The last two 4th of Julys in Andover have been incredibly quiet as COVID-19 canceled festivities in town. Today marked the return of the small town Americana scenes that have played a central role in our town’s Independence Day Celebrations for the past 80 years. For those who have never experienced Andover on the 4th of July, add it to your bucket list.
A flea market, carnival games, book sales, oxen demonstrations, and food attract thousands of visitors to Proctor’s campus and the Village Green outside of Gannett House, Fowler Dorm, and the Stone Chapel. After the singing of the national anthem and a patriotic melody, the bell atop Maxwell Savage is rung by local children to kick off Andover’s 4th of July parade that snakes its way from the Farrell Field House along North Street and then down Main Street. Local businesses step up as sponsors of the 4th of July events, while volunteers from all of the town’s non-profits, charities, first responders, and service organizations are the driving force behind the celebration.
It is a day when residents of Andover beam with pride. We are not only celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but the value of a supportive local community with people who represent a whole array of political views, backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and religions. Volunteer firefighters, police officers, teachers, rec sports coaches, hyperlocal news papers, historical society leaders, and so many others keep Andover running. We rely on each other and each do our part to help our neighbors when they are in need. We certainly each have our own views on how America could do better, but at the microlevel of community, days like today remind us that independence and interdependence are far more closely tied than we are led to believe.
Throughout the enrollment process, students and families find Proctor because of the breadth of opportunities our school provides. They cannot wait to design a wholly unique path through their Proctor experience, to take advantage of the arts, athletics, off-campus programs, Learning Skills, and our amazing academic curriculum. Yet, what every student and family soon understands is that the Proctor experience is not just about designing a unique journey through adolescence. Instead, it is about the humans you meet and develop relationships with on that journey.
July 4th may be a celebration of America’s declared independence from Great Britain in 1776, but at its core, today is about interdependence, about celebrating the friendships, trust, and hard work that goes into building and sustaining a community. Small towns, like independent schools, do not function without people stepping up and into areas of need. May we each do our part to make our community - in the Town of Andover and within our immediate community at Proctor - stronger, more understanding, and more attuned to the needs of those around us.