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.
Every time language is spoken or written, every time a work of art is created and displayed, it sits within some kind of larger context. My interest this week is in words, how they hang in the air or on the page and how the air is charged around them and depending on the context and who is saying them, the meaning changes. No word, written or spoken, gets to simply float in a vacuum, in a weightless state and the absence of pull. Every word carries with it a definition, or several definitions, and it carries with it a certain connotation that might be relatively neutral and light in weight, but might also be significantly heavy within a context and setting, which leads me to the question, who gets to say what when?
This is a quick note about the Proctor community coming together. Attached to this note are some of the critical steps and practices you must be aware of, take, and maintain if we are to keep our community safe. They are sensible, straightforward, and non-negotiable. I don’t say this to be heavy handed but to keep everyone healthy.
As we enter month six of quarantine with our family here in Andover, New Hampshire, we have limited the social interactions of our three children to afternoon swims at Elbow Pond, time with grandparents, and campfires in the backyard in the evenings. During this time of isolation, the connections these small outlets have provided have proven the lifeblood for our family, not because life by ourselves is bad, but because life with others is better.