It is my distinct pleasure and honor to welcome you all to Golden View Classical Academy. My name is Robert Garrow, and I will be serving as Golden View’s first Principal. Tonight is our first ever Family Night, and it is a joy to see all of the people who will make this school a community in the coming years.
This school is not the work of a few weeks or months. Many people have supported and guided our school from its very first beginnings a few years ago to where we are today, poised to begin our inaugural year. A few in particular deserve special recognition.
First, I would like to recognize the Bailey family. Their generosity and commitment to the Golden View mission has brought us this wonderful building, at the crossroads of three main thoroughfares, and on top of this hill. As our upper school Latin teacher has commented, we stand somewhere between blessed and spoiled. It is quite rare to be able to teach and learn in a facility as lovely as this one, and so from all of us a hearty thank you to the Baileys.
Next, I would like to recognize our tireless Board, whose leadership and vision made Golden View Classical Academy a reality for our community – particularly Tim Leonard, Paige Rodriguez, and Derec Shuler. This school began with their desire to provide the best education possible to their own children. It has become, and will continue to become, something truly special, and I envy them tonight in seeing all of their hard work accomplished. We will have a chance to walk around this evening, and as you do you will see their hand in everything, from the furniture in the rooms to the paint on the walls and, come September 1st, the books in your students’ hands. Truly, this school would not exist without them, or the other members of the Board – Heidi Ganahl, Geoff Bailey.
Third, I would like to recognize our teachers. Some of them have moved a considerable distance to be part of our founding faculty, and all have made a sacrifice to be here. They have done this because they share something of the pioneering spirit, and a love of classical education. Day in and day out it is they who will educate our students, and I am excited to work with them over the coming years.
Fourth, I would like to recognize the committed families here tonight. It takes a good deal of courage to leave behind what is well-known and easy in order to join a new endeavor. One of our 6th grade teachers mentioned in our conversations that friendship means thinking the same things are beautiful and loving those things. In this she was calling upon Cicero. Families and the school share a friendship based on a love of classical education and of young minds, and I am honored to work with you all in this common partnership.
In 3 short weeks we will be opening our doors for class for the first time. What can parents and students expect, other than the most efficient carline in the lower 48? In the first place, school will be tough. There will likely be more homework, and the kind of work we do will be more difficult. But, in the words of the immortal Tom Hanks, it’s the hard that makes it fun. If it were easy, why do it? What real satisfaction or real confidence does a student develop in completing tasks that require little effort? We will challenge students to match their own best efforts, to improve in what they struggle with, and to strive. A good friend of mine taught me a wonderful poem by Tennyson called “Ulysses” that captures this spirit. It tells the story of the Greek hero Odysseus, late in life after his adventures have ceased. He is bored and comfortable, until something stirs in his soul and he must sally forth again.
It is too long to recite now, but the beautiful ending goes like this.
Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
At Golden View we hope to cultivate strivers who, like the Ulysses of the poem, relish the challenge, continually seek, continually strive, and never yield.
What else can parents and students expect? From the beginning, students will be expected to act well and respectfully. We will hold students to a standard of behavior that, one day, they will expect from themselves and their children. In this we hope to foster a certain kind of character, sturdy, moderate but bold when necessary, honest, direct, decisive, friendly, and curious. We will openly discuss, honor, and find ways to incorporate, our core virtues in our daily activities.
What are our core virtues? Simply put, they are the most stable and best states of character and soul that have ever been discovered in the West. There is no need to get creative or fancy here. We need only look to Aristotle.
First comes courage. It comes first because it is the most necessary. Students who stick to it, who have heart, drive, grit, or tenacity, will excel. Second is moderation and third is justice. In fourth place comes responsibility, the American virtue, which is to weave in to the fabric of one’s thinking another person’s good. When we struggle to find the words of gratitude fitting to our Board’s efforts, it is responsibility that we grasp for. Fifth, prudence. Sixth, friendship. Seventh, wonder.
These states or activities of the soul, though obviously good, need defenders. However odd it seems, there are those who would not be so bold in declaring these to be virtues. Shouldn’t we instead call them values? After all, goodness, truth, and beauty are in the eye of the beholder. As one may hear echoing through our college campuses as students come rushing back, it’s all relative, man.
We disagree. We think these virtues are good and worth preserving. And we think, furthermore, that without active protection and an open defense they will not endure. It is a sad fact that good things decay. Witness Rome. Witness what has happened to education across America in the last half century. And so we conceive ourselves as guardians and defenders of the western tradition, of its history, its literature, its pursuit of the arts and sciences and, above all, its dedication to liberty. You can expect us, then, to preserve the long tradition of the west in both our academic curriculum and our focus on character.
Who or what, then, should be our mascot? Who are we? Surely this is hardest question of all, but luckily, because of our rich tradition, we have some help. As our mascot, the symbol of the school and what we strive to be every day, we are the Sentinels. Though I believe no other Colorado school has chosen the Sentinels as their mascot, in this we seek little that is new. Rather, we call upon a long tradition of stalwart defenders and heroes, sentinels of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Who are our heroes? For one, Winston Churchill. On June 18, 1940, with Britain unsure of its future and strength, after a long decade of watching an evil regime rise in the east, Churchill delivered one of his finest speeches. He spoke, though I imagine with a better accent than my own,
“What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire…If we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
Incidentally, this is a speech our students study in the 7th grade. Though, of course, they will study the whole thing.
Who else is a Sentinel? Abraham Lincoln. We have a particular love of America at Golden View Classical, and so Abraham Lincoln is encountered first in Kindergarten, again in 5th grade, and yet again in 11th grade. Where others saw just another war, Lincoln saw the fate of popular government everywhere and always. The man who had the courage and prudence to save the union when powerful voices disagreed surely counts as a stalwart defender of liberty.
Another is Plato, encountered in the 12th grade. He preserved for us an account of Socrates, one of the greatest teachers in the west, at a time when his name was held in contempt.
We also agree with Pericles that liberty is at the root of happiness, and courage at the root of liberty, and so we hold in esteem a host of brave soldiers in our long history. The famous and infamous battlefields where good encountered evil, at Normandy, at Gettysburg, at Poitiers, at Marathon. As once instance, let’s take the Spartans at Thermopylae, at one point a major, or not so major, motion picture. This great battle is studied in Second grade, and of course spelling Thermopylae is probably the biggest challenge! Where does the “y” go, after all
This is a wonderful story, and it is difficult to ponder the fate of the west had these soldiers not held their ground. The Great King in Persia was marching with his million man army across the Hellespont, through Thrace, and down into Greece. There was one pass through which he needed to travel, at the “Hot Gates,” or Thermopylae. He sent a herald up to scout out the area. Reporting back, the herald claimed he saw a small cohort of Spartan hoplites. They were merely sitting there, unflinching, combing their hair. Why were they combing their hair? Because to stand up to such a formidable enemy was nothing to them. Their courage was so powerful, they simply could not flinch. And so they fought.
And finally, Aeneas, the defender and protector of Troy, and the founder of Rome. There is a scene from the famous poem the “Aeneid,” where Aeneas flees his burning city carrying his father on his back and holding his son by the hand. This is a beautiful image – Aeneas protecting his heritage for the sake of his future.
Incidentally, this moving story is studied in 6th grade and 9th grade.
We are happy to claim these men and others as the foundation of what we do, and we hope to live up to their examples of courage, moderation, justice, responsibility, prudence, friendship, and wonder. With them, we are the Sentinels.
I speak on behalf of the entire faculty and Board when I say that we are beyond excited to begin this work with you, in the belief that half the work is contained in the beginning, and that as founders we all share a great responsibility to do right by our students.
I could not close without a word directed to the students in attendance this evening. If you are in kindergarten and wondering what school has in store, I promise it will be wonderful. If you are in 6th grade and on the cusp between grammar school and upper school, yes you must wear the uniform. If. you are in 10th grade and the leaders of this school, cheers to you for taking this important step in your education. To everyone, welcome.
Again, thank you all for coming this evening, and go Sentinels!
Dr. Robert Garrow
Principal, Golden View Classical Academy