If you spend enough time in the New England woods, you will run across old stone walls bisecting a dense forest. Follow those walls and you will likely find an old cellar hole that will immediately transport you back in time to a different era when Proctor’s 2,500 acres were clear cut pastures sprinkled with farms of hardworking families scraping a living off the rocky soil.
It was an era when connection was found through face to face human interaction by walking to your neighbor’s farm to glean the recent harvest, share a meal, repair a wagon, or simply be a lending hand. It was an era where the success and well-being of others was just as critical to their survival as it was to yours.
Today, the Class of 2026 hiked through these former pastures to the Proctor Cabin. Originally constructed in the 1930s by Roland Burbank’s student work crews during the Great Depression, the Cabin was rebuilt in 1989 by faculty who were committed to the idea that Proctor’s students should spend time connecting to nature. This annual two mile round trip hike during peak foliage serves as an opportunity to introduce our students to the remarkable resource that is our woodlands.
A deeper goal of the hike is to build human connections within this class; a mutual understanding that they need to be there for each other when someone needs a shoulder to lean on, a few words of encouragement, or someone to share their joy. We believe it is our responsibility as a school to foster the development of these connections by providing opportunities for bonds to form and relationships to deepen. Today was a perfect chance for this class to do just that.
As we listened to the crunch of leaves and not-so-quiet voices of 65 ninth graders talking to each other as we hiked to the cabin, we were reminded of the joy that exists in the lives of 13, 14 and 15 year olds. We know the Class of 2026 will imperfectly navigate the maze that is adolescence over the next four years. They will experience bumps along the way, the usual peaks and valleys that accompany a life lived to its fullest. But they will grow and mature and find their path through Proctor and into life.
Our deepest hope for this group of young people is that on their journey through Proctor, they will develop friendships that will last a lifetime. Friendships that will smash social norms and nurture the emotional vulnerability our world so desperately needs. Friendships that will encourage each other to simply be good people who strive to make a positive impact on the world. Friendships that will be rooted in the same human connection that helped build the stone walls and harvest the fields on the land that Proctor now calls home.
- Environmental Stewardship