Cary Hughes

Cary Hughes -- High Mowing School

High Mowing SchoolHigh Mowing is the second oldest Waldorf school in the country.  In 1942, Beulah Hepburn Emmett was inspired by the thinking of Rudolph Steiner and turned her family summer home on Abbott Hill into a Waldorf High School. (A “mowing” is a hayfield and it is on top of the hill with grand views of the Souhegan Valley.) It is the only Waldorf boarding school in the country.

The first school was opened by Steiner in Germany in 1919. There are about 100 in the United States. Pine Hill, the Waldorf lower grades, was founded in 1972 and includes kindergarten. Both schools are now incorporated as one school and they will celebrate anniversaries next year – 80 years for High Mowing, 50 years for Pine Hill.

Cary HughesCary Hughes, the current Dean of Students, arrived at the school in 1980.

“I did some administrative work,” he said recently, recalling those years. And “I did some part-time teaching,” which he still does.

He grew up in a rural county in Virginia, and attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn., and American University in Washington, D.C.

He wanted the small town atmosphere. “My wife, Sandra, and I were interested in Waldorf education so we looked around and came here. ”Sandra succumbed to cancer last year, he said, “and I’m still trying to adjust to being a widower.”

Civic involvement, giving back to the community, is a big part of Hughes’ life.

“When I came here, I was surprised how little folks knew about the school so

I got on the Budget Committee in 1985.”  He is still there and has served as chairman for longer than he wanted to remember. He said that the committee is still facing the same problems it did then – how to meet the needs of the town and keep the tax rate down.

The Budget Committee is one of the most important boards in town government, but one few people attend. “I tell people, if you want to serve as a selectman, first spend a term on the Budget Committee.” By the end of the term, you’ll know all the boards, their needs and functions and their members. “You’ll learn the background.”

The committee holds a public hearing on the proposed budget prior to Town Meeting, but few people attend, even though that is where changes can be made.  

“It’s really hard to get people out.”

One of the courses he teaches is Government and Economics. “One of the themes of the course is get involved.” Civics runs through the whole curriculum, all four years, he said, “Juniors take a year of government with a concentration on the constitution.” He added, “That should be a requirement for all office holders.”

The school is one of the largest employers in Wilton. “There are 130 students in the high school and about 300” in the whole system. “We educate a number of students from Wilton and Lyndeborough and I want to teach my students to get involved.”

All Pine Hill students are day students and come from as far away as Keene. There are 22 countries represented in the boarders, he said, “About 50 to 60 in the high school.”

The Waldorf High School in Keene closed recently for lack of students and a charter school will be opening there soon for grades one through nine.

Waldorf education is “holistic,” he said, incorporating music and the arts, including crafts, at all levels.

“We are always looking for ways to improve. We had a program called East-West, children from China were here for 11 weeks. The pandemic closed that, but we would like to restore it. It was a delight to the community to have them here.”

He and his wife had wanted to live in New England, he said. “I’ve come to value the town and the people here are really nice and have a sense of community. Like most of the faculty, Hughes lives on the school campus.

“I enjoy working with the people involved with the town. It is always hard to get people (to volunteer for jobs or positions) but it’s working, all those people who make contributions to the community.”

He would like more people to volunteer, especially young people. “Teenagers – I try to convince them to make public service part of their adult life.”

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