Sharing a meal with people you care about is an event as ancient as you can get. Breaking bread together is a symbol of forgiveness, togetherness, and a shared understanding of our humanity. It is a signal of coming together, sharing resources, and forging friendships. It is especially important in our fast paced world, where a sit down dinner can be elusive at a school like Proctor where we are all going in a hundred different directions, all good directions, but different. This past weekend we carved out time for Advisory dinners. Some had to play field hockey at New Hampton, or soccer against Bridgton, but we did our best to share a meal together, and it was a powerful experience.
I wish I could say I am just nibbling almonds and leafy greens, have quit sugar and dialed back on dairy, but the truth? It’s different. In the last week there was a road stop at Five Guys and a cheeseburger. And fries. And a carbonated beverage that was not kombucha. When I scroll back further, I do recall eating most of a pot of tapioca pudding and I have faltered around potato chips. Seriously faltered. Perfect in my diet? Far from it.
We thrive when our entire body is healthy, when blood pumps through every vein and we tune into the interconnectedness of individual parts as we operate the whole. The same goes for communities. We are only healthy when every layer of our community feels engaged, heard, and empowered to effect change.
Sharing a room with a roommate can feel like one of the most stressful parts of starting at a new boarding school. Will they snore? Will they be messy? Will they like a different kind of music? What if they like to stay up too late? These fears are valid (your roommate will probably be different than you and that is ok!), but we want to reassure you the opportunity for personal growth and the formation of deep friendships makes having a roommate one of the most valuable experiences you will have at Proctor. Here are what a few of our boarding students had to say when we asked them their thoughts on living with a roommate.
Scott Allenby wrote a terrific blog this week about the importance of listening, of widening perspective, of hearing the other, and the emotions that students who are the minority feel when they navigate a community like Proctor. I want to pick up that theme and share some thoughts on affinity spaces, those places where those who share a common cultural or ethnic background can gather, rejuvenate, and simply be without being the “other.” These are important spaces.
Advisory Dinners are some of the best evenings of the semester, though scheduling them is not easy. Last Wednesday night my advisees came over for a meal, but we had to balance a JV Girls Soccer game at 4:00 pm, Open Gym at 6:15 pm for a basketball player, extra-help for a math student, and the time I needed to clean up my house, bake a lasagna and frost a birthday cake. I try to do a dinner for each advisee’s birthdays, letting them choose the meal and the kind of cake they desire, a tradition left over from my childhood. (My brother always chose fish-sticks, my sister never failed to opt for spaghetti.)
I was met by pigtail braids bouncing up and down as my daughter sprinted to the door asking me through her gap toothed, kindergarten smile to guess what she learned at school today. Before I could formulate a witty response, she blurted out, “Fair is not the same as equal!” I’ve always known this to be true, but how often do we fully appreciate our privilege relative to those around us? How often do we really wrestle with the difference between fairness and equality as it applies to our own lives? Living and working at a private boarding school in a quintessential New England town, I would submit it is not often enough.
Every year at Proctor is wholly new, yet remarkably familiar. The faces of students change over time, both as they mature and as the natural turnover of the student body every four years introduces new, eager minds ready to embark on their Proctor experience. While Proctor is not a school steeped in tradition, there are some rituals that occur each year at the same time, including the annual ninth grade hike to the Proctor Cabin.