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.
We expect students to understand the difference between their work and someone else’s. We expect them to cite sources, avoid plagiarism, keep their eyes on their test, and use technology responsibly. We expect students to know - or at least develop the ability - to discern the difference between fact and opinion.This is the fundamental framework that holds academic institutions together, and should intellectual integrity start to dissipate, should these basic tenets not be part of the whole structure, it's as though laws of gravity have been somehow disbanded. We float in the wilderness of relativism.
Sometimes it is a simple piece of paper, a skittering scrap blown across a walk or lodged in the taller grass. Sometimes it is the tape at the end of a game, rounded up and tossed under a team bench, or an orange Gatorade top hovering on the green grass, or the water glass left on a table after a meal. We notice these bits of community flotsam, and each time there is that mini-debate inside: Should I pick it up? Will it make a difference?
What is it that drives us to the ocean, to shorelines, out on the water where the blues turn to grey, the ripples build to waves, the zephyrs strengthen into gales? We are a landlocked school, tucked up next to rock-ribbed granite of New Hampshire. Our proximity is to rivers and lakes, to ski mountains and biking trails. And yet, as today’s launching of Ocean Classroom reminds us, we are drawn to the ocean, to harbors, waterfronts, lighthouses and passages that bear us outward. Today nearly two dozen students will go to Boston and find the Roseway, Captain Flansberg, a World Ocean School crew, and two Proctor educators. They will walk the decks with their duffels over their shoulders to ease down gangways and find assigned berths below. They are beginning their term at sea. That beckoning to adventure and discovery, that call to the sea, is in us all.
We all know the Harry Potter series, and most are familiar with the beginning of the school year at Hogwarts when new students find themselves placed in houses like Gryffindor or Slytherin with all the attending alliances and associations, reputations and personalities. The “Sorting Hat” places the new students at Hogwarts. The choosing is not their own. And in some way a similar process has played out across Proctor this week as afternoon team activities ramp up and coaches work towards roster decisions. And now, at the end of the week, cuts have been made, and teams have started to coalesce. Roles have been determined. It's not quite the Sorting Hat, but it can feel that way.
Day three of the Wilderness Orientation and pre-season sports camps and I can’t help but reflect on an article read earlier this morning in the New York Times: It’s 10P.M. Do You Know What Apps Your Children Are Using?For our students in the Pemi Wilderness on their Wilderness Orientation the question is easy to answer. Their App is an MSR stove, a fire, a chicken noodle Cup of Soup. Their connection is a connection of shared experiences standing under a rain fly waiting out a rain squall, sharing stories around a hot meal, collectively whooping when the sun peeks out. Theirs is a personal connection, the best kind of connection, the connections that cannot be replicated on line.
Crossing campus today, mindful of the shifting weather and some of the trees that have caught the slightest tinge of fall, the arrival of new and returning students over the next 10 days is much on my mind. You will come in waves: early wilderness orientation, sports camp, regular wilderness orientation, and returning students a week from Sunday. Some of you will walk onto the campus for the first time, put on a pack, and head into the wilderness. Others will come for their senior year, pulling together a final college list and starting to tinker with applications. But no matter the length of time at the school, no matter whether student, faculty, or staff, we stand on one piece of common ground that we collectively share: Proctor.
Last games, last projects, last rehearsals, and last snow…. the year winds down. Watching the ski area to see when the last snow will fade from the middle trail is like watching the final pinches of sand running through an hourglass. Cupped by a dip in the middle trail this white patch has been diminishing slowly in May, and Tuesday it finally disappeared. One last time I visited winter, touching its cold while across the valley the flanks of Ragged flashed summer green. The season turns over, the overlap of beginnings and endings similar to a school transitioning from one year to the next.