Yesterday’s weather was just about perfect: sunshine, 70 degrees, no black flies. The only problem? We were in Phase 1 quarantine on campus due to a few diagnosed Covid-19 cases on campus. Remote classes continue today, Day Students remain home, and our Boarding Students are living and learning in dorm pods while we isolate and mitigate the spread of the virus. It has been a tough week in many ways, and yet at this point in the pandemic, we are refining our appreciation for stoic philosophy and becoming quite adept at identifying what lies in our control and what does not.
Amidst today’s chilly late-March rain showers and heavy clouds, we welcome students to campus for the Spring Term. A two-week Spring Break allowed us all to hit reset, to take a few deep breaths, and to reflect on all we have accomplished this year as a school community. During a year of “Can’ts” for so many institutions, we have been a school of “Cans”.
Over the past months, an alarming rise in incidents of hate and violence towards Asian American and Pacific Islander communities reminds us of the deep seated racism, xenophobia, and misogyny that lives within America. Last week, yet another incident saw eight victims of irrational violence in Atlanta, Georgia. Regardless of the stated motivations behind this shooting, the fact remains that six of the victims were Asian women during a time when racist language and imagery against Asians has been stoked by anti-Chinese bias related to Covid-19. Racism and misogyny are intertwined in American history, and it is up to all Americans to stand up to it.
Walking to assembly Thursday morning, Wednesday night was still very much with me. The images from Washington, Capitol Hill, jarring: the confederate flag in the capitol, the images of doors being barricaded, guns drawn, members of congress crouching under desks. As Nicolas Kristof wrote in an editorial for the New York Times, “I’ve covered attempted coups in many countries around the world, and now I’m finally covering one in the United States.” How to find context for hope in all of this?
Twenty-six members of the Proctor community (students, faculty, staff, and Trustees) heard the words below shared by Eddie Glaude, Jr. during the opening keynote of the National Association of Independent Schools annual People of Color Conference held virtually last week. Drawing more than 5,000 educators and 2,000 students from around the country, the PoCC provides a safe space for leadership, professional development, and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. For Proctor’s cohort in attendance, the workshops, affinity groups, and speakers challenged us to think critically about our school and how we can help build a new America through our work as an institution.
Today we voted. We voted because we have been granted the right to do so under the representative democracy designed by America’s founding fathers nearly 250 years ago. Every four years, like clockwork, through times of war and economic hardship and domestic unrest, citizens gather in their communities to vote for President of the United States and other offices. As we step behind the red and white curtain in the gym at Andover Elementary Middle School to cast our vote, we are reminded that our voice is powerful and that our voice matters.
Sometimes a good, sensible essay can settle the mind. Well-crafted sentences with their musicality, their soothing rhythms, and their carefully selected words are almost akin to deep breathing exercises - or baseball games. Meditative. Centering. Moving at their own, requisite pace. This week, as we seem to hurtle towards next week’s presidential elections, I have found it helpful to turn to EB White now that the MLB season is over. His pieces are measured, precise in their totality. Sane. As the Dodgers vanquished the Rays this week, it was not hard to imagine EB White appreciating the games. Today, two volumes of his collected works sit on my desk, so much linguistic sanity. A double header’s worth of pieces.