If you were to ask me what I miss the most about “normal” Deerfield life this year, it would be the thrill of sitting on a Green Machine with thirty other students to travel off-campus. Waking up on a Saturday when the sun is shining, gathering your friends, and giving the Greenfield Cab Company over thirty calls to try to grab a ride heading to Greenfield or Northampton, is a pursuit not for the meek of heart.
The early morning hikes to Supercuts after giving Mark Chung ’21 an arguably very professional haircut. The afternoons exploring every corner and thrift store in Northampton, only to stumble upon a store filled with old military outfits. The nights standing in the snow with shorts and a Levi’s denim jacket as I fought my way to go see Black Panther or making dumplings with my best friends at Gabriella Hu’s ’21 house. These too, are all memories that have stuck with me.
To many new Deerfield students, these possibilities may seem foreign, and maybe even unimaginable. The thought of leaving campus and seeing strangers seems so far from our current reality that it seems implausible to even think of the prospect of it once COVID-19 settles.
Consciously breaking through the walls of the “Deerfield Bubble” has made my experience here richer. The various towns of the Pioneer Valley have been home to some of my favorite off-campus memories.
First up, and the closest to Deerfield, is the town of Greenfield. After weeks of planning, only to have the secret broken unknowingly from a close friend that day, my friends planned a surprise birthday party for me at the pizza restaurant Magpie. This dinner was the first time I had ever sat with all my friends at one table. Unlike the round tables of the dining hall where I could only seat about eight classmates, our table at Magpie was filled with fifteen of my closest friends. By traveling off-campus, I was able to finally share a moment with all of the people that made my time at Deerfield so special.
Next up is Northampton. My favorite memory in Northampton was actually my first trip there. On a brisk day during Fall Family Weekend, I was comfortable with staying in the comfort of my room on campus. Little did I know that campus would be so silent, that you could hear a pin drop in the Greer.
But rather than waiting around for my friends to return, Rosa Sun ’21, Lily Steinwold ’21, and I decided to get on a Green Machine and head to Northampton. I stepped off the bus to be surrounded by an Urban Outfitters, a bubble tea shop, a vinyl and comic book store, and a colorful candy shop. My paradise. By leaving campus, I got to share that paradise with my friends.
Lastly, and the biggest hike from campus, is Amherst. At the beginning of my eleventh-grade year, I traveled to Amherst with Christina Li ’20, Soo Oh ’20, Sarah Jung ’20, and Mark. Together, we all ate at a Korean restaurant named Gohyang. Although the kimchi jjigae may not have been the most authentic, I enjoyed learning more about my friend’s culture and wouldn’t have been able to do so if I stayed on campus.
These are just a few of the off-campus memories that have made my time at Deerfield so special. Beyond the valley, I will always remember my trip to Spain with the CSGC and trying new restaurants in my hometown of New York City with Angela Osei-Ampadu ’21. But I hope you can all see that you do not need to take a nine-hour plane ride or three-hour drive to have worthwhile experiences off-campus.
In this Issue of the Scroll, I hope that we were able to share with you different ways the Deerfield community connects to other communities. From the Specials page, I hope you all got to reflect on Deerfield’s image off-campus. In “Featuring: the Renaissance Ensemble” and “Grading at Deerfield: Paving the Way for Open Conversations,” you can read how Deerfield’s programs and students’ interests compare to those of our peer schools. From “Deerfield Hockey’s Commitment to Sarah Duval’s Legacy,” Sophia Hamlen ’22 writes about how our sports teams continue their commitment to standing with teams off-campus.
When things return to normal, Deerfield, remember that it is okay to take a step off-campus. As boarding school students, we live where we work and those boundaries begin to blend. Each student should take these moments to enjoy their times together. Deerfield also has a commitment to teaching leaders who engage in their communities. When you leave campus, you will be reminded of these responsibilities Deerfield instills within each one of us.
As we leave for Spring Break, remember to go out of your comfort zone and experience new parts of your hometown. Then, when you return to campus, you will appreciate the normalcy all the more.
Work Hard, Be Kind, and Get Smart,