Every year at Proctor is wholly new, yet remarkably familiar. The faces of students change over time, both as they mature and as the natural turnover of the student body every four years introduces new, eager minds ready to embark on their Proctor experience. While Proctor is not a school steeped in tradition, there are some rituals that occur each year at the same time, including the annual ninth grade hike to the Proctor Cabin.
On the second Wednesday of October, as juniors partake in the PSATs, sophomores gather as a class, and seniors begin planning their Senior Projects, ninth graders gather outside the dining hall and hike with a dozen or so faculty members to the Proctor Cabin. At the core of this hike through foliage is the understanding that Proctor's culture is something each and every one of us must seek ownership of, regardless of age, time at the school, or perceived social clout. Our ninth graders play just as important a role in shaping our school's culture as the most veteran of faculty members, and we want them to embrace this responsibility wholeheartedly.
As faculty member Lynne Bartlett shared with the group upon arrival at the cabin, Proctor’s commitment to, and long standing relationship with, its surrounding land runs deep into the school’s history. The first student “Improvement Squads” were formed by faculty member Roland Burbank out of necessity during the Great Depression. Students not only ran an active vegetable garden on campus, but mowed the lawns, harvested cord wood for heating, and helped offset the maintenance costs of running the school by shoveling snow during the winter months. An early Improvement Squad project was to build a cabin in the woodlot to the north of campus proper. A Cabin Club was formed and the Proctor Cabin became an integral part of many students’ experiences. The current cabin was rebuilt on the same location as the original cabin in the early 1990s by a group of faculty. These tangible actions - physically constructing a place to share with others - have helped shape Proctor’s culture and commitment to spending time in the natural world over the past 90 years.
Each year, we graduate a class of seniors (and employees), and find ourselves looking around during the summer months wondering how life at Proctor will go on with the Terry Stoecker, Karl Methven, Brooks Bicknell, or Class of 2023-sized holes in our community. And yet, each year, individuals step into the cultural void left by those who have graduated from Proctor. The essence of Proctor’s culture lies in the whole of all those who call this school home - alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents, parents of alumni - and we find our way forward, if imperfectly, passing our culture along to new students, new families, and new employees.
The building and sustaining of community is hard work. Regardless of how long we have called Proctor home or our role at this school, we each carry an equally critical responsibility to steward our community and our culture into the future. We are excited about the enthusiasm of the Class of 2027 and cannot wait to see how they impact our school over the next four years, and our goal is to encourage each of these ninth graders, “Do I want to passively embrace the culture that exists or do I want to actively shape it?” We are pretty sure the Class of 2027 will choose the latter. We cannot to look back at this group shot in May of 2027 as they prepare for graduation and reflect on the impact they had on Proctor.
- Community and Relationships
- Environmental Stewardship