Proctor's 169th Commencement: Celebrating the Class of 2017

Posted by Scott Allenby


This weekend we celebrated Proctor Academy's 169th Commencement alongside the Class of 2017 and their families. Each of the 109 members of the Class of 2017 impacted the Proctor community in a unique way. It is impossible to quantify the impact a class has on a school community, but what we do know is we are going to miss the Class of 2017 dearly! Thankfully, we were able to recognize the diverse talents and tremendous contributions of this graduating class throughout Friday's Senior Dinner and Saturday's Commencement exercises. Check out some highlights of the weekend below. 


Heavy rains Thursday and Friday morning threatened to put a damper on Friday night's Senior Dinner and Awards ceremony, however, the weather held for the most part and we had plenty of opportunities for family photos! 


Following a delicious dinner prepared by Proctor's talented Dining Services team (who worked wonders all weekend serving well over 2,000 meals in less than 18 hours!), families, faculty, staff, and members of the Class of 2017 migrated from the Brown Dining Commons to the tent on Farrell Field for an evening of awards presentations and performances by members of the Class of 2017. 


Led by Jay Pier '17 (Lumiere), the cast of Beauty and the Beast brought down the house with "Be Our Guest".


Alan McIntyre presents the Polar Swim Award (complete with a dozen Brother's Donuts of course) to Eliza Orne '17 and Lilah Hilliard '17 for their commitment to the weekly ritual over the past four years. 


Brenda Godwin presented the Robert M. Downey and Weitzman Technology wards as her last official act as a Proctor faculty member as she enters retirement. 


Caroline Jones '17 and Chandler Devaney '17 present the class gift - new granite terraced seating next to Farrell Field built by Devaney, Peter Laviolette '17, Tate Singleton '17, and Dillon Fitzpatrick '17 during their Senior Project. 


Friday's rain showers cleared out over night and gifted us with perhaps the most beautiful weather we've had in more than a decade for Proctor's 169th Commencement exercises on Saturday morning. Families, graduates, and faculty gather in Alice's Garden for photos, hugs, and words of thanks before the processional. 



The Class of 2017 members of the National Art Honor Society.


Laurie Zimmerman (above with Sadie '17) and Phil Goodnow (below with Hunter Churchill '01, Ian Hamlet, and Mike Koenig) prepare to take part in their last Commencement ceremony as Proctor faculty members, along with Brenda Godwin. We'll miss you Laurie, Phil, and Brenda! 


As lines form for the processional, the elation on both faculty and students faces can be seen from a mile away. So much hard work goes into each student's Proctor career. No journey is linear through Proctor, and at every twist and turn, and up and down is a group of unbelievably committed faculty members whose sincere pride in the graduating class mirrors the joy of the graduates. 




Once under the tent, and Head of School Mike Henriques welcomed everyone, the reality of the moment began to sink in for the Class of 2017. Over the next two hours, students gave speeches, offered musical performances, received awards, cheered for each other, and honored faculty and staff for their hard work and dedication to the Proctor community. Each year at Commencement we are reminded that we are all in this educational journey together - students, faculty, staff, parents - and we all want to celebrate each other's successes. 



Salutatorian Bridget Fagan '17 stepped way outside her comfort zone to deliver a wonderful speech filled with motivational quotes and an urging to her classmates to use their diverse talents to do great things in every realm imaginable. 


Senior Speaker, as voted by his classmates, Grey Bechok '17 shared heartfelt thank yous to all members of the Proctor community, including parents for making the Class of 2017's Proctor experience possible. 


Valedictorian Sam Marshall shared an incredibly well-written speech on the importance of valuing and respecting different opinions as we walk through life. 


MIT Professor Emeritus Dr. Woodie Flowers provided a thought provoking commencement address asking graduates to look at the interplay between foundational knowledge (facts) and the realm of personal opinion.  Flowers apologized on behalf of all the adults in attendance for "messing up so many things in the world, not the least of which our relationship with each other and our planet." He then used quadrants (as any good engineer would) to discuss the intersection between facts, people, opinions, and things. His parting plea to the graduating class, "Spending time in three of these quadrants is really important - having your ethics informed by facts is incredibly important...You're going to learn more about nature, self, and humanity. You need to take the truth and knowledge you have received at Proctor, and morph it into wisdom. If you can, you'll help unscramble some of the messes we adults have made."

Re-Watch Proctor's 2017 Commencement Here!

Following Flower's address, the awarding of prizes to members of the Class of 2017 for outstanding contributions in leadership, citizenship, personal development, and community service proceeded the presentation of three faculty/staff awards that each received a standing ovation. 


Lindsay Brown '01 (above) was recognized with the 2017 Renaissance Teacher Award voted on by the graduating class to recognize a Proctor faculty or staff member who has gone above and beyond to make the experiences of students at Proctor more meaningful through their encouragement and support. 


After rocking it with Nick's Other Band one last time as a current faculty member, Phil Goodnow was recognized by members of the Class of 2015 and Class of 2012 with the John O'Connor Award for Excellence in Teaching. 


In addition to watching her daughter, Jacqui, graduate, Bonny Morris P'06, '17 was recognized with the Nance Patten Barrett Staff Service Award given to recognize extra-ordinary service to the Proctor Community by a non-faculty member and to heighten awareness of the dedication, hard work, and loyalty of all its employees which makes possible the smooth operation of this institution.  


And just like that it was time for Dean of Faculty Karl Methven to read the names of each of the 109 graduates and present diplomas. As each graduate walked across the stage to cheers from family and friends in the audience, we each felt a deep appreciation for the varied influencers who helped the Class of 2017 successfully navigate adolescence: parents, family, friends, advisors, coaches, dorm parents, learning specialists, teachers, and so many more. Raising quality adults is a group effort, and we are incredibly thankful we had the opportunity to help shape the lives of our 109 newest alumni.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017! 


Click for Photos of Proctor's 2017 Commencement and Senior Dinner! 


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