The People Who Build Community

Posted by Scott Allenby


As a boarding school in a small, rural, New England village, Proctor Academy is hard to separate from the town of Andover. Proctor’s campus lies at the geographical center of town, spanning both sides of Main Street and abutting residences on North Street. Our buildings, fields, and ski area visible to all passersby. Proctor's faculty and staff live throughout Andover, and our local elementary school has been filled with faculty and staff children for over a century. The work of Proctor and the work of the town go hand in hand. 

Proctor Academy Town of Andover

Proctor Academy faculty and students circa 1900 (Photo archived by Heather Makechnie)

The interconnectedness of Andover and Proctor spans the entire history of the school (click here to learn more about Proctor’s history), as Proctor was first chartered to serve the town's children in 1848. Over the past 168 years, Proctor has evolved from a small village school to a world leader in experiential education and academic support, serving families from 25 states and 8 countries, including three dozen Andover residents each year. While Proctor has certainly changed during its history, our engagement with the Andover community has remained steadfast.

Proctor Academy Town of Andover

Proctor Academy's fire department conducting training in 1974 (photo courtesy Henry Vaughn '74)

Not too many years ago, Proctor’s fire department (above) responded to emergency calls alongside the Andover Fire and Rescue volunteers. Memories shared by alums like Henry Vaughn ‘74 illustrate the depth of this relationship between our town and our school. While liability issues prevent this type of volunteerism for our students today, the connection between Proctor’s students and the town remains strong.


Andover resident Riley '16 interning at the Andover Elementary School during Project Period 2016

Each spring, Project Period groups intern at the Andover Elementary Middle School (above), and throughout the year Proctor’s athletic teams run clinics for Andover youth sports teams. Our  facilities are regularly shared with the community, especially during Andover’s elaborate 4th of July Celebration. Proctor faculty and staff members play critical roles on different town committees and volunteer groups like the Andover Beacon board of directors, Andover Historical Society, Andover Fire and Rescue Squad, Andover Rec Committee, Andover Lions Club, and countless other organizations. 


Andover's annual 4th of July parade heading down North Street through Proctor's campus

Throughout Proctor’s history, different members of the community have championed this critical relationship between the school and the town. On Tuesday, we lost one of these champions with the sudden passing of Heather Makechnie P’90, P’90, P’92, P’00, P’07. Heather first joined the Proctor community in 1985 when her husband, Arthur, stepped in to lead Proctor’s Dining Services team. Over the next 31 years, Heather’s commitment to the town of Andover through her service to countless organizations in the local community served as an inspiration to those who knew her. 


It is through examples like Heather that we are reminded that community doesn’t simply ‘happen’; not in a neighborhood, not in a school, and certainly not in a town. Instead, community is built through hard work, commitment, and selfless service of its members. We each have a responsibility to steward the communities in which we live and work, and as we mourn with the Makechnie family, we challenge ourselves to follow Heather’s example of service and commit to making our community as strong as it can be.


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