“Cardigan Mountain School offers a close-knit community that prepares middle school boys—in mind, body, and spirit—for responsible and meaningful lives in a global society.” These were the words with which School Leader Conley Bohan ’21 began the opening ceremony for the 2020-21 school year. Other school leaders followed him reciting Cardigan’s Core Values. While none of this is unusual—these statements are read at the beginning of every school year—there was a renewed sense of commitment and allegiance to them as the School gathered together for the first time in six months.
On Thursday, Music Director Kevin Franco called the School to assemble with music. In the unconventional Opening Ceremony (which dogs could to attend for the first time ever!), as Mr. Franco’s piano melodies floated over Canaan Street Lake and perhaps even up to the fire tower on Mount Cardigan, students and faculty gathered on Marrion Field, spreading out in dorm groups and filling the field with their optimism and potential energy. This isn’t just a regular school year, and as each person stood up in front of Clark-Morgan Hall and shared their welcoming speeches, it was clear how grateful everyone was to assemble and return to what has always drawn them together—community and working toward a common goal.
Director of Student Life Nick Nowak began by introducing this year’s theme: Carry On. “This year,” he said, “we are charged with carrying on the tradition and character of our School built by so many before us.” Mr. Nowak shared that the theme charges them with building an inclusive community in which all will feel welcome and with digging deep and finding the courage and energy to continue even when circumstances aren’t ideal. “None of you need to be here, including the remote learners abroad,” he said. “But Cardigan needs you; the world calls you and here you are.”
Mr. Nowak then introduced this year’s Opening Ceremony speaker, Dean of Students Danielle Fedele. Ms. Fedele began by welcoming everyone to campus: “I am thrilled that each and everyone one of you is with us on this incredible ride this year. It brings my heart such joy to look out and see us together, physically together.” She then went on to tell three stories—a folktale, a knight’s tale, and a miracle—that explored this year’s theme and how fundamental the School’s Core Values are in carrying out that theme.
“Carrying on is when moments of adversity become moments of greatness,” she said in conclusion. “At Cardigan we want you to become the kind of people who by instinct value ‘to do the right thing’…Have faith, take heart, help the other fella, and carry on. It’s not going to be easy but it is going to be worth it.”
Head of School Chris Day P’12,13 also spoke. He emphasized that even for returning faculty and students everything is different. “In some ways, I’m glad about that. Everything’s a little bit different for everybody...We’re all experiencing some newness, and unfamiliarity, and that can produce some fear or uncertainty, if we are all by ourselves.” But, he went on to say, we are in it together: “I’m so proud of this community, students and faculty alike, for the great effort and attitude that you’ve brought to the start of this year.”
As students and faculty left Marrion Field, they were each given a bracelet with the simple words “Carry On” written on them, reminding them of their role in keeping Cardigan moving forward and making this academic year a success.
Watch Cardigan's 2020 Opening Ceremony: