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‘Tis the season for gratitude, charity, and merriment. It is this time of year more than any other in which one senses that Ridgeview has transcended being a school to become a community. That word, community, has suffered much abuse in recent times. If, however, we mean by it a people united in spirit, values, and objectives, Ridgeview more than meets the mark. I am thankful to everyone who has played a part, whether large or small, in making this so and breathing vitality into the mission, philosophy, and ethos that go to make up what we call Ridgeviewian.

A few instances of this Ridgeviewian spirit come to mind. For instance, a dedicated teacher who cut short her time at the Christmas party to take food to another member of the faculty who was recuperating from a surgery at home. The droves of teachers, staff members, and administrators who have given up time with their own families to chaperone events late into the night and ensure that every student found a ride home.

I am thankful to every parent who, when the rules came down against their child, marshalled the temperance to quiet their pride and protective instincts, and coolly and civilly took into mind that there was a sincerity on the part of the teachers who do what is ultimately, if not immediately, in the best interests of their child. I am likewise appreciative of the parents who in disagreeing with me have borne me with such patience and consideration, and having disagreed with me so agreeably, have made me wiser for the interaction. I am appreciative of every parent who has behaved themselves according to a grammar of civility and thereby set the highest standards for their own children. I appreciate of parents who have volunteered to make certain events possible whether by donating their time, skills, or money. They have improved our students’ lives immeasurably, and the Ridgeview experience would be duller without them. I hold in high regard and with gratitude those parents who have stepped forward to take on extreme challenges when we could not afford employees to fill certain positions, and then took on even more when things went from bad to worse.

I am thankful to the staff who do too much for too little acknowledgement. I marvel at their spirit as they stand in the cold in the mornings and afternoons to make our parking lot safer, and when they decorate the elementary cafeteria to make it a cozier place to eat. This tenderness goes so far as to sing for the youngest children as they eat their lunches or wait in line to use the microwaves. They have not been directed to do these things, and yet they do them out of a love for the children and an appreciation for the fact that this youthful and relative innocence is but a brief and beautiful moment in a larger life. I appreciate the janitorial staff who not only do the least enviable tasks without complaint or bitterness, but who remain some of the most upbeat people in the building and know nearly every student’s name.

I appreciate the faculty who have sacrificed their leisure and sometimes even their health to prepare their lessons and find innovative ways to make challenging material relatable to their students and make dusty, old volumes compelling to the young. I appreciate them for lecturing, singing, playing, working, cooking, conversing, and thinking their way into the hearts and minds of their students. Teaching is an incredible thing, and those who fail to see this, lose their way from learning. To come reinvigorated each day, to push through the perennial ennui and exhaustion, to deliver lesson after lesson, listen to conversation after conversation, and still care, and to never become casual or apathetic about their students or profession – this is worthy not only of admiration, but celebration.

Finally, I am thankful for the students who bring the building to life and make the job worthwhile. While I understand that many see in their assignments only another gloomy chore, they offer tired teachers reassurance despite themselves. In each polite ‘thank you’ as they leave class, in each genuine conversation in which we get a peek at who they will become, in every encounter that is more than perfunctory or coerced in which they exhibit a real esteem and regard for the materials that drove us to become teachers, I am reaffirmed in our purpose. In each of their successes, we revel; in every act of kindness and generosity that we witness, we see a moment heroic because it is surrounded on all sides by seas of cultural degeneration. I am thankful that they are here, and that for a brief time, I was permitted to be with them.

Chances are good that many of you who are reading this recognize yourselves described herein, and it is you to whom I express my most candid appreciation. I am more than proud to be Ridgeview’s principal. I am justifiably humbled. In whatever way you celebrate the spirit of this season, thank you for sharing a treasured part of your life with us and transforming our old building into a school, and the school into a community. Merry Christmas!

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