My first reaction after reading a NY Times (Oct 10) editorial on climate regulation rollback was to think about Proctor’s land, the care we take in ensuring a productive woodlot that not only produces timber harvests and creates healthy species habitat, but is also managed for future generations. Then I thought - briefly - about ranting for the environment and against all of the regulatory rollbacks on clean air. I thought about the fires in California, the warming oceans that have created a record tying hurricane season, and all of the inconvenient truths we are now living. In the end, I settled for the swinging bridge.
At the race I chatted with parents, grandparents, runners, and coaches. One coach from a nearby Lakes Region school always checks in on Proctor progress when our paths cross and I anticipated the query. “So what are you working on now? When I answered that we were renovating the gym and putting in a new fitness facility and working to raise funds so we could create new academic spaces in the old dining hall, a twinge of jealously crossed his face, but then he collected himself. “Good for Proctor.” He waved at the Nordic trails, the sweep of his arm taking in the distant swinging bridge and the campus on the other side of the Blackwater. “ Taking care and investing like you have done here keeps it moving forward.” Yes, I thought, it’s always about building the bridge from today to tomorrow. It’s as much about hemlock planking as it is about ski trails, or gym floors, or healthy species habitat, or academic spaces, or faculty. It’s about stewardship, about creating and sustaining healthy ecosystems - in this case a learning community - that will carry forward and link this time to the next in a way that demonstrates compassion and caring.
Yesterday I also had the privilege of spending a few hours with a member of the Class of 1967. Allan Shaw and I walked the campus and chatted art and landscape painting with Corby Leith and Peri Chase in Slocumb. We wandered through the Woodlands office, intersecting with Dave Pilla for conversation about sharks, raptors, and logging. We saw Jen Fletcher in the Learning Center, and Allan marveled at the space and the mission. All these conversations in the “soul corners” of Proctor were about time bridges linking the 1960’s to today, reminding me that absent stewardship, absent care, and absent intentionality, the swinging bridges in all of their various forms won’t last. The gym floors will fail, the faculty will falter, and the whole mission of school or community might find itself in jeopardy.
Fortunately that is not the case at Proctor where so many in and outside of the community care and invest in the future. Fortunately we have those - faculty, staff, parents, grandparents, friends of the school, foundations, alums, and students - who work to maintain and upgrade, who work to ensure that the Proctor of today will be there for the students of tomorrow. Fortunately we have those who understand the critical nature of stewardship.
Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School