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Origins of Ensworth Traditions: Mr. Arthur

Polly Bibb Douse
When our faculty begin at Ensworth, they learn about the culture and traditions of the school, and they are encouraged to build upon these cornerstones of excellence. Mr. Arthur rose to that challenge from the beginning of his 32-year tenor.
“We always had a gathering at the Fay’s home before school started. A man came through the door as I walked out, and he stuck out his hand. His hand was huge, and he said, ‘Hey, my name is Robert Inman. What do you coach?’ He did not ask me my name, and I thought about that over the years and the kind of man he was.  He was really asking me ‘what are you bringing to Ensworth, what are you going to do to make it better?’ I coached football, wrestling, and track with him for about 16 years, and it was a great experience being around him.”

One of Mr. Inman’s longstanding traditions was Field Day. Even now, kindergarten students eagerly look forward to that special day in May, when they will sit at the top of the hill and cheer on the fourth through eighth-grade students.

“We started with the fourth grade mile. They did everything: the mile, the half-mile, they did the 400 meter. They did hurdles with cardboard boxes originally. Back then, Robert made hurdles out of PVC piping, and between races, he would be over there repairing them because the kids would knock them over. The kids would run from this field to the field down below where the current football field is. When it was dry, there would be a cloud of dust. Robert poured his life into this event for the kids,” comments Mr. Arthur.

A special tradition that lasted over 30 years at Ensworth was Mr. Arthur’s camping and paddling trip in Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

Mr. Arthur explains the origins of this tradition: “I love to camp and I love to paddle, and I thought if Robert Inman can take kids out West, I can take kids somewhere else. In the mid 1980’s, I saw a picture in Time Magazine of some young boys paddling in a lake across Minnesota in flannel shirts during the summer. Now, I don’t like summers; it is too hot. If I can get cool in the summer, that is for me. Because Robert did his trip, the school allowed me to do one. The parents trusted me because I coached with Robert. Robert paved the way.”

Mr. Arthur continued, “The trip I led took place in a wilderness. You find your way with maps and a compass. You only travel by canoe. The woods are too thick as it’s too marshy. Your canoe is your way in and your way out. After one of our trips, I got this wonderful note from a young girl, and it said, ‘Thank you for teaching me to do more than I ever thought I could and taking me out of the craziness of this world.’ She got it. You give kids the opportunity, they are going to rise to the occasion. They are away from mom and dad, they are on the edge of becoming adults, and this is a kind of growing up experience for them. Ensworth is really about the growth of kids.”

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