Thank you for being here this evening. Our ability to come together as a community does not become less important the longer Ridgeview exists, but rather more important. It is easy to take what happens here for granted, easy to become complacent, easy to believe that something can become self-perpetuating. Notions that we may enjoy the fruits of a thing without the labor invested in its cultivation are always seductive and have misled men into countless ventures that failed despite being full of promise. Indeed, hundreds of curious parents have come to Ridgeview over the years hoping to take home the secret recipe and replicate the dish. The secret ingredient, however, is an active community of volunteers who are willing to put in the unacknowledged hours and make the underappreciated sacrifices. They do this without self-regard and in order to see an organization such as this serve not just this or that student, but to serve generations of students. This initial impulse, the fountainhead of one’s passions, will undoubtedly be born out of a concern for one’s own children, but as they grow older and begin to mix with the broader world, it is essential to renew that passion out of a regard for the welfare of one’s country and society. This is what it means to be a cultural steward who keeps alit the flame of freedom until the next generation has matured enough to take our place in upholding this solemn duty.
We are fortunate to have so many volunteers who understand that Ridgeview is not only for today or tomorrow, but that it exists with a greater longevity in mind and as an exemplar for all those who do not have the good fortune to live in a quaint Colorado town at the foothills of the Rockies. Their efforts on behalf of our eighth hundred resonate far beyond these walls. We are beyond blessed to have such volunteers, and one capacity in which we have been especially well served is by our board of directors. This year Paul Heyliger will be stepping down from the Board that he has served since 2009. No member of the Board would dispute Dr. Heyliger’s steadfast support of Ridgeview, his good counsel, or his reasonableness. His children have grown and moved away onto new adventures. He has never sought out the public spotlight and yet neither has he wavered under the scrutiny of the public eye. His selflessness in this role, his temperance throughout, and his patience with a new principal have shown him not only to be of good character, but a model for ethical public service. As Juvenal pointed out, “Virtue is the only and true nobility.” In this respect, Dr. Heyliger’s nobility is the cause of our gratitude for his service, and though he will be missed, he leaves us in good hands.
Fortune has no doubt smiled on this country in the sense that we have mostly moved from one political administration to the next without riots, pandemonium, or upheaval. Of course, our history has not been so tame as to be entirely quiet or sober, but compared to many places in the world, and in spite of the poisoned money and poisoned ink poured into elections, they are fairly placid. On a much, much smaller scale, we exist quite comfortably in a place where this election can take place without stirring up unnecessary animosities, without factionalizing staff and faculty, and without the fate of the school depending on the outcome of the election. The fate of the school rests in this case only on the willingness of sympathetic individuals to give generously of their time and serve on a board more conscious of policy and the avoidance of mission drift than the distractions of ego, politics, or personal vanity. The choice before you this evening is a choice about how to fill two seats from three eminently caring and dedicated individuals. It is as good and as tough a choice as one could wish for.
We are fortunate too in that we are graced with not only those individuals willing to serve on the Board, but those individuals who have served and grown so familiar and beloved through their service that they have become bound by almost familial ties. To the faculty and staff, we owe an unrepayable debt. Ridgeview has enjoyed a good year – we are enjoying the highest enrollment in the school’s history, the highest number of volunteer hours, the highest donations, some of the best feedback on surveys, winning science bowl, chess tournaments, the continued successes of our students, their admissions to colleges and universities, and the many scholarships they have been awarded. Ridgeview is well and firmly established, and it will grow stronger from one year to the next despite the challenges posed by the Common Core or the college admissions racket. However, to say that this has been an entirely good year for Ridgeview would be to overlook some of the challenges we have faced. Our families and colleagues have had a surprisingly difficult year – it has been a year of hospitalizations and hard diagnoses. We have discovered Milton’s rocks “whereon greatest men oftest wreck’d,” and we hope in Longfellow’s lines that, “noble souls, through dust and heat, / Rise of disaster and defeat / The stronger.” For all of those who have sent their prayers and well wishes, please know that they have been deeply felt and deeply appreciated.
Despite these hardships, we look to the future with great optimism. There is much that is in the works to ensure that Ridgeview remains an incomparable opportunity for every student who accepts its challenge. The faculty and the administration will ensure that Ridgeview continues to over-prepare our students for college in order to prepare them for life, and that we focus as keenly on the character of the student as we do his intellect. We look forward to deepening our fellowship with our students both in the great outdoors and in the great books. We look forward to the concerts, the games, the socials, the dances, and the Ridgeview Follies, which account for only a handful of the nearly 85 different events that will take place over the next calendar year as we grow into a stronger and more connected community. We look forward to everyone here, and those not yet here, being a part of this. Thank you again for your support, for trusting us with the education of your children, and for your time this evening. Good night.