On my way to the library in the twilight hour earlier this week, I passed a group of students outside the back of Rulon-Miller Dorm in the dark sitting in Adirondack chairs just chilling and chatting. They were senior boys getting their wings, deciding what evening study hall will now look like for them as they transition to Senior Projects, last rites of the school year, and what post-graduation might hold as they begin to chart their own courses.
When I first moved to Proctor and to Andover, the question I most often received from folks was, “Are you excited?” Pausing, I would drink the question in for a while, just to get my bearings each time and to see if anything had changed for me. Each time, after carefully thinking it through, I would say, “Not really.” Or, I’d say, “Excitement is not really the word.” Or, finally, “It just feels ‘right.’” I was not trying to be cagey or obtuse, but I was simply trying to honor the question and the questioner. I am also a stickler for precision. To be more precise takes careful and nuanced answers.
In the last two years, our country and our culture has been put to the test. Pushed to our limits, at least for some of us, it sometimes feels like “the center cannot hold.” Working with and holding hope for adults and teenagers through one of the rockiest periods in recent memory definitely has had its challenges. Even the most stalwart of folks strain to stay healthy while empathy, patience, and the ability to self-regulate too often feel in short supply.
Today’s offering for The Journey comes through the voices of John Around Him and Lori Patriaca ‘01, both of whom have served a critical role in helping our Proctor community connect with, understand, and become a part of the Lakota communities of South Dakota, continuing a legacy of connection first made by John’s father, John Around Him, and late faculty member George Emeny in the 1980s. John spent last week visiting classes, spending time with students and faculty, and immersing himself in all that is Proctor. Enjoy John and Lori’s offering below.
In many cultures, gatherings are sacred, like the garments worn at a celebratory event. It’s where people feel comfort, receive information, share messages, and pass on what is essential about why the group exists. At Proctor, we are a mix of people, groups, religions, races, creeds, and cultures. Often, we come together to share in the joy of each other’s gifts, whether in the classrooms, spaces of play, upon the stage, or because of common interest. We all share one essential thing, which is the love for our small village - our school - that knits us together on pristine land in the middle of New Hampshire.