Moments ago we opened the 2018-2019 school year. We welcomed 616 students to Pacific Ridge -- including the largest 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades in our school’s young history.
Our student council organized the opening ceremonies, beginning with the entire school entering the athletic center through a human tunnel of cheering teachers. And, in what has become one of my favorite moments each year, the entire community applauded our brand new 7th grade students as they entered for the first time as the Class of 2024. After that, we had a “game show,” introduced our new faculty and staff, rang the gong, and headed off to class. In fact, as this letter is being sent, I am teaching my first English class of the year.
Those of us in schools are used the glorious rebirth of each school year – a time full of growth, excitement, and possibility. Truly, opening day is a great day to be on campus.
I told the student body this morning that we will focus this year on the themes of “community” and “excellence” – words straight out of our mission statement. With “community,” we will focus on the academic growth achieved through teamwork, collaboration and the sharing of diverse ideas, and the emotional growth achieved by living and working around each other all year – with particular emphasis on how we can take a few more risks in front of one another, how we can make ourselves just a little more vulnerable. In terms of “excellence,” after eleven years of building, Pacific Ridge has arrived at a place where we now get to focus exclusively on honing our craft and our program. We have the opportunity to look at the ways we have been excellent over the past eleven years and consider how we want to be excellent going forward.
To that end, one of our most important projects this year will be to engage in a community- wide strategic planning process. The goal of this work is to develop a strategic plan that will guide the next four to six years at Pacific Ridge School. Every member of our community (students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni) will be asked in September to take part in a survey, there will be numerous focus group sessions, we will have short-term working groups on a variety of topics, and we have already established a steering committee of faculty, staff, parents, and trustees. Please look out for communication from Ian Symmonds and Associates (our strategic planning partner) on the survey and other ways to participate in this important work.
It is going to be a great year. The students have made sure that we began with warm, excited welcomes at last week’s orientations, and now they are off on the adventure that is a new school year. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
See you on campus,
Dr. Bob Ogle