I will never forget the moment – the dorm seemingly holding one breath in unison as we clicked on the email: An Update from Dr. Austin. Almost immediately afterwards, cheers erupted from every corner of the dorm as doors opened and students celebrated. The rumored, anticipated, legendary Head of School Day was here. That night, plans began to form: catching up on sleep after multiple sleep-deprived days, walks to Richardson’s, dancing at the Greer, and finishing work ahead of time.
I will never also forget the conclusion of the last academic year, when the crowd erupted in cheers as Dr. Austin celebrated a record four Head of School Days. From there, rumors began to spread for next year: would we have a Head of School Day every term? Only in one term? Or would there be two Head of School Days throughout the school year? Or, perhaps, would those two HOS days happen only in the winter? Questions and mystery enveloped the revered day as students departed for summer break.
The rumors have only intensified since then. This fall, my peers, especially seniors, held their breaths as speculation surrounding Head of School Day intensified. We dreamt of sleep, of rest, of an opportunity to catch our breaths. Yet, as the end of study halls and sit-down dinners passed with regularity, we came to realize the reality of the situation – there would be no Head of School Day. Disillusioned, many scoured calendars, making predictions for the next possible day.
Certainly, it is understandable to believe that HOS day is a trivial issue. After all, it is simply just a day and represents less time for classes to meet. Yet, for students, the day has truly become a valuable and treasured opportunity to unwind. Indeed, the need for such a day is unfortunately both real and present. As Heidi Nam wrote in her Op-Ed “We Need More Sleep”, published in the previous issue of the Scroll, many students struggle due to certain “uncontrollable contributors to sleep deprivation, such as homework load and student support.” Within the same vein, in this issue, our Board Editorial on Health Center communication similarly details the difficulties many students face with academic stress and ‘mental health days’.
Most definitely, Deerfield is intended to challenge students to explore outside of their comfort zones, to encourage time and stress management skills, and to foster an enriching academic environment. Yet, within these lessons, students have also learned the value of taking breaks, of cultivating balance between differing commitments. From learning the fundamentals of Chinese grammar to graphing a difficult equation, learning often occurs through observation of examples. With HOS days, a valuable opportunity thus arises for the community to affirm the validity and value in unwinding, in recuperation.
Winter is soon approaching, and as the previous Scroll Board argues in their November editorial “Winter is Coming,” stress will most likely also unfortunately be a companion. Yet, amidst the snow, I hope there may be valuable opportunities for pause and reflection.
Tony He 何程林