Academic Lens: Fresh Start

Posted by Scott Allenby

09/12/2017

After nearly two weeks of unofficial starts to the school year, the first day of classes has finally arrived. All 371 students are in classes (except Ocean Classroom students who depart a week from Friday), we’ve had our first assembly of the year, have met with advisories, held our first dorm meetings, and gathered with our athletics/afternoon activity groups for the first time. As we begin to settle into a rhythm this fall, we recognize the opportunity a new year provides to define ourselves both as individuals and as a community.

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Each day, we are forced to make thousands of decisions. Some small (ranch or italian dressing?), some far more significant. As we launch our students into a life of relative independence at boarding school, the number of decisions they make for themselves grows exponentially. When should I go to sleep? What should I eat for breakfast? When should I start my homework? Do I really need to go to extra help tonight?

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Navigating daily decisions takes practice; we know our new students are probably feeling pretty overwhelmed right now as they manage this first day of classes. These decisions become easier to make over time, and we want our students to know there is always support surrounding them. No decision ever needs to be made in a vacuum. To illustrate the vast support network available to our students, Head of School Mike Henriques invited all faculty and staff present to come down onto the stage. The visual was stunning.

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Growing into independence requires a strong sense of self. It is irrational to expect a school of adolescents to have this sense of self fully developed, that's is the whole purpose of adolescence after all. As the year progresses, we watch each of our Proctor students develop a powerful sense of agency. Over the coming weeks and months, identities will be discovered as layers of self are peeled back like an onion. For some, each new layer will be a completely new discovery. For others, the next layer will simply reaffirm passions and a relatively well established identity. 

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As individual identities evolve to strengthen the roots of our collective community, the learning environment we nurture in our classrooms, dormitories, advisories, and teams ensures our identities remain dynamic. Each year brings with it a fresh start, an opportunity to step into the new.  We take that step forward today with confidence.

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