Often I look at new traditions and wish that, as an alumna, Ridgeview had implemented them sooner. The tradition I am most envious of as a graduate of the school, and most proud of as a member of the community, is First Responders' Day.
First Responders' Day celebrates those who put their foot forward when most of us stand back. It highlights those who witness both humanity's worst days and its best moments. First responders truly represent the Ridgeview pillars of citizenship, responsibility, integrity, and cooperation. Although Ridgeview students read about these traits, First Responders' Day gives them real world examples. These men and women exemplify the self-sacrifice shown by Sydney Carton in Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, the fairness of Atticus Finch in Lee Harper's To Kill and Mockingbird, and the steady leadership of Aeneas in Vergil's Aeneid.
While for some students, such an event nobly displays admirable character traits, for others, it offers career suggestions. Some of Ridgeview graduates have worked or continue to work in the emergency and nursing fields.
Joshua Carvalho '06, now a teacher at Ridgeview, has filled a myriad of emergency response roles including an EMT, a wild-land firefighter, and a medic. He initially pursued them as an optimistic youth out "to save the world." As the romanticism wore off, he became tempered by an ideal that arose out of his Ridgeview education: "After the initial feelings wore off, what kept me going was the sense of citizenship and responsibility. I might not have been able to save the world, but I would certainly do everything I could to further the causes of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful."
Ridgeview provided Carvalho with the capacity for self-examination when he became disillusioned by harsh situations: "The most important thing Ridgeview contributed to my work in medical and disaster response was in giving me what Conrad would call a deliberate belief. Experiencing the raw emotions that can come along with a critical incident can be tough to process on the other side. It started by admitting that Marlow and I both had 'an appeal to this fiendish row.' But the next step, the step that Ridgeview helped build, was the conviction that I too had a voice for good."
Mary Stephens '14 works at a memory care center with EMT, CNA, and EKG interpretation certifications. Ridgeview's community aspect inspired her care for people: "Ridgeview certainly helped reaffirm for me that what I wanted to do was work with real people, to learn about them and how I can make a difference in their lives through medicine."
For Kendall Heyliger '14, it was the integration of the sciences, the humanities, and the relationships that steered her towards nursing. "Nursing is rather unique in that it is one of few careers where hard science and humanity are so clearly intertwined," she explains. "Nursing asks not only, 'What is biologically and physically wrong, and what interventions will help correct those problems?' but also, 'What is quality of life? How resilient is the human spirit? What makes life worth living? What words will buoy a soul on the edge of giving up? Where is joy found when every source of joy you once had has been snatched away?'" Nursing is both the continuation of the great conversation and a culmination of its application.
These alumni represent some of the best of humankind, but not just in an idealistic heroic way. They show the application of Ridgeview's lessons towards serving humanity. Alumni, as first responders, represent what Ridgeview asks of its students: action grounded in consideration as well as conviction.
We are grateful to the Ridgeview community members who serve and show our students who they should strive to be.