It’s an early snow year this year, one of the earliest I can recall. While we are used to the New England vagaries of weather, the November cold and snow caught many by surprise, and it’s a bit of a delight to be honest. Who doesn’t like a good storm, the trees covered, the plows rumbling by on Route 11? But sometimes I think we are hardwired for slower changes, more gradual transition when the night temperatures gradually dip and the first snows come with the brush strokes of flurries. Why? Because that seems more the nature of life’s temporal changes; they rarely happen in a rush. But we will roll with this early winter and transition to skiing, basketball, and the ice rink and the new vibe. And we like it.
Perhaps our greatest asset as a human race lies in our ability to override a rational assessment of danger and speak up against injustice. We must never believe we are powerless, yet as we pursue what is right, we must understand the obstacles that prevent us from exercising moral obligation on both an individual and community level have plagued humanity for thousands of years. The remedy to inaction? Community.
As we dig out from our third November snowstorm of the season, students return to campus this evening after a well-earned Thanksgiving Break. The beginning of each trimester affords a start as fresh as the snow covering campus today, and we can't wait to hop into classes and winter afternoon programs tomorrow.
On November 11, Anna Zerilli ‘19 (formerly #11) officially signed her NCAA Division 3 National Letter of Intent to play football at Lake Forest College. Anna will be the first female football player to ever play at Lake Forest, and is believe to be the first female in New England to go on to collegiate football. While Anna’s first season at Proctor came to an unexpected end with an ACL tear in training camp before she could take her first kick in a game, her future remains bright and we have much to learn from the tenacity with which she has pursued her dreams and overcome obstacles in her life.
After two weeks of navigating the open seas, altering course due to mid-Atlantic weather systems, and becoming intimately acquainted with the Roseway, our students home away from home for the past nine weeks, Proctor's 25th crew of Ocean Classroom returned home to hot showers, warm beds, and a deep sense of sadness that this amazing adventure is over. Read final reflections from our students below.
Students have departed campus for the week and we wade through the grading of final exams, writing of end of term comments, plowing of weekend snow, and tying up of loose ends before a few days truly "off", we pause to thank those that surround us. Working at Proctor is a choice. It requires each employee to put into perspective the greater goals of the work we do: empowering a generation of young people to make a difference in the world around us. It's hard, emotionally and physically exhausting work, but also incredibly rewarding to work with this group of students AND adults who have chosen Proctor.
It may have been the last jog through the woods before snow, a slow amble up from behind the tennis courts on Tuesday afternoon, the woods offering quiet solace in this transitional time between seasons. Up over wooden slab bridges, past the cut off for Wilson’s Wonder, up to Mud Pond and the Adirondack shelter. The dog rustled through the fire pit looking for bits of what? Marshmallow? Graham crackers? Scraps of discarded oatmeal from Wilderness Orientation? In the shelter, wood duck houses that students built were stacked, waiting to be set up later in winter.
In a small community like ours, we assume we know each other. We mistakenly tie an individual's identity to that which we see on a daily basis: their personality in the dorm, in the classroom, their smile as they walk to lunch or assembly, their athletic talents, their style based on how they dress. We assume we understand and appreciate the entirety of each other's contribution to the Proctor community, and yet during this final week of each trimester, we are left with a powerful reminder of the depth of being that exists within each member of our Proctor family.
We stepped off the bus and were immediately consumed by the Granada nightlife. Shortly after finding our hotel we were off to watch a Flamenco dance performance and eat dinner. The dance performance was entertaining (and surprising for many of us); the dancers displayed amazing footwork and emotion.
We can talk about moral victories (I’ve been a part of plenty of those…) all we want, but each time we step foot on the field, we seek to defeat our opponent. And yet there are times our opponent is superior; he or she simply scores more goals, runs faster, and hits harder. When the scoreboard favors the opponent, as it did this past weekend, have we failed? The implicit goal of any athletic competition is winning, but the way in which we compete must always remain our true measure of success. With that framework in mind, Holderness Weekend 2018 was a smashing success.
Over the past ten weeks, athletes and coaches have worked tirelessly to help their teams become the best version of themselves. They have battled through the rainiest fall we can remember, keeping in clear focus the core understanding at Proctor that athletics merely one means through which we pursue our mission as a school. It is the journey, not just the results, that effects change at Proctor. While we are thrilled with the post-season potential for our girls' and boys' soccer teams, as well as the outstanding finishes in league competition for our mountain bikers, cross country runners, and crew team, we are most proud of the effort and commitment our students and coaches demonstrated each afternoon.
It is good to remember that the lightness of being is nearby, ready to balance out challenge. Sometimes you catch it in the glimmers of sun sheeting across a field and a mood shifts. Or a day. Of course you have to be open to the possibility, and sometimes you have to actively look for the lightness of being. Sometimes the moment simply seems to fall in your lap. Fortunately, at Proctor, there seems to be a high density probability of encountering one of these uplifting interludes.
The Wise Center was packed Thursday evening for Proctor’s fourth annual Fall Term Innovation Night. Social Entrepreneurship, Engineering, and Culture and Conflict students shared their research, business plans, and progress on their robots with the community. Whether the subject matter was programming a robot to gather and distribute orbs into a specific location, researching the care of pregnant women in the prison system, or developing a business plan to sell and distribute imperfect produce to food deserts, this culminating celebration provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to take the uncomfortable role of teacher.
For the past eleven weeks, we have operated in our own sphere, working incredibly hard to do our best work in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in the studio. Focused on our individual work, individual needs, deadlines, demands. Periodically, we come together for community moments, but too often it seems these moments center around tragedy: processing the loss of a loved one, supporting each other through unthinkable violence, discussing the hard truths around inequality in our lives. As we walk through this final week of classes of the Fall Term, our focus shifts to coming together as a community to celebrate all the good that surrounds us.
Two weekends ago we attended a Real Madrid soccer game. I can easily say that it was one of the most fascinating events I have ever been to. The group had to meet at the bus station in Segovia at 10:15 am. It was one of our earliest Saturdays this term so far, but we all knew that waking up a little bit earlier than usual was all going to be worth it.
On a trip to Georgia and Alabama this week, Director of Development Keith Barrett '80 and I took a dogleg route from Atlanta to Birmingham, though the city of Montgomery, Alabama. We stopped to visit Danny Loehr ‘09, who currently works for the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) founded by Bryan Stevenson. EJI seeks to “end mass incarceration and excessive punishment, challenge inhumane and violent prison conditions, and confront the history of racial inequality and injustice in America.”
With just over two weeks remaining in the journey of a lifetime, Proctor's Ocean Classroom crew prepares to set sail for their longest open sea voyage of the term - a 10-12 day passage from Savannah to St. Croix. While the ship will be in daily contact via satellite phone, we will not post another blog until after the ship arrives in the US Virgin Islands. Until then, read about journal entries below from the past week and picture yourself aboard Roseway packing supplies and preparing for an epic passage over the open Atlantic.