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

Generating Change through Giving Back and Education

Students performing service to our community

What do you do with 150 unused and unwanted pillows? This was the problem confronting the Cardigan community this fall when the students’ laundry service unexpectedly delivered a pillow to every student who ordered a standard bed linen package. Most boys had brought pillows with them from home, and after opening their boxes, the new pillows couldn’t be returned, even though they were still wrapped in plastic and in perfectly good condition.

Community Life Coordinator Allan Krueuzburg P’14,’17 and Chief Financial Officer Stephen Solberg jumped into action, working the phones and finding two local organizations that could put the pillows to use: The Haven and WISE. The Upper Valley Haven is a local organization that “provides temporary shelter, educational programming for adults and families experiencing homelessness, and food to those in need;” WISE works in the Upper Valley “to end gender-based violence through survivor-centered advocacy, prevention, education and mobilization for social change.”

Student trying the Chips for CHaD contest

The pillows, however, were still scattered around campus and would take days for any one person to collect. Fortunately, Mr. Kruezburg was able to enlist the help of dorm parents and students to collect the new pillows in the dormitory common rooms, and members of the Community Service Club, under the leadership of math teacher Morgan Wilkinson, collected them and brought them to the Kline Theater. Then Assistant Director of Facilities Steve Muszynski loaded them into a box truck and brought them to the Haven and WISE. In the grand scheme of things, this was admittedly a small donation, but it began what has been a busy fall of working together and giving back at Cardigan.

Mr. Wilkinson and the Sunday community service volunteers have also been helping to deliver packages around campus when the mailroom gets overwhelmed; and when the growing season was over, they helped prepare the School’s community garden for winter––raking the leaves, turning the compost pile, and weeding the edges of the plot.

“Thanks to these boys, it will be easy to get the garden going in the spring,” says Mr. Wilkinson.

Students help prepare our garden for winter

In October the whole school got involved in a series of activities that raised funds for Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD), New Hampshire’s only children’s hospital. In October Cardigan’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) organized five events, beginning with a dress down day for which students donated cash to be able to forego the dress code for a day. There was also what has become an annual Funsie Onesie Runsie in which over 100 students and faculty participated in a 1.2 K fun run in their favorite onesie. And then there was the Chips for CHaD contest in which Marrion Field became a driving range and golfers with the most accurate swing vied for prizes. Lastly, there was a bake sale, with delicious treats baked by the faculty and staff families and devoured by students and other hungry community members. Giving never tasted so good!

By the end of the week, the NJHS events raised around $1600. “The kids were really the driving force,” says faculty liaison and history teacher James Forse. “I’m just here to help them get organized and manage projects when their schedules get busy.” 

Students run the annual Funsie Onesie race

Having said that, however, Mr. Forse adds that as the school year continues, his goal is to get students thinking beyond the fun of organizing community events: “I want them to be thinking critically and educating the community about the greater Upper Valley community and the organizations that we are supporting.” So far his list of upcoming events includes a food drive for the Mascoma food bank and a 3 vs. 3 basketball tournament to raise funds and awareness for the LGBTQIA+ community and for racial justice and equity. Students will be in charge of running the events but will also need to come up with ways to engage the students and educate the community, all in an effort to generate change, not only in the lives of the recipients but in the lives of the boys themselves.

That change will mean challenging students to remain in a frame of mind that puts giving and service first, so that when the next surplus of pillows comes around, they will know just what to do with them.

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Cardigan Chronicle, Spring 2021

Read the latest issue of the Cardigan Chronicle! Published twice each year, featuring articles, updates on academic programs, campus projects, photographs from events, and much more.