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The Journey: Who Might You Become?

Brian Thomas

Last month at the beginning of November, we had Proctor alumna and world class big mountain skier, Caite Zeliff ‘12, at assembly speaking to the community about her work as a world class athlete and her time at Proctor. Caite was very authentic and moving, talking matter-of-factly about her rise and falls as a big mountain skier. (Check out one of Caite’s bio HERE and film reel HERE.)

Listen to Brian read his blog here. 

Proctor Academy Caite Zeliff Alumni Skier

Before her talk began, Caite was introduced by her former ski coach and the head of the Eastern Alpine Program at Proctor Jason “Moot” Nelson. Moot spoke glowingly of Caite’s accomplishments and how it all started at Proctor.

There is a growing body of research, some of it coming out Boston College championed by Belle Liang, Ph.D. and Timothy Klein, LCSW, that demonstrates how students thrive by building a narrative that includes their past, current, and projecting future versions of themselves, which allows them to help guide their own journey through their time at school and beyond. Caite touched on this during her talk, but I wanted to expand on that concept with our students with a “quick poll” that asked them to project themselves into the future. I wanted to know how our own students were perceiving what they were hearing from Caite and how they were building their own narratives of success. So, I asked them the following questions:

Who would introduce you ten years after graduating at a Proctor Assembly and what would they say about you?

Proctor Academy Athletics

Although a number of students did not want to go “on the record,” here is what a few intrepid souls had to say:

Nate ‘25
Josh Norris, and he would say that I was a strong mountain biker with a love for jumps and tricks, and that I pushed myself to be better.

Jelena ‘25
Gregor Makechnie because he is a person to whom I am forever grateful for being here and I believe that whatever he would say, he would do it justice.

Lily ‘24
I hope (fingers crossed) it would be Buz Morison who introduces me, and he would talk about my accomplishments in the field of neuroscience and new interdisciplinary discoveries about the brain!

Proctor Academy students

Hazel ‘26
Joan Saunders, Starr Fair, or someone in the performing arts department, and they would say that I am quiet, comfortable with the stage, hardworking, helpful, kind, caring. 

Zoie ‘24
I would ask Brian Thomas and Elibet Sperry to introduce me, and I would hope they spoke about my work in student leadership as well as my role as a friend, dorm leader, team captain, etc. 

Patrick '25
Kyle Connolly, and he would say that though while at Proctor I sometimes struggle, I discovered that I am much happier and smarter than when I started. 

Proctor Academy students

Makenzie ‘27
Definitely Cooper McNealus or Moot, and they would say that I graduated Proctor ten years ago and went off to do great things. They would also say I was a hard worker and for sure one of their favorite skiers!

Lucy ‘24
Kristen Farrell, and she would speak about my drastic change as an individual throughout my 3 years at Proctor and how my pursuit of finding meaning has led me to become the individual I am today. Cycling was the initial thing that helped me find meaning and purpose after a severe injury and the loss of my “everything”. The altruistic demeanors of Kristen, Derek, and Drew encouraged me to keep cycling and take things one ride at a time. My cycling coaches truly were my lodestars and my biggest cheerleaders. They were so incredibly supportive and valued me as an individual, not just as a member of the team. She would then speak about how this path led me to explore some of my passions, which meant I ended up graduating from BU with a Master’s degree in History and a minor in Political science, in addition to a law degree. With the help of my cycling coaches, Proctor taught me that my participation in the process holds the true value, not the results. Cycling taught me that I am worth more than my performance, and fulfillment can be achieved regardless of the triumph that may or may not accompany it. By focusing on the experience rather than the results, I have learned that I can achieve anything. 

Proctor Academy Mountain Biking

Both off the record and on, Proctor students are incredibly sharp at building their own narratives for the futures that only they can anticipate, and my colleagues can help to midwife into existence. Our strength as a school is the physical embodiment of this story-building human-centric work that always asks the question: What might you become?


Brian W. Thomas, Proctor Academy Head of School 

Curated Listening:

One of the best people to capture a child’s future sense of wonder is Paul Simon on his album “Graceland.” Star children some people might call them or the bringers of a new epoch. Both the title song, “Graceland” and “Born at the Right Time” demonstrate what may be possible for future generations of Proctor students. Listen to “Born at the Right Time” HERE. Read Simon’s lyrics HERE.

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