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Valuing Delayed Gratification
A slight roar blankets Proctor's Alan Shepard Boathouse each academic block throughout the day and during many evenings. It is the sound of students using tools to sand, cut, smooth, and shape pieces of wood into art. For generations of students, the wood shop has been central to a Proctor experience, as countless boats have been made and sailed out of Proctor's wood shop since the program began in the late 1930s.

A visit to the F Block Boat Building course on Tuesday found five seniors working hard to complete their boats before the end of the term. When asked their motivation for taking this course, each had their own reasons, but the common theme lay in their desire to create something they would physically use after their Proctor career was over. To see more reactions to boat building at Proctor watch the following video:

While Proctor's boat building program attracts many students, Greg Allen's leadership in the greater wood shop program has created a culture where students are comfortable designing and learning to create beautiful structures. Some students may just be starting their wood shop journey, while others are veterans who have spent considerable time learning techniques to craft beautiful pieces of art. Each time student work is displayed at end of term art shows, the quality, creativity, and intricacy astonishes visitors.

As a way to further inspire student involvement in the wood shop program, the wood shop has been opened in the evenings for studio work for the first time this year. Greg Allen has generously opened the doors to the shop after the dinner hour to allow students extra time to work on their projects or to simply practice techniques.

This attitude of open studio hours has long been practiced in other art programs at Proctor, whether it be instrumental music director Bill Wightman supervising the recording studio in the evenings, vocal music director Kris Johnson offering evening voice lessons, or Patric Martin opening Slocumb Hall for students to throw pots in the ceramics studio.

It is nearly impossible to communicate, through this medium, the quality of student art generated in the wood shop, however, it is possible to note the clear sense of satisfaction students receive from working with the hands in Proctor's industrial arts programs. However, perhaps more impressive than the quality of work that is produced is the willingness of teenagers, in an age of instant gratification, to spend an entire term, or even an entire year, working on a single project.

As Ian, a four-year senior from Vermont, noted in a recent conversation, "Wood shop and boat building have been a part of my life at Proctor for the past four years. As soon as I walked onto campus as a freshman, I saw the boats seniors were building and could not wait to commit a year to that class. Watching your hard work turn into a final product you are proud of is such a rewarding process!"

Proctor's wood shop is busy every block of the academic day with students designing, prepping, and crafting beautiful artwork.
While student work is impressive, what is most striking is the number of students willing to devote an entire term, and sometimes an entire year, to a single project.
In a world of social media and instant gratification, to inspire teenagers to delay gratification for dozen weeks is no small feat.
We are proud of the role our wood shop and boat building program have played in our academic curriculum since the early 1930s.
We are also very proud of the work our students produce, including this kayak Andrew built (and launched) last year!