Early this week, returning and new families will receive an email from Assistant Head of School Karin Clough outlining a series of permission forms and start of year information. Included in this communication will be the 2021-2022 edition of the Student Handbook, a document that has long served as the guide to how our Proctor community functions.
It’s been just over two weeks since we celebrated the Class of 2021. We each have taken a deep breath, spent plenty of time at Elbow Pond floating under the watchful eye of Ragged Mountain alongside friends and reflecting on the school year. We’ve written much about Covid-19 and the impact on Proctor, the resiliency and grit and perseverance that were required of students and adults alike, but maybe our success was more about human connection and collaboration than we thought.
In September we published THIS blog post discussing the term acedia and its ancient roots that aptly describe the situation in which we have found ourselves in over the past thirteen months: listlessness, undirected anxiety, and inability to concentrate. At the end of the Fall Term, we shared thoughts on emotional agility and the need to come to terms with the complexity of that which we were experiencing. Over the weekend, The New York Times published an article titled, Feeling: It’s Called Languishing in which the author, Adam Grant, describes the joyless and aimless state that has besieged so many of us over the past year. We are inundated with messages seeking to help us make sense of this chapter of our lives.
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.
As the spring sunshine warms campus and students migrate out of their dorms onto the pathways and fields around campus during this post-Spring Break quarantine, we are filled with hope for the term ahead. At the same time, our community processes the loss of a long-time community member to cancer last week and walks alongside another as she battles late stage cancer. Both far too young, both remarkable humans who have made this school a better place and touched the lives of countless students, colleagues, and friends over the past decades. We find ourselves, again, learning how to hold the contradictory emotions of joy and mourning with grace.
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”.
Sometimes it’s the little things like holding a door or saying thank you, and sometimes it's the moments that ask for much more sacrifice. Tuesday reminded me of this when I got the call early evening that one of the weekly saliva pool tests had pinged positive and 50 faculty and staff had to be antigen and PCR tested by our Health Center staff. We wanted to hustle the new round of tests off to the lab, so the call went out for folks to come back to campus. Immediately. The Health Center staff, some of them just having gotten home from their day shift, all showed up. The employees who needed to be tested left families and drove back to campus to stand outside the Health Center and wait their turn to be swabbed. They did so with humor, patience, and caring, and by 9:30 that night the task was complete.