We tend to look up, eyes drawn to the skyline, the geometry of rooflines, the arc of hills against the horizon, the splash of stars across the night sky. The beauty, the majesty, it’s up ahead. We coach our players to keep their head up, to work to see the whole of the playing field, to anticipate. Maybe in golf or baseball you keep your head down, but that’s only temporary. Your eyes immediately rise after you hit the ball: how far will it travel? Sand trap or fairway? Base hit or triple? Maybe this proclivity to always look up is instinctual, an ingrained alertness to see what’s coming, to prepare and protect.
But maybe we need to adjust and alternate a little. Maybe we need to drop our eyes to pay a little more attention to what undergirds instead of always what overlays. In New Hampshire, even as you keep your eyes on a distant ridge, granite foundations are everywhere. In New Hampshire, a land once mostly cleared for farms and grazing, remnants of farms muscled out of a bony land and stonewalls ribbing hillsides are reminders of the ethics of grit and sacrifice. What we love we must work to maintain. Those foundations and those rock walls, many of them true and straight after hundreds of years, still function today or could be built on again.
Sometimes with all of the talk of campaigns and building on campus, whether it is a new fitness center or new classrooms, we let our eyes drift up. I know mine do. Each day when I walk into the Brown Dining Commons, I glance over to the front of the field house. I see the new classrooms starting to take shape, the wellness studio, and I have to force myself to think about the foundations that are underneath these projects: the mission of the school, our desire to create the best learning environment for our students, and giving our faculty the space they need to work their magic. Without an awareness of the foundation and the why behind the projects, campaigns can devolve into simply glitzy overlay. But that’s not the way I think about what we are doing at Proctor.
Whether it is for new infrastructure or for the endowment, when we go out to fundraise, it’s about taking care of those fundamental, foundational pieces. It’s less about glitz and more about creating the foundation for grit. It’s about creating a place where students will gravitate to not just because of what they can experience at Proctor but how they will move out into the larger world because of Proctor. We are all a part of building and taking care of this. Would that the projects were all complete and the endowment 20X what it is, but there’s something healthy about being where we are today. By staying focused on our foundation, by having to hustle and work on stewardship, by keeping our eye on who we are, we know that we better our chance to fulfill all that Proctor can be.
Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School