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.
Later this afternoon we will welcome students back from break for the heart of the winter term. The dining hall will gradually come to life, dorms will fill with hugs, stories from the past two weeks, and anticipation of what lies ahead. Moments like tonight, when we see our students joyously reconnecting with each other, stand in stark contrast to the realities of disconnect and mental health struggles facing so many.
In the last two years, our country and our culture has been put to the test. Pushed to our limits, at least for some of us, it sometimes feels like “the center cannot hold.” Working with and holding hope for adults and teenagers through one of the rockiest periods in recent memory definitely has had its challenges. Even the most stalwart of folks strain to stay healthy while empathy, patience, and the ability to self-regulate too often feel in short supply.
When we walked our eldest child to kindergarten for the first time, we shared a short phrase before releasing his hand into the big, scary world of elementary school: “Be kind, be brave, and have fun.” Every day since, with each of our children, we utter these words before saying goodbye for the day. It is our mantra, words that center us before going about our day’s work.
Before the addition of the Strength and Conditioning program, run by Craig Leaman and Ross Young, out of season athletes lacked an official structure to train for their primary sport while out of season. However, with the renovation to the Farrell Field House in 2019 and construction of a new fitness center and functional turf strip in the gym, opportunities abound for out of season athletes to hone their skills specific to their sport. Due to COVID-19, NEPSAC rules have allowed for increased contact with out of season athletes and coaches this fall. Proctor's focus has been on twice weekly strength and conditioning sessions for winter sport athletes in addition to twice weekly practices.
The fiery reds and oranges of mid-October maples have given way to the rusts and browns of November oaks. Forecasted snow tonight confirms winter is near; the inevitable changing of seasons upon us. It is hard to imagine a more pleasant weather pattern than Fall in New Hampshire - cool nights, warm days, abundant sunshine, and scenery to match. A look through Proctor’s Flickr page looks like one big brochure for boarding school, and yet when we experience a few rainy days in a row, we seemingly forget the beauty that so recently surrounded us.
As an independent high school offering experiential learning both on and off campus, by necessity Proctor is unavoidably in the business of managing risk. Mostly we are comfortable with that. Knowing that students are going to be riding out gales in the Atlantic on Ocean Classroom, clattering through a slalom course at the Proctor Ski Area, navigating solos on Mountain Classroom, learning how to use plasma cutters in the metal shop is all in our comfort zone. It’s what we do in so many arenas at Proctor. And our students find the landscape of challenge rich with life growth opportunities. We take managing this risk seriously. We recognize, however, that in the midst of these daily risks, there are moments when our risk profile amplifies. It is during these moments when we must remain agile, shift course if necessary, and remain vigilant to the external factors impacting our internal offerings.