On the surface, RHS has well-developed academic, extracurricular, and athletic programs, which all lead students on a path towards success. Yet, underneath that, the pride and loyalty each individual has for Ridgewood High are what makes the school’s culture special for all.
The 125-year history of the school and the fact that so many generations have grown up in these halls contributes to everyone’s pride in the institution. Students armed with phones and Chromebooks in their backpacks pass by plaques every day that honor RHS graduates who served in world wars and global conflicts. Some of these graduates laid down their lives for their country, transformed by their experience in the same brick-and-mortar building. Decades later, even though technology, culture, and world leaders have changed, as students, we live similar lives to those who passed through years before and are inspired by those past accomplishments.
Other than reflecting on the past, in 2019, RHS continues to be a beacon for student freedom and individual expression. Countless opportunities are available to students, and many don’t hesitate to take advantage of them. Just last month, there were two simultaneous trips abroad: one to Italy, and another to China. Locally, the spring season has started, and with it, a newfound fervor for sports and activities in and out of the building.
No matter what hour you drop by the campus, even late into the night, you are bound to see a myriad of different athletes and club members in the school. The open campus policy also simulates a college-style experience and adds more to a typical student routine.
Foreign trips, an open campus, and the 24-hour hubbub on and off school grounds are unthinkable in many parts of the world, let alone the rest of the United States. Even in neighboring Bergen County high schools—while foreign trips do exist—the open campus policy is virtually unheard of. It is the trust faulty members have for students that allow us the freedom we so often take for granted and what also makes RHS unlike any other.
Diversity of our student body is another major layer of what makes RHS what it is because it’s ever-changing. Every year a class graduates, and a new class enters. In the past few years, incoming freshman classes have increased in size. Just like the speaker, Michael Fowlin, said last year, diversity can be about more than just ethnicity or race. It is taking on a connotation of different backgrounds, interests, and beliefs.
The dynamic student body emphasizes Fowlin’s point, and the number of different interests highlighted in the building deeply influences the culture of student life. These interests are showcased through different clubs and co-curricular or extracurricular programs that can either be academic, artistic or simply just fun, like the Pizza Club. The student body is made up of a diverse set of beliefs and viewpoints, and a plethora of religious and political backgrounds.
RHS is so important to everyone who walks through these halls, and although decades of demographic and cultural change have swept the town, new generations find ways to build off of the accomplishments of their predecessors. The unique opportunities offered to students, the historical legacy of the school, and the multi-faceted diversity of each class all have a unique and transformative influence on each individual. High school marks a key point in everyone’s life, one that should have lasting and meaningful impacts on those who experience it. Ridgewood High School doesn’t disappoint on this notion at all, and the four years of education it provides, each different in their own ways, epitomizes how special it is to be a student in RHS.
Logan Richman & Aaron Friedman
Graphic: Ryan Rhew