In Spain, France, Costa Rica, and on Mountain Classroom, the Winter Term rolls forward and those on campus all feel slightly left behind. What’s happening over there? Those lucky sophomores in the Cloud Forest of Monteverde, the artists who have landed in Aix, the Mountain Classroom students just coming off the river El Paso. They are out there, out doing. On campus the temperatures will drop to near zero this weekend. It is closing in on Jack London To Build A Fire cold. Those who feel the distant pulse of the off campus programs with the greatest poignancy are likely those who were off campus in the fall. They have left pitching decks and strolls across the plaza in Segovia for the icy, huddled, hunching runs across campus. That bond they felt, those adventures they were living, where did they go?
I cannot recall a moment over the past five years when there has not been the background noise of construction on Proctor’s campus. The beeping of excavators in reverse, air compressors turning on and off as nail guns adhere new siding to buildings, dump trucks driving in and out of campus. This constant state of construction, while inconvenient at times, illustrates our community’s deep belief in our mission and willingness to invest in Proctor’s future through The Campaign for Proctor. However, visits to classes this week reminded us it is not just our campus that is under constant construction, but our students brains are works in progress as well.
Life at an academic institution synchronizes you to nature’s cycles as meteorological and calendar milestones create inseparable associations: fall foliage/Fall Family Weekend, first snow/Holderness Weekend, Thanksgiving Break/snow guns blowing at the Proctor Ski Area, frigid cold of January/pond hockey, late March snowstorms/Project Period, black flies/baseball season, and first thunderstorms of the spring/Graduation weekend. This winter, a disruption to this cycle occurred when Proctor made the decision to dredge the Proctor Pond in order to restore the aquatic ecosystem at the center of campus.
The end of an era? A recent piece in Proctor’s student-run publication Hornet’s Nest, posed the question. Rumors on campus swirled, snippets of gossip coalesced into definitive opinions about what decision the school would make around a program that has seen regional numbers decline, our own numbers half from a high-water of 50 student athletes in 2013 to the lean squad of 25 this past season, and growing concerns around health issues. I heard rumors the school was going to axe the program. Definitely. Irrevocably. Talk that the deck was stacked. That Administration, Admissions, and I were turning our back on the program. That it was done. Finished. Football was over. Well…not yet. Not at Proctor.
Sustaining and stewarding a school's culture through generations is the responsibility of each of us. Wednesday's inservice day for faculty took a non-traditional approach to professional development. There was no discussion of curriculum mapping, professional goals, or strategic initiatives that will drive Proctor forward in the most competitive boarding school market any of us have ever seen. Instead, we talked about our personal lives in small “life groups” of 8-10 colleagues.
As the sun rose over the east side of campus on this final day of 2018, the simple joy of another day on this earth settled upon us. The peacefulness of quiet pathways, empty classrooms, and traces of late November snow storms clinging to shade cast on the north side of buildings is lovely, but leaves campus feeling incomplete. On Wednesday evening students and faculty will return from a two week break, filling the void we feel right now as we all dive into a new year. On this final day of 2018, we offer our New Year’s resolution for 2019: Pursue Happiness.
During these last days of 2018, we reflect on those moments that defined our year. Some challenging, others joyful, all beautiful in their own way. Enjoy these clips from the past year as you look at the year past for motivation to make the year ahead the best yet. Happy New Year to all in our Proctor Family. Here's to a great 2019!
Early snowfall in central New Hampshire and cold November nights has allowed Garry George '78 and his crew at the Proctor Ski Area to create amazing early season conditions on alpine and Nordic trails. A favorite run of mine, even in the winter months, reaches the halfway point after climbing the 600 vertical feet up the backside of the Proctor Ski Area. As you emerge from the double track access road to the top of Proctor’s little big mountain, heart racing from the climb, your eyes peer out over Proctor’s campus and the village of Andover. For so many of us in the Proctor community, this view never gets old. Nor does the feeling of a change in perspective it provides.