Life at Journey School is greatly enhanced by a host of festivals and celebrations, held throughout the year to mark the passage of seasons and holidays, developmental milestones, and other significant moments. A sampling of events open to the whole community includes:
Welcome Assembly and Rose Ceremony
Each school year at Journey begins with our cherished Welcome Assembly and Rose Ceremony. Following the traditional “bell-ringing”, the entire school community gathers on the front lawn. The faculty shares a musical offering to the community and each teacher paints an impressionable picture of the year to come. It is the role of the new eighth graders to then present roses to the budding first graders as they begin their journey through the grades. The first graders stand in front of the school community with reverence and joy. One by one each eighth grader presents a rose to their new first grade “buddy” and then stands supportively behind him or her. Likewise, the eighth grade teacher offers a rose to the first grade teacher. To conclude, parents form two symbolic lines of “trust” which the students and faculty pass through on their way to the classrooms. This ceremony is celebrated in many Waldorf schools as a marker of an important rite of passage for the students. Entering the grades is something many of the kindergarteners have thought a lot about and looked forward to. It marks a key developmental milestone as the individuality and capability of each child emerges and grows. Roses are symbolic of this passage since they are a universal sign of love, beauty, and blossoming.
Reverse Rose Ceremony
At the end of this school year, the Reverse Rose Ceremony takes place. The first graders, who’ve grown in height and confidence, offer roses to their eighth grade buddies marking another significant transition, and in a gesture of gratitude. The eighth graders graduate from one community formed by friends and teachers, to another community the students choose and foster on their own. During this ceremony of appreciation, each class also presents the 8th graders with a musical or artistic gift. It is customary for the faculty to do the same. To conclude the day, all staff members “line up” to shake hands with each in order to bring proper closure. The Journey School Reverse Ceremony first emerged in 2008 when lead teacher, Michelle Bennett, organized the event to honor Journey School’s first 8th grade class. The ceremony now has a life-force of its own and we encourage everyone to attend.
Journey School’s Harvest Faire celebrates the bounty of the land, connects the children and community to the rhythms of nature, and fosters a sense of gratitude in the students. The festival also happens to be a whole lot of fun! In the days leading up to the event, the schoolyard is completely transformed into an old fashioned farmyard, decorated with wheat, flowers, straw bales, vintage signs, and much more. Parents, community members, and staff prepare delicious and healthy foods shared by all. Each class is responsible for hosting a particular activities booth, as parents and students rotate working in them surrounded by crafts, activities, and music.
On Lantern Walk night, students in the lower grades bring carefully decorated lanterns created as symbols for their own individual light. They gather with parents and teachers to share a meal and story about service to others. Next, they walk together throughout campus singing and carrying light. The experience helps children recognize “the light” of one another, and gives them an experience of caring and sharing with each other.
The annual Fairy Market, held in early December, is one of the highlights of the year. The magical transformation of a classroom into a white, winter, wonderland of creative crafts and objects d’art, mixed with the magical fairy parent-helpers makes this an amazing event for all. Families participate by making and donating crafts and by dressing up as fairy helpers so that the children may shop for holiday gifts for their families. Children experience the happiness that comes from giving an authentic gift made by the hands.
As the sun retreats and winter days grow colder, we come together for the special Winter Spiral Walk. We begin in a darkened room, just as nature is undergoing the darkest time of year. Each child walks a lush green path to light a candle in the center of a spiral. The child’s path toward the light represents a balance between the darkness we all feel during the depths of winter, and the preparation and expectancy of the return of the light in springtime. As the candles are lit, the room glows with light reflected on the children’s faces. The Winter Spiral Walk is also symbolic of the triumphant human spirit that shines in all of us.
Santa Lucia Day
A Scandinavian festival of lights that celebrates the life of Lucia, an Italian woman known for her kindness and love, is shared by the 2nd grade students each year. All 2nd graders wear assembly dress the day of the procession with the oldest girl in each 2nd grade wearing a crown of greens and candles. The 2nd grade students visit each class from the kindergarten to 8th grade in the morning, singing the traditional Lucia song and delivering sweet rolls. Seeing the procession of Lucia is a lovely, memorable sight for the students. The 2nd grade especially enjoys this special experience, as they share the tradition of Santa Lucia Day, having heard her story as part of their curriculum.
The Winter Concert brings the school community together to celebrate the joy of music and to showcase our hard-working and talented students. Dressed in holiday finery, students perform songs, instrumental pieces, and other performances. This event is always a favorite as families gather to celebrate the season together and enjoy the extraordinary talents of our students.
This event is always packed as the school community gathers together to explore the arts and wondrous talents of our young people. Without fail, Journey School students demonstrate tremendous appreciation and respect for their courageous peers.
Each year, sixth graders from regional Waldorf schools gather to complete their study of the Medieval period in style – with a Medieval style feast and tournament! The annual Medieval Games are a much anticipated event in the Waldorf world, and for the past three years, Journey School has been lucky enough to host the Games. Upon arrival, the students split up into “shires,” allowing students from different schools to meet and interact. Students feast with their shire and enjoy stories and other activities. Tournament style challenges offered at the games include archery, javelin, tug-o-war, and much more! The shires show a great deal of team spirit and support for one another.
Throughout the fifth-grade year there is a strong focus on the honor, beauty, and grace of athletics and physical movement. In the classroom, learning is closely connected to ancient Greece. To bring history alive, students participate in a regional Greek Pentathlon which brings hundreds of Waldorf students together to compete in javelin, discus, long-jump, wrestling and running.
Track and Field
During the 7th and 8th grade years additional team sports activities are introduced, while attention is given to perfecting technique and learning through practice. At the end of each year students participate in regional track and field events. Emphasis is on sportsmanship as students develop an inner-respect for rules, guidelines, and discipline.
With the New Year comes a gradual transition of winter to spring. The garden is blooming and ushers in one of our happiest and biggest community events of the year, May Faire. This festive event takes place around the first weekend in May at our central gathering space on the front lawn. The school is decorated with lush greenery and fresh flowers. There is an abundance of food, music, and entertainment—including the highly intriguing selection of the May Faire King and Queen. The main event is the graceful maypole dancing with each grade presenting traditional and culturally historic dances they have learned about through their studies. The day proceeds with fresh food and games in a cheerful atmosphere.
Rainbow Bridge Ceremony
The Kindergarten promotion ceremony is a touching milestone in a young child’s life. As each child bids farewell to their Kindergarten teacher and ‘crosses’ the rainbow bridge to their new 1st grade teacher, they leave the protected shelter of the Kindergarten to enter the academic grades with anticipation, ready to be more focused and grounded in their learning. The ceremony begins in the Kindergarten yard and culminates in the 1st grade classroom where the “Sun” children’s new teacher orients them to the first-grade classroom and customs. During the ceremony, special effort is made to build anticipation in the “Star” children who will return to Kindergarten for another year of rhythm, togetherness, and imaginative learning.
Class Plays and Concerts
Waldorf students are talented and confident performers, as is evident in the class plays and concerts performed by classes throughout the year. From a young age, they participate in a variety of class plays and concerts, giving them poise, grace and confidence. Class plays reflect the curriculum, from simple puppet shows in Kindergarten to full-length plays as part of the culmination of eighth grade.