During this time of year, when a light snow has fallen, the trees have lost their leaves, but winter in earnest has not yet arrived, 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.
Last year at this time, we shared a similar post reflecting on a piece Dean of Student Wellness Megan Hardie shared (THIS piece) about the history of last year’s “People’s Tree” that stood on the west lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. During the tree lighting ceremony, 4th grader Coche Tiger from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) shared the Cherokee Legend of the Evergreen (as described in article above):
The Cherokee Legend of the Evergreen begins with a contest from the “Great Mystery” or “Creator.” The Great Mystery wanted to give a gift to each plant and tree species but didn’t know which would be most useful to each. So, the Great Mystery told each of the plants and trees to stay awake and watch over the earth for seven nights.
On the first night, all the plants stayed awake from the excitement and opportunity to watch over the earth. The second night a few of the young plants fell asleep as dawn approached. On the third night, they all tried to whisper to each other to stay awake, but many fell asleep. On the fourth night, many more fell asleep, and by the seventh, even the Larch wasn’t immune to sleep.
The only plants still awake by the seventh night were the cedar, the fir, the spruce, the holly, and the laurel. The Great Mystery was very proud of them and bestowed upon them a very special gift for their endurance. The Great Mystery gave them the gift of remaining green forever and explained to them that they were now the guardians of the forest.
“Even in the dead of winter, your brother and sister creatures will find that life is protected in your branches,” the Great Mystery told the evergreen trees. From that day forth, all the other plants and trees lost their leaves and slept through the winter while the evergreens stayed awake and guarded the forests.
At Proctor, we see the relationships we form with our students and their families as the evergreen trees of our lives. They stay awake and guard the forests of our hearts and minds as we navigate all of the complexities of life. Our students become part of our families, and we a part of theirs. When we are able to gather like we did this week at the Boston Holiday Event and New London Holiday Event, we are reminded of the power of the Proctor experience on a deeply emotional level as we witness Proctor’s impact over generations of individuals around the country.
On Wednesday evening, more than a hundred alumni, current parents, former parents, faculty, staff, and administrators joined together at The Country Club in Brookline to spend time sharing stories, reminiscing, and learning about the vision for Proctor’s future. It was a time of connection and celebration. Again, last night, more than 170 members of the extended Proctor family, including an incredible group of former faculty, staff, alumni, past parents, current parents, and employees, gathered at the Lake Sunapee Country Club to share drinks, food, and conversation. It was a remarkable turnout for both events, and as Head of School Brian Thomas shared during his remarks, an opportunity to see the long-term impact of a place like Proctor on the local community.
While it is impossible for all of our teachers to make the trip to Boston or New London for midweek events (school must continue to function!), their impact on the greater Proctor family - current and past - is significant. Sometimes teaching at a boarding school can feel a bit like pulling the back to back all-nighters described in the Cherokee Evergreen Legend, but the reward of lifelong connection to our students, just like the branches of an evergreen, serve as a reminder of why this work is important and life-changing for both our students and us.
Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate Proctor this week!
- Community and Relationships