Deerfield Academy commencement: Change and tradition

  • Madeleine Beaubien signs her name among other 2019 Deerfield Academy graduates at commencement Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/MELINA BOURDEAU

  • Bailey Cheetham receives the Deerfield Cup, which is given to a graduating senior recognized for an exemplary attitude, artistry in the classroom and sportsmanship. STAFF PHOTO/MELINA BOURDEAU

  • Deerfield Academy graduate Colin Olson, hugs Head of School Margarita O’Byrne Curtis as he receives the Robert Crow Award during the graduation ceremony on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/MELINA BOURDEAU

  • Deerfield Academy graduate Howard Cal checks his hair with his phone as a boutonniere is pinned onto his suit Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/MELINA BOURDEAU

  • Before graduation, Deerfield Academy underclassmen took photos with the graduating seniors like Stephanie Martinez, Nicholas Ortega, Xochitl Paez and Valentina Ochoa.  STAFF PHOTO/MELINA BOURDEAU

  • Deerfield Academy graduation speaker and alumnus Dehdan Miller spoke about the changes at the school since he attended in 1989. STAFF PHOTO/MELINA BOURDEAU

Staff writer
Published: 5/27/2019 10:24:08 AM

DEERFIELD — “Some things should change, some things should not, and knowing which is which makes all the difference,” said Dehdan Miller, former deputy director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and graduation speaker at Deerfield Academy.

Miller, an alumnus of the school, spoke about change and tradition to the graduates of 2019 as well as faculty, staff and family.

He noted two changes from when he was a member of the class of 1989. The first: half the graduates are now women.

“I can unequivocally state my opinion that men should spend more time listening to women and women should spend more time listening to and trusting themselves,” Miller said. “I had the opportunity to go to the academy with a phenomenal bunch of dudes, I love them and always will. But I spent the last decade, working primarily with women.”

The second change Miller noticed: the phones and technology the students possess.

“Bill and Melinda Gates are optimists about technology and they always say that technology is only a tool,” Miller said. “The tool itself has no morality, the morality belongs to the person who is using it. What we should not be worried about is the existence of the hammer but whether we use it to attack our neighbor or build houses for the poor.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is the ability to care.

Miller touched on change because the ceremony not only marked a transition for the graduates, it also was the last graduation for Head of School Margarita O’Byrne Curtis because she is retiring.

While Miller remarked on change, graduate Cameron Peterson Heard spoke about living in the present and being worthy.

“I believe I find the most worthiness now, right here, today, in the presence of you all,” Peterson Heard said.

She spoke about a neurology class and asking the teacher about “the coolest lab he ever worked in.” The teacher replied, “This one.”

“It took me a while to digest, but after ruminating I think I really understand what he meant,” she said. “As I figure I don’t have much footing to speak on the future and not enough information to speak on all our intertwined pasts, I can speak here and now on our present.”

She reminded the crowd about how fleeting the present can be and recommended taking a moment to enjoy it.

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