Where the dark sea meets the sky
Strewn with stars reflected in the mirror
Of the waveless ocean’s depths
Meet me and we’ll run together
To the ending of the world
In a dance of endless circles
Like the dances of the spheres
And the endless, measured turning
Of the twelve months of the year.

The first semester is drawing to a close, and with the end of the semester comes the usual stress and mounds of work to finish.

Don’t get too bogged down, though. Winter Ball is just around the corner to provide some much-needed down time. Go with a date or convince a few friends to come along and enjoy a delicious meal, dancing, talking, eating, and of course, awesome formal attire.

Hope to see you there!

Throughout one’s course at Ridgeview, he or she will inevitably come in contact with a dystopian novel. Some of the major ones taught here are Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Huxley’s Brave New World. Each of the societies envisioned by these novels rejects the individual—those independent of society: Jack and Piggy in Lord of the Flies are alienated from a violent and savage society (or rather, a lack thereof) because of their attachment to goodness and decency; Montag is viewed as odd in Fahrenheit 451 because of his pursuit of knowledge, and yet he exists in a society that declares knowledge as an enemy to civilization itself; in Animal Farm, Boxer is sent away because, while he is loyal to their leader, he is gentle by nature in a society that demands its members be unfeeling; moreover, in Brave New World, John is rejected by a society devoted to endless happiness because he sees a perfectly comfortable life as no life at all. In each of these novels, the pursuit of good is not only unorthodox, but there is no place left for any individual thought.

In our society, however, there appears to be no threat to the individual. We are constantly encouraged to be different. In fact, it appears as if our society has taken the opposite view of those dystopian novels mentioned above, for individuality is now considered the social norm. Individuality is praised as a sort of virtue, and complacency is denounced as being “fake.” But are we really as individual as we might think? This question merits some contemplation.

It appears that, in striving for individuality, we have achieved just the opposite. “Being different” and “expressing one’s inner self” today means doing your hair and dressing a certain way and protesting in the name of certain individual rights. But, if these are now the social norm, do they really make one all that different from everyone else? And yet, were one to disagree with the opinions of the masses or even confront them about their phantom individuality, they would deny your claims and present you with the modern proverb “Everyone’s opinion matters, but yours is wrong.” This current sentiment seems to be more conducive of complacency and conformity than individuality.

Furthermore, it has become increasingly easy to adapt to the modern-day passions instead of logically searching for truth. Too often people slip into a mob mentality and embrace beliefs that may not be worth embracing. Members of our society today frequently join campaigns and protest in support of ideas that are appealing on the outside, yet they fail to discover the true character of what the rush to be a part of. We are constantly being presented with arguments, and then habitually nod our heads in consent, though, in doing so, we voluntarily reject our own reason. In this respect, our society, which be boast to be the pillar of individuality, is closer to that of Brave New World or Fahrenheit 451 than perhaps it has ever been.

What contributes to this lack of self-examination is the consistency with which we fail to question what is worthy of being questioned. Not only do we accept a handful of things on faith, but rarely do we take the time to educate ourselves in matters of importance. We are not stupid—education is currently at an all-time high—but we are ignorant of our own fault. One moment we are in school reading Brave New World, astonished that any society would stray so far to eliminate individual thought; another moment we praise our society for its acceptance of those who are different, even though both societies are similar in more ways than they have ever been. People of our society today seem perfectly fine supporting individuality on paper, but when it comes to their own lives they forget the meaning of individuality and simply assume that they possess it—how can they not, if everywhere people are allowed to voice their opinions and believe what they want?

I therefore challenge you to resist these pulls from society, and take the time to question everything that comes your way. Think actively with the intention of finding truth, rather than agreeing with something that appears to be true. Moreover, do not be afraid to stand against the harsh currents of common belief, for your truth, so long as you have arrived at it through sound and valid reason, is weightier than all of the shallow streams of conformity and consensus that flow against you. Your beliefs will then be filled with the waters of truly individual thought, while their sentiments run dry without it.

As the days get shorter and colder, and as we enter into the holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in the chaos and the planning and the stress that this time of year brings. However, it is important to take a moment to relax and reflect on what this time of year is really about.

As we draw closer to Thanksgiving, we should spend time with our families, and on Thanksgiving Day, have the best meal of the year. After contemplating all the ways we will eat our leftover turkey, we should not fail to remember all the things that we are thankful for. We should either, tell people that we are thankful for them; or we should not take for granted the things or opportunities that we are thankful for.

Of course, we should be thankful every day of the year. However, there is something special about Thanksgiving. It is one of the only times of the year that we are able to see distant family we would not otherwise see, solely for the purpose of spending time with each other and eating a glorious meal together. Thanksgiving is one of the few opportunities that we can get a majority of our family together under these circumstances and nothing more.

I encourage you to start this holiday season right. I encourage you to spend time with your families. I encourage you to be thankful.

What are you thankful for?

I present you with a short story to say thank you for efforts in the 1st Quarter.

Once upon a time, as all stories go, there were two boys named Jack and James. Jack was a clever young lad and smart as a whip. But he suffered from one fatal flaw: he did not know himself. He could adopt any argument with ease and defend any side, moral or not. But if asked what he believed, all he could do was sit there and point out the strengths and weaknesses of either option until the teacher forgot the original question and praised Jack for his analysis of each side. Jack did not know himself and saw no need to do so.

James, on the other hand, was not a smart boy. He could be rather thick and was so regularly disarmed in discussions that he often refused to talk. But the few times he did not remain silent, it was to champion a moral truth he did not know how to defend. In many ways, he was the opposite of Jack as he knew exactly what he believed, but could never find the words to say why or how. James simply knew right was right and wrong was wrong. And as long as he felt secure in his beliefs of right and wrong, James also never felt the need to better defend his stance.

Neither Jack nor James could find a way to learn from the other and saw no need to either. Not until a new teacher came to the school one day. He was a kind old man by the name of Mr. Dawson, chock full of information and possessing the patience of a saint. But his main characteristic was that he was difficult.

Both Jack and James found him difficult for different reasons. For Jack, Mr. Dawson always asked for his opinion on a matter and refused to be taken in by Jack’s stalling. For James, Mr. Dawson expected as much out of him as any other student, not a common occurrence when every other teacher had given up. Eventually, both boys became frustrated and went to Mr. Dawson, demanding he explain himself. When Mr. Dawson had heard both of their complaints, he simply smiled and explained:

“I admit I have pushed you both. But it is simply because I see great potential in both of you. Jack, you are a force to be reckoned with in debate, but skill means little in life if you have no beliefs to defend in it. James, you are stubborn and will stand with your beliefs and virtues to the grave. But belief also means little if you cannot defend it against naysayers. Both of you could continue to exist in this fashion with no further improvement and many do. But it is my goal to teach you how to live. You both can be great men. But now, it is my job to teach you and push you to become them.”

And so Mr. Dawson did. James and Jack began to read voraciously, studying everything they could lay their hands on and, with Mr. Dawson’s advice and guidance, both boys knew who they were, what they believed, and how to defend it proudly.

In many ways, Mr. Dawson’s goal is exactly that of Ridgeview teachers who do not teach a student what to think, but how to think and discover who he is in the process. It is an arduous process, but teachers are patient and in the end, their efforts are rewarded with students ready to face the world and its challenges. For preparing us, we thank you. For your efforts in 1st Quarter, we are grateful.

Friday October 20th was the last day of first quarter! We made it this far!

The first few weeks of school are usually filled with entertaining conversations about fun summer happenings. There are always stories of the trips students and their families enjoyed. Memories of hiking and camping run through students’ minds. Friends that were not able to see each other often catch up. A new energy radiates from the school. Most students are refreshed and ready to face another school year.

In the past, many students complained about homework or school. Those students would not attend fun events like Back to the Barracks or Homecoming. If they did, they would only point out the flaws and complain about how “lame” it was compared to other schools’ events. Those students created a negative atmosphere that clashed with the energy of the other students.  

This year is dramatically different. Even though the classes are smaller and the hallways are a bit easier to get through, the positive energy from the students is encouraging. Most of the students who carried around an air of contempt left and took their negativity with them. The students who remain are happy and excited to be here.

As you walk into a classroom or club meeting, you can tell the students want to be there. They didn’t sign up because of the title or addition to their résumé. The students participating genuinely want to learn and get as much as they can from “the Ridgeview experience.” This year, many more students are participating in activities they normally would not have. Not only are students joining clubs that new teachers created, but students are involving themselves with past clubs or committees.  

School spirit has also increased. This was evident during Spirit Week. Many students dressed up and enjoyed seeing each other’s crazy costumes. 

Attendance at events has also increased. Personally, I have heard mostly positive feedback from people about events like Back to the Barracks, Homecoming, the Senior Host Freshman night, and even the fall concerts.  

First quarter was a success. The new teachers have integrated themselves well. The students have stayed positive and have kept open minds.

At the beginning of this school year, there were a lot of unknowns. People were not sure how well the year would go. First quarter has shown that Ridgeview is better than ever and can continue to thrive!

Is this really the end of First Quarter? Agh! Here’s a poem, dedicated to all over-caffeinated, stressed-out Ridgeview students, past, present, and future:

In these final hours as grades are calculated
And I struggle to finish too many essays
And print and turn them in on time
I feel a bit like I’m going mad
From lack of sleep and far too much caffeine.
I know I should prioritize
But everything must be done and in
By three o’clock (or fifteen hundred)
And extensions aren’t an option anymore.
So I grit my teeth in a manic smile
And make another pot of coffee
Turning back to the well-worn keys
To pound out yet another paragraph,
Reminding myself that I’ve done this before
And that there will be an end.
As soon as these last few pages are written
And those last ten tests are taken
Then I will go to bed at a godly hour
And hopefully cut back on the coffee…
And let my mind recover from the strain,
And give my poor keyboard a well-deserved rest.

Happy end of First Quarter, everyone!

The week before Ridgeview’s Homecoming dance is known as Spirit Week. This year that week was October 9th-13th. For students, this meant that there was not only an opportunity to dress as we otherwise wouldn’t, but also a chance to bond with each other and get a good laugh when our classmates wore ridiculous fashion or looked like they were 80 years old.

This year, Monday’s theme was Character Day. Students were dressed as their favorite character from the Ridgeview curriculum.

Tuesday’s theme was Fashion Disaster Day. Students came to school with the worst fashion possible (this time we all had an excuse for it).

Wednesday’s theme was Decades Day and students came dressed from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s as hippies, disco dancers, and hip hop kings and queens.

On Thursday, students raided their grandparent’s closet to look like old people for Grandparents Day.

Finally, on Friday, we celebrated our Ridgeview Spirit Day in blue and gold. We ended the day with a pep rally before our Homecoming game.

We have spent the week preparing for Homecoming and getting excited for it. However, we must not forget the more important aspect of Spirit Week. Spirit Week allows us all, as a student body, to band together and enjoy something. It allows us to show our pride for Ridgeview; it allows us to get excited, not only about Homecoming, but about our school as a whole.

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On Monday October 2, Ridgeview hosted First Responders’ Day.  This event is fun and knowledgeable for everyone. We were able to honor the people who dedicate their time and energy protecting others out of the goodness of their hearts.

During this event, the parking lot is filled with different vehicles that the first responders use. Unfortunately, this year it rained so there was no helicopter to explore. However, Homeland Security, the SWAT team, Poudre Fire Authority, Larimer County Dive Rescue Team, Colorado State Patrol, Sheriff, and others were all present.  The entire school community was able to visit each station and question the First Responders.

The first responders deserve to be honored because of the work they do. They are willing to risk themselves to save others; they sacrifice their time for others. These people do not go to work every day because it’s their job; these people genuinely love helping others and want to protect our community.

After questioning the first responders, I found that they all wanted to be at Ridgeview on this day in order to educate us in helping them. The more they share about staying safe, the more effective they will be in an emergency. The best way to prepare the next generation in safety is to bring their equipment and stories and to share them.

First responders are normal people. They have the same emotions as everyone else. They get angry and sad. They cry. They laugh. The only difference is their job. They are willing to do what most people would be afraid to do.  Most of the first responders had wanted to do these jobs since they were children. They always strove to help others. Because of their careers, they face different difficulties than the average person. They are faced with danger and fear, but persevere through it for the sake of others. First responders do not win every battle. Sometimes, lives are lost. It takes a different type of courage to continue in the face of tragedy, when the job becomes stressful and emotional. First responders do not let their fear and emotions interfere with their work, as they must serve as a leader when the average person is confused or frightened.

We honor these men and women because of the lives they lead.  They set an example for all us to follow. They demonstrate courage, integrity, perseverance, honesty, and other Ridgeview pillars. They represent what Ridgeview tries to teach its students each day.

Anyone in the Ridgeview community well knows about the ominous Senior Thesis that every Ridgeview graduate writes. In this thesis, the soon-to-be graduates are tasked with answering the question of “What is the Good Life?”– what it means and how to live it. Fortunately for us, the Ridgeview faculty does not simply pose this question and then leave the seniors helpless and struggling to form an answer; rather, the seniors choose a faculty member to help guide them along their own unique path, at the end of which will hopefully lie some form of answer.

What is more, Ridgeview students become exposed to the central question of every Senior Thesis in their freshman year, and go through the rest of their high-school career pondering the Good Life in light of the various topics presented to them in their time at Ridgeview. Seneca would describe Ridgeview students as “bees, who flit about and cull the flowers that are suitable for producing honey, and then arrange and assort in their cells all that they have brought in.” Likewise, we, as students of Ridgeview, are tasked with taking the concepts we have been exposed to in classes such as literature, moral philosophy, and western civilization and crafting them into our unique concept of the Good Life.

All those who wish to live and to live well must contemplate the Good Life, seek to define virtue and happiness, reflect on morality, explain why it is necessary, and then apply these concepts in their own lives.  Why? Henry David Thoreau provides an answer in his Walden, in a chapter entitled “What I Lived For.”

I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear […] I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.

We should all desire to live the Good Life, not only in order to be virtuous, but to pursue a higher form of living. How great a disappointment it is for someone to live out their whole life in “quiet desperation,” as Thoreau recognized, and to come to the end of it realizing that they had not truly lived, and thus they discover that they are no longer content with their life of contentment, but regret not living the life of happiness and virtue.

In order to avoid such misfortune, we must become exposed to such concepts as virtue and vice, good and evil, and especially the Good Life, while still in our youth. The one who contemplates these concepts in his early years will lead the life of self-examination, an essential part of living well, according to Socrates, and keep the life of desperation at a distance. So, we have arrived at the purpose of education.

It cannot be stressed how important education is in the lives of youth.  The ways in which children are instructed in their early years inevitably shapes how they will live their lives. If they are taught in such a way that they cannot think for themselves, they will grow up “orbiting” around the “systems” of others, as Ralph Waldo Emerson describes. However, if they are taught to think for themselves and form their own opinions, then they will realize that “the act of thought” truly is “the sacredness which attaches to the act of creation,” a concept Emerson also touches on in his essay on the “American Scholar.”

Thus, this sort of higher education is requisite in living the Good Life, for one can only arrive at such a conception through Education. The morality of the young relies heavily on the type of education that they receive. Unfortunately, our modern society has fallen short in its instruction of the young. Society has drifted from higher education to lower education, in which children are taught the essentials so that they may prosper in life (though here prosper is meant in a more earthly sense and seems to be more equivalent to “survive”). Our society educates the young, not so that they may live well, but so that they may eventually contribute back to society.

Ridgeview is unique on this front. Here, students are not only enabled to survive in the real world, but to self-examine and to live well according to their conception of the Good Life. While Ridgeview may be, in this sense, an oasis of higher education, the surrounding desert has not been eradicated. We must each do our own part to protect the integrity and morality of our youth, and so protect them from living lives of quiet desperation.

 

 

Make the most of what you’ve got:
The time you have today.
For the present named becomes the past
And no time can be reclaimed.
This time is a gift, the present you have
Use it well and make no regrets
For tomorrow is promised to no one to live
And yesterday cannot be changed.
Make of now what you are able
Don’t wait for greater things to come
For heroes lived and live in their now
Seizing the day that they receive.

A Poem by Lucy R.

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