Congratulations to Remy Ponce-Pore and Eunice Chen on being selected as the junior high and high school students of the quarter. Congratulations also to Ridgeview’s National Merit Semifinalists Laura Ann Schmidberger, Rebecca Salter, Remy Ponce-Pore, and Zachary Prevedel, and to National Merit Semifinalist commendation recipient Caleb Jhones. Finally, congratulations to all of the students who worked hard to earn their places on both the Honor Roll and the High Honor Roll. What follows is the speech given by Mr. Anderson at the first honors assembly for the 2013-2014 academic year.
It all seems a bit remarkable when one pauses to consider the purposes of our convening this afternoon. First, because we have paused for something, and the world outside is always busying itself with something more important than the present. Second, because we are here to think of someone other than ourselves, and the world in its busyness seems inundated by so many thinking of so little and focused so exclusively on themselves. I hope that we will not fall prey to that vice because this place is peculiar partly by virtue of its desire to prepare you for a life that will defend the higher things.
This is, of course, a rather grand speech preceding an honors assembly, but I think it serves us well to be reminded of what it is that we are doing here. This, being a place of education, begs the question: what is it that we wish for you to learn? Principally that one day, not long from now, you will have a choice whether to be in a room like this living up to all the pleasant things I’ve said about you. When it comes time to choose, we want for you to choose the things that matter.
Again, that may all seem a bit much, but apathy and a disregard for others are corrosive – they eat away at what holds us together and allows us to esteem, revere, and cherish those higher order things. The main reason to come here is to honor those who are most esteemed by the faculty and who we feel embody the virtues we espouse, the ethics we have tried to inculcate, and the charisma to encourage other to lead magnanimous lives.
We have gotten this wrong in the past, which is a shame because we have always been in earnest. We have occasionally chosen a brilliant intellect only to discover it was attended by a shady character. We should strive to recognize wisdom, virtue, and charity. As William Cowper wrote in his poem The Task, “Knowledge is proud that he has learn’d so much; / Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.”
There is, as Alexander Herzen pointed out, an incredible story in every human life that would be far more interesting than any novel that has ever been written if only we could fully know it, and so for those not being honored today, it is resolutely not whether there is something interesting about you that deserves our attention, but whether we yet know what that is. As your teachers, we look forward to finding out.
For those about to be honored, we ask you to take seriously our commendations and live life in a manner that encourages your fellows to find their way to this stage and to similar honors even if for dissimilar achievements.
Our middle school student of the quarter has been described by her teachers as insightful, polite, modest, conscientious, hard-working, helpful, forthright, honest, and naturally energetic. She is a cellist and a figure skater with a disciplined intellect and a joy for learning. Her positivity and gentleness have made a deep impression on Ridgeview’s faculty.
Our high school student of the quarter is a young man who has grown more impressive with time. He has made an impression upon the math and science faculty especially but not exclusively. He is one driven as much from within as without. He is an athlete, an Eagle Scout, a leader, and a young man of impeccable character.