Each Registration Day, you can feel the rollercoaster of emotion as families arrive on campus and their Proctor experience begins in earnest. The theoretical idea of having a child attend boarding school becomes reality, and while much of everyone’s energy centers around excitement for what lies ahead, we acknowledge there is just enough anxiety and sense of loss to make the emotions of the day challenging.
In many cultures, gatherings are sacred, like the garments worn at a celebratory event. It’s where people feel comfort, receive information, share messages, and pass on what is essential about why the group exists. At Proctor, we are a mix of people, groups, religions, races, creeds, and cultures. Often, we come together to share in the joy of each other’s gifts, whether in the classrooms, spaces of play, upon the stage, or because of common interest. We all share one essential thing, which is the love for our small village - our school - that knits us together on pristine land in the middle of New Hampshire.
Later this week, Proctor’s campus will begin to bustle with students arriving for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. The majority of these students will be returning to Proctor, while 117 new students will be commencing a journey at Proctor with Wilderness Orientation. As we prepare for the arrival of our students, we share thoughts on what it means to be a Proctor parent because we all know the transition for parents is far harder than our students!
As we prepare for our first international students to arrive this weekend, our excitement for the year ahead builds. Our work becomes more real, more tangible. The theoretical of summer reading and professional development gets to be put into action during opening of year meetings. This morning was the first time we have been all together in the same space in two years. Hanging on the wall in the Norris Family Theater where we gathered is a banner that reads TOGETHER. A version of this banner has adorned the wall of our meeting space for generations, but it has never felt more important than now.
For the past 51 years, the first week of September at Proctor Academy has been synonymous with Wilderness Orientation. While last year’s Orientation program had to be altered due to COVID-19, Proctor’s 118 new students are set to head into the wilderness of the White Mountains for five days once again. The experience that awaits them - the vastness of the wilderness, the challenges of hiking high peaks, and the relationships forged with classmates and faculty leaders - will lay the foundation for their Proctor journey
Each day, we watch the sunrise over Gannett House and the east end of campus and track across the sky until it sets over the Farrell Field House. These summer days are filled with a balance of planning, meetings, problem solving, fun, and adventure, as well as time to reflect on the trajectory of a school over time and our place in that arc.
Early this week, returning and new families will receive an email from Assistant Head of School Karin Clough outlining a series of permission forms and start of year information. Included in this communication will be the 2021-2022 edition of the Student Handbook, a document that has long served as the guide to how our Proctor community functions.
It’s been just over two weeks since we celebrated the Class of 2021. We each have taken a deep breath, spent plenty of time at Elbow Pond floating under the watchful eye of Ragged Mountain alongside friends and reflecting on the school year. We’ve written much about Covid-19 and the impact on Proctor, the resiliency and grit and perseverance that were required of students and adults alike, but maybe our success was more about human connection and collaboration than we thought.