I recently spent the better part of 24 hours with a current parent who has experience with other prep schools and who is fascinated by the factors that make Proctor such a different and successful school. This morning, I read the text of a speech delivered to the entire community this spring by a student prior to her graduation. It may help answer the parent's question! Here it is.
"'I am a part of all that I have met.' -Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Wherever we go in our lives, we take a little bit of what we have learned, whom we have met and what we have seen. We are molded and shaped into the people we become by experiences, and whether it's the fine white sand of the Caribbean Islands, the crumbling stone of the aqueduct in Segovia, or even the warm scent of a New Hampshire autumn whispering between old maples, Proctor will always be deeply rooted within each of us. So as a graduating senior, I would like to share with all of you what I will be carrying with me, wherever I go.
I will carry with me Mountain Classroom with the burned red dust of the dry Sonoran desert, and the wind-chapped calloused hands of a canoe trip down the Rio Grande.
I will carry with me the ability to connect to another person--to talk to a Mexican immigrant in broken Spangish and odd hand gestures, and bridge the gap of predetermined stereotypes that we put upon someone because of race, class and legal status.
...the ability to correctly hitch a trailer to a bus and not fill it with unleaded gas, the skills to create a family with no bloodline, and the work it takes to build a strong community and maintain it. I will carry with me an ability to create home wherever I go, whether it's the dried out bed of a river in the Arizona desert, or a Super 8 motel in Roanoke, Virginia.
I will carry with me Ocean Classroom with the damp salty scent of the Gulf Stream...
...and the sweet, rich taste of fresh mangoes bought from the torn rug of a fruit-seller on the corner of a muddy Caribbean town.
I will carry with me the ability to steer a 130-foot schooner based solely on the position of Polaris, and to be an efficient leader and create calm even in the middle of a squall at four A.M. I carry with me the knowledge that--when puking over the side of a ship, face downwind, and that human connection lies far beyond words when skipping rocks into the turbid, murky waters of a Dominican Republic seaport with a group of cackling ten-year-old boys.
And most importantly, I will carry with me Proctor Academy, situated in the quaint--sometimes too quaint--town of Andover...the ability to correctly tap a maple tree and produce 100% New Hampshire liquid gold...to know the difference between a grey birch and a white birch.
I carry with me the skill to transform into multiple characters and perform on this stage.
I carry with me the support of an entire community of a small New England boarding school, and the big blue eyes of my advisor, who has always put forth her love and dedication, cultivating within me the knowledge that I am enough for myself. The words 'Take care of your soul' will forever be engrained within me. I know now that friendship--the strongest of friendship--can be found half way across the world, and that language and background are no hindrances when connection is present. I will carry with me the importance of respect and integrity and kindness...to the ones you know, and the ones you don't know....
Proctor is not just a 'school,' a place to learn your algebra 2 calculations or correct grammar. It is a place to gather the skills that we will carry with us far after being handed our diplomas. Kindness, respect, creativity, confidence, the ability to look someone in the eye and say 'Hello, how are you?' and really mean it.
What I want for each and every one of you is to seize the opportunity to make Proctor Academy whatever you want it to be; let down your barriers and step out of your individual niches and let in the unknown. Embrace it. Allow Proctor to push you out of your comfort zones, if that be climbing sixty feet up the ratlins on Ocean, or dancing to Simone's beats during an impromptu dance lesson in the Wise.
Ask questions, be vulnerable, create your own fun, indulge in new interests, converse with the people around you--older or younger--offer yourself up to this community, and I promise it will offer itself to you in return.
As for all of us graduating seniors, I believe that we should not only be grateful for the experiences we have attained, but stay true to the fact that we will always carry Proctor. It has been embedded within each and every one of us: the friendships, the lessons, the adventures, the smiles, the frustration, and the knowledge, and it is our responsibilities to share with the rest of the world what Proctor has taught us."
How to correctly tap a maple.
And make liquid gold.
Friendships that span the world.
Community service with Mexican children on Mountain Classroom.