Sunshine and blue skies, with temperatures flirting with 50 degrees, is a good reminder that the stubborn New Hampshire winter is gradually releasing its grip on campus. March is an ugly month around these parts, but as we launch the Spring Term, we jump into classes and spring athletic and afternoon programs with excitement and anticipation. It is a chance to start fresh, and an opportunity to reflect on our “why” as a school. Why do we do what we do, in the way that we do it?
As a foot of heavy, wet snow falls on campus today, our dreams of cleared fields and tennis courts for spring sports are delayed for another few weeks. Spring snow storms are a reminder that our vision of how life “should be” and how life “is” are not always aligned. We need to become more comfortable living in this gap, of finding purpose, meaning, and connection in our here and now, rather than wishing we existed in an idealized version of reality.
Late last night, Head of School Brian Thomas announced that today would be Head’s Day, an unplanned, surprise day off from school commitments for students. Students get to sleep in, lounge around, go skiing, head to a local restaurant with faculty, or take their time with an extra long workout in the gym.
We are ‘educators’ by profession, but our responsibility to our students extends well beyond the walls of our classrooms. We serve as examples for our students: in the dining hall, in assembly, when we play with our own children, when we interact with our peers, and when we volunteer our time in the local community. Students arrive at Proctor having been shaped and molded by their own parents, and our role as a boarding school is to build upon the foundation their parents provided.
For those of us residing in the northern hemisphere, today marks the darkest day of the year. The sun rose today at 7:13 AM and will set at 4:12 PM, affording us less than 9 hours of daylight. December is a month of anticipation as we await the Winter Solstice and its paradox of light and darkness. Over the past month, the deep blue and purple of late-afternoons transition almost immediately to pitch black skies before dinner is even served.
If we are honest with ourselves, teenagers are equal parts frustrating and equal parts energizing. We have moments in our classes, with our teams, or in our advisories where our students make us laugh, inspire us to dig deeper, think more critically, and do our best work. And then we have moments where we want to pull our hair out and question our career choice.
During November and early December, what old New Englanders refer to as “stick season”, the contrast between deciduous and coniferous trees on the mountain landscapes around Proctor is stark. On Proctor’s logo is an evergreen tree, outwardly representing Proctor’s deep commitment to the natural world and our belief that relationships, like the green branches that stand out during stick season, last through even the longest of winters.