Walk up the stairs in Maxwell Savage and there’s the rope, like a thick mooring line tethering us to something important. For years Chuck Will would climb those stairs prior to assembly, check his watch, then set the big bell to rocking and ringing, calling the community together.
It’s where teams go to ring out their victories. It’s where I went on Monday morning to ring in the first assembly of the year. The bell rings and we gather in the Meeting House. From across campus we trek: the Learning Center, Shirley, the woodshop, Slocumb, the Wise, the upper levels of Maxwell Savage, the Wilson Building. We walk into the foyer of the Meeting House and backpacks are dropped next to railings, against walls, to grow in reef-like fashion over the five minutes it takes for students to arrive, then break down 40 minutes later in the tidal surge of students exiting.
Most of you have been in assembly. You’ve seen various faculty members structure the time, watched students come up to make their announcements, seen a humorous skit, or watched a snippet of video. You’ve felt the energy, shared the laugh, heard a serious topic discussed. Most of you know that we cherish this time and feel that there is an element of the essential Proctor somehow caught up in that eddying space.
The bell rings, we gather together. It’s a curious concept. Here we are as individual learners with a variety of talents and passions and definitive journeys, yet when the bell rings, we go. We want to hear the stories, hear the news. It is such a different feeling than getting up in the morning to flick through CNN, NYT, Slate, BBC or BuzzFeed apps to get those five essential stories you need to know before you begin your day. Here is the news of community, our community. We sit and lean into it, and it feels like an important part of learning and living. So distinctly human. So of us and for us. It’s less a measure of time, the Proctor bell, more a measure of community.
Its toll across our campus this week welcomes us into a new year.