It’s not easy finding the community fix these days. It’s not easy for faculty, not easy for staff, not easy for students. The virtual get-together gets you maybe half way there, but there’s nothing quite like the face to face. So we find it where and when we can, and I am fortunate enough to be able to duck into the kitchen now and again.
The vibe is good. I stopped by Wednesday afternoon to check in on the crew, who had finished boxing up the dinner requests. We’re doing take out for faculty and staff these days. It’s the only thing allowed. Families and individuals will drive up, walk up, or cycle up to pick up, and in that moment there’s the spark of the community we so miss. A smile, a thank-you, a shared laugh. Just being an onlooker to that scene lifts the spirits. Sometimes there’s a little music, a little dancing. But whereas the Proctor pickup from the kitchen is out back, the front end of the house sits empty. No gatherings at tables, no clusters around the salad bar, no sticky scoops by the ice cream. The dining commons sits fallow and quiet.
I asked Barb and Caleb and Emilee and Hannah and others on the crew what they miss the most about the whole community being together because as wonderful as those drop off and pickups are, they are just a sliver of what was. It’s the vibe, they say. The excitement around pizza night, the checking in to see if we can run this item or that (mostly they can). It’s the theme nights around the Super Bowl, the movie nights. It’s the students who want to learn something about cooking. Maybe it’s not so much the panini machine smoking at lunch, or the toaster on fire, yet again, because a too thick slice of bread is caught in the back, or the cereal leaking out from the dispensers onto the floor. But the flat-out student energy? That’s the missing ingredient they could not stop talking about.
Hannah and Caleb share a laugh with me after all food has been served and put away for the day.
I don’t get over to the kitchen every day, but when I need to get as close to a community fix as one can get these days, that’s where I head. I walk in the back door and the music is on, the mixers are going, the combi ovens are humming. The crew hustles and smiles. Spices are being mixed, vegetables chopped, cookies baked. There’s nothing quite like the comfort of a kitchen. And the best part of today? I got to walk over to a cookie rack and pry a couple of double chocolates free for the walk back over to Maxwell Savage.
I got to enjoy the vibe and the cookies. It’s the community fix, the food fix, and the hope fix all combined.
Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School