Adolescents are designed to change. The students who arrived on campus on Registration Day were not the same who came out of the woods with their Orientation groups on Sunday afternoon, and they will not be the same that walk across the graduation stage. As we find the rhythm of a new academic year, we embark on a journey of self-discovery alongside our students.
Head of School Mike Henriques and Multicultural Coordinator Lori Patriacca both shared thoughts in Monday’s assembly about the opportunity that lies in personal growth. We talk often about the importance of expanding identity with our students as they begin their Proctor career. Students hear this message repeatedly from us as advisors, dorm parents, coaches, and teachers. And then we put that philosophy into action as we design curricular and extracurricular opportunities that stretch students outside their comfort zones. This process started with Wilderness Orientation, and continues on this first day of classes.
Watching Wilderness Orientation groups return to campus affirms our commitment to the program. Not every student smiled, but most did. There were challenges - rain, cold nights, long hikes, and spiders (just ask Patty and Kristen’s group). But there was also connection. Every student got to know two faculty members and eight other students in a very real way. While students may not become best friends with everyone in their group, they certainly gain a deep appreciation for each other’s story.
It is these stories that collectively define us as a community. We each have chapters of our story we are willing to put on public display; the outward identity we have curated based on who we believe we are. As we forge depth in the relationships we form in advisories, dorms, classes, and on teams, we share more of our story with those around us. We begin to explore the unwritten chapters of our narrative, and start to embrace the vulnerability that must accompany growth. We allow our identities to expand beyond that which we held so close when we first stepped foot on Proctor’s campus.
As adults, we are at our best when we, too, make room for this individual exploration of self. Not only do we model the behavior we expect of our students, but we empower those around us to evolve, to change, and to embrace the journey of self-discovery that energizes us. This is a huge reason a third of Proctor’s faculty and staff have been working here for more than 20 years and why our continuity of school culture has remained so strong. Now that the year has begun, let's get to work writing the next chapter of our story. I have a feeling it is going to be a good one.