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.
A glance through old yearbooks and even photos from last winter reminds us just how much the world has changed over the past nine months. We yearn for the normalcy of assemblies in the Wilkins Meetinghouse, a packed Brown Dining Commons, hosting basketball and hockey games, and the impromptu dance party in the Wise Center. A return to normal may still be a distant dream, but the release of two successful vaccines has lit a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel through which we have all been stumbling through this year.
Proctor's 5,000 alumni live worldwide, and while their time in Andover spans generations, their shared experiences living at Proctor creates a lifelong connection. Through the Proctor Alumni Association, alumni around the globe are able to connect with each other, and as we navigate a global pandemic, ironically these connections have never been stronger.
Mike and Becky Walsh arrived at Proctor Academy in the Fall of 2002 when Mike accepted a teaching and coaching position. Since then, Mike has taught in the science and technology departments while serving as the head boys' hockey and golf coach and Becky as the administrative assistant in the Athletic Office. The Walsh's also raised two boys on-campus, Reilly '17 and Ronan '20. For Reilly, growing up on Proctor’s campus often felt like a dream - access to playing fields, the Teddy Maloney ‘88 Rink, and role models in the high schoolers that surrounded him - but his real dream from an early age was taking the ice for an N.H.L. club. This week, Reilly Walsh is one step closer to living out this dream of playing professional hockey.
With well over 8,000 alumni, it is impossible to pause and recognize all who pass away. But when an individual who has shaped Proctor the way James L. Dunbar ‘49 has leaves this world, we feel compelled to share his story with the greater community. Jim died on June 9 (on what would have been his 69th wedding anniversary) at the age of 90.
Now more than ever we crave connection. We miss running into each other on the pathways on the way to assembly or waiting in line for lunch. We crave the informal daily interactions that fuel us as social beings. This weekend would have been Alumni Reunion Weekend. For classes ending in 0’s and 5’s, a time to return to campus and connect with each other. For faculty and staff, a time to see our former students return as adults forging their way through life.