Just over a week ago, twenty-one Proctor students set sail for Ocean Classroom’s 27th year of changing lives through a term at sea. Students and crew aboard World Ocean School’s schooner Roseway trained in Gloucester Bay to wait out inclement weather before heading north to The Gulf of Maine. We will post weekly updates from Ocean Classroom on The Buzz, but encourage you to check out the daily Ship’s Logs posted on World Ocean School’s website.
Monday's assembly recognized underclass award winners from the 2019-20 school year. Due to being remote last spring, we could not present the awards in person and chose to wait until this fall with the hope of recognizing each of these students face-to-face. Now that we are back on campus, we wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate and publicly acknowledge each student's incredible effort and energy they put into their academic pursuits. Congratulations to all award winners!
As we conclude our first week back at Proctor, there remains a cloak of uncertainty over the campus. Although students and faculty alike are as connected as ever, the current state of the school in regards to COVID-19 is new to everyone. Faculty and Staff spent the better part of the summer planning every aspect of school in hopes that we would be able to return to in-person academics this fall. Aside from classes, one of the staples of Proctor life needed to be adjusted as well: afternoon activities.
After a bit of a delay due to a few stubborn COVID-19 tests, we released our dorm pods Saturday morning and jumped right into action with our 9th graders heading into the woods for an overnight camping trip as part of an abridged Wilderness Orientation experience. Meanwhile, soccer, field hockey, and football players practiced and a new masked-normal began to emerge over the weekend.
At the very tail end of two remarkably smooth Registration Days (thank you parents for following directions and doing your part to arrive on campus prepared!), the student crew of Ocean Classroom 2020 arrived on campus for their COVID-19 tests. The motto that will guide every decision aboard Roseway over the next nine weeks is simple: Ship, Shipmate, Self. The application of these words to our on-campus community has never been more important than it will be this year.
We last had students on campus on March 6. Snow covered the ground as student scurried to busses and hugged each other good bye. The excitement of Spring Break overshadowed the fears of COVID-19 that had begun to creep into our lives during the weeks prior. While we knew the Spring Term might be disrupted a bit (a delayed return for classes and maybe we would have to cancel Project Period?), few of us could have predicted what the next six months had in store: lockdowns, masks, remote learning, a remote graduation for the Class of 2020, a pandemic of racial injustice, and so much more.
Usually a time of quiet reflection and rejuvenation, summer at Proctor took a different form this year. Navigating simultaneous pandemics of racial injustice and COVID-19 within the context of financial uncertainty and a politically polarized nation has reminded us our work connecting with, supporting, and educating our students never stops. Neither does the institutional work required to safely welcome students back to campus next week, while actively addressing the need to dig more deeply into the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice at Proctor.
We each have a story that led us to work at Proctor: we went to school here, grew up in the region, were attracted to a specific program or the school’s educational philosophy. For Proctor’s newest member of the community, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator Will Wamaru, his journey began as a nine year old on his first mountaineering adventure with NOLS on a summit attempt of Mount Kenya’s Lenana Peak (16,355 feet), just twenty minutes from his family’s rural farm. This early exposure to the philosophy of NOLS and the notion that learning, relationships, and the outdoors could be inextricably woven together through a formal program, and not just in his daily life in his village, planted a seed that led to his continued involvement in NOLS as a student, and eventually, a teacher over the next two decades.