I can honestly say that I have never felt more connected to my community than the past three or four months. Certainly, these strengthening ties are strongly related to my role with the West Side Chamber, our various events and the remarkable people who support Chamber activities. However, I recently realized that that Chamber engagement is only part of the reason.
My affinity for the west side and my growing appreciation has elevated tremendously since my son, Jake, enrolled as a freshman at Roosevelt High School. Clearly I need to be careful here. All of us — including the guy typing this — realize that the west side is not comprised of all Rough Riders. Acknowledging that fact, please give me some latitude to express my emotional evolution.
In the past few months, there has been one specific experience and the culmination of many little moments that constructed my current state of mind. First, in late summer the West Side Chamber hosted a Wake-Up West Side at Roosevelt High School. Principal Cathy Danielson greeted our group and proceeded to proudly tour our Chamber members around the Roosevelt campus. The building was spectacular — although not perfect. It was beautifully updated and clearly historic. Like the community around it, Roosevelt oozes history, celebrates diversity and is exceedingly proud of the people who comprise the Rider Family.
As for all the little moments, they have taken place in our neighborhood, at church and across town. When we share with an individual familiar with Roosevelt that our son has recently enrolled, the narrative and sense of pride is repeated over and over. The most powerful element of these conversations is genuine breadth, depth and consistency. In each circumstance, the discussions celebrate academics, test scores, opportunities, diversity, families, tolerance, openness, acceptance and aspiration. There is an equal level of enthusiasm for the fine arts as there is for athletics. The values of this school reflect strongly the community which it is in.
I think that is why the transition has felt so comfortable for my son and our family. You should know that our connection to Roosevelt has been peripheral for more than 13 years (Jake always attended Catholic school); however, our engagement with the values of Roosevelt has been present to us ever since we moved to the west side. It has just been the past few months that I have had the good fortune to see how they come together beautifully for our son, our family, for our school and community.
Thanks to each of you and our businesses that support and advance the values of the west side.