Annual Events and Festivals
Over the years, some WWS events have become part of the yearly rhythm. The following is a sampling of such celebrations, as observed in recent years. As living traditions, they are subject to change and new ones comes life. Some activities are suited only for older students and others may be enjoyed by all. The following descriptions indicate where events have been limited to certain classes.
The School Calendar gives the planned dates of major events during the school year. The most current information can be found on the WWS website and in the Bulletin.
Welcome Back Potluck
This is an informal event, to which children and parents are invited as a way to reach out to new families to welcome them to our community.
First Day of School (Half Day)
This is always an exciting time of transition for everyone. There is an opening assembly for students in Grades 1-8 on this day. Each first grader brings a flower from home to this assembly, with all of the flowers' forming a beautiful bouquet to symbolize the coming together of the class.
Usually held on the Friday of the first week of school, there is an a special Rose Ceremony for grades 1-12. Here each first grader is given a white rose by a twelfth grader, making a circle of those beginning and those ending their formal Waldorf education. Space permitting, parents of 1st and 12th graders are invited to this ceremony.
Under the leadership of the Parent Organization Steering Committee (POSC), parents begin intense work on preparations for the Fall Bazaar, a community fair, festival, and fundraiser held in November. All are expected to participate. Each group of class parents undertakes the planning and organization of a certain aspect of the Bazaar. Parents are also encouraged to participate in craft workshops held throughout the fall to make crafts to be offered at the Bazaar. Musical entertainment and culinary treats add to this important community event.
At the end of September or early in October, we celebrate what we call "Michaelmas", in honor of the Archangel Michael, who according to ancient traditions courageously subdues a dragon to save the kingdom. What we recognize with this celebration are the powers within each of us to overcome darkness with light that gives strength and purpose in life. All families are invited to observe the outdoor part of our celebration that includes challenging activities and feats of strength and courage. A "dragon pageant" is presented by the 9th graders and a medieval sword dance is performed by the 7th graders. For the lower school the festival also includes an assembly attended by grades 1-8 in which the second graders present a Michaelmas play or story. Often the second grade parents are invited to this assembly which is held on a different day than the outdoor events.
The children should come to school with a simple homemade costume over their school clothes. The costume would be based on a particular theme their teacher has chosen for the whole class. Then after a special morning assembly, a regular school day resumes and the costumes are put away. The seventh graders have a special role in this assembly and their costumes will be provided.
Held on a Saturday afternoon from 4 to 6pm, the Fall Festival is a gift to the parents in which Lower School classes present some aspect of their classroom work. High School students also perform.
A long held tradition at WWS, the Bazaar has become a grand event for the entire School and the larger community There are beautiful handmade crafts made by our parents as well as a fine selection of vendors, unique toys, and children’s books for sale. Activities include craft workshops for children of all ages, story telling, games and often a puppet show. There are delicious snacks and treats, and a healthy, affordable lunch is offered. To read about the 2012 bazaar, click here.
On the day before Thanksgiving, we recognize the traditional American holiday with an assembly for grades 1-8.
December is a time of celebration in the midst of the deepest darkness of the year. While many cultures celebrate spiritual renewal and light overcoming darkness at this time, we keep in mind that Buddhist, Jewish, Moslem, Sikh, and other families in the School do not celebrate Christmas. The School welcomes families to share other traditions. If you have traditions you would like to share with your child’s class, please contact the class teacher or the Festival Committee.
In the growing darkness of December, we seek to create an inner light in our school and community. The School fills with warmth and light with simple, yet very special festivities as described below:
From a single candle, in a darkened room, each child lights his or her own candle, and places it on a spiral of greenery laid out on the whole floor until a magical spiral of light grows to illuminate what began as a dimly lit space. The Children’s Garden teachers prepare the eurythmy room as a gift to the whole school. Each class has an opportunity to walk this beautiful spiral. Parents walk together with their children in the Children’s Garden years.
St. Nicholas Day (December 6)
St. Nicholas was a bishop who by legend on dark winter nights wandered the streets leaving apples, nuts, and golden coins at the houses of poor children. St. Nicholas may visit the School unseen leaving a special message and a treat for the younger classes. (In some families, children leave their shoes outside their bedroom door on this night and receive a small gift, often of fruits and nuts, or a poem.)
Community Carol Sing
This is a family celebration, a time to sing both new and old favorites of the season, accompanied by an orchestra of community members. During this time of the year, the high school sponsors a collection of nonperishable food for donation to a local charity.
Beginning this year, we will share a winter festival rather than the Oberufer Plays. The Oberufer Plays will now be held on alternate years. It is tradition among many Waldorf schools around the world to present one or more of these medieval mystery dramas. Little altered through the ages, they were performed for more than 300 years on Oberufer Island in the Danube River. In the 1890s the plays were rediscovered and written down for the first time by a German professor of literature in Vienna, who entrusted them to Rudolf Steiner. In the first Waldorf School, in Stuttgart, the Oberufer plays were performed as a gift from the faculty to the students. Many Waldorf schools have continued this tradition because of the artistry, humor, and earthiness of the plays. At our school we have typically done one or two of the plays with a cast of faculty, parents, and sometimes high schoolers. The Paradise Play (appropriate only for Grades 3 and up) presents the story of the creation of Adam and Eve and the expulsion from Paradise; The Shepherd’s Play tells the Christmas story through the hearts of simple shepherds. These plays have been presented as a gift to the students with an additional evening performance for the community.
Last Day Before Winter Vacation (Half Day)
There will be a winter assembly, followed by a holiday party in some classes.
Three Kings Day (January 6)
At the close of Winter break, Three Kings Day is celebrated in different ways, which may include an assembly for some grades. One of our traditions has been to have the students recite the words "peace on earth" in all the different languages that may be represented in an individual classroom.
Martin Luther King’s Birthday
Grades 5-8, along with the High School, participate in an assembly to honor Dr. King’s birthday. Other classes may mark this day in their own classrooms. Grades 1-4 often celebrate together with a story from Dr. King’s childhood. While the school is closed for the Monday federal holiday, we encourage everyone to come to school to participate in the Day of Service to honor and remember the important contributions Dr. Martin Luther King made to the world. There are age appropriate activities offered for all students. We also sponsor community service activities in honor of Dr.King on the holiday. more info
Grade 8 Play
Grade 8 presents a play for the School and community. Donations support the class trip. (The time of year may vary.)
This spring counterpart to the Fall Festival is typically scheduled on the weekend before Grandparents and Special Friends Day.
Grandparents’ and Special Friends Day (Half Day) and May Day
Grandparents and Special Friends receive an invitation to spend a Friday morning at the School, usually the Friday closest to May 1. A talk on Waldorf education (which gives grandparents and friends some insight into your choice of a Waldorf education), festive presentations by students, and classroom visits make this a lovely and informative occasion for these honored guests. A maypole dance is often performed by the fourth grade.
Grade 3 Farm Trip
Grade 3 takes a six-day trip to Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, New York. This is a biodynamic farm that has a unique program for introducing farming and gardening to Waldorf third graders. Every WWS 3rd grade has made this trip since 1978. It is a very exciting part of the children's studies and requires more extensive parent fundraising.
The Senior Class performs a play for the school and community.
Grade 8 Class Trip
Grade 8 takes a specially planned class tip.
Field Day and Community Picnic
Usually held in late May or early June, this is an afternoon of athletic events for students in Grades 2-8. Parents often gather on the hill overlooking the lower field to watch the festivities. A community picnic may follow this event, weather permitting.
In this full school assembly which mirrors the one in September, each twelfth grader is given a red rose by a first grader, completing the circle of those beginning and those ending their formal Waldorf education. Parents of 1st and 12th graders are invited to this assembly, space permitting.
Grade 12 Graduation
Last Day of School (Half Day)
The last day of school is traditionally a half-day followed Grade 8 Commencement later in the afternoon.
- Welcome Back Tea (first week of school)
- Day of the Languages (February)
- Spring Gala (April)
- Field Day (May)
- End of the Year Family Picnic (May)
- Tea with the Faculty Chair (periodic)
- Rising First Grade Parent Coffee (May)
- Volunteer Appreciation Coffee (May)