Few questions are so universally recognized ̶ thanks to Shakespeare's Juliet ̶ and few so frequently fielded by the team at Arete Scholars Fund. It's a fair question.
For us, arete is more than a tag on logos and letterhead. It's an invariable reminder of our mission: to help students from lower income families ̶ those who often face the greatest obstacles to academic and personal achievement ̶ reach their highest human potential through educational opportunity.
Pronounced ah-reh-tay, the word is an ancient Greek concept that most simply means excellence in action. Arete is a life well lived, virtuous and courageous. It signifies potential realized and function fulfilled. To achieve arete is to become the person you were intended to be, to walk purposefully in the path prepared before you. It's a name that best captures our vision for all Georgia students, but sadly it's a goal seldom grasped by those families we strive to serve.
Picture the racehorse Secretariat ̶ a creature whose entire life converged on squeezing every drop of potential from his unique gift to run fast. The horse ran with graceful, ferocious joy and appeared to be birthed for the sole purpose of winning the Triple Crown. In a sense, Secretariat achieved arete. How much more should we desire that same excellence for the children in our state?
John Gardner wrote, “Great gifts unused, even unsuspected, are hardly a rarity. No doubt there have always been a great many men and women of extraordinary talent who have died with all their music in them.” Far too many children from lower income families lack the opportunity to exercise their gifts or even identify them. They are unused and unsuspected.
Arete Scholars Fund exists to aid low-income Georgia children in the discovery, development, and use of their unique gifts and talents. Though only in our second year, we are encouraged by the scores of success stories already streaming in from around our state. More than 1,000 children throughout Georgia are discovering opportunity ̶ many for the first time ̶ and are being challenged and inspired in schools of their family's choosing.
Some Arete scholars have escaped unsafe environments, while others are now flourishing in smaller classes. Many are encountering and conquering demanding new academic curricula, while many more are thriving in extracurricular arts and athletic programs. In urban, rural, and suburban settings alike, all are learning what it means to dream, to excel, to strive toward a goal.
Upon hearing her 10-year-old Arete Scholar confidently declare his desire to be a paleontologist, one Augusta-area mother, a single parent trying to make a better life for her children, said emotionally, "It's amazing to hear my children talk like that and have hope that they can actually reach those goals."
Arete students and their families know little of political wrangling, tax credit caps, and unhelpful distinctions of private and public. But they do know about gifts discovered and hope rekindled. They may still struggle to pronounce the word ̶ many of us do, too ̶ but thanks to the selfless efforts of teachers, parents, and financial supporters, these young scholars now know a little something about arete.
We're proud to be a part of their discovery.
Thu, February 9, 2012
by Arete filed under