Few who walk into Ridgeview for the first time in 2017 could imagine that it began life as a church in 1978. Upon entering through the front doors, students see the Hoplite logo inlaid in the flooring. It is a mascot first chosen by Ridgeview students in 2001. The ancient hoplites were primarily propertied farmers and artisans who owned their own armor, fought with a spear and shield, and were regarded as formidable because of their use of the phalanx formation. The classicist Victor Davis Hanson described the hoplites as “independent small farmers [who] had little free time or desire for constant drilling. Yet they came to battle with an abundance of courage, if not controlled recklessness, and possessed a spirit of camaraderie with those of the same class and background…these men were natural hoplites, in short, awesome soldiers turned loose to battle on their own turf, the farmlands of Greece, men to whom Pericles in his famous funeral oration was no doubt referring when he said they ‘would rather perish in resistance than find salvation through submission.’” For Ridgeview’s students, the Hoplite represents the free individual’s capacity to think and act independently in times of peace and to work with unbreakable resolve in times of crisis.
As one looks up from the floor, a stone tablet can be seen hanging prominently between the reception and attendance desks. The inscription carries one message in three languages. Across the top of this stone is Ridgeview’s Latin motto – Veritati Virtutique Dedicatum, which means “dedicated to truth and virtue.” For a school that proposes to study the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, and to place a priority on what Matthew Arnold described as “the best which has been thought and said,” there is little else that a school such as Ridgeview could dedicate itself to. Latin, moreover, was the most appropriate language for this message, because it is not a dead language, but a timeless one. It is how we speak to one another when we wish to be heard across millennia. Beneath this is a list of the character pillars Ridgeview regards as essential: citizenship, courage, cooperation, perseverance, honesty, integrity, respect, and responsibility. These topics are taken up again and again, from kindergarten through the senior thesis, across all subjects, and as much in parent reading groups as Socratic seminars. At the bottom of this tablet is an inscription in Greek from a fragment of Heraclitus: ἦθος ἀνθρώπῳ δαίμων – character is destiny. It is a reminder not that Big Brother is watching, but that what we choose to make of ourselves will determine the kind of lives we lead.
The lightboxes in the wall opposite this stone tablet change periodically, but each picture serves to represent the community Ridgeview students have forged not out of the happenstance of districting, but through shared endeavors. Such endeavors range from the flush of victory at Science Bowl or Mock Trial to the triumph of summiting one of Colorado’s fourteeners. Our community – our Hoplite community – is composed of plucky individuals fortunate enough to be exposed to and reminded of the interconnectedness of the intellect and one’s character.
Ridgeview Classical Schools