June Student of the Month: Eamon Deffner ’20
June’s Student of the Month makes others shine brighter. He is simply drawn to lift schoolmates’ voices and celebrate their successes. When he walks into a classroom, with his big paper lunch bag, it is not uncommon to hear him engaging a classmate from across the room. “Good job in your basketball game, Kiana! When did you know you had it?” or “Hey, Jason, are you excited for your meet on Saturday?” In fact, he probably would rather we not be shining the spotlight on him right now, but Eamon Deffner has been such a strong citizen of his classes and of Thetford Academy as whole, while producing high levels of scholarship day after day, that the junior team simply could not bypass the young man with the “GEEK” socks and homemade juice.
Dubbed “Wild Kyle” by his cross-country team as a sophomore, Eamon, as we all know, has spoken boldly against Power Hour—almost since Day One of its existence. In class, too, he does not shy away from putting forth his opinions. However, when someone dissents, pointing to evidence, he is the first to say, “Yep, good point. Good point.”
Madame Heinzmann has noted that in French classes over the last few semesters, Eamon builds community wherever he goes: “His leadership and generosity in making sure all of his classmates are included continue to inspire me, even more so than his mastery of relative pronouns and the subjunctive—or his starring role as the ‘petit’ Tom Brady in his group’s French video! What I love about his approach to the course and being a member of the class, is that he thinks about the things that matter to him (basketball playoffs, gun control…) and gets everyone involved in the conversation—all in French.” Part of what fuels Eamon’s impressive French skills is that he never lets fear of making a mistake interfere with an opportunity to say what he thinks or to ask a question.
Indeed, Eamon’s willingness to take risks and accept feedback is part of what makes him so coachable in class and in athletics. For it is when we push ourselves out of our comfort zones that we grow. Eamon embraces challenges and critiques whether in the margins of an essay draft or when co-identifying strategies and goals for a cross-country race.
His World History teacher, Kelly Welsh, reports that Eamon was a leader in class discussion this year, and that for his research paper, he wrote a sophisticated and creative analysis of America’s relationship with communism. “His curiosity and love of learning make him a joy to teach.”
Kelly added that Eamon is unabashedly proud of our school. “His panther pride was on full display at this year’s Mr. TA Pageant, when he combined several of his great loves: lyrics about the beautiful TA steeple, a Bill Withers’ medley, and the joy of singing loudly and off-key, much to the delight of the packed theater. In doing so, he brightened the evening and helped to raise thousands of dollars to support high school education in Rwanda.” Indeed, a big part of who Eamon is is his strong sense of morality and commitment to justice.
Being playful is also a big part of who he is. As Derek Burkins put it, “From organizing daily morning Round the World recycle-bin basketball tournaments, to DJ-ing study sessions in physics class, to starting a slow-clap cheer whenever anyone, anywhere, needs a slow-clap cheer, there are few students who embody the concept of “School Spirit” more than Eamon Deffner. He’ll personally find you and call you out if you are not cheering loud enough at a school sporting event, play, or musical performance. His mind is sharp, his socks are tall, and his lunch bag (covered in basketball stats, nominees for Student of the Year, and general announcements) is eclipsed in size only by his heart.”
*Photo art and editing by Malcolm Quinn Silver-Van Meter
*Original photo by Dan Grossman