On a quiet Sunday afternoon, filled with final exam preparations, we reflect on the past two days and all that transpired within our remarkable little community. Starting on Friday morning with the arrival of our Board of Trustees on campus for the first time in two years, we enjoyed a 48 hour sprint that included our final Fall Term classes, a Holderness Day pep rally in assembly, Fall Term Art Show, Dance and Jazz/Rock Ensemble performances, and a full day of competitions for Holderness Day 2021.
It was nearly impossible to be present at every event this weekend, but isn’t this what vibrant educational communities do? By providing seemingly endless opportunities to see our students in action, we reinforce the notion that it is through living that we do our best learning. Our motto Live to Learn Learn to Live was on fully display this past weekend.
Student paintings, ceramic works, woodworking projects, metal sculpture creations, metal engineering pieces, and textile art displays showcased the remarkable talent of our student body during Friday evening’s Fall Term Art Show. Kudos to all of the artists (and art faculty who helped shepherd the individual journeys) for sharing their creative process with us. Read more about the arts at Proctor in THIS BLOG.
Following the art show, Proctor’s Dance Team and Jazz/Rock Ensemble took the stage in successive shows in the Norris Family Theater. Each time I read an excerpt from Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speech (below) lauding the bravery and vulnerability of the man in the arena, I think of our students during these final performances.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the [person] who points out how the strong [person] stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the [person] who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends [themselves] in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if [they] fail, at least fails while daring greatly, so that [their] place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Unlike our athletic teams who compete throughout the season, both Dance and Jazz/Rock groups stepped onto the stage for a single, culminating performance in front of a packed theater. A literal spotlight shines on each movement, note, and verse, and we get to witness these incredibly personal moments within a lifelong creative journey. How fortunate are we?
On Saturday, each of our athletic teams stepped onto the fields for Holderness Day. All teams except varsity football (who won 14-0 at Kings School) and varsity cross country (competing at the NEPSAC championships) headed north to Holderness School to take on the Bulls in a day of competitions. As we donned our green and white, Roosevelts words returned. Our students were stepping boldly into the arena of competition in front of the entire school bodies of both schools. Not an easy task.
Varsity Field Hockey kicked off the day with a convincing 4-1 win, followed by our JV soccer teams splitting with Holderness. Heading into the Boys’ Varsity Soccer game, we were all knotted up at 4.5 points a piece, but the Hornets were far from done. Tied 1-1 at the half, boys’ soccer exploded for four second half goals to come away with the 5-1 win. With a one point advantage heading into the final competition of the day, our Girls’ Varsity Soccer team needed a tie or win to secure The Granite trophy for the Hornets. An early goal by Cassidy Joslin ‘22 served as the only scoring until Holderness tied it up late in the second half. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, but it was enough to secure the win for Proctor, our first Holderness Day victory since 2017.
This is what end of term art performances and Holderness Day are all about: boldly sharing our hearts and passions and souls with the world. In life, it is easy to avoid the arena, to stay on the sidelines, to avoid risking the emotional vulnerability that lives hand in hand with performing. But this is not where we live our best lives. We live our best lives when we step into life’s arena, when we spend ourselves in worthy cause, when we feel all the emotions we are capable of feeling.
An unseasonably warm mid-November Saturday served as a backdrop for this day of competition with Holderness. Our seniors walked off the field in tears, knowing it might be their last game of their career, but with their heads held high knowing they had bravely stepping into the arena in the first place.