Applicants offered admission on March 10 have one month to commit to their next school. Proctor offered admission to approximately 200 boys and girls, and the majority of them are revisiting over two Fridays. They pick up name tags, the day's schedule and meet student tour guides in the library.
The kids go off to classes crowded with fellow visitors.
Meanwhile, their parents receive a formal welcome from Admission Director Chris Bartlett and proceed through a set of informative workshops, discussion groups and faculty introductions.
At 10:15, the entire crowd joins us in Proctor's quintessiential expression of community: assembly. Visitors take in announcements (some of which are riotously goofy); they enjoy a couple of performances, and they see us being ourselves.
Proctor students then go off to the rest of their classes while visitors linger for a student panel. The panel fields questions from visiting parents. What was it like to adapt to a boarding school? How do ninth graders relate to upperclasspersons? How has boarding impacted your relationships with parents and siblings? Is it tough coming back from Ocean Classroom, Mountain Classroom, Spain or France and resuming regular academics?
From the day's start, we speak about information. "This is a chance to ask lots of questions," we insist, and we orchestrate an activities fair after lunch at which visitors go from table to table meeting coaches, players, students who have been to off campus programs, etc. And--in fact--plenty of iinformation is exchanged.
Yet, we can never know the relative importance of information to visiting families as they decide whether or not to choose Proctor. From their first moment on campus, they are bathed in the culture and ethos of a distinctly community-based school. The subtleties of how students relate to one another, of how they relate with adults, of the values and pride they emote prompt reactions that are emotional, and it is emotion that drives behavior.
At the activities fair, a flashmob breaks out spontaneously.
Going back to the student panel.... The panel is comprised of a dozen students--new and old, some athletic, others artistic, some in Learning Skills, others not. Yet, in response to unscripted questions, each student conveys a commonality, a perspective grounded in a shared culture. Proctor is revealed as "bone deep."
Visitors are greeted by current students as they arrive at the Learning Center.
Tour guides await introductions.
New friends....off to morning classes.
Visitors are thrown right into class labs, discussions, and activities.
Gregor talks athletics with one subgroup of parents.
Student leaders welcome visitors to assembly.
No matter the question or the student responding, the panel reveals community authenticity and consistency.
Axel spends time with a family during a coffee break.
At the activities fair, families browse from table to table.
At the Ocean Classroom information table, Jackson--in foul weather gear--trains his compass on my camera.