Heather Hightower: The Charlottesville I Know

Heather Hightower graduated from Staples High School in 1999, and the University of Virginia 4 years later. She’s still in Charlottesville, where she’s the founder and owner of The Center for Vocal Study (and choir director at Field School).

In the aftermath of that city’s domestic terrorism incident — as the world tries to figure out what to make of her adopted hometown — she emailed “06880.” Heather says:

The Charlottesville I know is full of caring, good, hardworking people who actively seek to improve the lives of others.

The Charlottesville I know cares about its children, its small business owners, its food sources, its historical mark on this nation.

The Charlottesville I know is full of people who take the time to read about the issues and who then give careful consideration to how to best support the highest good.

The Charlottesville I know had people attending lectures on historical roots of racism, prayer vigils and other peaceful forms of activism the nights and weeks leading into this past weekend’s events.

Heather Hightower

The Charlottesville I know is committed to the values our nation holds dear, including diversity and freedom of speech.

The Charlottesville I know has the strength and presence of mind in its residents and leaders to tackle major issues and work towards resolution. We have faced some difficult issues in the past few years that have sparked national conversation. The events of this weekend, amplified by participants from out of town, do not represent the heart of Charlottesville. This city is strong, thoughtful, kind and cares about its neighbors and where we are going as a community.

The Charlottesville that will prevail is one powered by good. We have a marvelous opportunity to demonstrate how to lead in a time of crisis. It begins with how we conduct these conversations and how we rise to keep working towards change that builds community. Our community is listening, it is acting, and our artists are shining brightly.


27 responses to “Heather Hightower: The Charlottesville I Know

  1. Michael Calise

    reassuring and beautifully put. Thank You Heather!

  2. A wonderful rendition Staples graduates are well versed

  3. Gloria M. Gacia

    Wonderful article Heather!

  4. Thank you for your grace, optimism, and vision, Heather.

  5. Thank you, Heather, for shining the light on the building and maintaining of community. A powerful lesson for all of us.

  6. This validates my strongly held opinion that the lessons you learn sitting around the dinner table are the single most important factor in the kind of person you become. Glenn Hightower was a lovely man; didn’t know Heather’s mother but she must have been his equal.

    May we all send such kind and articulate children out there.

  7. Bev and Glenn Hightower raised three daughters who inherited their honesty and basic goodness. Thank you Heather for your thoughtful note about a great college town and its values in the face of outsiders hateful actions.

  8. You go Heather!

  9. Bruce McFadden

    Heather: Thank you so much for shining a bright light on Charlottesville that is very diffident from what we all saw this past very painful weekend!

    Bruce McFadden

    • Mr. McFadden! Yes, it is strange seeing the whole optics of this city through the national media. I have confidence that what Charlottesville is now forced to be wrestling with is not so dissimilar from what many cities around the nation will have to face and that we can handle it. As can other cities. I see a lot of emotions from all sides on my Facebook newsfeed. I think it’s important to keep looking forward, keep trusting in the best of all our people who are clearly devoted to taking a terrible situation and gleaning the lessons we can from it.

  10. Chuck and Mimi Greenlee

    Beautifully said. The wonderful Hightower tradition of kindness continues!

  11. Bobbi Essagof

    Thank you Heather. I too thought your dad was a great guy and he would be very very proud of you. I am so angry at the events of last weekend and you have helped calm me down just a bit with your kind and rational story.

    • Hi Bobbi, thank you for reading (and for your kindness about my father). There is a lot of anger, hurt, trauma and grief from what I can tell from listening to my friends recount their first-hand experiences. I suspect at this time we must become the leaders we wished we were seeing from other people. We must find compassion and understanding where possible and we must stand up for what is good and right. This will, I sense, be true across the nation.

  12. Excellent and generous personal commentary, Heather! As you say, we must keep looking forward at this time–especailly when Mr. Trump doesn’t know in which direction to look., Be well, be safe Love to you, Karl

  13. This is the heart of Charlottesville:
    Peace vigil tonight with thousands.

  14. Flav Freedman

    Charlottesville is blessed to have you.