I am writing today to follow up on last Thursday’s forum which was hosted by Lori Patriacca ‘01 and John Bouton focused on the film Just Mercy. The film - watch it if you haven’t - focuses on the work of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative work Stevenson does to review and exonerate those - mostly Black and on death row - who have been wrongfully prosecuted and convicted. It’s an eye-opening film into a skewed legal system and it prompted good community and self reflection. The forum is part of an on-going series of conversations and listening sessions organized at Proctor since the protests, unrest, and calls for police reform following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
We talk often about how it is the people that make Proctor such a kind, supportive, loving community. As we rapidly approach June 30 and the final official day of the 2019-2020 academic year, we bid farewell to eight talented faculty and staff who have dedicated a portion (or in some cases all) of their professional life to the Proctor community.
A week from today is July 1, a seemingly uneventful turn of the calendar for most, but for Proctor it is the start of a new fiscal year. Like many academic institutions, Proctor's June 30 fiscal year end marks the end of the 2019-2020 annual giving cycle. We don't talk often about school finances, but as a 501(c)3 non-profit, Proctor relies on tax-deductible donations to meet its operating budget, a budget that unlocks a world of opportunities for our students.
One year ago, on June 19, 2019, Governor Sununu signed a bill declaring Juneteenth a state holiday in the State of New Hampshire, 154 years after the last group of enslaved Americans learned of their freedom outside Galveston, Texas, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. The date, June 19, 1865, was recognized as the actual independence of Black Americans. Freedom, delayed.
With well over 8,000 alumni, it is impossible to pause and recognize all who pass away. But when an individual who has shaped Proctor the way James L. Dunbar ‘49 has leaves this world, we feel compelled to share his story with the greater community. Jim died on June 9 (on what would have been his 69th wedding anniversary) at the age of 90.
Born out of our belief that our deepest learning comes from a synthesis of all aspects of the Proctor experience, the Academic Concentration Program affords students an opportunity to weave content, independent research, internships, off-campus programs, and on-campus courses into a cohesive learning experience.
Journalism student Sophie Lyras '21 published the following interviews with graduating seniors pursuing the arts in college in the final edition of The Hornet's Nest, Proctor's student newspaper, at the end of May. Each graduating class from Proctor possesses a unique personality, fueled by their diverse passions and talents. For the six graduates interviewed below, their experiences with the arts at Proctor laid a foundation for future studies and a lifetime of enjoyment through the arts. Thank you, Sophie, for sharing these interviews with us!
Each graduating class leaves a distinct impact on our school based on their personality and the collective journey that unfolded during their four years at Proctor. For the Class of 2020, that journey, shaped heavily by a remote Spring Term due to COVID-19, was as unique as any class in the school's 172 year history and culminated in the school's first ever virtual Commencement ceremony.
Now more than ever we crave connection. We miss running into each other on the pathways on the way to assembly or waiting in line for lunch. We crave the informal daily interactions that fuel us as social beings. This weekend would have been Alumni Reunion Weekend. For classes ending in 0’s and 5’s, a time to return to campus and connect with each other. For faculty and staff, a time to see our former students return as adults forging their way through life.
Over the last week we have collectively borne witness to the news of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis while in police custody, have seen the spread of angst and anger in communities, and seen images of protesters across the country. We have seen property damage. We have seen teargas shot into crowds and riot police knocking over protesters. We have seen police kneeling alongside protestors, peacefully. We have seen images of military helicopters intimidating crowds. We have seen journalists attacked and arrested. Amidst all of this (and the pandemic) it is hard for individuals and communities to find a framework for the turmoil that doesn’t make it feel overwhelming. We wonder where and when the healing will begin, when the requisite societal changes will take shape, and who will lead us through this valley.