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.)
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?
Sometimes things happen so quickly at North Cross, it is difficult to keep up. I think I like it that way, but I have to confess that my recent 2:00am return from China and the ensuing 8:00am meeting made me wish for an old fashioned, public school job. At least principals get to stay in the same time zone…
It is a goal I frequently make known to families here at North Cross, to make our school an equal, if not a leader, among the very best independent schools in our Commonwealth. While not discounting our already stellar programs, I am aware that Virginia has a tremendous independent school heritage with a number of well-established, well-funded, world-class schools located in larger populated areas. To excel, we will need to do things that perhaps come easier to those schools, while working within the reality of our parameters. I firmly believe there is a path we can pursue that will lead us to parity with these schools over the next decade.
Sometimes I stare at the computer screen wondering what I should write for Crossties and waiting for inspiration to strike. Sometimes, the subject matter is so obvious that the words come pouring forth. Such is the writing process…
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.
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.