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On Being a Boarding School Parent

We are approaching the midpoint in the summer. Students and faculty have returned from service learning opportunities. Students are working summer jobs, traveling, and of course completing their summer reading! New students and families are starting to think about their Proctor experience that will begin in just a few short weeks, probably with mixed emotions of excitement and nervousness.

For those new families, watching the short video below of parent Atul Gawande’s commencement address may help alleviate some of the stress around the unknowns associated with boarding school. We acknowledge making the decision to send your son or daughter to Proctor is difficult and were reminded of this by Gawande’s speech at this year’s commencement. While many of you have probably have heard him speak, his comments to the Class of 2014 were unique. He opened, “I know coming here comes with sacrifices. You miss family vacations. It can be lonely. You have to grow up fast. I still don’t know what to think about it as a parent.”

Gawande’s Proctor experience with his son, Walker, began with much hesitation. He knew nothing of boarding school and was a self proclaimed “private school snob”, but his experience as a Proctor parent ended with tremendous respect for what this school does for each of its students. That transformation for him, as a parent, began on Walker’s tour when environmental coordinator Alan McIntyre and art teacher Dave Fleming immediately took interest in Walker as he toured campus, “We hadn’t seen two teachers that interested in Walker in years.”



Walker’s four years at Proctor were filled with learning, not only about content, but about self. As someone who had the opportunity to teach Walker, his father’s observations of this evolution as a student, and as a young man, are powerful, “We can never be sure how the places we put ourselves will leave the mark on us. Only that they will. Who you are is a carpet of many strands. A lot of strands were laid before you got here, but it is stunning to see how many more you’ve picked up since. Each strand has added shape and strength to who you are.”

Gawande concluded his speech, “You leave here more ready for the world than most others. You already understand what to do. You learned it here. You put yourself in new places in the world. You made new friends. You add new strands and then you see what happens. All we need to say is you’re ready, we’re proud of you, and we can’t wait to see what happens.”

We can't wait to see what happens either! Learn more about starting your Proctor experience here.


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Located in  Andover, NH,  Proctor Academy is a private coeducational day and boarding school for grades 912. Students benefit from a rigorous academic program, experiential off-campus programs, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.
204 Main Street  .  PO Box 500  .  Andover, NH 03216
p. (603) 735-6000   f. (603) 735-6300   webmaster@proctoracademy.org