Students and faculty spend an inordinate amount of time on Ridgeview’s campus. For those whose sense of awareness has been dulled by exposure, it is merely a building, a campus, a piece of property. Over time, it becomes simply, and somewhat pathetically, “just Stuart and Lemay,” as a parent once explained to me. Unless it causes some offense, our humble surroundings are given scant and usually utilitarian attention. When called to reflect upon our facilities, some might wish for furnishings, artwork, and architecture better suited to the aims and ideals of the institution. “If only we had more money,” some might think, but in general, even those district schools that have much larger budgets generally do little with it that is inspiring. They discard their books, buy more computers, and build better athletic facilities. If they are better than us, it is chiefly in that their facilities better reflect what they find most ennobling whereas ours reflect the pragmatics of always deficient coffers.
Nevertheless, efforts have been made for our building to tell our story. In addressing the importance of architecture, the French writer Alain de Botton noted that, “Belief in the significance of architecture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or for worse, different people in different places – and on the conviction that it is architecture’s task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be.” Architecture and ambience, in this light, are similar to the objectives we have in mind by requiring a particular standard of attire. According to our premise, the attitude brought to a task is at least partially determined by the type of place in which that task is carried out.
Court houses and churches both set particular types of expectations, but a school, is too often designed like a prison. If it is our aim to inspire a reverence and respect for knowledge and wisdom, it does little good to conscript children for social experimentation, mandate universal, free, and compulsory education, and then see it housed in places destitute of beauty or inspiration.
As a charter school, we pay for our autonomy in part by receiving less per student than our district school counterparts. However, it might also be the case that our facilities, though more meager, are less sterile and less devoid of the potent symbols relevant to knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.
In a series of Principal’s Perspectives to be published over the coming months, a complete tour will be provided of Ridgeview’s facilities. It is hoped that in so doing, students, parents, faculty, and staff will gain a better understanding of the various ways in which the building reflects the aims and ambitions of a classical, liberal arts education and endeavors to be the type of place in which we become the type of people who gladly and cheerfully pursue such noble aims.
Ridgeview Classical Schools