Welcome parents and students, faculty and staff, friends, neighbors, and all others who are joining us today to celebrate the achievements of these thirty-two students.

Welcome also to a venue that, while new to us, is a place familiar with the grand purpose of such occasions. In 1889, when this building was opened, the students studied what might today be called a classical curriculum. Students at that time were asked, “Do you desire to become a better, more learned person?” Students at Ridgeview today are asked: “What will justify your life?” Students at this school, in the 1890s, studied English analysis and composition, arithmetic, bookkeeping, American history, drawing, rhetoric, American literature, algebra, geography, government, general history, physics, moral training, physiology, botany, geometry, Latin, English literature, chemistry, political economy, astronomy, trigonometry, and music. The boys took classes in military tactics and there was an indoor rifle range in the basement. In 1889, there were forty students, and by 1891, there were just four graduates – one boy, and three girls. Then, the class motto was Ad astra per aspira – through hardships to the stars. Today, Ridgeview’s official motto is Veritati Virtutique Dedicatum – dedicated to truth and virtue, and its unofficial motto, πάθει μάθος– we learn by suffering. Then, the school’s colors were blue and yellow. Ridgeview’s are blue and gold. Interestingly, a local man named Robert Pike wrote a history of this school in which he ended the chapter on the school’s curriculum with this thought: “A return to the past can only lower the overall quality of education.”

Ridgeview’s mission and philosophy is predicated on the idea that only with a knowledge of the past can one properly prepare for the future. Today, however, we consider the past, the present, and the future of ourselves and the young people whom we have shepherded out of adolescence. Today is about them in one way, and in twenty or so years, it will be about them in another. All the moments of their childhood that we could have more fully taken in, regardless of how thoughtful or deliberate we have been, are coalescing. It is the rare man or woman who has no regrets over a flash of their temper, a missed opportunity, or some lingering regret about a thoughtless cruelty. If we have committed ourselves to our careers to provide materially for our children, we regret that we did not take more time with them; if we have given more time, we tend to worry that we ought to have provided more materially. Paternalism is fraught with endless anxieties. Our children move on now, as much a product of our careful deliberations as of our incautious expediencies. It is a thousand childhood moments from their first laugh to their first word, from their first genuinely kind deed and the clothes they outgrew to the toys that were discarded along the way. Today marks a moment when we move from first steps, first dates, and first hurt feelings to a moment in which pride is comingled with a sinking feeling in our chests as we imagine the vacant room, the empty place at the table, and the quietness that replaces mundane conversations. It is a childhood that can never be regained, and though revisited by swiping through the photos on our phones, it is a childhood that can never be amended, corrected, or brought to a more perfect or ideal form. We move from a life in which we have been chaperones, directors, and organizers to one in which we are observers of the work we have wrought. Our actions, all past, matter. Marcus Aurelius was correct in noting that “what we do now echoes in eternity.” What we have done manifests itself in their temperament, character, attitude, and the possibility that they will live happy and fulfilled lives. Nor does it end with them, the manner of our living will inform these same qualities in the grandchildren and great-grandchildren we may not live to meet. While it is difficult to remember in the moment, every moment has mattered.

Jonathan Swift, in his most famous satire, has Gulliver encounter Lilliputians who remark upon the foreigner’s obsession with time. In removing his watch, they remark that, “We conjecture that it is either some unknown animal, or the god that he worships; but we are more inclined to the latter opinion.” The Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov gets to the crux of our issue with time. He begins his autobiography by noting that, “The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour).” Nabokov may be right or wrong about those two abysses, but our mortal lives are winding down from the moment they begin, and we are forever trying not to miss appreciating the most poignant parts. The French ophthalmologist Louis Émile Javal intensely studied the way in which people read, and identified what he called saccades, in which the eyes did not flow fluidly over text, but moved jerkily along resting in one position and then another. We are in much the same situation concerning our sense of attention and memory. Attention is a matter of learning how to think, which implies exercising control over how and what we think. As David Foster Wallace asserted, “It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.” We are not Sherlock Holmes – our attention, and our memory, are imperfect. The ways we wish we would have behaved, the moments we wish we could relive, and the sense that the present might be different were our past better, plague even the best of us. As Milton put it, “The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.” The poet in Beowulf gets its mostly right in contending that, “Every life has more than enough sadness and more than enough joy.” None of us, if we have any capacity for reflection, can be perfectly content with our past, but we can, as one modern author suggested, treat our minds as we would a private garden and be careful and deliberate about what we introduce and allow to grow there. Our time may be finite, but what it means to us and holds for our future is for us to determine. One thing is certain, appreciation requires attention.

The past being what it is, we want to be present in this moment for our children, but it is not the same moment for us as it is for them. In what the Greeks called Kairos, we see designated “all the possibilities within a given moment.” Clearly, based upon our experiences, what is possible for us in this moment is not possible for someone without these experiences. In our pursuit of serenity, we yearn to live in the moment, but as André Maurois wrote, this state or “combination of phenomena which occupies a person’s consciousness at a given moment,” for an unchanged duration seems inconceivable. “If it is a question of another person, death may intervene; if of music, the music will cease; if of a book, its last page will eventually be read.” The philosophies, or even therapies as they might be understood, such as Stoicism and Epicureanism were “intended to provide a cure for anguish, and to bring freedom and self-mastery, and their goal was to allow people to free themselves from the past and the future, so that they could live within the present.” The great Russian littérateurs like Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Pasternak regarded these as the accursed questions – the ones that all human beings had to contend with, and only by grappling with them could they grow in wisdom. These were questions that neither schooling nor the experiences of others could wholly prepare one for, and such questions, issues, and ideas became the centerpieces of their novels. We want our children prepared to face these confrontations, for them to appreciate properly in the present and minimize guilt in the future, and to have the capacity to focus on what matters most. One of the ways that we have given them to achieve this is through slow reading and the enjoyment of things partaken in for themselves. Virginia Woolf, in “How Should One Read a Book?” wrote,

Are there not some pursuits that we practice because they are good in themselves, and some pleasures that are final? I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards – their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble – the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.”

An enjoyment of the present and a realization of the possibilities in it, has as one of its requisites that we are able to do a thing without recourse to an ulterior motive – for joy, for play, for satisfaction. Our life in the present is a matter of what we are paying attention to. As the psychologist Winifred Gallagher writes, “At any one moment, your world contains too much information, whether objects, subjects, or both, for your brain to ‘represent,’ or depict clearly for you. Your attentional system selects a certain chunk of what’s there, which gets valuable cerebral real estate and, therefore, the chance to affect your behavior. Moreover, this thin slice of life becomes part of your reality, and the rest is consigned to the shadows or oblivion.” In this moment, think of everything that your children have accomplished and all that you hope they will do and become. See them here before you, compare them in your mind to the moment when you first held them in your arms, then their swaddling blankets and now their gowns. Let this moment be appreciated with as much intensity as that with which you cherish those memories.

As they prepare to join the ranks of Ridgeview’s alumni, consider their future and your own. How shall we see our future selves? Are we apart from or a part of something? We can conceive of two very different conceptions. First, the sixteenth-century poet Sir Edward Dyer who wrote of sovereign self-sufficiency as follows:

My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such perfect joy therein I find
That it excels all other bliss
Which God or Nature hath assigned.

Do we really intend to propose that we are so complete? That we take so little inspiration and have so little impact upon our fellows? Contrarily, is our condition better described by the seventeenth-century poet John Donne?

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thy friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
for I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

If we perceive ourselves – parents, teachers, and students – as interconnected, our vision of the future appears very different than if we perceive ourselves entirely self-reliant, atomistically individual. In order to appreciate these interconnections, we must continuously cultivate the skills we have developed for reading. More attentive readers will mean more attentive people, but this sort of attention is not our default condition. As Alan Jacobs notes, “as long as we have had readers we have had readers frustrated by their inability to concentrate.” As Jacobs continues, “Reading is a way of connecting with others, but the connection is an odd combination of the intimate and the virtual: if we say that when Machiavelli entered his study there was really no one there, we speak a half-truth. In a way he sat there alone; in another way he enjoyed the best of company.” Reading’s relevance to the kind and quality of our future is its ability to show us our relation to not only those alive, but to all of those who have ever lived. In becoming attentive to this, we habituate ourselves to overcoming our mental sloth.

There is much that has the potential to distract us from this sort of attention, and none more problematic than social media. It has been described as the anesthetic of loneliness, but when its novelty fades, what is revealed is a state difficult to discern from certain addiction behaviors. It is fair to describe the various digital interferences in our lives as the chief distraction from the sorts of things that we will later most regret not having given our attention to – namely, our children. In Adam Alter’s book Irresistible, he cites a psychologist named Catherine Steiner-Adair who studies the effects of digital media on children. She wrote that, “many American children first encounter the digital world when they notice that their parents are ‘missing in action.’ ‘My mom is almost always on the iPad at dinner,’ a seven-year-old named Colin told Steiner-Adair. ‘She’s always ‘just checking’. Penny, also seven, said, “I always keep on asking her let’s play let’s play and she’s always texting on her phone.’” Instead of cultivating an online presence, we ought to be cultivating the qualities we suppose will produce individuals capable of appreciating what it is they are paying attention to.

After a decade’s worth of teaching, I was heartened to hear this year’s seniors thank the faculty for the work they have done on their behalf. I am heartened each time I hear our students thank their parents at the end-of-the-year concerts. I am heartened each time I hear our faculty thank their TAs and the parents who have volunteered. I wholeheartedly believe that there is little better than gratitude and few things worse than ingratitude. I am not alone in this. The eighteenth-century poet Samuel Garth wrote that,

That man may last, but never lives,
Who much receives, but nothing gives;
Whom none can love, whom none can thank,
Creation’s blot, creation’s blank.

And, Plautus who wrote that, “He is ungrateful who denies that he has received a kindness which has been bestowed upon him; he is ungrateful who conceals it; he is ungrateful who makes no return for it; most ungrateful of all is he who forgets it.” I, however, am grateful to work in a school wherein gratitude is a common currency. That it is, becomes a part of what signals our student’s capacity to appreciate and attend to the fact that they have others to esteem besides themselves.

If we want to complete our paternal role, we must recognize that it is not over – only changed. As I noted at the outset, we are moving from directing to observing, but we will continue to be emulated in intentional as well as unintentional facets of our behavior.

There is a story about an aging Roman soldier who was involved in a lawsuit that seemed likely to go against him. He stood to lose most of what he had, and left with little recourse, is said to have accosted his former commander, Augustus, in a public place, asking him to appear in court on his behalf. The emperor selected one of his men to appear on behalf of the man, but the soldier rolled back his sleeves to reveal his scars and shouted, “When you were in danger at Actium, I didn’t choose a substitute, but fought for you in person.”

There can be no substitutes. Our students will continue to confront real challenges and temptations. They will have whatever we have given them in their arsenal, but most of all they must have us, able defenders of those principles that are dearest. We must not assume that some other substitute – friend, teacher, or professor – may stand in our stead. In the Talmud, it states that, “The righteous promise little, and perform much; the wicked promise much, and do not perform even a little.” “Say little and do much,” it says in Sayings of the Fathers. So it is, our roles – parent’s as well as student’s –  have changed. We should live the advice we would give them, continue valuing what we have taught them is worth valuing, and take great pride in the magnitude of their accomplishment today. We must not let their capacity for attention, appreciation, and gratitude be dulled or diminished by the world’s apathy, and if it seems – ever – that this is asking too much from people so young, consider their theses. Consider that they wrote on focus, on attention, on gratitude, on balance, on beauty; that they contemplated self-reflection, service to others, adventure, self-confidence, and fulfillment; that they extolled love, self-examination, perseverance, the value of struggle, peace, freedom, moral sense, purpose, and harmony. When one considers with what they have filled their heads and what they have poured out of their hearts, it is not difficult to imagine a world made better by their involvement and participation in it. To answer the question posed to students in 1889, our students have desired to be better and more learned, and they have become so. In answer to the question we posed to them at Ridgeview, the answer is that they will justify their lives – by their attentiveness, appreciation, humility, charity, and gratitude.

Please join me in congratulating the Class of 2017.

We, as Ridgeview students, have finally entered into the dreaded fourth quarter. I say “dreaded” because this final quarter is riddled with painstaking cumulative finals, long and comprehensive essays, and, above all, the beloved, yet infamous senior theses, the crowning achievements of all Ridgeview graduates. These theses are 20 pages (give or take) packed with unique ideas, meaningful tales, and plenty of analysis and examination of Ridgeview readings, all answering a question that makes every Ridgeview Hoplite cringe and cower: “What is the Good Life?” By now, every senior has answered, in their own fascinatingly unique way, this daunting question. Indeed, merely an attempt at an answer is overwhelming, yet nonetheless the class of 2018 has faced this challenge with such astonishing vigor and bravery that they have raised the bar for future senior classes. They have, I trust, made every one of their advisors proud.

As if those 20 pages were not enough, the seniors are now tasked with pouring even more of their blood, sweat, and tears into a 40-minute presentation that they will give in front of the school. Equipped with nothing more than a few note cards, the seniors will rise to the lectern and present their unique version of the Good Life in front of their classmates, who have their own ideas on the Good Life, ideas that are necessarily different from everyone else. What is more, their teachers, advisors, and the principal himself will attend the presentation and ask whatever questions they see fit (keep in mind, they have thought about this question too, and for much longer than our senior class has). It is an incredibly difficult, unnerving, and intimidating experience, but our seniors will face it with a resolute bravery that is to be envied. No matter what, we will be proud of them.

We wish you luck and congratulations!

 


Do you enjoy our blog? Try our new podcast, Hoplite Radio! Each month, we explore the importance of a classical education in the modern world through conversations with faculty and staff. Listen now on iTunes, SoundCloud, or on our website.

In 1939, a man named James Thurber published a short story titled, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” The story is about a rather henpecked, ordinary man who spends most of his life daydreaming about being far more extraordinary than he is. However, these daydreams amount to little change in his actual life, for by the end of the story, he remains the exact same quiet, henpecked dreamer. Strangely, this proves to be the one thing that makes him genuinely extraordinary: he does not change. This fact presents the greatest moral of the story and of his life: refuse to give in to others and become someone you are not.

The short story of Walter Mitty begins and continues with several different daydreams. In the story, he dreams of being a war pilot, a doctor, a sharp-shooter, and a captain. In the final daydream, Mitty imagines himself smoking a cigarette while in front of a firing squad. This situation may be a contemplation of his own death or the death of his imagination. But the ending line is not one of defeat; it is one of triumph: “erect and motionless, proud and disdainful, Walter Mitty the Undefeated, inscrutable to the last.” (Thurber, James. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” In Realms of Gold Vol. 2. ed. Michael J. Marshall. Charlottesville: Core Knowledge Foundation, 2000. 108. Print.) This tone is one of a man who refuses to be defeated. There will always be people, like his wife, who will dismiss him for being withdrawn and quiet. These people are his “firing squad.” By choosing to remain his proud, if ordinary, self, he rebels even in their line of fire.

Some readers may dispute that his action is not a true act of rebellion. What makes the story of Walter Mitty so powerful is that he refuses to change any element of himself. This is his rebellion. That is not to say that a man should refuse to change himself entirely, but rather he should not change traits or quirks that he accepts about himself, even if others do not. Rather than run from the firing squad or grab a gun and shoot them all in his fantasy, Walter Mitty stands there, willing to take the bullets. In the same way, he is willing to endure the bullets of criticism and dismissiveness from his wife and those like her. His reaction is a rebellion against their expectations for him to keep his head in worldly matters. No, he says. I will not be what you expect of me. I am myself and that is all I desire to be.

 

On Tuesday, March 6th, shortly after lunch, a code red was announced. After hearing this announcement, a jolt of fear ran through the students. Not knowing if there was an active shooter on campus or not, we all reacted quickly and, for the most part, calmly. We went to safe locations in the room and barricaded ourselves in. In the darkness and silence, one could not resist the urge to think of the worst. Thinking about all the possible outcomes of an attack and wondering if this was even a drill or not, we all sat on the floor worrying.

While I sat on the floor huddled next to my class mates, I was reassured by the attitude of my teacher. At the time of the code red, I happened to be in Mr. Herndon’s room. When the announcement was made, Mr. Herndon was in the middle of a sentence. Everyone stopped and listened. After the announcement was over, everyone in the room stopped what they were doing, got up, and followed the safety procedure. After securing the door, Mr. Herndon grabbed a hammer and trenching shovel he had. He gave one of the young men in the class the hammer as a backup. Mr. Herndon purposefully sat nearest to the door. He positioned himself so the he could defend the students if an attacker came. Everyone stayed calm in my room. I think that a major reason for this is due to Mr. Herndon’s attitude. He was serious, but he did not seem worried. He made the rest of us in the room feel reassured.

Mr. Herndon’s actions demonstrated Ridgeview teachers’ willingness to put the students first. Not only is it the teacher’s duty to act this way for the students, but it is noticeable that our teachers do it because they care about the students. Mr. Herndon did not have to say anything for me to understand he truly cared about us. Just through his actions and attitude, I knew everything would be alright.

While watching Mr. Herndon during the drill, I knew that if this was a real attack he would do anything to ensure the safety of the students. I respect Mr. Herndon and the other Ridgeview teachers who act this way. These situations show me that Ridgeview teachers care about our lives and the future of humanity. Our teachers want us to succeed. They want us to grow and better ourselves. Our teachers are willing to risk themselves in order for our survival.

Every day, Ridgeview teachers arrive demonstrating their willingness to make our generation succeed. Every day, they do best for the students to have a better future. Every day, they do their duty out of care for the students.

It is hard to appreciate what our teachers do for us. After spending thirteen years at Ridgeview, I expect my teachers to protect us, and sometimes I take it for granted. After talking to friends from other schools, I realize that we are special in the sense that we have so many of these caring teachers. The best way to honor our teachers is to be the best we can be, follow their example, and not let their efforts go to waste.

 


Do you enjoy our blog? Try our new podcast, Hoplite Radio! Each month, we explore the importance of a classical education in the modern world through conversations with faculty and staff. Listen now on iTunes, SoundCloud, or on our website.

Ender’s Game is a novel about a young tactical prodigy in a world under the threat of attack by aliens. Ender is young when he is sent to a training school in space to train to be humanity’s last hope against the aliens, called the bugger race, which nearly destroys him. This near destruction of body, mind, and spirit raises questions about the validity of sacrificing one life for the good of all and the true value of human life when this concept of sacrifice is used often enough.

Ender is put through more than any human being should endure. By the time he is twelve, Ender has killed two people in self-defense because the commanders watching him refuse to defend him, teaching him to rely on himself in conflict. These commanders isolate Ender from every person he is close to in order to teach him how to be a leader (inspiring and respectable, but not a friend to his soldiers). Finally, the novel ends when Ender unknowingly commits mass genocide of the bugger race, believing his actions to be training exercises.

It is a difficult book to read with frighteningly reasonable implications. The implication is that if one, or a hundred, or a thousand lives must be sacrificed to preserve a greater number of casualties, then that is for the best. This mentality is a utilitarian one and a reasonable default in difficult political decisions. However, this harsh answer raises an accompanying question: if one life is worth so little in comparison to the lives of multiple lives, how much are the lives of the majority truly worth?

Many other children are put through similar experiences to Ender in hopes that they will accomplish what Ender does. One by one, each of them fails and one by one, they are all replaced by another prospective, but eventual, failure. The more boys sacrificed to this furnace in order to forge a strong enough sword, the farther commanders are willing to go. Now, one could argue that these commanders are sacrificing relatively few lives in exchange for the entire population of Earth. The difficulty, however, lies in their desensitization to life and death: the more lives these men sacrifice, the less life as a concept is worth to them. Each sacrifice they make destroys their original belief that life has meaning and deserves to be protected. Though these men save lives in the end, they do so at the cost of valuing their existence, which is their humanity.

 


Do you enjoy our blog? Try our new podcast, Hoplite Radio! Each month, we explore the importance of a classical education in the modern world through conversations with faculty and staff. Listen now on iTunes, SoundCloud, or on our website.

As a graduation gift from my dear Alma Mater Ridgeview Classical Schools, I received a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ The Meditations. Upon rereading it over this last winter break, the following passage from the beginning of Book V struck me:

“When, in the early morning, you are reluctant to get up, have this thought in mind: ‘I rise to do a man’s work. Am I still resentful as I go to do the task for which I was born and for the sake of which I was brought into the world? Was I made to warm myself under the blankets?”*

First, the passage felt like a rebuke for one of the greatest pleasures of being on vacation: sleeping in. Indeed, a brief look at eschatology tells us that although man’s end is death, his purpose itself is not rest. Indeed, rest is required to be productive, but it is not productive in itself. Rest should not be an end in itself, but should prepare us for some greater work.

Thus, what is the particular work of man, his telos, his purpose? Is it, as Moby Dick’s Ahab believes, to chase whales? Is it, as the Tale of Two Cities’ Sydney Carton or Crime and Punishment’s Sonya proposes, to sacrifice ourselves for friends and family? Is it to achieve greatness and immortality like Machiavelli or The Illiad‘s Achilles? Is it to serve our country, like Aeneas in The Aeneid? Is man’s purpose to defy immortality like Frankenstein’s creature? Is it to serve God?

Consequentially, how does man’s purpose translate into his work? This is the topic of the senior thesis, and it is a question each man must answer for himself.

Ridgeview, I propose, aids in preparing students to find and fulfill their purposes. For those of us who believe our telos is working at Ridgeview, this means not merely teaching students. We must develop individuals who can both ask AND answer such questions for themselves. That is the work for which we rise even when days seem tedious. That is the telos of Ridgeview, the purpose of a liberal-arts backed education, and the work of the free man.

*Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations, trans. G M A. Grube (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1983), 37.

Ridgeview’s Mock Trial teams recently competed at the regional competition held here in Fort Collins. While both teams performed phenomenally, only the A Team will proceed to the state competition this year.

Mock Trial has been a great opportunity for students to learn the rules of evidence and put together a case as real lawyers would. Lawyers prepare opening statements, direct questions, cross examination questions, and a closing argument. Lawyers also study the rules of evidence so that they are able to make objections at the right time, as well as respond to objections made by the opposing team. Witnesses become their character and learn their character’s witness affidavit, and also try to anticipate what questions they will be asked on cross. At the competition, the case that is presented is treated as if it were a real court proceeding. Not only is Mock Trial a great learning opportunity, it provides much appreciated time to bond with classmates.

Ridgeview’s ability to have so many extra-curriculars, such as Mock Trial, Science Bowl, and a chess team that all compete at high levels, even in competitions without school size divisions, is amazing.  These activities make Ridgeview so special.

Mock Trial 2018 Team

 

 

Hey, everybody, I can hardly believe that we’re in third quarter already!

It was quite a bit warmer today than it has been and the afternoon Algebra II class was held outside. Sadly, as everyone who’s lived long in Colorado knows, the warm weather won’t stay long, but it’s nice while it lasts.

This small break from below freezing temperatures and frost covering the windshield in the morning means that Winter is getting closer to its end and Spring will be coming soon. Enjoy the long weekend, remember that we’re already in the last semester of the 2017-18 school year, and finish the year strong!

Here’s a little poem I wrote to celebrate the slightly warmer weather. Hope you all enjoy it:

The barren coldness of the Winter

Is not yet gone completely

But for the moment Spring has come

And it’s rain, not snow,

That hangs in the clouds above.

The nights are no longer

Quite so gray

And stars are shining softer

In the warmer, sweeter air.

Throw open your doors and windows

To catch this fleeting breath of stirring life

And treasure it,

Remembering,

As the days grow dark and cold once more,

That Winter cannot last forever

And Spring will come again.

It is widely known that Ridgeview offers many trips for its students; in fact, some even say that it is one of Ridgeview’s defining characteristics. Most prominent among these are the annual class trips, which take place in the summer. From camping to caving, and even paintball, the Ridgeview staff makes sure that their students stay occupied over the summer. Not only are these trips always a blast, but they also provide the ideal environments for new relationships to be forged. Through these trips, students really get a chance to bond with each other and with their teachers too.

Ridgeview also has a slew of trips during the school year as well, including those for the Student Ambassadors and members of Student Council. This month, Ridgeview’s Student Council went snowshoeing in the Gould area. We stayed in yurts, and we went on two snowshoeing hikes (including one up Montgomery Pass). Personally, it was one of the best Ridgeview trips I have ever been on! Next week, I get to have yet another Ridgeview adventure on the Student Ambassador ice-climbing trip, during which we will climb up a frozen waterfall! The staff at Ridgeview sure knows how to keep us active, and not just with homework.

These trips, of course, are fairly adventurous, but they are also educational. For example, over the summer, the Student Ambassadors went on a wilderness first-aid trip where we learned the basics of wilderness survival and trauma care. The Sophomore class went caving last summer, where they not only got a spectacular first-hand experience of cave exploration, but also learned about the cave’s history and geology. All-in-all, these trips are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. What will your next adventure be?

My breaths were deep and silent as I went to the front of the stage. It was our last chance to produce something incredible, and we all knew it. So, we all slid into our positions and looked to each other for support. The first note was soft and firm, uniting us in the prayer we were to offer to our guests. And so, we sang. We swelled as one to waves of music and down to the tiniest ripples of sound. Our notes aligned like the stars in fairy tales, allowing something unbelievable to occur. Our sound bloomed like a rose we had cultivated for so long, finally bearing the fruits of beauty. And we concluded with a note that faded into blissful oblivion.

Now, what I describe is the prayer of the Madrigal Feast that some of you may have attended. But, as you can see, it was slightly more than a piece to all of us. It was a frustration to say the least. It was beautiful, but it was a cruel piece. We all knew just how beautiful it could sound and each time, it fell lamentably short. It was precise; we could never find its possible perfection, and with one foul pitch, the harmonies dissipated like a fine mist interrupting a rainbow.

But this performance was a new experience. Together, we locked in and found the sound we were searching for. In that moment, the prayer was what it was meant to be. Pure, beautiful, and shared with everyone in the hall. It was a highlight of the performances.

This year of Madrigal practices was filled with uncertainty, bitterness, and likely even a bit of anger. However, surmounting this prayer was an accomplishment that represented each obstacle the choir had conquered to get to our final performances. This year was full of challenges and we were all forced to rise to them. Yet, we transcended each trial placed before us, and we did so together. Something new rose from the ashes, and it was truly beautiful.

The Post Solstice Solace was at High Peak Camp in Estes Park this year. The weather was beautiful for sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, snow shoeing, and talking with friends. Many started off the morning by sledding down the snow hill or ice skating on the pond. Later, we ate some delicious Nordic food including meatballs, soup, and dessert. After lunch, one group went on an enjoyable snowshoe trip around the camp. We enjoyed hot chocolate and other hot drinks together to warm up from the cold.

Ridgeview’s ability to put on events such as the Post Solstice Solace is just one reason why Ridgeview is so special. A school taking a day off to spend together in the Rocky Mountains cannot be found elsewhere. Overall, the Post Solstice Solace was an exciting day spent together with friends in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

%d bloggers like this: