densifying principle amidst COVID-19. The pavilion extends out from the main entrance of the dining hall.
Presently, four to eight students sit at each table, with each chair placed six feet apart. The waiting system has also been greatly altered compared to previous years in compliance with the community health guidelines.
Despite restrictions on meeting people outside of one’s hall squad, the upgraded system of eating at long vertical tables eliminated the need for plexiglass dividers used on dining tables in the fall. This change allowed for more natural conversations as the dividers previously hindered students from hearing conversation clearly.
“In previous years, sit-down meals have always been a way to come together as a community and get to know teachers and fellow students that you otherwise might not have met at Deerfield,” said Katrina Csaky ’21. “Given the COVID restrictions, I think Deerfield has done a great job trying to recreate this experience.” However, she added, “the table’s composition of, in my experience, students only in your hall, makes it difficult to forge new connections that last year’s model allowed.”
Hoping to maintain a safer “bubble”, Deerfield also mandated that day students reside on campus if they wanted to attend classes in person. To facilitate the onboarding, Deerfield renovated the Hitchcock House, Ephraim Williams House, and Williams House to accommodate “boarding-day students” on campus.
Describing the challenges of making these renovations, Director of Facilities Jeffrey Galli explained, “We needed to find a new home and move the bookstore. Advancement Office staff needed to pick up personal items and all remaining office items from the Ephraim Williams House needed to be packed and moved to storage. Facilities also needed to find new office space around campus, pack and move before any of the construction work could proceed. Another challenge was finding new dorm room furniture.”
In addition to the three major construction projects, Mr. Galli said, “Modifications to the Parker room were made; including creating new openings in existing walls, removal of cabinets, and dining hall equipment to allow for social distancing lines as well as some modification to the main Dining Hall service.”
With the new additions to campus, Deerfield hopes to bring more delight and ease into students’ grooves despite these peculiar times. Already, the community is taking advantage of these new additions as the second half of the winter term is underway.