Deerfield Academy (also known as Deerfield or DA) is a highly
selective, independent, coeducational school in Deerfield,
Massachusetts for boarding and day students in grades 9-12 and
post-graduate (PG). Founded in 1797, it is one of the oldest secondary
schools in the United States. It is a four-year college-preparatory
school with approximately 650 students and about 125 faculty, all of
whom live on or near campus during the school year. Deerfield is
one of the most selective secondary schools in the country, with a
16.4% acceptance rate for the 2017-2018 school year. It is also
consistently ranked as one of the top independent schools in the
nation based on college matriculation, as nearly a fourth of every
graduating class ultimately attend an
Ivy League institute. Its
endowment is $532 million.
The Academy grants $9.8 million per year to 35% of its students,
meaning the average financial aid grant is $43,000 per year. The
student body hails from 38 U.S. states and 34 foreign countries, and
approximately 25% of the student body identifies as a student of
Deerfield Academy is a member of the
Eight Schools Association
Eight Schools Association (ESA),
begun informally in 1973–74 and formalized in 2006, and of the Ten
Schools Admissions Organization (TSAO), founded in 1956. The two
associations aim to promote cooperation among top
New England boarding
schools and meet regularly to discuss ways to improve. Additionally,
Deerfield is a member of the
Six Schools League
Six Schools League (SSL), which is an
athletic league composed of
New England prep schools aimed at
promoting healthy competition.
3 Co-curricular activities
4 Extracurricular activities
5.1 Hike to the Rock
5.2 Sit-down meals
5.3 Choate Day
5.4 Stepping-Up Bonfire
5.5 School Meeting
6.1 Academic facilities
6.2 Other facilities
6.3 Athletic facilities
6.3.1 Outdoor Facilities
6.3.2 Indoor Facilities
Deerfield Academy Press
8 Faculty sexual abuse and Deerfield's response
9 In books and popular culture
10 See also
12 Further reading
13 External links
Deerfield Academy was founded in 1797 when
Samuel Adams granted a charter to found a school in the town of
Deerfield. It began to educate students in 1799. The school was
prestigious, and graduates occupied many congressional and
gubernatorial seats in New England. By the end of the 19th century,
industrialization had economically hurt Deerfield, which was rural.
The board of trustees was considering closing the Academy, as only
nine students remained.
In 1902 Deerfield appointed
Frank Boyden as headmaster. Boyden
reorganized the school financially and recruited students from
Greenwich and Darien. This criteria for acceptance has been upheld to
this day. Boyden also emphasized athletics as a component of
education, sometimes playing on varsity squads that lacked players.
Boyden retired in 1968.
David M. Pynchon was appointed headmaster after Boyden. He expanding
the curriculum, updating the school buildings, and expanded the
In 1989 the Academy reestablished coeducation, which Boyden had
discontinued in 1948. At the time male students had protested the
Eric Widmer '57 served as headmaster from 1994 to 2006. He stepped
down in June 2006 and soon after assumed the position of Founding
King's Academy in Madaba, Jordan, a school inspired in
part by HM King Abdullah II's Deerfield years in the 1980s.
It opened in the fall of 2007.
The current Head of School, Margarita Curtis, previously Dean of
Studies at Phillips Andover, is the first woman to hold the
Deerfield Academy follows a trimester system, in which the school year
is divided into three academic grading periods. Deerfield students
take a full liberal arts curriculum, including English, history,
foreign language, mathematics, laboratory science, visual and
performing arts, and philosophy and religion. However, required
courses are kept at a minimum to allow students to take more courses
in the subjects that interest them most.
Most courses last the entire year, whereas others can last for one to
two terms. The required course load is five graded courses per term,
but students may petition the Academic Dean to take a sixth graded
course if desired. There are no Saturday classes, and classes are
held from Monday to Friday, typically from 8:30 am to 3:05 pm. On
Wednesdays, classes end at 12:45 pm to accommodate athletic events, as
well as to provide more time for clubs and community service.
Deerfield does not rank students. Academic work is graded on a scale
where the minimum passing grade is 60 and the median grades are
between 85 and 90. A trimester average of 90.0 or above garners Honors
distinction, whereas a trimester average of 93.0 or above garners High
Well over a quarter of Deerfield students matriculate into the Ivy
League, MIT, and Stanford. The most-attended colleges from
2001-2016 were Yale, Georgetown, Dartmouth, UVA, and Harvard.
Old Deerfield Sycamore
Students are required to participate in a co-curricular activity each
trimester. Some options include competitive or intramural sports,
community service, dance, theatrical productions every term, yearbook,
and many more.
Deerfield athletic teams compete with boarding schools and other
private schools throughout New England. Deerfield is also a member of
New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).
Swimming and Diving
Track and Field
Around 2010 Deerfield Academy's lacrosse program had success, and was
a perennial contender, along with rival Salisbury School, for the New
England title. In 2009 Salisbury defeated Deerfield 7-6, resulting in
New England Championship title. In 2010 Salisbury defeated
Deerfield 9-6. Salisbury went on to win the
New England title.
However, in 2011 Deerfield beat Salisbury 11-7 in the penultimate game
of their season. Deerfield went on to beat Exeter in the last game of
their season, securing both an undefeated season and the New England
title. They secured the ranking of number one in the state of
Massachusetts, and a ranking of number three in the nation.
Deerfield's golf, men's water polo, and swimming teams are strong. In
2008 Deerfield held the
New England Prep School Championship title for
men's swimming, men's water polo, and golf.
In addition to required co-curricular activities, many students are
involved in at least one of the more than 50 student-run clubs or
Hike to the Rock
Each fall, the Head of School hikes with all the freshmen to the Rock,
which is a ridge overlooking the Pocumtuck Valley. Students return
many times to the Rock throughout their time at Deerfield, and a trip
to the Rock is one of many seniors' last activities.
Seven times a week, the entire Deerfield community gathers in the
Dining Hall for a family-style meal. Each round table consists of nine
students and one faculty member. After every Sunday night dinner, the
entire student body sings the Deerfield Evensong.
"Choate Day" occurs during the final weekend of the fall sports
season. Deerfield competes with Choate in every sport at both varsity
and sub-varsity levels. The tradition began in 1922 with an exchange
of letters between Deerfield head
Frank Boyden and Choate head George
St. John. Since then, busloads (in the early years, trainloads) of
students have made the 80-mile journey along the Connecticut River
valley to cheer their teams on the rival's campus.
In the days leading up to the event, rallies and activities are held
at both schools. And each campus is decorated in spirited banners and
signs to excite the students during the week leading up to the events.
At Choate the Boar Pen cheerleaders are selected and a fire-breathing
dragon is ignited. At Deerfield in the Main Auditorium, the
cheerleaders put on skits mocking their opponents, and there are
speeches given by Mr. Morsman, Captain Deerfield, the step team, and
the head cheerleaders. In the athletic building, the school seal is
encircled by students so that Choate athletes will not tread on it.
When events at the Auditorium end, the student body rushes to the
lower fields where a bonfire, topped by a burning C, awaits it.
Captain Deerfield, the varsity captains, and the cheerleaders rile up
the student body with Deerfield cheers and chants.
The Stepping-Up Bonfire is an event that takes place during the night
of Commencement day, after the graduating senior class has departed
from campus. Students gather on the Lower Fields and celebrate the
coming year in a bonfire. This event is also the place of the debut of
the new Captain Deerfield and an opportunity for the Junior
Cheerleaders to take the lead. The bonfire has been followed up by a
dance for the rising seniors.
Every Wednesday morning, the entire student body and faculty gather in
the Hess Auditorium. Students sit by year, and after each class shouts
its own cheer, students sing the Deerfield fight song. School Meetings
contain announcements, student performances, and invited speakers.
The Arms Building houses the English and Philosophy and Religion
departments. It was designed by Charles Platt in 1933 and donated by
Jennie Maria Arms Sheldon.
The Boyden Library is a three-story library that originally opened in
1968 and was named in honor of former headmaster Frank L. Boyden and
his wife Helen Childs Boyden. The library was renovated in 2015.
After renovations, the Boyden Library now houses the College Advising
Office, as well as the Academic Dean's Office. The library
also houses the Center for Service and Global Citizenship (CSGC).
It also contains an open Innovation Lab, which allows students to
construct objects of their own design.
The Hess Center for the Arts was renovated in 2014 and contains
facilities for the visual and performing arts. The Hess Center
contains the Hess Auditorium (often called the "Large Aud"), where
weekly School Meetings are held. There are two galleries, the von
Auersperg Gallery and the Hilson Gallery, which both exhibit student,
faculty, and outside artwork. The orchestral and choral groups perform
every trimester in the Elizabeth Wachsman Concert Hall. The Reid Black
Box Theater is home to the theater program's productions.
The Kendall Classroom Building houses the Language Department. It
contains a language lab and a 160-seat auditorium (often called the
"Small Aud") and is where the school newspaper and yearbook are
The Koch Center houses the Math Department, Science Department, and
Computer Science Department, as well as the Information Technology
Services and Communications offices. The Koch Center contains a
planetarium and the Garonzik Auditorium, which contains 225 seats. The
Koch center also includes an astronomy viewing terrace and the Louis
The Main School Building was completed in 1931 and initially served as
the classroom building for the entire school. The Main School Building
houses the Admission and Financial Aid Office, and prospective
students wait in the Caswell Library. After renovations in the
1980s, the building houses the History Department, as well as
The Hitchcock House is the Academy bookstore.
The Dining Hall is where Deerfield hosts its traditional sit-down
The Dewey Health Center is staffed 24/7 and contains a 10-bed
inpatient facility as well as counseling services.
The Physical Plant
The Shipping and Receiving Office
Fair Family Field is a turf field.
Headmaster's Field is a baseball field.
Jamie Kapteyn Field
Jim Smith Field is used by the varsity football team in the fall and
boys varsity lacrosse team in the spring.
Lower Level & South Division Field comprise 90 acres of athletic
fields. They are home to boys varsity soccer, JV soccer, and field
hockey teams in the fall and JV lacrosse in the spring.
Rowland Family Field is used for varsity field hockey.
There are 21 tennis courts.
The track is an eight-lane 10 mm full pour track surface with two
synthetic turf fields.
The David H. Koch Natatorium holds an eight-lane pool and separate
The Dewey Squash Courts house 10 international squash courts
The East & West Gyms house 3 basketball courts and are used by the
varsity and JV volleyball teams in the fall and JV basketball teams in
The Fitness Center contains cardiovascular and weight machines, as
well as free weights.
The Ice Rink is used by the varsity and JV hockey teams.
The Kravis Room is used for wrestling.
Deerfield has 16 dormitories: Barton, Bewkes, DeNunzio, Dewey, Field,
Harold Smith, John Louis, John Williams, Johnson-Doubleday,
Louis-Marx, Mather, McAlister, Pocumtuck, Rosenwald-Shumway, Scaife,
and New Dorm. Every dorm is single-sex, and a faculty resident lives
on each hall. Juniors and seniors live together in the same dorms,
whereas sophomores live in their own dorms. Since 2015, all 100
incoming ninth-graders have been housed together in the Ninth-Grade
Village, which consists of two single-sex dormitories connected by a
large common room.
Deerfield Academy Press
Deerfield Academy Press was founded in May 1997 with the
publication of Deerfield 1797-1997: A Pictorial History of the
Academy, the first written history of the school. The press also
provides an outlet for student writings in English, history, and
foreign languages.
Main article: List of Deerfield alumni
Faculty sexual abuse and Deerfield's response
In 2004 an alumnus revealed to Deerfield's then headmaster Eric Widmer
that he had been sexually abused in the Winter of 1983 by faculty
member Peter Hindle. Widmer responded sympathetically but did not
press for details. The school was aware a parent previously raised
concerns about Hindle in the 1980s, and had responded with written and
verbal warnings. Nearly a decade later in 2012 the alumnus raised
the matter again, this time with headmaster Margarita Curtis, who he
says "displayed clear moral authority and offered unconditional
support from the start."
An investigation by the school's lawyers confirmed the allegations and
uncovered more: In late March 2013 the school published information
that two former faculty members had engaged in multiple sexual
contacts with students: Peter Hindle who taught at the school from
1956 to his 2000 retirement, and Bryce Lambert who retired in 1990 and
had died in 2007. The school stripped Hindle's name from
an endowed mathematics teaching chair and a school squash court, and
barred him from campus events. A subsequent criminal
investigation by the District Attorney's office revealed that at least
four teachers, three deceased and one still alive, had engaged in
sexual conduct considered "criminal in nature" with students extending
back into the 1950s. Their deaths, and the statute of limitations,
precluded pursuing criminal charges.
Deerfield spokesman David Thiel said “I think you saw from us an
amount of transparency when this came to light that was unusual, and I
hope that sets a good example for institutions and helps to assure
that students are safer everywhere.”
In books and popular culture
In the book The
Headmaster (1966), author
John McPhee reviews the life
and work of Deerfield's most famous, formative headmaster, Frank
Boyden, last of the "magnanimous despots who... created enduring
schools through their own individual energies, maintained them under
their own absolute rules, and left them forever imprinted with their
own personalities.” McPhee spent a year at Deerfield as a
John Gunther's book Death Be Not Proud (1949) discusses the long
struggle of his son John Gunther Jr. (called "Johnny") a Deerfield
student, against a deadly brain tumor. The ovation Deerfield students
gave the boy as he managed to walk the church aisle to receive the
diploma he had earned despite the ravages of the disease is a
powerful—and heartbreaking—scene. The book was later made into
the 1975 movie Death Be Not Proud, starring Robbie Benson as Johnny
Deerfield alumnus and later
Horace Mann School
Horace Mann School history teacher Andrew
Trees wrote a satiric novel titled Academy X (2007), a tale of
corrupt "transcript primping" set in an unnamed prep school. After
publication of the novel Horace Mann declined to renew Mr. Trees'
teaching contract. The resulting controversy over academic freedom was
reported in a
New York Times
New York Times article, "Private School, Public
Heads of Deerfield Academy
List of notable Deerfield alumni
^ George Adams (1853). "Education in Massachusetts: Incorporated
Massachusetts Register. Boston: Printed by Damrell and
^ "2016-2017 School Profile" (PDF).
Deerfield Academy Website.
Deerfield Academy. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
Deerfield Academy Website. Deerfield Academy. Retrieved
April 29, 2017.
^ anon. "Private School Search". Handbook of Private Schools.
Retrieved 3 June 2013.
^ a b c d "Fast Facts". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
^ "Boarding Schools with the Largest Endowments (2016-2017)".
www.boardingschoolreview.com. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
^ "The Deerfield Experience". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved
^ "Boyden, Deerfield
Headmaster 66 Years, Will Retire in June" (PDF).
Fulton History. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
^ a b c d "School History". Archived from the original on 2007-12-15.
^ McPhee, John. "The Headmaster". Archived from the original on
2001-01-09. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
^ Gold, Allan R. (1988-02-01). "Deerfield Journal; 'Deerfield Boy' Is
Wary Of Life After Girls". The New York Times. Retrieved
^ Quinn, Laura. "When Prep School Goes Coed Following The Lead Of Many
Other Private Schools, Lawrenceville Finally Broke With Tradition To
Admit Girls Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.."
Philadelphia Inquirer. March 20, 1988. Retrieved on July 3, 2014.
"When the boys at Deerfield Academy, the prestigious Massachusetts
prep school, stormed out of their cafeteria several weeks ago to
protest the school's decision to admit girls for the first time, there
were young men at the
Lawrenceville School here who grumbled in
^ "Great Expectations". 2006. Archived from the original on January
24, 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
^ "U.S.-style boarding school planting roots in Jordan". 2006.
Archived from the original on March 13, 2006. Retrieved
^ "Deerfield Appoints Andover Dean as First Woman Head".
thenews.choate.edu. January 27, 2006. Archived from the original on
2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
^ "Graduation Requirements". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved
^ "Petition to Take a Sixth Graded Course". Deerfield Academy.
^ "Class Schedule". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
^ "Grading and Assessments". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved
^ "School Profile" (PDF).
^ Alford-Hamburg, Grace, "Deerfield Day, A History of Rivalry and
Tradition," The News, November 11, 2011; James Chung, "Choate Day,"
The Deerfield Scroll, November 7, 2012
^ "Arms Building". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
^ "Boyden Library". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
^ "College Advising Departments Deerfield Academy". deerfield.edu.
^ "Academic Dean Departments Deerfield Academy". deerfield.edu.
^ "Center for Service and Global Citizenship Departments Deerfield
Academy". deerfield.edu. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
^ "Innovation Lab Departments Deerfield Academy". deerfield.edu.
^ "The Hess Center for the Arts". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved
^ "Classroom Building". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
^ "Koch Center". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
^ "Admission and Financial Aid Departments Deerfield Academy".
deerfield.edu. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
^ "Main School Building". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved
^ "Health Center Departments Deerfield Academy". deerfield.edu.
^ "Athletics Facilities". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved
^ "Dormitories". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
^ "Ninth-Grade Village". Deerfield Academy. Retrieved
^ a b c d Sheppard, Whit. "What Happened at Deerfield". Boston Globe
Magazine. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
^ a b Bidgood, Jess (April 2, 2013). "Ex-Students Recall Deerfield
Teachers Accused of Abuse". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20,
^ a b Fox, Jeremy (March 31, 2013). "
Deerfield Academy finds teacher
misconduct". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
^ Boston.com Staff (August 21, 2015). "The recent history of New
England prep school sex scandals". Boston.com. Retrieved August 23,
^ a b Molloy, Tim (August 18, 2015). "DA can't charge prep school
teacher who 'partially' admitted relationship -
Massachusetts news -
Boston.com". Boston.com. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
^ McPhee, John (1966). The Headmaster. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
p. 7. ISBN 0374514968.
^ McPhee, John (1 September 1992). The Headmaster: Frank L. Boyden of
Deerfield. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
^ Gunther, John (1949). Death Be Not Proud. Harper Collins.
^ "Reading Guide". Gunther, John: Death Be Not Proud. Harper Collins.
n.d. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
^ Trees, Andrew (2007). Academy X. Bloomsbury USA.
^ a b Salkin, Allen (November 18, 2007). "Private School, Public
Fuss". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
Cooke, Brian P.
Frank Boyden of Deerfield: The Vision and Politics of
an Educational Idealist. Lanham, Md.: Madison Books (1994)
Cookson, Peter W. Preparing For Power: America's Elite Boarding
Schools (1985) (ISBN 0-465-06268-7)
Massachusetts Board of Education; George A. Walton (1877), "Report on
Academies: Deerfield Academy", Annual Report...1875-76, Boston – via
McLachlan, James. American Boarding Schools A Historical Study (1970)
McPhee, John. The Headmaster: Frank L. Boyden (1966)
Moorhead, Andrea D. and Moorhead, Robert K. Deerfield, 1797-1997: A
Pictorial History of the Academy (1997) (ISBN 0-9632800-1-5)
Deerfield Academy website
Eight Schools Association
Choate Rosemary Hall
Northfield Mount Hermon
Phillips Academy Andover
Phillips Exeter Academy
St. Paul's School
Ten Schools Admissions Organization
Choate Rosemary Hall
The Hill School
Loomis Chaffee School
Phillips Academy Andover
Phillips Exeter Academy
St. Paul's School
Coordinates: 42°32′47.19″N 72°36′19.06″W /
42.5464417°N 72.6052944°W / 42.54