As an independent high school offering experiential learning both on and off campus, by necessity Proctor is unavoidably in the business of managing risk. Mostly we are comfortable with that. Knowing that students are going to be riding out gales in the Atlantic on Ocean Classroom, clattering through a slalom course at the Proctor Ski Area, navigating solos on Mountain Classroom, learning how to use plasma cutters in the metal shop is all in our comfort zone. It’s what we do in so many arenas at Proctor. And our students find the landscape of challenge rich with life growth opportunities. We take managing this risk seriously. We recognize, however, that in the midst of these daily risks, there are moments when our risk profile amplifies. It is during these moments when we must remain agile, shift course if necessary, and remain vigilant to the external factors impacting our internal offerings.
Athletic seasons do not just happen. Athletes and coaches do not simply show up and perform on game days, but instead spend countless hours watching film, working on strength in the fitness center, and refining both tactical and technical skills during practice. Teams navigate adversity, injuries, and unexpected challenges. They fall short of goals one day and exceed them the next, and it is this built in uncertainty and the lessons therein that remind us the educational value of sport. This experience is only possible when we have coaches who understand there is so much more to sport than the scoreboard.
The very best moments in our lives are rarely those we spend alone. They are those we share with others, often small groups of friends or teammates. Moments that defy logic and surpass expected reality. Moments seared in our memory as a perfect confluence of internal and external factors leading to a magical experience. We cannot predict when they will happen, nor can we describe why. We simply know when they do.
Our day officially started at 1:30 pm when we met up at the aqueduct to head out to Madrid. We filled the bus for the hour-long drive we had all come to know well. We arrived and ate our bocadillos in the gardens in front of the Palacio Real. We sat absorbing the sun and enjoying the good weather as we finished up our lunches.
Most afternoon activities at Proctor afford regular opportunities for public performances; athletic teams showcase their progress every Wednesday and Saturday. For Proctor’s drama department, the countless hours of memorizing lines, rehearsing, building and rebuilding an intricate set, the beautiful mess of group dynamics and stress of pre-show nerves culminate in two performances at the end of the Winter Term.
To be blunt…This week was kinda crazy. There we were, at home in Aix, giggling over our German lessons and researching cool things to do during our free time in Munich with little success to find anything better than an apparently sub-par aquarium when right under our nose, Storm Ciara was raging her way across northern Europe.
Friday: After waking up from a nice 10 am sleep-in, I got up out of my bed and threw on the outfit I had planned the night before. With my full bag of clothes, and the yummy bocadillo (sandwich) that my mom made me, I headed for the bus station. The travel was long and included an hour bus ride to Madrid, a two-hour train ride to Seville, and lastly a thirty-minute walk to our hostel.
Proctor is not one of those schools that can afford to swagger. We don’t have hundreds of millions of dollars in an endowment; we have about twenty-nine. We don’t have fifty applicants for every opening in admissions; we have about six. We have had to hustle as a school for a long time, and we will have to hustle for years to come. I hope we never lose the hustle. Even if the endowment does become as large as some of our peer schools and we have as many applicants as some of our southern neighbors, we can’t lose it. Hustling keeps you humble, It keeps you competitive. It keeps you evolving. It keeps you from slipping into hubris.
Each year, the Varsity Alpine team's primary goals are to improve each individual's racing ability and to gain a deeper appreciation for the sport of skiing. Throughout the winter the team has taken this mentality to daily training and in competitions. Led by coaches Chris Farrell, Josh Norris '92, and Gabrielle Stone, the developmental approach to skiing has paid off with top-three finishes for both boys and girls in four of five races this season.
For the past three years, Proctor's winter Board of Trustee meetings has coincided with the ribbon cutting of a major facility upgrade (2018 - Farrell Field House Phases 1-2, 2019 - Farrell Field House Phase 3, 2020 - Proctor Outdoor Center) and the Proctor Ski Area Celebration. On these weekends, the theme of stewardship resonates throughout each conversation, each event, each celebration of who Proctor is and who it could become.
The five sophomores studying on Proctor en Monteverde this winter share an update as they surpass the midpoint of their term abroad. After a three day, two night trip into the Children's Eternal Rainforest guided by renowned wildlife biologist Mark Wainwright, the Bella '22, Katherine '22, Patrick '22, River '22, and Cassidy '22 shared insights into their time in Costa Rica thus far.
This week I’ve been thinking about classrooms, both intentional and unintentional, and about how the process plays out. Yes the Congressional impeachment process, but more about how it contrasts to the way we come to consensus and decisions at Proctor, the way we wrestle with changes and our differences. And I have to admit, I like the local model where we work with smaller groups, work towards consensus even when the work is messy, sometimes heated, and sometimes divisive. We disagree with each other, sometimes fiercely, but we try to do so with respect. We collaborate. We remind ourselves that we are colleagues, partners in this school endeavor, knowing that sometimes our differences create the friction necessary for the community to evolve into a better school.
Birds are chirping, music is playing, and it is currently 64 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze coming from 200 degrees south of Vauvengares. The bright, fluid aquamarine colored pool appears so inviting… until you jump in, which our entire group did on Monday after our somewhat sweat breaking body pump with Dave. Did we regret it? No. Would we do it again? Potentially.
Bonus Weekend falls in the middle of a Winter Term that operates at breakneck speed; every moment filled with some sort activity - an extra help, a practice, an open studio, a dorm meeting, a research paper. This four day respite affords us a chance to breathe, to slow down and recenter ourselves before we enter the final stretch of winter that is equal parts exhilarating and exhausting.
Traveling to Barcelona has always been a dream of mine, so I was incredibly excited on the days leading up to our excursion. The travel day was very long and tiring. We were on a bus heading to Madrid by 10:30am, dashing on the metro to the “Renfe,” or Spanish train service, station as soon as we arrived. The train flew through the Spanish countryside and about three hours later we were in Barcelona. After another sweltering hot, sauna-like metro ride, we were within walking distance to our hotel. Exhausted, we took the 45 minutes of free time to do absolutely nothing — and I was totally happy that.