Cardigan Mountain School A boarding and day school for boys in grades 6 through 9

Reflection: Arthur G. Broadhurst

Arthur Broadhurst

We all bring unique backgrounds to The Point and are shaped by our time here in different ways. As part of the 75th Anniversary of the School, Director of Archives Judith Solberg and Assistant Director of Communications Emily Magnus have begun to collect the stories of members of the Cardigan community, documenting their personal experiences on The Point. We will share highlights from these interviews throughout the coming year and beyond.

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Arthur G. Broadhurst was the first chaplain of Cardigan. He was hired in 1963 and stayed through 1967. Mr. Broadhurst has degrees from the University of Richmond and Colgate Rochester Divinity School; he completed additional graduate work at the University of Rochester. After Cardigan, Mr. Boardhurst stayed in independent school education for some time as an administrator and teacher, serving as assistant headmaster and upper school head at Lake Ridge Academy in Ohio; assistant head and upper school principal at Trinity School in Manhattan; and then a similar position at Saint Edward’s School in Vero Beach, Florida. From there he took a different career path, first to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) in Boston as director of business services. Later he helped set up and eventually became president and chief operating officer of an insurance and reinsurance company owned by universities and some independent schools. Based in Bermuda, the company’s focus was on educational liability insurance. Despite his long and successful career, Mr. Broadhurst says teaching was his first love and his memories of Cardigan his fondest.

Please note: The interviewees comments have been edited for content and clarity.

On how Rev. Broadhurst was hired:

Arthur Broadhurst and family

It was an interesting time because when I was first contacted, I was the acting director of court services for the Supreme Court, which in New York state is the lower court, what normally would be a circuit court. But I worked for that court as acting director of probation and court services. I had been hired because the state of New York had mandated that they had to do marriage and youth counseling through the family court. [...] One of the things that we did was place kids in out-of-state institutions, because some of us did not like the idea of the state reform school and instead we placed kids in schools. 

When I was contacted by Cardigan, and Head of School Norm Wakely H’91, P’70,’73,’75 was trying to get me to come up and look at the School, we were on such different wavelengths. I thought he was trying to get me to look at the School as a place to send kids, and he was trying to talk me into joining them for the new chapel program. [...] It took three conversations with Norm before I finally figured out that they were interested in hiring me, and my wife said to me (this was the week before Labor Day), “Look, New England’s a nice place to look at the leaves and so on, let’s just go up there.” 

I visited on Labor Day weekend, and I think school started either just before or after that. By the time I moved up there, it was October. I had an apartment on the second floor in French, and I’ve got to tell you that in many ways that was the job that I enjoyed most of anything I’ve ever done. And I’ve done some interesting things. But that was, that was the most human job that I had. When I look backwards, I have very fond memories. 

Dorm family photo of Hinman Hall

On Cardigan faculty acting in loco parentis:

Back when I was on campus and we got to spring break, there were always a dozen or so kids who were stranded because their parents were off in foreign countries. We couldn't get a hold of them. So my wife and I, one year, rented a big chalet at Killington; and it was a two-story chalet, and we had a hell of a good time. I was determined that the boys were going to eat well, so there were multiple bags of groceries and wonderful steaks and everything. The dollar amount may not mean a lot to you now, but the first grocery bill when we got there and shopped was $200.

There were a number of kids whose families, for whatever reason, their business or their government position, had them in overseas locations, and they didn't want to use the overseas government schools. So Cardigan filled that role. Yes, there were also kids who struggled academically, but Bev Wakely H’01, P’70,’73,’75 was superb at working with them. At that point she kind of ran the dyslexic kids’ program. And there were a number of kids who really needed that kind of support. There were other kids who had some dyslexic problems, but they were quite bright and it was necessary to kind of find their strong points and get them to succeed at something that they were able to do, and find coping mechanisms.

We were mother and dad to kids who really oftentimes didn't really have anybody who cared for them. I remember the times in the fall when we would go apple picking and the boys ate our apple pies; my wife was good at making those and we'd have three or four pies in the dorm. There were all kinds of fun things like that.

Cardigan boys on the waterfront

On memories of Jock Pearson:

One of the important people there was Jock Pearson ’65 P’98 who, among other things, became head of the trustees eventually. Jock was a student leader back when I was there, and he had a terrible accident during which his neck was broken. I remember visiting him at Hitchcock hospital. He had three bolts into his skull and was stretched on almost like a suspension thing, where they could turn him over in this frame that he was in. And he was in that thing for several months before he eventually went home to finish recovery.

On the Chapel Program at Cardigan:

Inside of Cardigan's Chapel, 1963

I came when the chapel was finished, so the chapel and I were married together the first weekend that it was open. And I remember it was quite a big deal because a very noted architect from New York City designed it: a guy named Arland Dirlane. He created a chapel that looks in some ways pretty typical. But the walls were a very, very slight pink, which you couldn't really tell unless you put pure white up against them, and the ceiling was a very pale blue, intentionally because it was sky. Arland Dirlane came up and talked about the design elements back in the early days.

I did not have any interest in a consciously religious program, because the students at Cardigan were from all walks of life and the School had no philosophical mission as the Episcopal schools did. I was much more interested in dealing with the values that kids should have and should be thinking about, and how you make decisions and deal with broader ethical issues.

I asked the chaplain from La Salette Seminary (a Catholic high school in Enfield from 1928-1974) to do catechism lessons for the Catholic students, and there was a Jewish rabbi who had a role at Dartmouth and was available if Jewish students needed someone in a counseling role. But I spent a lot of time working with individual kids and their problems. I made it very clear to kids that I was open and I was non-threatening in that way.

I was more inclined to deal with stories from the Old Testament as fables. For example, a simple, maybe silly, example is the story of Cain and Abel. It's really a story about conflict between two ways of life: the farming life and the agricultural life, which the Israelites found when they went into the so-called Promised Land. But it is the conflict between two ways of life that that story is illustrating. So I could tell the story in that context so that it would make sense to kids or adults who were reading it. 

I did a lot of writing when I was at Cardigan, but the pieces were very short. I wrote fables sometimes. I don't call them sermons; they're just chapel talks. I didn't want them to be your theoretical Bible stories; what I wanted to do was get at conflict in a way that would be understood by at least a group of kids.

On the impact of current events on campus life:

Gov. Rockefeller visits Cardigan in 1964

There were some interesting things that went on. Back in my first year at Cardigan, Nelson Rockefeller was running for president and we hosted him in the Cardigan Chapel.

Our oldest daughter was born while we were there, and interestingly enough, it was election day—it was November 3 of 1964. The next time November 3 fell on a Tuesday was this last election. 

Kennedy was shot while we were there. You know, you remember where you were when that happened. Of course, that was the fall, and interestingly enough, we were just putting the boats away. But we hadn't gotten them into the little boat house yet, and the afternoon activities had ended. I forget what the schedule was, but I was walking back towards the dorm when a kid came running up and said that the President had been shot. Wow, we were kind of stunned. So we all went back to the apartment and TV was a much cruder thing in those days. It was black and white. But people were interested; boys assembled in our little apartment. Anyway, we talked about it. I talked about it in Chapel, but with kids that age, other than the shock value of it, it didn't have the same impression that it did on adults. 

On life during the COVID-19 pandemic in assisted living in Florida:

I have one daughter who lives in this town, and a granddaughter and great grandchildren, who I can't see because we have restrictions on who can come onto the campus. It's not quite a bubble, but it's sort of a semi-bubble. You know, I think of it, most people haven't ever been on a boarding school campus, but I think of our community as kind of a big boarding school for adults. We've got a theater. We have a chapel. We even have our own salon/barber/beauty shop on the premises.

Old people don't have a very comfortable familiarity with technology. I'm the guy here that they call if they have a problem. I'm sort of a computer-tech-smartphone guru. I do not ever charge for doing work on people's computers, but I do have a request: when they have equipment that they're no longer using, then they give it to me, because I recondition it [and] set it up. I've gotten a lot of iPads, which are old, but the nice thing about an iPad is it does FaceTime and it will do it forever. So a lot of the old iPads I receive go over to the nursing home where they can't have visitors, so they can talk to people the way we're talking. 

I would get very bored if I just had to sit here and wait till I die. So I try to keep myself focused on something. I believe that community requires everybody to help everybody else. That's the only way community works.

Cardigan's Religious Activities Council


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