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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wilton-Lyndeborough senior’s illness has taught him empathy

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of profiles of graduating high school seniors.

WILTON – James Proctor has a medical condition that limits physical activities, but he doesn’t let it keep him from being active. ...

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of profiles of graduating high school seniors.

WILTON – James Proctor has a medical condition that limits physical activities, but he doesn’t let it keep him from being active.

Proctor is a senior at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School, set to graduate on June 6.

Around age 10, he was
diagnosed with “mild cerebral palsy.” That means, the tendons in his legs did not grow properly, and he had to have surgery. He had another surgery recently, but it should be his last as he has reached his full height. But “as a result, I have some problems with my hands, and have to do stretches to keep the tendons elongated, put the pain is mostly gone.”

He is no longer on regular medication, but has to sleep in leg braces.

“I used to have to go to physical therapy, but I don’t any more,” he said. And since he has worn the braces “off and on for years, they’re like socks. And much more comfortable than a cast.”

However, not being able to play baseball doesn’t keep him from being a Red Sox fan, and he swims at Hampshire Hills.

“And I’m the only person in school without a backpack,” he said recently, as he pulls his load of books in a wheeled carry-on suitcase.

“It’s all under control,” he said.

Proctor will attend the University of Maine, Orono, this fall to study mechanical engineering.

“My father is an electrical engineer, and he talked to me a lot about what he does. I hope to have an internship this summer where he works.”

That is at TestVonics Air Data Test Systems in Peterborough.

Proctor is a Top 10 student and spent five weeks last summer at St. Paul’s School in Concord studying artificial intelligence. St. Paul’s, he said, “is a really neat school.”

He said his favorite subject is probably math.

“But the most fun of school is just learning, finding things out,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing what goes on in daily life, like physics. It’s really important to learn all you can, just keep on learning.”

For hobbies, Proctor is into books.

“I read a lot, non-fiction, science fiction, philosophy.”

He also plays video games but has taken that interest a bit further, developing a game for his senior project. The project was selected as one of the Top 10 projects.

“It’s a role playing game, like Dungeons & Dragons,” he said.

Proctor, who’s younger sister Abbie is a junior, has lived all of his life in Wilton and enjoys traveling, especially throughout New England, visiting museums and historic sites.

“I love Maine, that’s why I chose a school there,” he said. “I don’t like big cities very much.”

His advice to younger students is to “never stop learning and constantly branch out. Don’t be afraid of trying something new.”

Right now he is learning to play the piano.

“We’re just very proud of him,” said Principal Brian Bagley.

Proctor said his illness has taught him some lessons.

It “is a kind of positive experience for me, made me a better person,” he said. “I can empathize, understand people better.”