The Tour, Part III

Old papers, photos, and a fountain pen rest on a white table.

American history has always been given pride of place within the curriculum at Ridgeview. Our country’s culture and history are given this sort of attention because whatever else our students may go on to become, very nearly all of them will go on to become American citizens. As a recipient of our fellow citizen’s tax dollars, we believe we are uniquely responsible for ensuring that our youth are suitably educated. The prominent placement of two American flags in the lobby serves to show that Ridgeview teaches the whole of American history. The flag on the left is that of the American Republic, which lasted up until the Civil War. The flag on the right is the flag of the American Nation, which has lasted through to the present day. Between these two flags there is a tremendous amount of history that every citizen ought to know, and periodically passersby will see our kindergartners seated before these two flags learning a portion of that history.

The academic awards on the opposite wall, as well as on the wall to the far right, name the recipients of Ridgeview’s academic and character awards. The Students of the Quarter plaque in particular demonstrates well what Ridgeview prizes most – character. A theme throughout this tour is that character matters more than either academic accomplishment or intellectual acumen. When deciding the student of the quarter, faculty are asked to weigh not only who is doing best in their classes, but who understands best the motivating spirit of Ridgeview’s ethos, who has contributed most to its culture, and not only who has done well for themselves, but who has exhibited true Hoplite spirit in bringing others along with them.

As we proceed towards the PAC, one will notice to the right of the doors a large plaque with a lengthy quotation in Greek from Plato’s Republic. While it is translated into English for visitors, it is initially left in Greek to give students a greater appreciation for the beauty of that language. Like so much of Ridgeview’s décor, neither is its placement incidental. It is through these doors that every student who wishes to graduate with the Hoplite emblem on their diploma must eventually proceed to deliver their senior thesis. The passage reads as follows:

Every single one of us has to give his undivided attention – to the detriment of all other areas of study – to trying to track down and discover whether there is anyone he can discover and unearth anywhere who can give him the competence and knowledge to distinguish a good life from a bad one, and to choose a better life from among all the possibilities that surround him at any given moment. He has to weigh up all the things we’ve been talking about, so as to know what bearing they have, in combination and in isolation, on living a good life. What are the good or bad results of mixing good looks with poverty or with wealth, in conjunction with such-and-such a mental condition? What are the effects of the various combinations of innate and acquired characteristics such as high and low birth, involvement and lack of involvement in politics, physical strength and frailty, cleverness and stupidity, and so on. He has to be able to take into consideration the nature of the mind and so make a rational choice, from among all the alternatives, between a better and a worse life.

It is this that the student who once sat in front of the flags contemplating his country’s history will eventually have to decide for himself: how ought I to live. That everything that is done here is done with this in mind is one of the centerpieces distinguishing a Ridgeview education.

D. Anderson

Principal

Ridgeview Classical Schools

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