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…
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.
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.)
You may have heard me at Convocation mention the “Miracle Mets” of 1969. In case you are unfamiliar, this team had finished in ninth place their previous season, but came to training camp with an expectation of accomplishing much more. And accomplish much more they did, winning 100 games, sweeping the Braves in the playoffs, and then much to my disappointment, defeating one of the greatest teams in baseball history, the Baltimore Orioles*, in the World Series. Besides showing my age and knowledge of useless sports trivia, why am bringing this up in my first article for Crossties this year?
There are few opportunities where we, as an entire school community, can come together as a whole for the benefit of something bigger than ourselves. One of my favorites—and perhaps this is partly fueled by my desire for a good deal—is the Big Flea. Though the physical manifestation of the Big Flea has changed over the years from a field day and white elephant sale to its current ‘day of bargains,’ it remains one of those few occasions when parents, teachers, alumni, grandparents, and yes, even students, can contribute in such a tangible way to their community here at North Cross. The sale has also become a fan-favorite in and around Roanoke. I’m told that the Facebook event alone has over 1,000 people who were ‘interested’ or already planning to attend the sale next Saturday.
Sometimes we get caught up in the little things and lose sight of what is really important. This past weekend saw the death of a really good man and a valued member of our community. Dan Yardley was the father of three North Cross students and the loving husband of Kelsey, and he will be missed by all.
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.