Monday, June 11, 2012

goodnight sweetheart: a waldorf school graduation

our daughter's 8th grade class graduated from waldorf school a few days ago. it was a beautiful ceremony, a momentous passage out of a unique learning environment. we have all been incredibly moved and reflective. tashi has been at waldorf school for eleven years, beginning with a home based preschool in ann arbor.

we returned to school the morning after the graduation ceremony for a final assembly and  rose ceremony. the first and second graders gave roses to the departing 8th graders. hugs and farewells were exchanged, and then we drove our daughter away from all that she has ever known about an educational institution.

i was one of a few parents that stood up in front of the audience at the graduation ceremony and spoke. several parents asked me to share my speech in print. and so here it is:

Waldorf School —
Its classrooms, hallways and foyers sing loudly of a connection to earth, spirit and self.

When asked why we chose the Waldorf path for our daughter Tashi, I sometimes find it challenging to contain my response.

Is it because when I was much younger I learned that a Waldorf teacher stays with her class for eight years? I found this both intriguing, and puzzling, and was instantly hooked in with curiosity at a system so different from anything else out there.

Is it because we have a niece who went through Waldorf school, now a rising junior at Yale, who has always impressed us with her self confidence and wisdom, her artistic skills, and because, as a fourth grader, she would sit in a room full of boisterous adults, quietly knitting and listening all the while?

Is it the natural materials and earthy colors that fill the classrooms with a warm quiet? The emphasis on preserving childhood and the imagination. Is it the daily integration of verse and strings and movement? The developmental pace of subject matters.

Is it the distancing of popular media? The integration of serious artistic practice, of foreign language, and of classical texts? Is it the gardens, the gnomes, the dreamy wet on wet watercolors, the holistic approach to mind and body and planet?

Of course it is all of these things, and so much more. And that really, from the start, the Waldorf School has always felt like the next best thing to home.

Awareness. It is nurtured in the gardens. In the playground no matter what the weather. In the honoring of the seasons. The teachings here are alive
with a celebration of interconnectedness.

While we didn’t have the same teacher for eight years, we were instead twice blessed with two amazing women who supported our children in ways totally appropriate for their stages of development. Ms. Yolanda Kutney, who handled the shoots with great care and steadfastly nurtured them, and Ms. Suzanne Lamb, who continued to shape them cautiously, tended to them with such precise diligence and brought them into blossoming. I feel so blessed to have had these two women play such an integral role in our daughter’s life.

As we look at Tashi now, and ALL of her classmates — bright, resourceful, grounded, musical, curious, contemplative, friendly, creative, and voracious readers — we feel assured that we made the right choice. We feel assured that the groundwork has been prepared and that they will carry this great foundation forward into all that awaits them.

We feel assured as Tashi beats us at rounds of Boggle, and broadens our own vocabulary, like when she informed us that a sniggler is an eel catcher.

We feel certain that these kids have gained a love of learning here, a willingness to ask questions, and an equal willingness to listen to the answers. They have certainly learned how to be a team: in orchestra & choir, on the soccer field, on the river, the trail, and in the outback. They have experienced community, and so have we.

We thank everyone in this room, we thank classmates that have moved on, and we especially thank Tashi, Susannah, Sukah, Shannon, Range, Rachel, Nia, Jessica, Jesse, Jacob, Grace, Charlie and Carter who have been such epic teammates in this journey.

As you leave these hallowed quarters, you will carry in you the spark that was ignited at the Charlottesville Waldorf School. It will light your way, and in turn, you will illuminate the world.

Congratulations rising 9th Graders and to everyone who has seen them through.

1 comment:

James "Bu" Quarles said...

What a wonderful expression of gratitude for a fantastic incredibly well thought out journey, thanks to brilliant teachers, parents and Rudolf Steiner. Congratulations to all.