Over the past three days we have celebrated the Class of 2015! Seniors cruised Lake Winnipesaukee Thursday evening before families gathered with the Proctor community for Senior Dinner Friday evening. Saturday morning the festivities continued as sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80s greeted the masses for Proctor's 167th Graduation!
Over the past ten weeks, Mikaylee '17, Sadie '17, Drew '17, and Hannah '17 have lived and learned in the Monteverde region of Costa Rica at The Cloud Forest School. They share reflections on their term off-campus and the relationships made with their host families.
As of noon today, only the Class of 2015 remains on campus. It seems like yesterday we gathered for new student registration and headed into the woods for Wilderness Orientation.
Over the past three weeks, more than seventy members of the Class of 2015 took part in Proctor’s Senior Project program. Begun over 25 years ago, this program affords graduating seniors the opportunity to explore an area of passion, vocation, or expertise. Students work very closely with both an on-campus sponsor (usually a faculty/staff member) as well as an off-campus mentor who has significant experience in the chosen field of study.
My 106 classmates and I have just a few days remaining in our Proctor experience. Collectively, our families will have paid almost $20 million in tuition to Proctor over the past four years. Staggering, I know. Before beginning my communications internship with Scott Allemby I had little exposure to the financial model of independent schools like Proctor Academy. I thought our school must have money to burn and I know my classmates share that assumption.
In the final weeks of the spring 2015 term, Proctor en Segovia hits the road, first traveling from Segovia to Barcelona via high-speed train and then north along the Catalan Costa Brava. Next, on the final long excursion of the term, the group leaves from Segovia in rented vehicles, driving southwest along the Sistema Central mountain range, and then crossing into the Spanish region of Extremadura and Portugal’s Alentejo region. Finally, students traverse eastern Andalucía, visiting Sevilla, Cádiz and rural sections of the Costa de la Luz on the Strait of Gibraltar!
I get a strange feeling when I think about how the eight most fun weeks I have ever had are coming to an end. This final week of European Art Classroom felt like the perfect conclusion to our experience. It is nearly over as our group takes its final breath of Provençal air, and our eyes take their last snapshots of the beautiful scenery here to remember. We hope that the scent of fresh baguettes, lavender sachés, and noisettes will last in our minds forever, or else we must visit again whether it be part of a college, with family on vacation, or later in life.
After leaving Rosebud, South Dakota a little bit over a week ago, it seems that we haven’t stopped driving. While going through Nebraska, we met a retired farmer local to the area who pointed us in the direction of a CAFO, a concentrated animal feeding operation. We tried to visit but were asked to get back on our bus and leave almost immediately. Although we were disappointed at not being able to learn about the advantages of this technique, we were all slightly relieved to be leaving the pungent smell and unnatural cattle scene.
Proctor's spring athletic season has come to a close! In assembly on Friday, we recognized Marvin Award winners and outstanding team accomplishments. Among those notable performances were Varsity Baseball's best record in 10 years (10-6), a Lakes Region Championship for Girls' Tennis in #1 doubles, and strong showing by our cycling team throughout the league series this spring including Scott Johannen winning the boys' Class B season title!
The awards season. It arrives every year with graduation, and on Monday we moved through our underclass awards. In a week, many more will be handed out. So much goes into wrangling the names of the winners, and each year I am reminded that the only award that’s easy to determine is one calculated by GPA: do the math, pick the winner. Simple. But do the numbers ever tell the whole story? No. Do they tell the story of character and grit, of intrinsic drive? Sometimes. Maybe. Not always.
Almost exactly two years ago Jacob Dombrowski ‘13 (Middlebury College) gave a senior speech in assembly. During his eloquent delivery, he shared, “If there is one bit of advice I can offer you all before I end my time here it is this: Do not be afraid of who you are. You’ll never make a difference in the world until you find out what truly sets you apart.”
With only a handful of days until graduation and spring sports teams wrapping up the regular season, the reality that college is only a few short months away is beginning to set in for the Class of 2015. For many seniors, their final moments of their athletic careers are upon them. For those seniors playing at the next level, however, this new chapter represents a continual dedication to maximizing their potential and through the encouragement of coaches and teammates.
We get used to so much, adapting to subtle shifts in our environment without even knowing it. A week ago, spring slipped into summer-like heat and humidity, and the community shifted into rhythms we could not have imagined in February. Students drifted down to the Blackwater to swim, windows were thrown open in dorms, and flip-flop days returned. We adjust, we acclimatize.
This week on Survivor: Mountain Classroom Edition! The group headed into the wilderness...alone. We left Colorado and the mountains for South Dakota and the Black Hills. We spent the days leading up to Solos preparing by shopping and packing our individual food, learning to set up tarps and discussing our hopes and fears for our time alone in the woods.
Students are entering their second to last week of classes before final exams. The Spring Term may feel like it is flying by, but the work done by each of our students is remarkable. We see glimpses of student work each time one of our off-campus programs posts a blog since all are student written and feature student photography! We do not yet have digital portfolios for each of our students (those are a work in progress), but in this post we highlight student work on-campus.
Where do the dark ribbons of genius originate? Waking up in the morning, snippets of dreams tease us back into sleep’s adventures. How did they get there? Where do they originate? We traverse lands we have never been to, encounter friends and strangers, and navigate architectural structures of M.C. Escher complexity. We see what we never thought was possible, experience wholesale changes in the laws of physics. What wellspring of the mind creates such playgrounds? And how do we value it in our everyday life?
“No matter who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done, love can heal your wounds.” The words echoed through the Norris Family Theater as the documentary, Reparando, the story of La Limonada, played to students and faculty last Friday night.
Here at Proctor, our decisions are guided by a robust Environmental Mission Statement. Written by Proctor Environmental Action (PEA) students and adopted with the full support of the Proctor faculty in 2008, the Environmental Mission Statement has been instrumental in guiding us in significantly reducing our use of fossil fuels, dramatically increasing our generation of alternative energy, and strengthening our environmental education program. From Housekeeping to Athletics to the Science Department, every aspect of the school is touched in some way by this statement, including the food served in the Cannon Dining Hall.
We do not often ask students to dress formally at Proctor. Perhaps it is part of the attraction of Proctor over another school where there is a more strict dress code. We value individuality and as long students are meeting our dress code (yes, we do have one!) of "neat and clean", we have confidence student learning - the real reason we are all here - will not be impacted!
Last weekend we had a bevy of visitors come in from the United States to spend the weekend with us. It was lovely seeing our families, though the visit did cause a bit of disruption to our schedule. Monday, as usual, was spent in town. Morning classes, afternoon free time. Tuesday was the day most parents were retreating back to stateside, so for some, that afternoon consisted of spending the last minutes with them, spending their money in town (graduation dress, anyone?). It ended up being a dreary day, raining for hours.
Baltimore and courage have been on my mind this week. I can’t shake the story of Freddy Gray or the trajectory of events following his funeral. I understand on an intellectual level the anger and the frustrations that have played out, but have no experience of what the community is trying to traverse. Few of us do.