Irrational fears are often rooted in an experience, a moment in time when our innocence is lost or our perspective shifts drastically. I’m terrified of sailing. It is an irrational fear born of a family sail aboard our 17 foot day sailer as a young child. I don’t remember the specifics, but simply recall the sensation of lost control, of tipping on edge, of feeling helpless. For years after my father worked to help me overcome this fear, attempting to teach me how to sail, how to manage gusts of wind, explaining ad nauseam there is always an escape plan in an emergency as long as you are prepared for it.
In Senator Angus King’s P’09 Commencement address last Saturday, he shared a list of ten pieces of advice he wish he knew when he was 18 years old. Number 10 was to spend time with your family and friends because when life gets hard, they are all you have. As we welcomed roughly 200 members of the Proctor Family back home for Alumni Reunion 2019, we were reminded why it is so important to prioritize our relationships with those we love.
A slight breeze, blue skies, and temperatures in the low-70s; Saturday was only the sixth or seventh sunny day we’ve had since March. For once this spring, the weather matched the occasion (it snowed at Prom a few weeks ago), and as the 115 members of the Class of 2019 gathered in Alice’s Garden prior to Commencement, every face was wearing a smile.
Hours remain until we can official begin celebrating the Class of 2019 with Senior Dinner and Senior Recognition Night. Commencement will follow in the morning, and then campus will be empty. An eery quiet will descend upon campus for the summer, a quiet we simultaneously crave and fear as we feel the energy of our students leave us until September. As our seniors take their final steps toward graduating, we reflect on the past week of culminating projects, visiting speakers, awards, and end of year rituals.
This one starts with baseball. Again, baseball. I missed the end innings of the Red Sox as they eventually won Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles 2-1, but I caught the replays Thursday morning. I saw the catch Jackie Bradley Jr. made, robbing Trey Mancini of a homerun in the bottom of the 11th by scaling a wall and reaching over into the bullpen to make a spectacular backhanded catch.
We have never been more connected to each other (digitally), yet we have never been more disconnected from the world around us. Whether it is the food we consume, the natural world, the fuel we consume, or the waste stream we leave behind, it has become far too easy to glaze over the externalities we create as someone else’s problem.
We have a choice as an independent school:
- Create a facade that we are a perfect school community in order to attract prospective families and hope they don’t see our flaws too soon. OR
- Present openly the challenges that accompany educating 370 adolescents in a boarding school setting within an incredibly competitive boarding school market.
It happens all the time. I am walking from my house to the office, maybe one of the shortest commutes in New England, and in the brief stroll from house to Maxwell Savage, inevitably there are scraps of litter, refuse tossed up on asphalt shore lines from the window of a passing car. The rolling, casual wave of a hand (that I never see) leaves behind beer cans, cigarette stubs, water bottles, candy wrappers, plastic bags. The colored bits of trash sprout like a 21st century algae bloom amidst Route 11’s shoulder grit. Wasn’t there yesterday, but there today.