The Riviera Ridge School
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” Shakespeare employed that now famous line in his play Romeo and Juliet to imply that the naming of things is irrelevant. The Riviera Ridge School might beg to differ.
The highly-esteemed independent educational institution that serves grades Pre-K to 8th marked its eightieth-plus year dedicated to growth, improvement, and future-forward thinking, with a name change in 2021 from Marymount of Santa Barbara to The Riviera Ridge School.
It wasn’t a decision made in haste. “We went through an 18-month strategic planning process,” said Jaime Nelson, the school’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “A lot of people were involved in that decision, and it took years of considering whether it was the right direction for us.”
The point of the name change was to make it clear that the school is an independent educational institution no longer run by nuns, a switch that happened back in 1972 when a group of parent volunteers purchased Marymount from the nuns who had founded it three decades before. Thirty-five years later, the institute’s faculty partnered with the UCSB Department of Religious Studies to create the Kaleidoscope Program, which studies all world religions through the prism of moral, ethical, and spiritual systems.
But a lot of locals – and parents of children who might be interested in attending – still thought of Marymount in its original format, Nelson said. “We haven’t been a Catholic school in 50 years,” she said. “But a lot of people didn’t realize it.”
Riviera Ridge seemed an ideal choice to convey the school’s curriculum focus, as the institute is located on Mission Ridge Road in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Riviera neighborhood. Still, there was some concern the name change might have unintended consequences.
“There was some concern that our enrollment numbers might decrease,” Nelson said. “But we’ve been pleasantly surprised to see our admissions numbers have actually gone up quite a bit. People that weren’t looking at us as an option because they thought we were a Catholic school are now very much interested. For enrollment to grow even during a pandemic is incredible and very exciting. So it was obviously the right thing to do.”
The name change was actually the icing on the cake of a 10-year Strategic Plan that was adopted in the fall of 2020 after the 18-month process encompassing the Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, parents, and alumni volunteers – which began less than a year after Christina K. Broderick began her tenure as the current Head of School. The school adopted its new Mission, Vision, and Values to reflect updated elements in its commitment as a model of how an independent school should reflect social and emotional intelligence, ethical responsibility, and a global awareness for different values and beliefs.
The mission calls for student-centered, individualized learning in a joyful and nurturing community, inspiring academic excellence, and valuing difference. Its vision is to “empower individual potential, inspire purpose beyond self, and cultivate social responsibility,” with an emphasis on values including academic excellence, creativity, critical thinking, diversity, ethical responsibility, joy, kindness, and resilience. “The bottom part is about creating a resilient and sustainable school for the future,” Nelson said.
The now-15-year-old Kaleidoscope Program reflects that bridge, she states. “It’s celebration of all religions with an emphasis on inclusivity and a different focus in each grade, including ethics in sixth grade, and service brigade in seventh, where they spend a year giving back to the community and coming up with service ideas. All the world religions are woven into every grade level, which is unique to our school.”
As a way to honor the school’s Marymount heritage, the 2022 graduating class of eighth graders also represents a bridge. In fact, the students are both the last class to receive a Marymount diploma and the first to be awarded a Riviera Ridge diploma, in recognition of inclusivity and change.
“We don’t want to forget who we were,” Nelson said. “We want to honor that, but also let everyone know that we’ve grown and progressed and evolved with the times.”
So here are the names of those 2022 graduates, and where they’re headed (11 are furthering their education at private schools): Addison Barat, Avery Carter, Nico DeRosa, Emma Johnson, Vladimir Keister, and Connor Kolbusz will all attend Bishop Diego High School; Charles Dorion, Braeden Parker,and Fallon Erickson will matriculate at Cate; Aspen Nybakken heads to Ojai Valley; and Logan Reed will attend Taft. Among the public schools, a dozen of the new graduates are heading for Santa Barbara High School including Brennan Cogert, Tyler Nomura, Hailee Sanchez, Lily Schumacher and Cameron Weathers, while Liam Hodgetts, Oliver Nielsen, Ember Reiter,and Ian Zampelli opted for SBHS’ Multimedia Arts & Design Academy, and Claire Putnam and Nico Seguel are headed to SBHS’ Visual Arts and Design Academy. Calvin Bustany, TJ Deakyne, Logan Patterson,and Jack Trigg chose San Marcos, while Robert Abra-Dunbar, Ryland Weaver,and Kiran Baldocchi opted for Dos Pueblos High.
Congratulations and good luck to all!
The Riviera Ridge School
2130 Mission Ridge Road
(805) 569-1811 ext. 234