When recalling former Head of School Chan Hardwick and his legacy at Blair Academy, one must include his wife Monie, who directed the School’s advancement office and strategic planning, because the two, together, created and implemented a vision for what the School has become today. With their impressive leadership, the institution leaned into a student-centered focus, started witnessing more success and, today, Blair Academy is widely recognized as being one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country.
Blair Academy was excited to hit the road and host a special Society of Skeptics at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, November 9, to hear from the Hardwicks.
“I am grateful to continue to be a part of the Society of Skeptics and am excited about this upcoming one in particular, because I’ve recently become a Trustee,” said Mr. Hardwick during a pre-event interview. “I’m looking forward to talking about both the present and future state of the School with current Head of School Peter Curran. We’ll talk about what Blair was like when I entered in 1989—the aspirations and progress both internally and externally for the School—and move on to discussions about aspirations now.”
The evening began with Director of Society of Skeptics Jason Beck introducing the night’s agenda and speakers, including current Head of School Peter G. Curran, former Head of School Chan Hardwick and former Director of Strategic Planning Monie Hardwick as moderator.
“We’re looking forward to speaking to past alumni and parents of former and/or current Blair students, and hopefully, we’ll get a lot of questions,” chimed in Monie, who has never failed at including others’ voices.
Since the Hardwicks’ final year at Blair in 2012, Blair Academy has continued to become increasingly attractive to families around the world. While celebrating its demisemiseptcentennial this year, the School also saw its lowest acceptance rate— 15 percent—since the School’s inception. Furthermore, in the past couple of years, the School has seen its strongest collegiate matriculation rates.
“At this upcoming Skeptics, I want to celebrate how Blair continues to be a student-centered school, which is extremely important for boarding schools. Boarding schools need to be student-centered because we’re responsible for so many aspects of students’ lives, such as when they sleep, eat, etc. Much of their whole adolescent growth period is spent with us,” said Mr. Hardwick. “We’re just grateful to find that those changes we implemented back in 1989 continue today.”
“As with every venerable boarding school, there were challenges in Blair’s history, but we arrived when the School was emerging forward due to the leadership of the faculty, Trustees, parents and alumni,” said Mr. Hardwick. “Together, they made Blair a school that would continue to thrive, and for Monie and me, we just tried to continue that progress. We just tried to be great everyday. ‘Today, we will be a better school than yesterday’ and that worked well for us.”
In addition to speaking at various school events, the Hardwicks, who currently reside in South Carolina, visit the hilltop as frequently as they can. With Mr. Hardwick’s recent appointment to the Board of Trustees, the two have found themselves to be “extremely lucky” to be in the “company of phenomenal leaders who care so much about the School and continue to think of ways to make Blair the great school it is.”
Click "play" below to watch the Hardwicks' Skeptics presentation.
History of Skeptics
The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.
The program, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.