Principal's Perspective

2017 Middle School Awards

Fourth Quarter – 2017

The end of this year will represent the end of middle school for many of you. The years between elementary school and high school can be some of the most difficult. This is not merely anecdotally true, but statistically validated. Several years ago, researchers looking for a way to predict who would excel at college and university culled through data trying to determine whether there was any single indicator. The obvious choices were high school GPA and various standardized test scores. What they ultimately settled on was a student’s performance in eighth grade, and as unorthodox an indicator as this might seem, I think that it actually makes fairly good sense.

The students who excel in university are not always the smartest people. I used to tell a story to my students about people being divided into gazelles and lions. Gazelles can find food virtually anywhere; they do not have to work hard for it. The lion does. It is always competing for its survival, and it must always work hard. There are some students for whom traditional academic subjects come quite easy. They glide from one success to the next. They may work longer hours, but those hours do not feel long because they enjoy what they are doing; and frequently, they enjoy it because they are already good at it. For other students, the time passes more slowly, the work is more difficult, it is a chore. However, because one student learns to push through, when it is not clear that there is anything truly riding on it, one habituates themselves to hard work. These people learn the value of persistence, which is something that will serve them more frequently than perfect grammar or algebra. It is almost an Americanism to want to cheer on the underdog and see them challenge the meritocracy that they are told exists.

In a quotation that is popularly attributed to Calvin Coolidge, someone wrote that, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

If the work has seemed difficult at times, or the subjects not to your taste, know that as long you as you are striving, you are acquiring the habit of persistence, which will serve you well in life. Now, the opposite of persistence is simply quitting. In life, as in all hard things that you attempt, there will be those who quit. I was fortunate this week to get to visit with one of our alumni who is currently training for a very elite unit within the Marine Corps. He noted that his group started with ninety men, and is currently down to just twenty-one. Now, the twenty-one remaining men have a choice: they can knuckle-down and commit themselves to finishing the course, or they can emulate those who are leaving and quit as well. Quitting, compared to trying, tends to look easy, but one has to live with it for much longer. There will be those who leave. Be polite, be civil, have a due regard for them, but do not emulate them. Be a finisher, not a quitter.

There is also much that warrants staying. There is comradery, there are trips, there is academic excellence, there are winning teams, a legacy of successful students, students who have come before you and attended prestigious universities and collected fantastic scholarships. The work is tough, but it is not too tough, and there are people who care to know you, to help you, to see you succeed here. But, the days in which you may depend upon your parents for your initiative are coming to a close. Those who will be successful are those who want to be successful. Do not ask others to care more for you than you care for yourself.

Today we celebrate not only those who will be called to the stage, but all those who have dared continue along this path. Who have committed to doing something difficult under their own initiative, and who have chosen to emulate the finishers rather than the quitters. At the head of this group are our students of the quarter. Our final student of the quarter this year is a young lady who is well-read and always polite. She is a hard worker who understands the value of persistence and perseverance. She has taken seriously the challenge Ridgeview poses to all of its students, whether by virtue of its academic rigor or the moral challenge posed by living up to its character pillars. She takes herself seriously, and she thinks seriously about others. It is my pleasure to announce Anne Rutherford as our student of the quarter.

At the end of each year, we like to acknowledge two students for their outstanding character. We obviously do this in part to encourage good character, but also to remind ourselves that we should not prize intellectual or academic achievement above character. The latter matters more, and as a faculty, we should always bear it in mind.

Our first character award goes to a young lady who has proven herself at Ridgeview in a fairly short span of time. She has been a Student Ambassador, an athlete, and a very strong student in the classroom. She has taken her subjects seriously, and she has taken her fellows seriously. She has helped where she can, served her school through the Ambassadors, and has the sort of initiative I discussed earlier. Please congratulate Hannah Harling.

Our second character award goes to a young man who many have perceived as somewhat bashful, but also as someone who is always polite, always attentive to what he ought to be doing, and a young man in the process of becoming a very good man. He studies hard, is willing to share his experiences with his friends and peers, gives every appearance of believing that his studies are worth his time and curiosity. Next year, he will serve his school as a Student Ambassador. Please congratulate Josiah Durrell.

Principal's Perspective

2017 High School Honors Assembly

Fourth Quarter Honors Assembly 2017

With the end in sight, a brief retrospective is in order. While I intend to speak at greater length and hopefully with greater force at the graduation this weekend, it is difficult not to address the seniors in everything one says at this time of year. While they are undoubtedly eager to partake in the banquet, pull off their prank, attend the picnic, don their robes, and receive their degrees, it is harder for those of us who have been inspired, frustrated, and encouraged by them over the years watch as they clear out their lockers and make their final preparations to be done with Ridgeview. Describing all of this as ‘bittersweet’ is patently cliché.

When one considers all that has gone into a year and the finite number that any of us are granted, time trips by almost unmercifully. We are very near the end, and those of us who teach here are well aware that what we do does not bear immediate fruit. The realization of what you have achieved here, whether in the past year, or over the past thirteen, will likely not sink in for some time to come. Nevertheless, I hope that when it does become clear what you have accomplished, what this place and these people have attempted to do for you, you will look back upon these years wistfully and with some measure of gratitude.

As much as you long for summer, I hope that you have enjoyed the year. If you have not, unfortunately, you have only yourselves to blame since happiness is largely a matter of attitude. It is easy to disregard that, to claim that circumstances beyond our control write our destiny, but there are seniors here who we will celebrate this evening and tomorrow afternoon who have demonstrated the verity of the Heraclitus’ assertion that character is destiny, and of Churchill’s that “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Epictetus is right, of course, and it is our attitude towards events that we can control, not the events themselves. I am appreciative to all of the students, some of whom have endured things that it seems only a thoroughly unjust world would force them to endure. In so enduring, to those of us who are observant, patient, curious, self-examining – their perseverance and endurance show us what we might be and the possibility of surmounting all that is placed before us. They become our ablest teachers.

For all of those who have been recognized, and for all of those who struggled without being acknowledged, I appreciate you for being good mentors to one another, for carrying yourselves with dignity and self-respect; for looking after your peers, and for thinking of others more than yourselves. I am grateful to you for setting yourself to something difficult, challenging, and in many ways, something unforgiving. Ridgeview’s curriculum, its manner of study, the introspection it requires, the undiluted realism that it asks us to encounter the world with – none of these are perfectly synchronous with the mercuriality of one’s teenage years. That you do as well as you do would be commendable in itself; that you often do exceptionally well in this, speaks volumes about the quality of your character. So, to all of you, thank you for being here and for persisting in hard work at a turbulent time in your young lives.

Our final student of the quarter for the year is a young man of many abilities. Others have known him far better than I have, but they have been clear in their praises. As a singer, as an athlete, as a friend. I have tried to think of some instance in which I heard someone say something disparaging about him, or allude to some dirt they might have on him, and I can think of nothing. His senior thesis made me think about attention, focus, and flow for the past month, and I appreciate his congeniality, affability, and good cheer. Please join me in congratulating Mr. Logan Broedner.

The faculty have met and thought hard about the students we would like to acknowledge with this year’s character awards. These meetings with the faculty are always interesting in that each of us has had a slightly different relationship with any given student. None of us has all of the pieces, and even were we to have all the pieces, our judgment would hardly be infallible. Nevertheless, our student’s character is essential to our ability to sustain and propagate Ridgeview’s unique culture. Neither can our classrooms look like they do nor our conversations proceed as they do if this culture is not maintained. Consequently, it is a matter of some importance to us to take a moment and acknowledge the moral stamina of some of our students in contributing to a positive culture.

First, I would like to acknowledge a young man who has consistently been a good man. He has, of course, done well. Were this all he had done, his tenure here would be unremarkable and merit only mention in passim. Instead, I think that he has endeavored to be conspicuously moral. That is, he was aware of himself and his actions, as well as the events that took place around him, and scrutinized them for their ethical significance. While he and I have disagreed a couple of times, my opinion of him has not been diminished by these disagreements because of the way he comported himself. It is obvious that he takes himself and others seriously, that he approaches life with optimistic good cheer, and attempts to be good in all that he does, whether that is being a friend or a conscientious student. This first of this year’s character awards goes to George Smith.

Second, I would like to acknowledge a young woman whose enthusiasm has rarely waned. Like George, she seemed conscious of what she was doing and how she could be perceived in each moment. Some would see in this a falseness, but I think that we ought to have a regard for whether we are endeavoring to be our best selves, even if sometimes we have to pretend until it takes a deeper hold of us. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Mother Night, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” Would we preference the company of the malcontent because they were authentic over the company of the person who was trying hard to be better amidst the chaotic swirl of circumstances inclining one to the contrary? I think that others are often given the courage to see the world as it can be by those pretending that it already is. If it is pretense, I hope that it is contagious and that we are all emboldened to be better by it. This is what I have seen in this young woman, and it is for this reason that the second of this year’s character awards goes to Grace Westfall.

Principal's Perspective

Dedicated to Truth and Virtue

Ridgeview’s unabridged Latin credo is neque popularitati neque utilitati at veritati virtutique dedicatum. Translated into English, this means, “Dedicated not to popularity or utility, but to truth and virtue.” Herein, ‘dedicated’ does not have a commemorative sense. Instead, it expresses what individuals working and studying at Ridgeview are dedicating their lives to. These lives are not dedicated to what is popular, because what is popular is so rarely good. Neither is what is popular typically permanent; evanescence is almost a requisite condition of popularity, and Ridgeview is a celebration of permanent things. Moreover, an education chosen purely for practical or utilitarian ends, lacks the epistemological humility to be the one best suited to arranging human affairs, securing liberty, answering the accursed questions, or allowing individuals to develop their quiddities and explore the fullness of their potential. By contrast, we acknowledge that we are at work with those for whom this time may be the last time wherein every choice need not be determined according to strict economic calculations. This education, because it is holistic, must consider the totality of the person and not merely his role as a student. This pedagogy concerns not only how information is communicated, but in ascertaining what manner of living is best. It is an education that inculcates in people an interest in truth, and as such, acculturates them in a disposition anathema to apathy and relativism. It aims to produce people accountable to virtue who reject the solipsistic supposition that such ideas originate within them solely as a result of their own genius. Ridgeview is, as much by its rejection of popularity and utility as by its embrace of truth and virtue, committed to remaining a haven for those genuine individuals who want an education corresponding to their condition as such.

Ridgeview is an inadvertently countercultural institution. It is not idiosyncratic or eccentric for the sake of appearing different, but because we adhere to traditions and believe that education ought to convey a comprehension of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, Ridgeview appears out of step with society at large. While greater educational choice has resulted in an explosion of gimmicky curricula, Ridgeview has as the author of its curriculum the steady erosive power of time. What remains true or worthy of our contemplation after centuries, remains worth teaching. We persist in a belief that given a properly developed historical imagination, history can teach powerful lessons. We believe that there are forms of authority external to ourselves, and that it is foolish as well as dangerous to disparage religious conviction. We believe that virtues trump values, that there is a comprehensible order in the world, and that reason gets us a long way, but not all the way. We believe that we are obliged to treat one another as ends and not as means, and that our thoughtful and humane participation in the present determines our future.

This form of education is possible only by the combined and coordinated efforts of parents, teachers, and students. At base, the parent’s role in this is to behave paternally and support the style and manner of instruction they have chosen for their child. The teacher is expected to dress, speak, and conduct himself in a manner that shows that being here is a calling and not simply a vocation. The student must bring good character, curiosity, initiative, and work ethic. Each of these constituencies must have conversation as a common interest. Each must want Ridgeview to become the public square, a place of both study and deliberation, that exists for everyone’s edification. Each must be committed and contribute unabashedly to the greater public good. It is not enough for the administration or the faculty to endorse these goals – the community must live by them. We must all reject utilitarianism as an unsuitable end of education since despite our best laid plans, we cannot know what we will be. We may be a son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, father, mother, but these are circumstantial roles. Whether we are the best version of ourselves in any of these roles is determined by how we commingle knowledge with experience, and the manner in which we cultivate our life with some measure of wisdom. Wisdom is about how we will live, and how we will live is a more pressing concern than the comparatively narrow concern of how we will make our money. While money is necessary, and capable of great good, we must be prepared to live a good life whether riches come to us or not. We must develop the capacity to balance overlapping areas of our lives within the finite framework time and mortality impose. The intellectual, social, physical, spiritual, and mental aspects must all be fed, and what we feed these different dimensions of our lives informs our capacity for fulfillment, contentment, and Eudaimonia.

The cultivation of this community depends upon our not recklessly pursuing an ever-larger enrollment. There is a size beyond which we cannot do what we do. Our goals require a measure of intimacy. Instead of pursuing greater numbers, we pursue greater purpose. Those whom we are most desirous of, are those who understand clearest and are most grateful of what we offer. People who can be mindful, conscientious, appreciative, deliberative, considerate, respectful. These qualities are the precursors of wisdom, and the necessities of paternalism. That we insist on these, and eschew shallowness, pettiness, self-entitlement, apathy, pretentiousness, and ingratitude focuses us on our commitment to the development of both intellect and character, but always of character before intellect.

In this endeavor, we are ever conscious of posterity. Institutionally speaking, we do not live for today. The seeds we plant in education take time to yield the desired fruit, and we know that those with whom we work are not yet who they will finally be. Such a recognition calls for compassion and leniency, as well as the humility to acknowledge that there is much about our endeavor that is unknowable. Nevertheless, Ridgeview must have as its primary constituency people interested in leading a life of the mind. Those adults who are held up as models must live lives worthy of emulation. Each of us must have a regard for his surroundings. Where we study and what we write on our walls informs the culture we immerse ourselves in. The art we look at, the music we listen to, the books we read, the people we befriend – all of this is our education, and no part of it is insignificant. It is because of this that a vigilant regard for truth and virtue is at all times and in all things pertinent, and it is for this reason, that Ridgeview chooses these to which to dedicate all of its considerable efforts.

D. Anderson
Principal
Ridgeview Classical Schools

Principal's Perspective

State of the School Address 2017

Thank you for coming this evening. It is easy to skip these types of events as our students are safely enrolled, the Board is safely seated, and our school safely re-chartered. God willing, the school will still be here on Monday when we drop off our children. I do not wish to heighten anxieties by contradicting any of this. There are, however, considerations about our school’s present and future, as well as concerns that extend beyond Stuart and Lemay.

I begin by acknowledging our good fortune. We have much to be appreciative of. For instance, Mrs. Calvert, Mr. and Mrs. Carvalho, and the many faculty who helped plan and organize the back-to-school camping trips for all our upper-school students. While a blazing fire and a night beneath the stars can be romanticized, there is little that is romantic about the position of school nurse, who nevertheless tends to minor wounds, dries countless eyes, takes temperatures, and hands out innumerable ice packs. Neither is there much glory or acknowledgement for the janitor’s Sisyphean endeavors whereby he carefully mops a section of floor only to watch hundreds of muddy shoes march across it as he nears the end of his task. Neither do our lunch monitors or TAs get the credit they deserve, much less the remuneration; yet, our children see tremendous kindness from them on a daily basis. The music teachers, Mr. Davis, Mrs. Cowan, Mrs. Faust-Frodl, and Mrs. Nichols, work with bashful children and bring out qualities in them that might have remained hidden for a lifetime. There are the ladies at our front desk who get sneered at by unpleasant people, but who, with an upturned heart, manage to smile at the sneerer’s child. We have elementary teachers who patiently wait until the last child is picked up, and who know, by this time of year, every vehicle, parent, and nanny. There are the upper-school faculty who have waded through hundreds of pages of student writing, marking every passage and every grammatical error, in the hope that the next draft will be a little less impoverished. We are blessed with wonderful elementary teachers who create conditions in which learning is possible and make available knowledge worth knowing. We have teachers with such a high reputation that our parents fear for their retirement, and we have teachers like Mrs. Schmidberger who hold themselves to high standards with projects like Veritas. We have parents who each morning who come to read with children, and in so doing, help to bestow the gift of literacy and all the treasures that attend it. We have a wonderful staff in the Resource Room and the Business Office who have had to work some days without heating or cooling or much appreciation. They have worked early and they have worked late in order to ensure everything carried on smoothly. We have an administrative team that have stepped up on more than a handful of occasions to save an event, or to go above and beyond in order to make someone else’s life easier. And, we have parents who show up to book groups on a weekly basis to do some important, but often difficult reading. Our last book, Jonathan Swift’s A Tale of a Tub, was by far the most vexing. Nevertheless, Zak Smith, Ian Rutherford, Alexandra Hobaugh, Kristina Menon, Kelly Trosper, and Genevieve Rives dutifully showed up and made what had been a frustrating read into a productive discussion. I am profoundly indebted to all of these people, and I am indebted to our Board of Directors for having given Ridgeview a marvelously stable foundation on which the rest of us are able to do our good work.

I would like to thank all of you who show up each morning, endure our parking lot, and provide us with a good reason to do what we do. The good news is that there is much that we are doing exceptionally well. Ridgeview has sometimes been regarded as ‘just’ a humanities school, which is attributable to a fading segment of the population who understand what a liberal arts education entails. In reality, Ridgeview has been exceptionally successful in mathematics, whether in Math Counts or the Colorado Math League. It has done well – even ranking nationally – in the High-School Science Bowl, and did tremendously well with its Middle-School Science Bowl team this year. In one ranking, Ridgeview even ranked higher as a STEM school than those who label themselves such a thing. Ridgeview’s students have done well in chess, with many state victories under their belt. We were impressive this year at the State Spelling Bee, at Mock Trial, in All-State Choir, All-State Orchestra, and the PSD Middle School Honor Orchestra. Our students have put on both a play and a musical every year since 2006. This year, seventy-one students were involved in our musical, The Mikado. We excelled in Mock Trial, and have appeared at state in four of the last five years. This year, we ranked ninth overall, and won two best witness awards thanks in large part to the help of Tom Martin, Karl Ayers, and Kristen Carvalho. Depending on which ranking one prefers, Ridgeview is either the top-ranked high school in Colorado or someplace in the top ten. The Class of 2017 collected a total of over $1.6 million in merit scholarships. Our high-school students earned 137 awards in the National Latin Exam, and for the first time, thanks to the efforts of Ms. Krause and Mr. Dahl, we sent five students to the Junior Classical League competition, and they earned a total of thirty ribbons between them. We have outperformed many schools with better resources and larger student bodies, but more importantly, our students are flourishing. We are also continuing to improve in our fundraising efforts, and I would be massively remiss were I not to acknowledge Amy Cohen and the other parent volunteers who helped to organize the Hoplite Hoedown. It was an extraordinary event, and our most successful ever. Also, because of Mr. Rhead’s efforts, we received a sizable grant from Otterbox that will help our students in engineering, programming, and robotics. Finally, another sizable grant from the Johnson-Hanson Foundation has made materials available for our students in the elementary that simply would not have been within our budget, and we extend our deep gratitude to them as well.

I would like to thank the parents who have made it to either or both of the new parent reading groups. These parents have met nearly every week since September to discuss some of the ideas central to Ridgeview’s curriculum. We have talked about shared inquiry and what is meant by Socratic discussion. We have worked through the ideas of numerous authors about what precisely is meant by classical education, looking at everyone from Dorothy Sayers and E.D. Hirsch to Eric Voegelin and Richard Livingstone. We have discussed virtue, and the ways in which it is different from values and the much-lamented values clarification programs. Here we have read from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and Cicero’s On Duties, and considered Claes Ryn’s notions of moral reality. We read about and discussed character, what it is and how to develop it. We looked at Kilpatrick’s Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong, Lord Moulton’s Law and Manners, and C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man. We are now embarked on a longer discussion about patriotism and its place in education. In the monthly meetings, we are working our way through the Penguin Great Ideas series. Parents have read and discussed Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, Seneca, Montaigne, Thomas à Kempis, Swift, Machiavelli, and we are now set to explore Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and Rousseau’s Social Contract later this month. Each of these parents has related to me privately about how the readings have altered and improved the conversations they have had not only with their children, but with their spouses and friends. It is an incredible thing to feed the mind on these texts, and each of us becomes better through discourse. If we truly believe that this manner of education is best for our children, how can it not also be the case that it does us well? Our community is strengthened by having such people in it, and I would heartily encourage you to join our circle wherein we are all students of one another’s.

Perhaps most incredible about Ridgeview’s accomplishments are that they have been achieved against a dreary backdrop, which is the state of education nationally and the state of educational choice and charter schools within Colorado. In a climate of disastrous educational schools, mills that turn out empty educational jargon, and even undergraduate programs that produce students who in many instances read at a lower level upon exiting than they did upon entering, finding teachers competent to teach in a school such as Ridgeview is a unique challenge. Too frequently, those who might have made for inspiring teachers either burn out within a few years or choose never to enter the profession to begin with. We live in a society in which nearly everybody wants for their child to have a great teacher, and in which nearly nobody wants for their child to become a teacher. If we look at Ridgeview’s challenges, among its greatest is that we need faculty who live by and model a noble creed, and we are forced to find them in a society that scoffs at creeds. We need teachers who do not simply have the work ethic to show up each day, but who feel as though they are answering their calling. We need teachers who hold high standards for themselves and their students in an age of mediocrity. We need people of hope in an age of apathy, and people for whom, self-examination is a way of living, when most the rest of the culture cannot distinguish it from self-centeredness. Against all of this, we see Ridgeview’s greatest asset, its rigorous curriculum and character development, as also its greatest liability. Ridgeview’s real nemesis is the relative ease of every other program with which it competes for students. At the most impressionable age, students are given the choice between doing what is easy and doing what is difficult, and they will for the most part make predictable choices, which makes those students who remain evermore impressive.

All of this is to say that it is hard – not that it is hopeless. Our community may be small, but it is not the case that Ridgeview stands alone upon the precipice. There is interest in the type of life we describe and teach about, and there is scattered evidence for this across the country and across the globe. It astounds me that there are thirty-four Amazon customers who thought it worth their time to write a review of Dostoevsky’s The Adolescent, or twenty-nine that wrote reviews of Hesiod’s still more obscure Theogony and Works and Days. Add to this the number of people subscribing to the Times Literary Supplement, the Claremont Review of Books, Literary Review, the New Criterion, and any number of other outstanding periodicals. How many challenging books remain in print? How many Ted Talks or podcasts can we find on an interesting topic? How many people are taking up a new language or purchasing books and videos from the Great Courses catalogue to remedy some perceived deficit in their learning? How many patrons of museums or orchestras? How many people writing a blog about trying to understand or better appreciate a work of art or music? A former student once told me, at a moment in which she was fearful she would not find a community like Ridgeview’s that, “Ridgeview had prepared her for a world that did not exist.” This community may be in diaspora, but it exists. There are curious people with inquiring and capable minds seeking out knowledge, not for its novelty, but for itself. It is for us to find them and the opportunities for conversation are manifold. Endless discussion may be had with which we can pass what leisure we have in this world with benefit and pleasure. Ridgeview’s contribution to the world is that it adds to this stock, and that many will benefit by our efforts who know not even our school’s name.

Towards these ends, Ridgeview has made numerous improvements. The addition of weekly and monthly parent reading groups, the periodic meetings with Student Council and Student Ambassadors to answer questions and put down rumors, and the fine tuning of the senior thesis project have all sought to remain answerable to our first principles in their own way. A larger percentage of our parents understand the intent and aims of a liberal arts education, our students better understand what it is that underlies the decisions we make as a faculty and an administration, and the seniors hopefully produce a more contemplative thesis. Our media presence, whether through our website or our social media platforms, has improved tremendously, and we will continue to work to bring due attention to our students’ achievements and accolades. In the coming months, we will be working to produce the second volume of the Ridgeview Reader, a curriculum sequence detailing the kaleidoscopic variety of topics studied at Ridgeview, and the publication of a prospectus for students interested in enrolling at Ridgeview. We will emphasize in these documents that though Ridgeview enrolls nearly 800 students, we are a school that strives to continue providing mentorship and instruction that feels intimate and personal. Mr. Rhead will continue to roll out an impressive array of technology courses in programming, robotics, and engineering. We will offer AP Biology, Chemistry, Physics: Mechanics, Physics: Electricity and Magnetism, Statistics, Computer Science A, Calculus AB, Environmental Science, and Computer Science: Principles. Additionally, we will continue growing the number of our faculty who are CU Succeed certified so that juniors and seniors will be able to obtain CU credit for an increasing number of interesting courses.

There is, then, this world before us, and there is this frame of mind, or inner life, that we can come to discover as a sort of metaphysical home. It is not, however, everyone’s vision of what education ought to be. There are those for whom the person is not an end, but the means of animating some vast machinery in which the individual is only dimly aware of his consciousness. His is a life not fit to live in our sense of living a fulfilled life, but rather of a mind fit to be trained in how to work, produce, and consume. He is a man naked to the ambitions of others. Frighteningly and tellingly, when we look at our judges, legislators, and educational mandarins at either the state or federal levels, the story of educational choice takes a disconcerting direction. Choice, the instrument of freedom, is perverted. We see talk about Common Core, now adopted, now rejected, and only to be replaced by something the people comprehend less than what came before. We have corporations competing for our student’s data, and a hundred McCharters opening each year hoping to cash in on parent’s fears that their children will not amount to anything. We have workforce programs that are the enemies of education as the method by which we convey knowledge. Those documents that were supposed to protect us, such as the Colorado Charter Schools Act, could not withstand the cleverness of legislators and lawyers who are so much like the learned brother in Swift’s Tale of a Tub. In this story, three brothers are gifted three coats by their father along with a will that states how they are to take proper care of them. One of the rules is that they are not to adorn them, but shoulder-knots become very fashionable, and so after a handful of years the brothers come together to examine the will to see if there is a way they might not justify so adorning their coats. As there is nothing in the will that would justify this, two of the brothers grow forlorn. “After much Thought, one of the Brothers who happened to be more Book-learned than the other two, said he had found an Expedient. ‘Tis true, said he, there is nothing here in this Will, totidem verbis [in so many words], making mention of Shoulder-knots, but I dare conjecture, we may find them inclusive, or totidem syllabis [in so many syllables].” So, of course, they do, and they ‘find’ many more ways to alter the document to accommodate what is en vogue. So it is with our rights as regards education. They shift with the political winds, and such unsteady rights are hard to distinguish from despotism, the heart of which is always arbitrariness.

In thinking about this issue of education and freedom, it has been remarkable to note the parallels between what we are seeing here and what other commentators like Václav Havel in Czechoslovakia and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn noted about totalitarian regimes. Havel, for instance, wrote that:

“Between the aims of the post-totalitarian system and the aims of life there is a yawning abyss: while life, in its essence, moves toward plurality, diversity, independent self-constitution, and self- organization, in short, toward the fulfillment of its own freedom, the post-totalitarian system demands conformity, uniformity, and discipline.”

Genuine educational choice produces plurality, diversity, self-organization; standardized systems of education produce conformity, uniformity, and discipline. They do not do so because people choose them with a full awareness of what they choose; instead, there is a coercion that is admittedly subtler than what occurs under totalitarian regimes. It is through vague, numerous, and complicated laws that the average citizen is so overburdened by trying to make sense of the whole mess that they find it easier to accept the services of the State – the bus, the lunch, the ‘free’ education, and the game on Friday night. Havel continues in describing this ‘freedom’ in the totalitarian state by writing that,

“This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance.”

How similar does some of this seem in the efforts towards greater and greater political correctness that are imposed by severe and even crippling punishments for those who refuse to comply? In 1978, in a lecture at Harvard, Solzhenitsyn said of the West,

“Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and of such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness – in the morally inferior sense of the word which has come into being during those same decades. In the process, however, one psychological detail has been overlooked: the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life and the struggle to attain them imprint many Western faces with worry and even depression, though it is customary to conceal such feelings. Active and tense competition fills all human thoughts without opening a way to free spiritual development.”

Our comfort in material things, which has been no minor accomplishment, has created a situation in which we overlook other aspects of our development. That schools are complicit in this perpetuation of a false happiness, is a genuine threat to the types of students we can produce and the type of the world they will inherit. In looking forward, these types of challenges – cultural and political – are for our community, and ultimately our children to surmount. Our school, while it is in good standing, survives, develops, and progresses only with the active interest and involvement of its community. I urge you all to find ways great and small to be involved with Ridgeview, and for all of you who have given so much of your time, I thank you for the opportunity to serve a place that puts first principles first.

Alumna in Residence

Revisiting the Senior Thesis (Reflections from a Member of the Class of 2011)

The following entry is guest authored by Kelsey Niichel, Class of 2011.

Since graduating from Ridgeview, it has come as a surprise to me to see how many people live an “unexamined life,” as Socrates would call it. Much of my interaction with my fellow man has been superficial, at best, which has left me sometimes wondering if the Senior Thesis really does matter. In revisiting my own presentation, I have come to the conclusion that yes, it still does.

As a senior, the question posed, “what is the good life?” not only forced our young minds to wrestle with moral issues, but relationships, spirituality, and other dimensions of the human experience. My thesis was centered around a constant interplay between good and evil, the desire to do what is right versus the desire to do what is easy. I hypothesized that man really has two natures that are constantly at war, much like Jekyll and Hyde or Gollum and Smeagol (the two examples that I drew most heavily upon). The achievement of the good life, for me, was found in chasing the “right” option, choosing the moral high ground, when it presented itself, and in continuing to do so as to make it a lifelong habit. While this seems easy in theory, my own personal experiences show that it is not so. I have, since graduation, experienced dark periods in my life, both emotionally and morally. I subsequently had to make a conscious decision to stop choosing what was easy or what felt good, and to choose what was the absolute good. I specifically remember my parents referencing my thesis when I would do something particularly wrong or bad.

The strengths of my personal thesis can be found when presented with a moral challenge, but it had left me woefully unprepared to deal with adult relationships, or other aspects of modern life such as money or career building. I do believe though, that by allowing students on the brink of adulthood to answer these questions of morality, it allows them to build an identity that will carry through to other aspects of their lives. They have examples of healthy and unhealthy human interaction within the books they read, and ultimately they have the freedom to act however they choose and face the consequences of those actions. This freedom gives the Ridgeview student a depth of character that is not often found elsewhere.

This freedom also allows the student to amend their thesis, footnote it, if you will, when they are faced with certain challenges or scenarios. Herein lies the virtue of presenting the thesis to a hungry audience. One of the most difficult questions that I have had to grapple with, both during my presentation and as an individual is the measure of what is right and wrong and to whom can we look for examples. I was challenged to define a higher power that helps us determine. Some look to moral philosophy, while others look to religion and spirituality. I recently had an interaction with a philosophy student (not a Ridgeview graduate) that centered around this question, and I was pleased to find that my musings during the process of writing this thesis resurfaced. While I still hold that there are absolutes, I would venture to say that there is much more gray area in the field of morality than I previously thought. The relevance of my thesis though has come through again recently as I begin my career in medicine, and will be forced to deal with ethical dilemmas that have lasting consequences.

In conclusion, and in speaking to the students directly, the thesis still matters because it allows you two main advantages over the general population. First, it allows you to examine yourselves in a way that is often forgotten. You have this opportunity to define for yourselves what is beautiful, right and true. It allows you to become an individual. Secondly, it allows for personal growth. As a senior, you have these examples of how to act and how not to act, and yet ultimately the choice is yours. You will come across situations for which you have no answer. You will have questions posed to you to which you cannot answer. In the face of this uncertainty, don’t be afraid to be wrong. Don’t be afraid of not having the answers. Ridgeview’s senior thesis gives you a foundation for your beliefs, and it is just that – a foundation. Not the entirety of your life, not the entirety of human experience. You will learn and grow through personal experience just as much, if not more so, than you have in the halls of Ridgeview. However, the foundation is the most important part of a house, and your educational foundation serves as the most important beginning to life as a thoughtful, moral, engaged adult. This foundation is why the senior thesis still matters.

The Goods

A Day in the Life Pt. 1

One of the greatest things about receiving a liberal arts education is our freedom to explore different disciplines. Of course, as our school focuses on a classical education, our curriculum focuses on humanities classes, deeply exploring the fields of literature and history. At the beginning of high school, I was an almost exclusively humanities-driven student; now in my senior year, I have realized that I have started to gravitate more towards the social sciences and sciences. Luckily, the core classes and electives Ridgeview offers has allowed me to indulge my varied interests throughout the past four years of high school. Here is what my schedule and a day in my life at Ridgeview looks like:

7:30am: Honors Modern Literature with Mr. Hild: this year we have discussed novels such as Crime and Punishment and Heart of Darkness, but now that we have finished with our final text, we are delving into thesis discussions on things such as beauty and morality.

8:10am: Honors Modern European History with Mr. Herndon: we began the year learning about the French Revolution, and now we have just finished learning about Otto von Bismarck.

9:00am: American Capstone with Mr. Herndon: this class, a one semester-long seminar, began where we left off in American History our junior year, and we are currently discussing the final year of World War I.

9:40am: Latin VI with Mr. T Smith: after years of reading authentic ancient literature, Mr. Smith has instituted a new program throughout the school where we balance our reading of texts with learning how to speak the language.

10:30am: At this point in the morning, I go to a study hall where I usually devote my time to working on thesis drafts; a lot of the time, if the weather allows, we go outside by R2 to work, so this is a really nice break in the day to get some fresh air and sun. (I don’t have a lunch because my schedule is so busy so I usually eat during this time).

11:10am: AP Environmental Science with Ms. Durrell: this class quickly became one of my favorites. After a general introduction to earth science, we learned about population economics and world health. Now, after several months of discussing air pollution, water quality, land use, and energy resources, we are about to being our final unit on Ecology, a topic about which I am very eager to learn.

12:00pm: Social Dance with Mr. Halseide: I took this class freshman year as well. At the beginning of the year, we refreshed our knowledge of swing dancing (a Ridgeview tradition and so much fun!), and we are now focusing on salsa dancing.

12:30pm: Independent Study German Literature with Mr. Hild: this is my third year taking German, but because the class is offered at the same time as my Latin class (if you can’t tell already, I love languages), Mr. Hild graciously opted to meet with me during my lunch period so that we can work one-on-one reading German texts and developing my speaking abilities.

1:05pm: TAing for Dr. Bevill’s seventh grade science and AP Chemistry classes: after taking AP Chemistry with Dr. Bevill last year, I wanted to keep working with her, so I decided to become her teaching assistant. I prepare labs, grade assignments, and assist during laboratory experiments.

1:50pm: AP Statistics with Dr. Freese: this year’s math class has really made me enjoy math more than I have in the past. We have learned about various statistical methods and tests, and ways in which to conduct experiments on populations and samples.

2:30pm: Now that Madrigals is over, my afternoon study halls are usually taken up by Student Council, Prom Committee, or senior class meetings.

So that’s a day in my life at Ridgeview!

Principal's Perspective

Third Quarter Honors Assembly

30 March 2017

We have reached a point in the year at which no one ever seems to have gotten enough sleep, a long enough break, or enough caffeine. There are many who will say that this should never be the situation at a school, or that if it is, that it ought not be discussed. We are told that study is leisure, and leisure calls to mind some self-indulgent images of men and women enjoying their holiday. So, these long and late hours that we are all working through at present stand in stark contrast with such happy and romanticized images, and this contrast leaves us unhappily, but eagerly awaiting a change in our conditions as the end of the year approaches. It is a miserable thing to live out our lives in a cycle of drudgeries that are only periodically relieved.

There are those too, mostly of the Pollyannaish variety, who would say that if only outside circumstances could change, individuals would be happy. But, as Marcus Aurelius and others would point out, anyone who depends upon a change of circumstances beyond their control for their happiness is likely to be miserable. The world does not accommodate us; we adapt to the world. Hopefully, we adapt in such a way that we do not reflect its callousness, but we also take stock in the fact that we are capable of surmounting challenges, taking lessons from them, and living a better and a happier life as a result. When Albert Einstein noted that the only road to true human greatness was a road through human suffering, he was only echoing an older truth articulated by Aeschylus and often repeated by Ridgeview students that we learn by suffering, or that he who learns must suffer. As we wish to learn, so too must we suffer. For the student who does well easily, if such a person genuinely exists, it is likely they are not learning that which they most need to know. For the rest of us, our hard work and faithful industry are not solely or even principally about the acquisition of more facts, but of greater wisdom. It may be that the memorization of formulas and various arcane knowledge grows our intellect, but it is the experience of working hard that strengthens our character. So, when someone says that we should only learn the former, and even that only in the strictest comfort and with the greatest ease, I contend that we would lose much in so doing.

When we refer to our character pillars and read under perseverance that, “I recognize that no great thing is achieved without great effort, and that constancy, tenacity, and resolve are the handmaidens to success in an endeavor shared with my fellows,” we can recognize what it means for us to work together. This hard work, which grows harder as the year draws to an end, is something we share. We want to find our fellows filled with constancy, tenacity, and resolve, as well as good cheer, because association with the opposite qualities will prove our undoing. There is nothing so despairing as the hopeless.

“There are some things which cannot be learned quickly,” wrote Ernest Hemingway, “and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring.” Good character, a keen mind that possesses the habit of attention, the art of expression, discrimination, mental courage and mental soberness, and self-knowledge are among those things that cannot be learned quickly. And, time, as Hemingway notes, is all that we have. We have limited time in which to do great but hard things, and consequently it matters very much with whom we choose to share that time. Hard things will be more easily done in positive company, and those who come to pity us rarely lighten our loads. As we run this gauntlet, whether it is Ridgeview’s or life’s, we must choose carefully the types of people with which we will surround ourselves. There are those who will cheer you on, and risk even their friendship with you to improve you, and there are those who are good for little more than sour commiseration.

We will not be remembered for how we behaved during the freshest and earliest hours of a hard venture, but during the trying hours, when exhausted, overworked and worn, we persisted through the drudgery, the trumpery, and the menagerie of inconveniences, frustrations, and disappointments to see a succession of small victories bolster our confidence and prepare us for the still greater challenges to come. When we quit because we believe the challenge too small, too insignificant, too toilsome to be bothered about, we will find ourselves too small, too insignificant, and too frail to attempt the larger and weightier things of life. In order to acquit ourselves of this great charge, we must demonstrate more than resolve, but must also show great resilience in seeing through what we have begun with an enthusiasm unmitigated by the days that have passed since we began.

An author recently noted that resilience is often thought of as the capacity to bounce back. It is a definition that we have borrowed from science, and as one dictionary defines it, resilience is the “capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation, especially if the strain is caused by compressive stresses – called also elastic resilience.” The important discernment is that no one returns to their original size and shape. Stress, frustration, agitation, disappointment, hurt, and all the various lamentations great and small, change us. As this author noted, “If we limit our understanding of resilience to this idea of bouncing back, we miss much of what hardship, pain, and suffering offer us.” It is the “offer us” that is so critical. These feelings, almost always and everywhere characterized as negative, are offering us something crucial. It is precisely when we are struggling that we are growing, but we get to determine what it is that we are growing into. Do we grow into a monster destructive of our best ends, and most likely those of other’s as well? Alternatively, do we grow into a better person possessed of ever greater wisdom who does well by himself and well by others? We choose, but there is no growth in perfect safety and self-indulgence regardless of how attractive such images may be.

What inducement there is in this is fairly straightforward: dig deep and find those reserves that allow you to complete the tasks you have begun with the same energy and conviction with which they were started. Be of good cheer and good courage for yourself and your fellows. Be the type of person you think would do you the most good in the hour of your greatest need.

Middle School: Our middle-school student of the quarter is a hard-working student who is never too proud to ask for help. She is more than willing to share her knowledge with those around her, whether teachers or students, and she always does so with a cheerful disposition, even as late as the eighth period when enthusiasm can generally be said to be waning. She always has a smile on her face. She is quick to serve, quick to help, and quick to encourage. She has been an excellent ambassador for the school, and has served her peers with distinction. Our middle-school student of the quarter is Hannah Harling.

High School: Our high-school student of the quarter has been a long while in the making. His involvement in Ridgeview’s extracurricular activities is extensive. He has been a part of the choir, the madrigals court, the juggling troupe, the plays and the musicals, Student Council, a leader of class discussions, and a young man of growing maturity. He has taken challenging courses, and especially those that set the Ridgeview curriculum apart. Within Ridgeview, wherever one goes, there he is. Our high-school student of the quarter is Austin Schmidberger.

 

 

 

Alumna in Residence

Embracing Mortality, A Thesis From the Class of 2010

I asked Amanda Sanders, class of 2010, to reflect on her thesis. Amanda explained:

“I discussed how one could only be great if you were to accept and embrace your mortality. The truly great man would be the one who knows that he is going to die and accepts that fate choosing to live life to the fullest, despite the unknown of what comes after death.

“My thesis has shaped me in how I try to live. I have experienced a lot of loss in my life and so my thesis was particularly meaningful to me in that I realized I want to truly live. I have tried to accept my mortality and do what makes me happy and live my life to the fullest rather than choose the safe route, which has been challenging but has also brought great reward.

“My thesis really rang true with me after the loss of my Nana. She always talked about wanting to do so many things like write a book, travel more, see me graduate college, start a family and watch my kids grow. She would always say that she was going to be around for a long time to do those things. She was a great woman, but she didn’t do a lot of what she wanted because she thought she would be around for longer than she had. After she died, I was faced with the decision to study abroad in Spain. I had never been away from home or on my own at that point and when making the decision I thought of my Nana and how she never got to do things because she didn’t take the opportunity. I knew that I had to realize I may never get another opportunity like this and I needed to take the chance to live life to the fullest despite all my fears and inhibitions.

“During my Q&A I got a question along the lines of, ‘If you believe in God and an afterlife, why does accepting your mortality matter since you will go to a better place?’ I answered then, and still say now that knowing you will go to a better place doesn’t excuse you from accepting your mortality. If you know that you are going to a better place, then it is even more important that you use your knowledge of the inevitable to have an effect on those around you and show them that life on earth matters.

“I know you’ve probably heard this a million times, but when writing your thesis 1) break it down into manageable chunks and 2) write about something you are passionate about.”

Since graduating, Amanda has graduated from CSU with a BA in Languages, Literatures and Cultures with a concentration in Spanish. She now teaches elementary Spanish and has an infant son.

The Goods

Reason, Hamlet, and Populism, oh my!

Ice Expeditions, Reason, Beethoven, Hamlet, Spanish Terrorist Groups, and Populism, among others, all in one day: this is what Ridgeview’s Humanities Day promises our community. A plethora of topics that exemplify the best of a liberal arts education. Ridgeview describes Humanities Day as its “intellectual homecoming, [which] showcases the kinds of discussions we have every day in class, and offers an opportunity for our community to engage with our faculty as public intellectuals.” Humanities Day clearly achieves the purpose Ridgeview has set out for it; I do not believe anyone could attend one of these lectures or presentations without acknowledging the true value that deep discussions and intellectual pursuits have. I seemed to understand and appreciate the objective of Humanities Day even more this year during Dr. Strauss’s keynote speech on Populism in Ancient Times when I realized that it related not only to my freshman Western Civilization class, but to my Government, American History, American Capstone, and Modern European History classes as well.

Yet what has always stood out to me the most about Humanities Day throughout the years I have been attending is not just how it showcases the manner and content of our education, but the way in which it is presented to us. I have had a multitude of lengthy discussions with fellow students, teachers, and administrators as to how passionate our teachers are about whatever topic they are discussing; the love and interest our teachers hold for their subjects and fields of expertise is truly a gift to students.

The first session I attended at Humanities Day was Mr. Carvalho’s presentation, titled Crisis Leadership: Wiessner and Shackleton’s Lessons from the Ice, in which he discussed how different approaches to mental modeling result in very different forms of leadership in survival situations. While I admired Mr. Carvalho’s extensive knowledge about the topic, I was most impressed by his presentation when I realized how closely it tied into his approach to his various roles at Ridgeview as a teacher and a mentor. Mr. Carvalho’s examination of crisis leadership connected very closely with a number of encounters other students and I have had with him during Ambassador meetings, camping trips, and random discussions.

When I attended Señora de Munsuri’s presentation on ETA and separatist violence in Spain, it was the first time I had ever been in a classroom with Ridgeview’s Spanish and French teacher, and I am so glad that I did. As a disclaimer before her presentation, Señora de Munsuri told her listeners that she had actually deliberately chosen to present on a topic about which she previously had known nothing about. When she said this, I was struck by the fact that not only did she want to teach us about an interesting subject, she herself was passionate about learning something new and conducting large amounts of research so that she could educate both herself and all of her listeners.

This is the epitome of a Ridgeview experience and education: teachers not only interested in teaching, but learning as well, like Señora de Munsuri; teachers who immerse themselves in their fields so much that they practically become encyclopedias like Mr. Herndon; teachers who stand on top of desks and recite epic poetry like Dr. McMahon; and teachers who throw copies of Moby-Dick across classrooms because they become so immersed and invested in the content of their books like Mrs. Calvert.

 

Principal's Perspective

Humanities Day 2017

Welcome. It is heartening to have all of you here with us today. Nearly seventeen years ago, a group of parents who were deeply disappointed by the education their children were receiving in the public school system banded together and began having conversations about starting a classical, charter school. At the time, they understood classical to mean traditional, and they had few set ideas about curriculum. However, as their ideas took shape, they found a principal, a building, faculty, furniture, and eventually students. It was the students who were the most important, or rather, the way in which they found these students. They did not pick, select, test, or screen them. They took in students of all ability levels because they believed that the inherent dignity of personhood entitled them all to the opportunities only a liberal arts education could provide. They earnestly believed that all would benefit from such an education if they were willing to work, and they openly and bravely acknowledged that students drawn from such a diversity of backgrounds would likely require brilliant teachers and an intense amount of work. Seventeen years on, this aspect of Ridgeview remains unchanged.

There is a story about starfish many of you will have heard. A young boy is walking along a beach when he sees thousands of starfish stranded and dying along the beach. He begins picking them up one at a time and tossing them back into the ocean when a man walking by pauses to watch him. Eventually, the older man asks the boy what difference it can possibly make as he will never be able to throw them all back into the ocean. The boy says, as he throws a starfish back, “To this one, it will make all the difference.” We can dismiss this story as vapid and sentimental, but there has been a profound significance for each of the students Ridgeview has reached these past seventeen years. Authors like Robert Hutchins were correct. If a liberal arts education is the best education, it must also be true that it is the best education for all. The only question is how it can be made available to all.

What a betrayal then that so many schools have intentionally denied students access to this type of education. Such schools have limited a liberal education to only the most obviously academically talented. Those students, whom we sometimes term educational casualties, whether because of the adverse effects of social promotion within the district schools or the unfair burdens of a broken home, are set aside as undesirable and uneducable. To grant them entry into supposedly prestigious schools, would be to risk the school’s test scores and in turn their rankings. So too is the situation with students working through a learning disability, or dyslexia, or any of a myriad of other medical and psychological challenges. These students are counseled out to protect the supposed prestige of their programs, and again, to ensure the allegedly impressive test scores of the school. Such is also the case with the students who come late to reading or who do not have the luxury of an involved parent in their home who has prioritized their child’s education.

Such is also the mentality of those running private schools who believe the benefits of a liberal education are best reserved for the fortunate few at the top of the economic spectrum. Several years ago, while attending a philosophy book group at a university with a group of professors, I heard how ridiculous this whole idea of providing every student with a liberal arts education was. As one professor purred, “A liberal arts education is a case of a wealthy man’s education for a wealthy man’s money. Besides,” he opined, “what use would such a thing be to the masses?” Such sentiments should perhaps come as little surprise given the state of free speech or intellectual diversity on our college campuses today. Nor should it be surprising that our political elite brag about the elimination of civics courses and who seek to sustain a population that is both “unaware and compliant,” as was recently revealed of our political elite in an e-mail from Bill Ivey to John Podesta.

So, when Ridgeview says that it believes in the principles of Highet, Barzun, Adler, Hutchins, Barr, Chalmers, Everett, Galantière, Genzmer, Reis, Trilling, Van Doren, and Weaver, it is because we believe in those principles for all students. It is because we believe that it is precisely by opening our doors and inviting everyone in to have a conversation about important texts that have some measure of permanence, that we will be most likely to change lives. This is the nobility of Humanities Day. It is about bringing people together because most of the other institutions within our culture that might have fostered this type of dialogue have failed to play the part of the public intellectual or be the sustainer of an intellectually vibrant public square. What further distinguishes Ridgeview is who it perceives to be a student. The phrase life-long learner is now so hackneyed that it is difficult to resuscitate, but in a culture that believes that learning is lifelong, we are all students. Ridgeview cultivates the great conversation with our students on everything from Aesop to Zweig. Our faculty read and converse together. For the most interested and the most interesting, there is genuine collegiality here in ways simply not found elsewhere. Our parents are reading with us too, and so far this year alone they have read Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, Thomas à Kempis, and Machiavelli. They have read, considered, and discussed shared inquiry, classical education, the importance of Greek and Latin, and are now considering virtue as described by such authors as Aristotle, MacIntyre, Cicero, and Kirk.

Today, just as on any other day, in which we would welcome all of you to sit in on our classes without invitation, special reservation, or any other pretense, we propose to do what we do every day: bring all who are interested and willing into a conversation about substantial matters that are of the greatest interest to our faculty. We welcome you all, and in hosting this event, it is my deep hope that each of you will go away from here today persuaded that a classical, liberal arts education is something that ought to be available to every person of whatever ability, whatever political persuasion, and whatever religious adherence, that a life of the mind is important because of how it allows us to live better lives.

Thank you all for being here and I hope that you enjoy each of your sessions.

D. Anderson
Principal