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

The Goods

What to Bring to Science Bowl

One gray morning, I rolled half-asleep out of a car and started towards Dakota Ridge High School. It was the first time I had participated in the state science bowl competition, but I already knew from the army of volunteers in matching t-shirts and the throngs of teams from all over Colorado that I was in for a day of tense competition. I looked behind me to take my cues from the Ridgeview team veterans and was rather surprised at what they were carrying.

I do not know what I would put on the short list of things to carry to a science bowl competition. Favorite flash cards, dog-eared textbooks, and – if you are packing light – a detailed glossary would all likely have a place. But such a list would be incomplete. Where, after all, is the ultimate Frisbee?

“Go long,” yelled Colin. Beginning the day’s competition with a seemingly out of place Frisbee catch, I was initiated into Ridgeview’s unique science bowl tradition: serious science and serious fun. Too often academic competitions are stuffy affairs full of starched collars and equally stiffened persons. The day of my first science bowl competition, I did not clench my teeth; I ate peanut M&Ms. My palms did not sweat; they caught Frisbees. When I might have been fixedly reciting plant hormones and their functions, I was trying and failing to ride a RipStik. A glance at Ridgeview’s track record suffices to show that we have a great science bowl team who competes seriously, but what the numbers do not show is how much fun we have along the way.

I joined science bowl last year at Mrs. Petterson’s and several participants’ suggestion. Mostly, however, I joined for love of science. Science bowl questions have you stretching for every biology term you remember and every one you don’t. Scrambling through my solubility rules before the other team does and taking my best guess at the name of certain type of pyroclastic flow is, to me, enjoyable and gratifying. Other people, like Tyler, are more drawn by having only 20 seconds to do an integration by trigonometric substitution. Going through practice questions is a diverting challenge and reviewing old information in light of the new things you have learned, can be too.

Ridgeview’s science bowl teams love what they do and they have a lot of fun doing it. Though I was surprised to turn around and find that Colin, Blake, and Logan were equipped for competition with M&Ms, a Frisbee, and a RipStik, I realize now their fun approach to competition was only a natural outgrowth of the fun they have with science. To them as to me, serious science will also be inseparably connected to serious fun. They taught me many things, including the cleavage planes of feldspar, but the most important thing lesson they taught me was that while some teams will come for a trophy, we will always come for love of the sport and of the experience of playing.

This year, as a graduating senior, it was I who brought the Frisbee. I hope I carried well the torch of enjoying science bowl. I hope future teams carry it on.

To inquire about science bowl see Mrs. Petterson or Mr. Morse.

Alumna in Residence

Why the Senior Thesis Matters

Although most community members know that the senior thesis project is the pinnacle of the Ridgeview experience, some may not fully understand its significance.

On the most basic level, the assignment reflects the completion of the Latin trivium, utilizing most directly the final stage: rhetoric. It requires the expression of ideas not simply memorized, but reasoned out and strung together in a thorough, logical way.

More radically, it embodies Ridgeview’s primary purpose: to provide minds with a liberal arts education – an education concerned with freedom of the mind – in a world where most education has become emotionally charged and vocationally directed.

Those who have attended a thesis understand that, though products of the mind, presentations are neither emotionless nor impractical. Instead, Ridgeview seniors interweave the questions of how they should live and why they believe this to be true.

These are questions that very few adults can answer, in my experience. Surely, very few people examine themselves this deeply. Ridgeview seniors are asked to give eloquent solutions to humanity’s problems not because it is easy, but because it is necessary. These young adults are not required to be right, but they are required to provide evidence for why their view is good, beautiful, and true.

And, in my experience, all of them are able to touch on these, and most are able to grasp them firmly. Every thesis is backed by the Greek concepts of freedom and order, the Medieval comparisons of right and might, the American struggles of change and stability,  the modern questions of cruelty and humanity, and so much more. When each student has grappled with such questions, their answers contain immense experience and depth.

Thus, the senior thesis becomes both a graduate’s justification and Ridgeview’s validation. Ridgeview has often quoted Goethe, “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” And thus, in asking eighteen-year-olds a timeless question, Ridgeview invites them into the conversation the faculty has worked so hard to prepare them for.

If you want to know why a Ridgeview education matters, attend a couple theses. The students speak for themselves, boldly and eloquently. I would also encourage you to keep up with Alumna in Residence over the next couple months as graduates reflect on their own senior theses, offer advice, and explain why their theses still matter.

The Goods

The Beginning of the End

We seniors have officially hit the beginning of the end; our last semester of high school lies before us. Four more months of school, approximately only 80 more school days before we walk across a stage, get handed a diploma, shake Mr. Anderson’s hand, and toss our caps in the air. By the time we graduate, we will have spent roughly 2,000 days in school since kindergarten, so 80 certainly seems like a small and quickly-dwindling number.

The beginning of our last semester of high school started off on a good foot, though an eye-opening one at that. At the 2nd Quarter Honors Assembly, Audrey was announced as being the valedictorian of the Class of 2017, and myself the salutatorian. We are both so honored and excited to speak on behalf of our class at graduation. I think that hearing that announcement was the first time this year that I truly felt like things were coming to a close and that our impending graduation is actually a reality. There have certainly been other moments earlier this school year that felt “senior-y,” such as attending our last Homecoming dance or committing to my first choice college, and buying our graduation caps and gowns, but it has become increasingly apparent to me that there is a difference between doing things that a senior would do and realizing the significance or finality of those things.

Yet the most eye-opening moment of the whole year for me was this past Saturday night, at our last Madrigals performance. Every person who’s been in Madrigals and graduated from Ridgeview knows that the final performance of “Silent Night” on Saturday night is a pretty emotional ordeal for the seniors. Singing those last few notes marked the end of a wonderful experience that is for me one of the greatest highlights of my time at Ridgeview. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to be part of such an amazing group, and for having that beautiful contribution to my life. The end of the Madrigal season was another “final moment” to mark our senior year, and what a bittersweet moment it was for all of us seniors.

By the time we graduate, I will have been at Ridgeview for 8 years, Audrey for 11, and Grace for a whopping 12. We have experienced and learned so much throughout our time at this school, and I truly hope that these next four months will be the best we have had. We still have so much to look forward to. No matter whether they be stressful like thesis presentations, fun like the senior prank, or exciting like the last day of classes, we have so much to anticipate and I strongly encourage all seniors to savor every moment as best we can, because they will go quick and we will be graduating before we know it.

Principal's Perspective

2nd Quarter Awards

Welcome. I hope that everyone enjoyed a wonderful and restful Christmas break and is now settling back into a comfortable routine. In preparing for today’s assembly, I have spent a portion of my time thinking about our previous awards assembly in which I questioned what was meant by honor when we call these honors assemblies or refer to the honor roll. There has been some resistance to their being so called, and even greater resistance to some of the choices the faculty have made in their nominations. As I have oftentimes noted, any human institution is prone to error. As a faculty, we are trapped between what we should know and knowing too much. While our students are entitled to their privacy, they are not entitled to being false, but detection of such a thing is a difficult thing. While some have suggested that students should be nominated by their peers, predicating who should be named student of the quarter based upon a student vote seems more appropriate in electing Student Council members since popularity and merit always co-mingle in matters political.

Nearly every Ridgeview student who has passed through the elementary will recall Aesop’s fable about the fox walking through the vineyard. The fox, who was famished, could not reach the grapes despite his best and cleverest efforts. Defeated, the fox sulks away, pouting that the grapes were likely sour anyway, and that he would not deign to eat them even if they were served to him on a silver platter. In one translation of this by Phaedrus, the final line reads: “People who speak disparagingly of things that they cannot attain would do well to apply this story to themselves.”

It has been disheartening to hear those who achieved some measure of success disparaged by those who have not been similarly recognized. In speaking with the alumni of classes long past, it has often been said that our community was intimate enough that, where the achievements of others might be belittled elsewhere, they were celebrated here. There was and still is some way for everyone to find their own path to distinction, and another’s recognition does not lessen their own. This has been a notable cultural attribute, but I sometimes fear that it is at risk today. Our orientation as it relates to our peers, even when they fail to rise to the level of deep and abiding friendship, ought to be one of encouragement and support. The opposite of this inducement goes by many names: jealousy, envy, covetousness, desire, resentment, bitterness. Each does harm to both he who is animated by it and he towards whom it is directed.

There is another story about a famous Greek athlete named Theagenes who achieved such fame that a statue was built of him by the people of Thasos. One inhabitant, so infuriated that his own achievements were paltry in comparison with Theagenes’, would nightly express his hatred by whipping and beating the statue until he was exhausted by his rage. One night, with the intention of toppling the statue, the man was killed when it fell on top of him. While we say that our envy harms others, it is not infrequently the case that we are the principal victims of our angst. The victim in this case often mistakes intemperance for rightful indignance. So it is as Seneca said that, “It is the practice of the multitude to bark at eminent men as little dogs do at strangers.” The targets of our wrath are little bothered, and it is we who are most disturbed.

This moral tale is hardly one that only has relevance in youth. Academics are rarely better. Oxford was famously described as the “city of dreaming spires” by Matthew Arnold, but rivalries and fits among its faculty were so intense and so common that a later professor lampooned this line by calling it the “city of scheming ires.” There is also the story, perhaps apocryphal, of Oscar Wilde relating the following conversation to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about a hermit in the desert.

“The devil,’ said Wilde, ‘was once crossing the Libyan Desert, and he came upon a spot where a number of small fiends were tormenting a holy hermit. The sainted man easily shook off their evil suggestions. The devil watched their failure and then he stepped forward to give them a lesson. “What you do is too crude,” said he. “Permit me for one moment.” With that he whispered to the holy man, “Your brother has just been made Bishop of Alexandria.” A scowl of malignant jealousy at once clouded the serene face of the hermit. “That,” said the devil to his imps, “is the sort of thing which I should recommend.”

If we abide by such motivations uncritically and uncharitably, we will find our own lives more impoverished not least because we will be a less certain friend. We should want to do more than appear good. We should wish to be good. Joyfully, it is a season for resolutions, and if we should find ourselves wanting in this regard, we have opportunity now to rectify that and wish those well who have done well. If we are envious of their achievements, in addition to celebrating them, we should study them in hopes of improving ourselves. Not for the baseness of awards or recognition, but because we wish to lead better and fuller lives – to be content within ourselves. I will stop short of asking you to all stand and “show one another the sign of peace,” but I would ask that you take the time to recognize your place in this community and congratulate your peers for the good work they have done and appreciate at least some small part of the great and normal human drama that they may have withstood to have done any good at all.

Our middle school student of the quarter has come a long way since I first interviewed her for the Student Ambassadors. A colleague recently described her as mature, composed, intelligent, and friendly. Her friendliness is something upon which all faculty who know her were in agreement. Most importantly, it was not the sort of friendliness that fades once she had completed a class or an academic year. While she was very meek in that first interview, she has developed into a much more confident and assertive young lady, and I am happy to name Sophia Schuemann as our middle school student of the quarter.

Our high school student of the quarter is well-spoken and a deep thinker who does not take herself so seriously as to be immune to the concept of humility. She articulates important truths and defends her positions ably. She is intense in her desire to understand what makes for a moral life, and is someone with whom a conversation may be had without worry over who will win. She appears, in all instances, to enjoy the intellectual tussle of a good and genuine conversation. For these reasons, Audrey Tsoi is the high school student of the quarter.

D. Anderson

Principal

Alumna in Residence

The Art of Wasting Time

At present, I am reading through C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, a collection of letters written from the demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood about a man’s struggles with Christianity. Although I could continue writing this blog as if reading this was a very noble pursuit, I will instead admit that I am still working on the same three books I have been working on for the past several months.

I am ashamed, as a Ridgeview community member who loves and values reading, to admit this. However, I am committed to the lesson this particular confession contains, and will thus explain:

As a Ridgeview student, and even as a college student, my primary pursuit was learning. The novelty of that only strikes me now that I have worked full time for about eight months. Until May, I had the seventeen-year luxury of having prescribed reading and learning times. When eight hours a day are spent in academia, spending an hour or two watching videos or TV shows hardly seems like much of a detriment.

Youth educates people in the art of wasting time. There is, indeed, virtue in being more creative and less wasteful. But, when time is so plentiful, a few moments hardly seem indispensable. And, when most time is useful, flippant moments seem acceptable.

How many moments have we, young and old alike, spent disengaging and merely passing time? A moment in a college classroom tells you how adept young people are at a half-conscious habitual withdrawal. A glance around an auditorium of two hundred students will quickly reveal more than that many devices offering distractions not just from the learning itself, but from the time between classes. A waiting room at a doctor’s office shows tens of adults absentmindedly tapping at a game on their phone.

Upon reflection, I believe that technology has conjured one of the worst distractions:  the art of not simply wasting time, but of doing nothing. Perhaps this is not entirely a new problem. In the twelfth of The Screwtape Letters, I came across this passage: “The Christians describe the Enemy as one ‘without whom Nothing is strong’. And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes he does not like.”*

There is a special evil in being distracted by something that brings pure distraction rather than pleasure. That said, I would argue that some of the shows I watch have value, intellectual and otherwise. However, at what point do we keep watching not because we want to, but because we are attached to wasting time?

With this realization, my hope is not to cease wasting time, but to waste time more sparingly. As Screwtape chastises Wormwood, he remarks: “And now for your blunders. On your own showing you first of all allowed the patient to read a book he really enjoyed it and not in order to make clever remarks about it to his new friends. In the second place, you allowed him to walk down to the old mill and have tea there- a walk through country he really likes, and take alone.Were you so ignorant to see the danger of this?”**

Indeed, if we are to spend time, rather than waste it, we might receive goodness and joy rather than emptiness and guilt. So, may our students realize the great luxury of spending eight hours a day in something joyful and worthwhile. And, may our community members like myself  make time for noble pursuits rather than filling our time with nothing.

*C S. Lewis, The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics, pbk. ed. (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2007, Copyright 2002), 219-220.

**Ibid, 221.

Alumna in Residence

A Higher Standard of Dress

My freshman year of college held a plethora of changes, many of which were expected and a few of which were not.

I had anticipated the change in work load, with more free time but also more homework. I had not anticipated feeling like ninety percent of the classes were easier than those in high school.

I had predicted that I would have fewer close friends but not that my closest friendships would still be formed over studying.

However, the most obvious alteration was the change in the standard of dress.

At first, I wore slacks and my regular dress code Ridgeview attire because it seemed most proper for class. As fall came, I reveled in the freedom of wearing jeans. One day, I spotted a nineteen year-old woman (presumably on the way to class) wearing Hello Kitty “footie” pajamas. I quickly realized that knowing how to dress oneself was as much a privilege as much as a Ridgeview education.

I was not unaware that my school attire was more professional and demure than many others’ (I went to Ridgeview, but I did not live under a rock). I had never come into conflict with the dress code or taken issue with it. I felt the dress code furthered my expression of individuality, allowing more emphasis of my thoughts and ideas.

Indeed, as Albert Einstein points out, clothing in itself is not the object: “If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies.”*

Moreover, what stunned me in college was that others did not seem to possess a way of gauging appropriate styles. Other students did not understand that there ought to be a different standard of dress for having a night out, hanging out with friends,  going out with your grandparents, going to class or even sleeping. It seems trivial, but knowing how to dress for an occupation or occasion is certainly a virtue.

Machiavelli writes: “When evening comes, I return to my home, and I go into my study; and on the threshold, I take off my everyday clothes, which are covered with mud and mire, and I put on regal and curial robes; and dressed in a more appropriate manner I enter into the ancient courts of ancient men and am welcomed by them kindly.”**

Thus, how we dress reflects not only what we think of ourselves, but how we view the task at hand. It is only fitting that we dress more formally in class than we do hanging out with friends because the task itself demands a graver demeanor.

*Treasury of the Christian Faith: An Encyclopedic Handbook of the Range and Witness of Christianity, ed. Stanley I. Stuber and Thomas Curtis Clark, Association Press (New York: 1949), 415.

**Niccolò Machiavelli, The Portable Machiavelli, ed. Peter E. Bondanella and Mark Musa, The Viking Portable Library (Hammondsworth, Eng.: Penguin Books, 1979), 1.

Alumna in Residence

Holidays of the Human Experience

The holiday season is a reprieve from the hustle and bustle. It is like hitting a pause, although perhaps it feels more like a flash-forward.

This year was a great year for me. I graduated from college, I got my job at Ridgeview, and I got married. There are many who are celebrating life this year: newborns, recoveries, weddings, and other accomplishments. This holiday season will bring new people and new traditions together.

I also know many for whom this year was rough. People have passed and people have begun to forget everything; people have done terrible things or suffered terrible things; people have struggled and watched loved ones struggle.

There will be empty seats this year, some of which we might have anticipated. We might have cemented the memory of a grandparent’s last Christmas. Other empty seats, we never could have or would have foreseen. There has been tragedy and loss this year, both beyond measure.

There will be truly happy hearts as well as melancholy souls. Some people will be touched with a combination, smiling sincerely with tears in their eyes. We must recognize each of these feelings as part of the universal human experience, and welcome all at our celebrations.

After all, the holidays are a time to be together, to help each other look beyond the momentary happiness or sadness and find an underlying joy. May we all find that joy this season, a joy that will refresh after a long year and sustain us through another.

Good tidings and Happy New Year!