For the last few weeks the 7th grade Spanish class has been discussing the beliefs of the Aztecs. The Aztecs felt closest to the divine when communing with nature and listening to poetry. The students practiced a beautiful verse of Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs) that had been translated to Spanish while sitting among the beautiful trees that line our school. We used this nature vocabulary and reflection time to transition to an important cultural element of modern-day Mexico: Dia de los Muertos.
Dia de los Muertos is a time in which Mexicans celebrate the memories of loved ones who have passed. They bring offerings and celebrate alongside the graves of family members. This tradition was said to begin with the Aztecs. Indeed the word for the marigolds left on the altars to honor the dead (flor de muerto in Spanish) is cempasuchil– a Nahuatl word. Each year the RWS community brings flowers, fruits, photographs, and relics to add to the altar set up by our Diversity and Inclusion committee Mosaics. As Dia de los Muertos approached, our class focused on creating flores de muerto. On the flowers, the students wrote the names of loved ones they had lost, including a dearly beloved former teacher.
Today our class listened to a wonderful story about a family preparing for this special time and ate the traditional pan de muerto in front of Richmond Waldorf’s altar for Dia de los Muertos. We identified the different items that were put on the altar to honor those lost and then placed our flowers on the altar as well. It was a wonderful way to bring our history lesson on the Aztecs into a relevant and meaningful setting.
~ Stephanie McCully, Middle School Spanish Teacher
Every year our Grades and Early Childhood classes celebrate Halloween with a parade and a special performance of poems and songs for friends and family. Upon first glance, these festivities may seem no different than Halloween at any local school. However, if you look more closely, you’ll notice something about the costumes Waldorf children, parents and teachers are wearing.
For our elementary and middle school students, costumes worn at school come from the curriculum. Our first graders are kings, queens, knights, princesses, gnomes, and fairies. In seventh grade you may see Leonardo or the Mona Lisa herself. It’s wide open with one caveat: students don’t wear anything that comes straight from TV, movies, or video games. You also will not see students in masks covering their faces. We these suggestions in mind, children and their families put together costumes that represent something meaningful to them. They enjoy a rare chance to transform themselves into a character or myth that pertains to their lives.
These practices relate directly to our goal as a school: to foster a learning environment that promotes independent thinking, cultivates creativity, and builds confidence. Every day is a chance to develop curious, confident, and capable individuals!
On Friday, September 30, Richmond Waldorf School will celebrate Michaelmas with a pageant performed for the community by the students in the grades, a community lunch, and a “Feats of Strength” field day for the grades students. The season of Michaelmas is also felt in our classrooms, from Early Childhood to grade 8, in the songs, verses and artistic activities that characterize this time of the year. Because Michaelmas is not commonly celebrated or well known in this country, we’d like to share a little bit about the nature and significance of Michael, whom we honor on this day.
The archangel Michael is the embodiment of courage. It is he who casts out Lucifer and vanquishes the dragon in the depths. Michael gives human beings the courage to meet the challenges of the present and the confidence to look to the challenges of the future without fear. Michael lends his strength to those who struggle against the forces of darkness. The celebration of Michaelmas teaches the importance of overcoming fear and strengthening resolve. It educates and empowers children to find their own personal courage to confront dragons and work to make the world a better place.
At Richmond Waldorf School we are doing our small part to realize this vision. At Michaelmas time, we especially try to put ideals into action-to look beyond our narrow selves to what others need and to what the world needs. The world is full of dragons. These dragons spread hatred and fear, doubt and destruction, but they also present opportunities. In the pageant that our students perform, the dragon that terrorizes the kingdom is tamed, not slain. He is led into service, and his strength is used for the good. Let us hope that this picture strengthens our students as they move forward into the future.
The circle represents wholeness in body, soul, and spirit.
The color blue symbolizes trust, freedom, balance, and peace.
The prismatic colors create a rhythmic flow and feeling of movement, are welcoming, and are symbolic of inclusivity.
The energy of the circle moves clockwise to represent the rhythms within Waldorf culture (daily, weekly, seasonally, yearly, developmentally) and the continuous flow of learning and development within our teachers and students.
The prismatic order of colors moves counter-clockwise, symbolizing how Waldorf education is very different from mainstream education.
The open circle creates two opposite forces, which are actually complementary and interdependent of each other. These dualities are seen throughout nature and everyday life (light/dark, in breath/out breath, summer/winter).
The design has a feel of something created by hand, while the letters are crisp and modern with unique angles.
The word Waldorf extends beyond the circle in a sense of freedom. This same freedom is at the heart of what we want for our students-that a Waldorf education prepares them and allows them freedom (intellect, spirit, community).
This morning we had our annual Rose Ceremony to mark the beginning of the school year for all grades students. Our 8th graders escorted the 1st grade students to a flower arch where they were greeted by their teacher and given a rose to symbolize this new beginning. It was, and always is, a wonderful way to start the school year!
Our Annual School Beautification Day was held on Saturday, August 27th, and we had a great day sprucing up RWS for the new school year. Thank you so much to all the parents, volunteers, faculty, and staff who pitched in to make the school look so good! Thanks to our Parents’ Association who brought sweets for breakfast and pizza for lunch. It was wonderful to have such a big turnout and to accomplish so much.
The Cincinnati Waldorf School collected reflections from their alumni who share how their education shaped their experiences in high school and college. These are not students motivated by external things like grades but instead people who enjoy the learning process and strive to be their best selves simply for the sake of doing so. Pretty incredible!
We are so excited for the start of school! Can’t wait to see everyone in a few weeks! Maybe these beautiful pictures of our classrooms will get the kids excited too.