FOLLOWING ARE DR. PROCTOR'S REMARKS FROM THE 56th COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES HELD ON MAY 25, 2019
Schoolwork is a funny thing. It is easiest when approached logically, completed well ahead of time, and reviewed for potential improvement. But for every Ann Ashley Daniel, I am sure there are ten people like me who procrastinate until the last minute, allowing the terror of an imminent deadline to generate the creativity necessary to complete an assignment. Such was the case with my remarks this year. In fact, I was still fact checking while the graduates were in line to process. I am not sure who was most terrified, me, my wife or Susan Baker…
But don’t worry, I’ve got it…
With all construction projects, there are hiccups and unanticipated timeline changes. For the project we are beginning here at North Cross, a truly transformational one, most of the changes thus far have happened behind the scenes, as they hadn’t impacted our anticipated timeline significantly or required a change in our school calendar. However, we’ve recently become aware that the initial construction schedule which included the completion of the interior of Willis Hall (the upper school) during the summer of 2019 is too aggressive. We wanted our upper school students and faculty returning to new classrooms, with new furnishings, in September. For several reasons including lack of subcontractor availability and design process delays, we will need to delay the majority of interior work on Willis Hall until the summer of 2020.
Last week, I wrote about this year’s senior class at North Cross-Roanoke. They haven’t gotten any less talented, but I wanted to continue my discussion by pointing out that North Cross has another 54 graduates in the Class of 2019; our graduates from North Cross School-Shanghai. This year marks our third graduating class from our Shanghai campus and each year has seen growth in size and ability. In fact, we are currently full on our Xinhe Campus and we anticipate opening a second campus of North Cross School-Shanghai in the fall to allow for future growth.
For those of you that have not reviewed our mission statement recently, I will remind you that the first sentence contains the words “college preparatory.” This is not by accident, and we are constantly thinking in terms of how best we can prepare our students for this next experience. So, it is at this time of year that we use college admissions as a justification to celebrate the success of our program and the hard work of our seniors.
I would be remiss if I did not start my Crossties article off this week by mentioning the events of Monday night and I hope you will be impressed by how I manage to pivot to my intended message highlighting our Three Days of Giving from April 23 to 25. So, here goes…
The jaded among us have long since relegated college athletics to the status of minor league professional sports. We support our teams, buying tickets to see the games, purchasing licensed sportswear in support of the college or university, and/or donating to the school to support the “student athletes.” You notice that I put “student athletes” in quotation marks, as so often the athletes for whom we cheer are remarkably different than the student bodies they represent.
One of the great things about working at North Cross School is doing so alongside a community of motivated learners—students and teachers. Oftentimes, a brief suggestion turns into an amazing opportunity that benefits our school immensely and in more ways than expected. Two such cases recently have taken shape. Stephen Belderes has developed a tremendous opportunity for our students to take college-level coursework this summer and Deborah Jessee’s hard work has forged a partnership with Hollins University to provide an affordable graduate education for our faculty.
I watched the State of the Union the other night, albeit only during commercial breaks of the UNC-NC State basketball game, and I was reminded that good ideas are often criticized to the point that they wither on the vine. Many of you know my politics, most don’t, but here, I refer to all good ideas irrespective of party lines. And, I think we can all agree that the more good ideas that see the light in Washington, the better.
Which brings me to North Cross School. We are in the midst of an absolutely fantastic school year. We have grown by 18 students since Labor Day weekend, our inquiries for admission are up substantially, we won a State Championship in Boys Soccer, our senior class SAT scores average an all-time high (1253), students and faculty smile when I see them more than not, the early stage of our capital campaign is a stunning success, college admissions are strong, and our arts program continues to develop talent at a prodigious rate. A mouthful for sure, but I have said repeatedly that this has been the best school year in my career.
Last weekend was a really special weekend at North Cross School as we brought home Coach Brown’s third state soccer championship, saw football reverse an early season defeat to triumph in the semi-finals of the state football playoffs, Harry Pearson ’19 earned All-State honors for the fourth time in a row at the State Cross Country meet, and our lower school performance of Junie B. Jones Jr. (don’t forget the middle initial!) garnered rave reviews and sold-out crowds.
It is with no small degree of sheepishness that I admit to you that my college-graduate son, a North Cross alumnus, is living at home. In his defense, he is working and studying for the LSAT and hopefully law school is in his future. But his presence does remind me of the days when his friends would text him in a poorly disguised attempt to influence my snow-day decisions. My wife was of little help in defending me because she was always on the receiving end of her own back-door lobbying efforts by fellow moms. (And, yes, I am talking about you Jeannie Fishwick.)
Christian J. Proctor, PhD
Dr. Proctor is the ninth Head of School at North Cross and has served as such since 2011. He has more than 30 years of experience in education. He has served as headmaster at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina, St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, Louisiana, Grace Episcopal School in Monroe, Louisiana, and as Interim Headmaster at Wesley Academy in Houston, Texas. In each location, Dr. Proctor’s tenure was marked by creativity, innovation, and school growth.