Deerfield Academy class of 2020 sees opportunities

  • The Deerfield Cup is awarded to a graduating senior every year. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/10/2020 3:45:25 PM

DEERFIELD — At the beginning of the school year, Deerfield Academy Head of School John Austin wrote a letter to his senior class with a request.

Austin, a longtime school administrator who had just started his new job at Deerfield, told the seniors he expected a somewhat challenging year as he got to know the school; so please help by setting a good example for the lower classmen.

At the commencement of the class of 2020, streamed online this Sunday, Austin reflected on just how different the year had been than expected, and how well the graduating class had risen to the challenge.

"You started out strong, you finished stronger," he said.

All the commencement speakers noted the year had been unusual. But all also saw that the year's challenges had been chances to learn, too.

The keynote speaker was Hannah Pittard, a member of the class of 1997, and now a novelist and the director of the creative writing graduate program at the University of Kentucky.

She likened the uncertain future the class of 2020 faces to her outlook when she graduated college, in 2001, the year of Sept. 11. Then, like now, it was clear that changes would come, and the people who seemed to be in charge — parents, teachers, politicians — didn't have any answers.

"But that doesn't mean there aren't answers," she said. "It just means that we need you, the class of 2020, to help us see the world in new and different ways.

"Now isn't the time to be cynical," she went on. "Now is the time to be open to new ideas, to be capable of being surprised ... and to use that surprise and wonderment and openness as a way to generate new ideas, new possibilities, new expectations."

Kareena Bhakta, one of the two student speakers, praised her class for continuing in its vision for its senior year by creatively adapting to the challenges of this spring.

"Watching the talent that we have in our grade has been one of my biggest honors," she said.

Nicholas James Fluty, the second student speaker, said that he and his classmates should learn that the future is unpredictable, and to not take opportunities for granted.

"So don't be afraid to take a risk, because you might not have another chance," he said.

Local graduates

Ashfield — Jacob Meier; Conway — Grace Mazur; Deerfield — Logan Armes, Erin Howe, Claire Ott, Lukas Trelease; Gill — Jacqueline Morrissey; Greenfield — Raegan Hickey, Michael Salaby; Leverett — Jackson Rother; South Deerfeld — Renee Ballou, Quinn Downie, Matthew Gardner, Kathryn Hickey, Kathryn Hioe, Jack O’Neil, Joseph Mollo; Sunderland — Carsten Carey, Arayana Carr‑Mal; Wendell — Maya Laur, Samuel Laur.


The Deerfield Cup, Samara Renee Cummings of New York, N.Y.; The Robert B. Crow Award, Ethan Chen of Carson City, Nev.; Award for Excellence in the Study of French, Robert McGlynn Award, Lynn Gordon Bailey Award in Theater, Lukas Trelease of Deerfield; J. Clement Schuler Band Award, Michael Shalaby of Greenfield.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-930-4231.

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