With temperatures plummeting well below zero over the next two days, we find ourselves in the heart of winter; academic classes, research papers, projects, athletic schedules, and musical rehearsals fill our days and minds. With four weeks until the end of the Winter Term, this stretch of the school year can feel especially challenging for all of us.
New students arrived on September 6 for Wilderness Orientation, their faces filled with uncertainty. How would they fit in socially? Academically? Athletically? Artistically? How would they find their friend group, who would sit with them at meals? Today, during a packed Brown Dining Commons lunch, we look around and see connected faces, smiles, seemingly endless Spirit Week energy. We see young people who are finding their way through their high school experience, with the support of an amazing, tireless group of adults who keep this community running.
During Monday’s assembly, five new members of the Class of 2023 were inducted into the Allan S. Bursaw Chapter of the National Honor Society. Recognized for their scholarship, character, service, and citizenship, these twelve students (Grace, Kally, Emma, Eliza, Ella, Grace, Sophie, Samantha, Ingrid, Phoenix, Henry, and Jonathan) include some of the highest academic achievers in the senior class, but perhaps more importantly represent the variety of experiences that makeup the Proctor journey.
The start of each school year rapidly shifts from a universal experience (Wilderness Orientation) to a highly individualized one (classes, afternoon activities, advisories, dorms) for students. We are three days into the academic schedule, and within each area of life, students are starting to figure out a rhythm to the school year.
Proctor’s Day Student Picnic held Wednesday evening marks the “official” start of the school year as it is the first time students are on campus. Seeing smiling faces and the contagious energy of adolescents back on campus reminded us that they are the final piece of the puzzle that enables the Proctor magic to flow.
Research shows, and we believe deeply, that when a student feels known and understood, they will have a stronger sense of belonging, will be more confident, more motivated and hardworking, will develop a stronger sense of self and will contribute more in a community. In an environment that is predictable and supportive, young people will thrive.
At the beginning of last spring, I had the opportunity to observe Tom Morgan’s Creative Nonfiction class in action as students worked in small groups to create podcasts. Their assignment was to document the collective Proctor response to the first weeks of the war between Russia and Ukraine. Tom invited me to his class to discuss the basics of digital storytelling and audio sequencing, including how to select, trim and arrange different audio elements into a cohesive story.
This week, we are in the midst of conversations with a group of young alumni for our upcoming edition of the Proctor Magazine. Each of these alumni are entering the heart of their career. Some are in health care, others working for nonprofits, others teaching, and yet others running startups. While their experiences and career paths vary, they uniformly assert that Proctor served a powerful role in shaping who they are as adults.