Head of School Jody Soja presented a Mountain Card to CJ Pitcher on Friday, March 30. The Mountain Card is the school’s highest formal accolade and recognizes individuals who go above and beyond our expectations. Below are the words that Mrs. Soja read at Morning Meeting.

A smile can be much much more than a sometimes-voluntary indication of contentedness. It also serves for some as the physical embodiment of compassion, integrity, confidence, and courage, and the conduit through which those attributes are realized. For CJ, it matters not what activity or interaction he is a part of—his smile, and that which it represents, is ever-present.

To try new things often means a series of setbacks, through which it can be difficult to maintain a smile. CJ’s audacity and absolute embrace of newness, and the failures that sometimes accompany it, are impressive enough, but that his grin seems permanently pasted on his face is really remarkable. As a first-time snowboarder, it seems that his pure joy and openness of spirit guided him down the mountain, and by the end of the season, he was making his way down the slopes with ease. But here, too, and even as a beginner, he followed his instinct to look outside himself and for others. When a fellow recreational skier took a spill, he was “beyond helpful,” according to his coaches, and was able to not only keep his teammate safe, but also smiling, until additional help arrived. It truly is contagious.

CJ does more than simply balance integrity and humor—he blends them together in a brand unique to him, and he has an uncanny ability to know when and in what combination earnestness and levity are applied most effectively. He has the awareness and empathy to know when something might be bothering a friend, dormmate, or other community member and then the natural ebullience to brighten their day. Doing the right thing comes naturally to him, and his innate compassion is paired perfectly with his perfectly guided and immediate action.

It is for his humor, his rectitude, his friendship, and his risk taking, that he has become a emblem of our school’s values. It is for all those reasons and many more that the Indian Mountain School faculty is pleased to award CJ Pitcher its highest honor: The Mountain Card.