School traditions that are hotly anticipated by the entire school community and that help to expand and amplify the thinking of all who participate are rare. The Hays Speaking Contest does both. The finalists of the event, selected by the participants themselves, serve as a state of the union of Proctor’s current sophomore class. As the event’s host, English teacher Tom Morgan, gives the audience members a glimpse inside of the window of the lives of our students who stand and deliver their speeches.
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?
During an address to the Board of Trustees on October 9, 1971 in Holland Auditorium second year Head of School David Fowler stated, “Proctor has always been more interested in people and their potential than in test scores. We will continue this policy. What we are trying to make clearer is our personality as a school. Every student must understand what we stand for, who we are, and why we are doing what we are doing.”
“Tank. Tank. Tank." The loud sounds of “tanking, clanking and rattling” of the old steam pipes hissing down in the basement of Maxwell Savage punctures the serenity between the “tick, tap, ticking” of our collective keyboards. Four boys and I are serving early morning mandatory Sunday study hall on a blustery mid-February day.
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.
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.
When we peel back the layers of Proctor’s educational model - the programs, buildings, and people who make up our community - we find a shared understanding that, at its core, our work is to create, sustain, and teach young people how to live in meaningful relationship with others. The past two days of faculty professional development covered a wide range of issues, all centered on creating and sustaining an inclusive community that celebrates the remarkable diversity of learning styles, family histories, cultures, and backgrounds that exists within Proctor.