One of the first recorded instances of book censorship was in 1637 when Thomas Morton’s New Canaan was banned in Puritan New England for its criticism of Puritan beliefs. The censorship of written work, especially books, has become exponentially more common as society has evolved.
As we prepare to close out on the 2021-2022 school year, one thing stands out to me as I think about what makes Proctor uniquely Proctor. Of course, as mentioned in other pieces written across the Proctor Universe, the magic of connection and relationships drive everything that we do. Certainly, more so than any school where I have been or even schools that I have known from a distance. Affective connections and compassion matter.
Last Friday evening, we welcomed Phil Kaye of Project Voice to an all-school assembly where he shared his powerful spoken word poetry. Phil joined English classes on Saturday morning as well, empowering students to share their own voice through poetry. Phil’s visit to campus reminded us of the importance of hearing and seeking out varied voices within our community.
The final days of the Spring Term consistently showcase the best of Proctor in action: creativity, art, music, pursuit of individual passions, and an appreciation for the work of others. Wednesday afternoon brought the entire community together one last time for Proctor’s Art Department Express Fest, Senior Project presentations, and AP Language Moth talks. It was a jam-packed day reminding us of just how fun it is to see our students’ learning in action.
“Voice can take a long time to come all the way out, brother.” Bobby said. “Be patient.” These words jumped off the page of Tommy Orange’s There There as John Around Him discussed the book with Proctor’s American Literature students. This notion of voice, of who has the courage (and privilege) to share their voice, and who will listen when they finally do, cuts through an American Literature curriculum to the core of how we empower students to live lives that matter.
I think back on my middle-school days as the worst part of my youth. My school (like most middle-schools I’m sure) was a sea of insecurity. Kids combatted their fears of exclusion by labeling and othering. These categories created a sense of security and belonging for some, and a sense of loneliness and longing for others. I became more concerned with how I was being seen by others than figuring out my own interests and passions. I thought one day, after observing a popular eighth-grade boy named John strut through the halls with a confident swagger, this kid knows who he is, he has it all figured out. I later mimicked his mannerisms, constructing my identity around what appeared to be the culturally accepted and lauded one.
Each fall and spring, students have the opportunity to showcase projects from classes across disciplines at Proctor’s Innovation Night. Now in its fifth iteration, the event has become an embedded part of our academic calendar and serves as a celebration and culmination of the hard work our students have been doing all term. Academic Dean Derek Nussbaum-Wagler reflected, “It provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate the rich, valuable work that they have produced through our experiential learning opportunities”.
Monday's assembly marked the beginning of the end of the 2017-2018 school year as academic departments presented underclass awards. As Head of School Mike Henriques mentioned in his opening comments of the assembly, our students have invested incredible effort and energy into their academic pursuits at Proctor this year. While we wish we could publicly acknowledge each of our student's individual growth, today's awards assembly recognized a handful of students whose performance and effort stands out as truly excellent. Congratulations to each of this year's underclass award winners listed below!