Sometimes it all just seems to fit together. Everything runs smoothly. We walk into classrooms, the gym, the dining commons, our dorms, and it all flows. The lights are on, the floors are clean, the temperature is comfortable, the food is ready. The hours of the days shift smoothly. There’s order. Students and faculty do their best work in this environment, and often it is because of the infrastructure of support that we often don’t see. But we should.
It’s not easy finding the community fix these days. It’s not easy for faculty, not easy for staff, not easy for students. The virtual get-together gets you maybe half way there, but there’s nothing quite like the face to face. So we find it where and when we can, and I am fortunate enough to be able to duck into the kitchen now and again.
I wish I could say I am just nibbling almonds and leafy greens, have quit sugar and dialed back on dairy, but the truth? It’s different. In the last week there was a road stop at Five Guys and a cheeseburger. And fries. And a carbonated beverage that was not kombucha. When I scroll back further, I do recall eating most of a pot of tapioca pudding and I have faltered around potato chips. Seriously faltered. Perfect in my diet? Far from it.
I walked through the doors, hung up my jacket, and made a hot chocolate. The smell of good cooking wafted through the air as I entered my home away from home and sat at the third table on the left upstairs in the Brown Dining Commons.
Proctor Academy opened the doors to a net-zero ready dining facility, Brown Dining Commons, this fall. The building is the first of its kind in New England and serves three meals a day to Proctor’s 370 students and 150 faculty and staff. Proctor has long demonstrated an institutional commitment to environmental stewardship, installing a biomass heating plant in 2008 and more than 360 kwh of solar panels on campus over the past twelve months. When it was time to design and plan a new dining facility due to insufficient space in the old Cannon Dining Hall, Proctor’s Board of Trustees and Administration set out to build the most environmentally friendly dining facility at an independent school in New England. Just over a year after construction began, that vision has become a reality thanks to the generous contributions of many donors. The building's name honors The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, Texas leadership commitment to the project and longtime friendship to Proctor.
Too often we take for granted the food that enters our bodies. We wake up, grab something for breakfast and off we go into the busyness of our day. Living at a New England boarding school, our connection to the food we eat becomes even more distant as we are fortunate to have talented dining service teams provide three warm meals a day to us. Thankfully, Proctor's Dining Services team's creativity in the kitchen and passion for serving healthy, local food options regularly reminds us to be acutely aware of how we are fueling our bodies for learning.
On April 11, 1977 one of Proctor’s most iconic buildings was destroyed by a fire. The entire community stood and watched as the center of campus was ravaged by flames. Not only was Cary House the residence of four faculty families and thirty-six students, but it also housed the school’s kitchen and dining hall. Read this old Chuck’s Corner for more details about the fire and its impact on Proctor.
Here at Proctor, our decisions are guided by a robust Environmental Mission Statement. Written by Proctor Environmental Action (PEA) students and adopted with the full support of the Proctor faculty in 2008, the Environmental Mission Statement has been instrumental in guiding us in significantly reducing our use of fossil fuels, dramatically increasing our generation of alternative energy, and strengthening our environmental education program. From Housekeeping to Athletics to the Science Department, every aspect of the school is touched in some way by this statement, including the food served in the Cannon Dining Hall.