It has been a while since I wrote a letter that talked about more than the most recent COVID testing results. That just seems to be the way the world is these days. But we have had a great school year and with less than 24 school days until the end of the year, I am breathing a sigh of relief and looking forward to next year.
Return of the Middle School
Perhaps the most significant change will be a return to a three-division model, with Allie Kier moving up from her Middle School Dean position to take on the role of Middle School Director. Allie is a very talented educator with degrees from the University of Virginia and past administrative experience as English Department Chair at Salem High School. I know she will do a great job. Victor Lamas will continue in his role as Lower School Director and Assistant Head of School for Academics.
New Upper School Schedule and Electives
Another structural change stems from our COVID experience in the Upper School. We have elected to stay with rotating A and B days in the Upper School, which allows us to create an eight-period schedule, four periods on each day. Beyond making scheduling easier for our registrar, it will make it easier for students to fit electives into their schedules, hopefully eliminating conflicts between APs and band/chorus/art. An exciting extension of this is the creation of nine trimester electives in areas of faculty interest to round out Upper Schoolers’ schedules. I look forward to teaching Film as Literature next spring!
Old and Not-So-Old Faces in New Places
We do have some old faces in new places as well. Admissions is trading Lauren Horner to the Middle School for Reed McGinn. Lauren, our current Admissions Coordinator, will move to Eaton Hall to take on the role of Middle School Assistant, and Reed will take Lauren’s role as Admissions Coordinator. Each will bring their own skillset to their new jobs, and I am excited for them.
A not-so-old face, Matthew Gilliland, whom many of you met during your admissions journey this past year, will move up from his position as Associate Director of Admissions to the Director of Admissions position. Matthew came to us this year from Admissions at his alma mater Asheville School. With anticipated record admissions for the second straight year, I am excited about the job David, Matthew, Kelsey, and Lauren have done this year.
We are fortunate that we will be able to hold a graduation ceremony on Willis Field and that our record-setting 61 graduates will be able to invite 6 guests to sit in their pods. Mark Sandy ‘83, a North Cross graduate and a director in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in Washington. D.C., will be our speaker. I know what many of you are thinking… policy wonk… but Mark was everything at North Cross including Class President, Captain of the football team, and winner of our highest honor, the Tom Slack Award. His recent bout with fame has provided him some perspective on doing the right thing even if it means difficult consequences.
COVID Testing and Vaccinations
It is encouraging to see the drop in positivity rate across the Commonwealth, and our vaccination rates continue to be higher than the national average. Despite changes in CDC guidelines, we will continue to wear masks on campus, even outdoors, for the remainder of the school year, but I look forward to next year as hopefully being maskless. We currently have two more rounds of testing scheduled for this year.
Particularly newsworthy is that we will be hosting the Virginia Department of Health on our campus next Friday to provide any member of our school community (faculty/staff/students 16+) the opportunity to be vaccinated. The VDH will be using the Pfizer vaccine, which requires a second dose. While vaccines are a personal choice, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for those wishing to be vaccinated. You will receive specific info on this that includes time and location along with required waivers.
Spring has sprung, the campus is beautiful, and our kids are finishing the year in fine style. Even with a heavy dose of pollen, there has never been a better time to be at North Cross.
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.