I think back on my middle-school days as the worst part of my youth. My school (like most middle-schools I’m sure) was a sea of insecurity. Kids combatted their fears of exclusion by labeling and othering. These categories created a sense of security and belonging for some, and a sense of loneliness and longing for others. I became more concerned with how I was being seen by others than figuring out my own interests and passions. I thought one day, after observing a popular eighth-grade boy named John strut through the halls with a confident swagger, this kid knows who he is, he has it all figured out. I later mimicked his mannerisms, constructing my identity around what appeared to be the culturally accepted and lauded one.
Watching the teams on campus this fall, talking to coaches, hearing the bell ring on Maxwell Savage after victories are all reminders of all the contests that are happening most days during the week. It’s not just Wednesdays and Saturdays anymore. Mondays and Fridays are roped into schedules, and buses are always pulling into and leaving campus. Uniforms are handed out, cleats are knocked clean before entering buildings, the training room ice bags are everywhere.
The Proctor Boys’ Soccer team knew they would have to reload with talent after losing eleven seniors off of last year’s team, five of whom have gone on to play at the collegiate level. In addition to developing the in-game tactics and skills needed to compete in the highly competitive Lakes Region, Head Coach Ian Hamlet and Assistant Coach Peter Southworth know team chemistry lies at the core of this group's success. The team's goals remain the same for the 2019 campaign, win or lose: they want to play to the best of their ability and to focus one game at a time.
As week one in Segovia comes to a close there is so much to look back on already. It still feels like we just got off the plane from Boston, not sure as to what time it was or even where we all were. The first few hours after our arrival seemed like a blur. The group had been up for almost 16 hours straight and then immediately thrown into a new culture.
Going to sea is not easy. It never has been. Read diaries of anyone who has spent considerable time at sea and you will quickly learn to appreciate the grit, determination, and trust required to live and work alongside a small group of fellow sailors. The twenty-one Proctor students aboard Ocean Classroom will soon experience first hand the bonds forged at sea.
Climate change. It’s hard to miss these days. Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist who sailed to New York to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit has been in front of Congress and has been interviewed countless times (see Trevor Noah interview below). Reports of Imelda’s drenching rains in Texas (over 40 inches in some places) have suggested that it has been additionally water stoked by a warmer atmosphere and we may see more of these tropical depressions. Dorian’s cataclysmic stalling over the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane is still fresh in many minds.
Over the past twenty years, the Northern New England Mountain Biking League has grown into the most comprehensive high school mountain biking league in the East with riders from Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts represented in each week’s race. Proctor hosted for the first race of the season at the Proctor Ski Area on Wednesday, September 18 as more than 300 riders from over 23 schools in four states hit the trails.
The constant pressure of social comparisons and curating our own digital reality weighs on us. As we work to build a healthy environment for adolescents to thrive, we must look beyond seeing technology as a cause of anxiety and instead view it as a symptom of the underlying struggle so many of us face today: true connection and meaning.
I have three walking sticks in my office, each with a slightly different meaning, each reminding me of the support needed to navigate different aspects of the life journey. I talk about the life journey and Proctor journey and the challenges that will come at the start of every year. I bring a walking stick to make the point. We like to believe in the myth of “I got this,” that we can do it alone, that we are self contained (or should be), an independent collection of consciousness sailing through time. Totally self reliant. And the truth is that we’re not and we need others on the journey.
As we launch into the year ahead, we will consistently look to our elected school leaders, Vienna Marcus '20 and Hitch Graham '20, for wisdom, guidance, and representation of the student body. The role of School Leader carries with it significant responsibility: attending all faculty meetings, running student government meetings with class representatives, meeting weekly with the Head of School and Assistant Head of School to discuss initiatives and student life goals, as well as serving on the Appeals Committee when a student appeals their dismissal from Proctor. Vienna and Hitch share their thoughts on the year ahead below.
Intuitively, I feel my students’ experiences, reflections, and actions influence who they are and what they do. However, the more I learn about neuroscience, the more research released on brain plasticity and metacognition, the more I realize these intuitions that have guided my work over the past twenty years as a Learning Specialist, and Proctor’s work over the past seventy, are based in scientific fact. Adolescent brain development is a biological process, but it is also a dynamic process that is enhanced through experiences. In other words, what teenagers learn, practice, and think develops neural pathways, which fundamentally restructures their brains over time.
Adolescents are designed to change. The students who arrived on campus on Registration Day were not the same who came out of the woods with their Orientation groups on Sunday afternoon, and they will not be the same that walk across the graduation stage. As we find the rhythm of a new academic year, we embark on a journey of self-discovery alongside our students.
Last Sunday I parked the truck on the hairpin on the Kancamagus, hauled my pack out of the back, and started down the trail to meet Brooks Bicknell. He was coming out of the woods to tend to Ocean Classroom business; I was headed in to pick up the group for the second leg of the trip. Wisps of clouds began to knit together when I handed the truck keys to Brooks. I had a sense of what the next two days would bring. Rain.
While Wilderness Orientation takes most of the spotlight this week, Proctor's annual preseason Sports Camp welcomes fall athletic teams for a four day, intensive pre-season camp. With the goal of knocking off the summer's rust, establishing a baseline of fitness, team bonding, and installing offensive and defensive concepts, Sports Camp is a high school athlete's dream come true.
Wilderness Orientation groups finalized packing in the Teddy Maloney ‘88 Rink early Wednesday morning before loading onto busses and departing for their four night, five day adventure in the White Mountains. The busyness of Registration Days had faded into the backdrop, and while the unknown of Orientation weighed on some nearly as much as their packs, a reserved excitement hung in the air.
From the earliest moments of welcoming our first child into the world, my wife and I realized parenthood would be filled with contradictions. We desperately needed sleep, but craved those moments of solitude when our son would finally stop crying. Eleven years later, we know he and his siblings need independence, but feel hardwired to protect them from the unknown. This dichotomy of parenthood we experience daily pales in comparison to the emotions our incoming families experience on Registration Day. Even when you know Proctor is the right school for your child, saying goodbye is far from easy.