On May 30, Proctor will host its 172nd Commencement exercises online, recognizing the 103 members of the Class of 2020 (including six Andover natives). Like everything this spring, our first ever virtual Commencement will be different; not bad, just different.
Awards will be granted, diplomas granted, and musical performances recorded and streamed to the thousands of parents, alumni, and students in attendance. Student speeches will move us to tears despite our geographic distance from their delivery, and yet, even as we collectively celebrate this remarkable class, an emptiness persists. This campus, this town, this community only feels whole when Proctor’s students are streaming to Pizza Chef and JJ’s, crossing Route 11 to the skatepark, and filling the sidewalks and pathways with laughter.
Over the past three months, Proctor students have engaged in a synchronous online learning model. A structured class schedule allowed for daily video conferences between students and teachers in each class, while more than 30 afternoon program offerings engaged students around the globe in baking activities, yoga, Strava and other fitness challenges.
Virtual assemblies brought the whole community together regularly, and we enter summer break exhausted from the emotional, physical, and mental challenges of a rapid shift to a remote learning model, but confident in our ultimate goal of keeping students and families engaged in the learning process.
While a normal June routine on Proctor’s campus would involve the wizardry of our Maintenance and Housekeeping teams turning over dormitories for Alumni Reunion (originally scheduled for June 4 through 6) and then Gordon Research Conferences for the duration of the summer, this routine, too, has been altered by COVID-19. Alumni Reunion has been postponed to June 2021, and Gordon Research has canceled their summer conferences across the globe.
Just as Proctor’s business model has been challenged by the issuance of room and board refunds to boarding students earlier this spring and lost revenue from Gordon Research Conferences, we also recognize the serious impact a shift in our operations has had on local businesses reliant on the steady stream of students and out-of-town families to town. Proctor encourages all in town to surround these businesses who serve as the lifeblood of our community with support.
Proctor’s leadership team continues to actively plan for the potential return of students in the fall, understanding the need to plan for multiple scenarios depending on how COVID-19 tracks in the state. At the forefront of the scenario planning is the health and well-being of the greater Andover community.
As a boarding school drawing students from across the globe with roughly 70% of students hailing from New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut, the complexities of a return-to-school plan exceeds those issued by the State for public schools. The school will continue to update its COVID-19 Resource page (ProctorAcademy.org/about/covid-19-resources) on its website as decisions are made related to return-to-school.