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The Journey: Changes and Transitions

Brian Thomas

The last week of school needs an appropriate aphorism, something that can be pithily remembered and spoken about for decades to come. When I look for models of such a saying, I think that last week “ran through the campus like a cheetah but leaves like a Rhino.” Well, on second thought, that doesn’t quite do it justice. 

Proctor Academy Community Student Life

This was quite some week, though. With Spring Fling, the juniors ascending the throne to become the top of the heap // student leaders, Innovation Night, Final Projects, Senior Projects, the yearbook dedication (Pete Southworth), saying goodbye to this year’s retirees Greg Allen, Patty Pond, Keith Barrett, Diane Benson, Garry George, and Pete Southworth, the final day of school, the senior cruise in Boston, the senior breakfast, graduation rehearsal, the final dinner with families, the 2024 Awards Assembly, and the 176th Proctor Academy Commencement, you get the sense that this week is on overdrive. All of that sighing and goodbyeing. In between it all, we are packing up and thinking through the end of the school year and the start of the next school year.

Proctor Academy Community Student Life

More than anything, it has been wonderful to get a glimpse into the world of our current seniors (Class of 2024) who are looking at this place with a sense of wistfulness and nostalgia already. If we had an alma mater (song) at the ready, we would be singing it all over the place. The underclassmen look backwards, too, because deep down they know that things do change and alter, even though nearly all of them will be coming back.

Proctor Academy Community Student Life

Even with all of this looking forward and looking back, Proctor is no ordinary place. Not because of some long forgotten alma mater or fight song, but because we have been thinking about ways to hold the community together through this time of transition and change – just as much for the adults as we do so expertly for our students. Through witnessing the lives of students, I get a sense of what is possible for them in their current state as well as what they say they want to become. As much as they rebel sometimes for change, students are some of the most resistant people to change that there are on the planet. Many will be coming home this week and next, and if you moved or got rid of one thing, you will hear about it. That’s a good thing and not such a good thing.

Proctor Academy Community Student Life

We want our students and adults to be ready not just for gradual or incremental change, we want them to stand in the vortex of major moments of shifts, too. Being responsive to the whims of change will make students more agile and dependable. First, they will be agile because they will learn how to shift even when others are stagnant. Think about what a catcher in baseball does. A catcher must be ready for anything that is thrown at them, even when they know what pitch is coming. The ball may be high or may be low, bouncing in the dirt. This ability to anticipate what is coming, while “calling” a good game is the hallmark of a person who won’t be disrupted by the fickle whims of fate. Next, the notion that transitions make for more resilient and dependable people, people who aren’t worried about relying on others because they know that people can rely on, clearly illustrates that change and character are revealed during times that are sometimes hard or disruptive. In the end, being agile and dependable makes a person more adaptable and ready to meet the unanticipated challenges thrown at them, no matter the circumstances. 

Proctor Academy Community Student Life

In the end, we will be ready for the big and small changes in our lives. This year’s end of school aphorism may be better as a motto. Perhaps one that we already have and know, as we “Live to Learn. Learn to Live,” which stands the test of time no matter where we are and how we experience it, now and later. 

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Brian W. Thomas, Proctor Academy Head of School 

Curated Listening:

Nobody sums up these times better than David Bowie. Listen to “Changes,” HERE.

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