With a heavy heart, I share the sad news of the passing of Walter Wright '49. Throughout his lifetime, he remained committed to the growth and sustainability of Proctor. As a Proctor student, Walter was a school leader his senior year, played football, was on the student council and the improvement squad. He was also the recipient of the Shop Award and the Savage Leadership Award. Through my few conversations with Walter since I was appointed Head of School, he expressed a deep commitment to a culture of environmental sustainability that is now woven into the fabric of our community and perpetuated through the naming of the Walter Wright '49 Biomass Plant dedicated in his honor in 2009.
Every four years, the Olympics captivate the attention of millions worldwide. For the overwhelming majority of athletes that earn the right to compete, it is the pinnacle of their athletic careers. And, on the rare occasion, some get the opportunity to represent their country multiple times. Even the casual observer of the games can marvel at the work and dedication to compete at such a high level. No doubt the athletes gain the recognition they deserve, but behind every athlete is a team of coaches, trainers, medical personnel, and many others who work to support the Olympic dream. For four Olympics, Max Corcoran '90 has been an integral part of Team U.S.A.'s Equestrian Team, serving as a Groom to some of the nation's top riders.
During a normal year, Proctor's campus would be buzzing with activity as we prepared to welcome hundreds of alumni to campus for our annual Alumni Reunion. For the second straight year, however, we have had to offer a virtual reunion due to Covid-19 and limitations on campus gatherings. Proctor's Alumni Office continues their series of virtual events this weekend with Proctor Reunion 2021!
We spend an inordinate amount of our mental and emotional bandwidth working to align ourselves with our stated identities. Society repeatedly asks us to make declarative “I am” statements on surveys, medical intake forms, or social media profiles. In doing so, we risk becoming an identity that is as much shaped by others as ourselves. “I am white.” “I am married.” “I am employed at Proctor.”
At the core of Proctor is human connection, a group of talented educators ready and willing to help adolescents through their high school years. Each Proctor journey includes its own challenges, and it is the navigation of these moments of difficulty alongside caring faculty that most powerfully shapes the student experience. For Justin Donaldson ‘01, the intersection of human connection and supportive adults during his time of crisis not only defined his time at Proctor, but laid the foundation for his work supporting others today.
When John O’Connor ‘79 arrived in rural Andover, New Hampshire from Houston, Texas as a Proctor ninth grader, he was greeted by a vastly different campus than students enjoy today. Proctor’s current Admissions Office was a local watering hole, Rocky’s Roost, serving 18-year old Proctor students, the west end of campus was wholly undeveloped aside from the Farrell Field House, and the student body was composed of more than 80% boys. But it was never Proctor’s physical plant or enrollment statistics that allowed John to flourish. Instead, it was the relationships formed with teachers and classmates and fundamentally life-changing experiences that laid a foundation for his on-going engagement with Proctor over the past forty years.
For more than 70 years, Proctor has served as a leader in brain-based approach to teaching diverse learning styles. During an era when most schools uniformly categorized a student with a learning difference as “unable” to achieve the same as a traditional learner, Proctor chose to take a different approach. Faculty worked to understand how students learn and developed an educational model that celebrated and supported a truly diverse set of learners through an integrated Learning Skills program. For Pam Stewart-Martinez '87, the lessons of support and community learned during her time at Proctor ignited a passion for committing to a life of service to others.