Ridgeview Classical Schools
Ridgeview offers an education that is rarely matched by other schools within the charter school community. It distinguishes itself first by its unequivocal commitment to the classical tradition. In this sense, classical means that Latin is taught from kindergarten, Greek is taught from third grade, and students learn root languages before they are taught derivatives such as French or Spanish. They learn to develop a thesis, to exegize a text, and to order their thinking, writing, and presentations according to a classical order of arrangement.
Students are taught many subjects, but they are taught that a comprehension of any topic proceeds by first understanding its grammar, then its logic, and finally, that it can be articulated by a skillful resort to rhetoric. They acquire specific knowledge through a curriculum that professes an adherence to the unabridged and original Core Knowledge sequence, Singapore Mathematics, American Cursive as outlined by Michael Sull, Riggs phonics program, martial arts, visual arts, music, and conceptual science. Ridgeview is unique in its commitment to the liberal arts. It does not abide by gimmicks, fads, or trends. Its curriculum gives equal time to the humanities and the natural sciences. It is also unique in its belief that an American exceptionalism exists and is worthy of examination and reverence, and that through a proper understanding of one’s country, genuine patriotism is both possible and admirable. It respects character above intellect and seeks the fullest moral development of each of its students.
Ridgeview spends a great deal of time selecting its teachers, developing them in an effort to retain them, and insists that they inculcate in their students a love for the life of the mind. At Ridgeview, they should not only read books, they should love them. The teachers should know their students, and no student should graduate who has not proven him or herself to the Principal, who shall have taught them for at least one semester prior to their graduation. Ridgeview aims to transform more than minds. It aims to build a community through its curriculum, its teachers, and its ethos that transforms souls. To this end, every student is required to write a senior thesis answering the question of what is essential to the good life and present and defend it to an audience of their peers, the faculty, and assembled members of the public. Seniors are also required to undertake a leaving exam in order to graduate. There is no bluffing one’s way through.
Only the thoughtful and sincere can expect to survive being passed through this rigorous sieve. Ridgeview, quoting Aeschylus, has frequently noted that its motto was “we learn by suffering,” and there is a certain truth to it regardless of how uncomfortable the modern world finds such a perspective. There is also, however, true comradery and collegiality fostered at Ridgeview. The nearly 60 faculty members are an intellectually diverse group, and yet all are brought together in friendship through texts, barbecues, conversation, tea, and not infrequently, the beauty of the American West. The location of Ridgeview is not unimportant. The most is made of it by ensuring that students do not take it for granted. Camping trips are organized, parents are drawn out to the mountains and the prairies, and whether in a classroom or around a campfire, the great conversation continues slowly and organically building up an authentic sense of community. The students and the faculty are pushed, and in that sense they all learn by suffering, but they are also drawn together by mutual pursuits, and they are ones that allow for a certain flourishing of the human spirit.
The ability to do well at Ridgeview is the same ability that allows one to either be alone with himself or be truly capable of abiding friendships. Our students go to great colleges, join the military, and do great things with their lives when they leave here, but we do not deceive ourselves that we planned for them to become this or that. We endeavored to create individuals worthy of inheriting liberty and responsible enough not to be destructive with it. Rather than creating doctors, lawyers, or engineers, we focused on empowering self-examination, integrity, initiative, self-reliance, and honorableness.
We believe in old things that have lost meaning in this world. We believe in virtue, good and evil, right and wrong, honor. We conceive of ourselves as an Ionia – a refuge from the technological and relativistic hedonism that marks out modernity. Our students and our faculty are not troglodytes left behind, but intelligent souls wise enough to know that there is a difference between wisdom and knowledge, and clever enough to discriminate to the benefit of themselves and their society. We want to show students the world, both through books and through travel. We want for them to have the opportunity to touch the history they have studied, and to see firsthand the places great authors have labored to describe. We are a small school who knows our students intimately, and as a result, we are capable of guiding them, instructing them, and not infrequently, of loving them.