Held each year within the first few week of September, the Back to School Picnic provides an opportunity to meet and welcome new parents, old friends and faculty, staff and Board members.
The Rose Ceremony
On the first day of school each year, we welcome the incoming first grade class with a Rose Ceremony. The whole school joins together as the kindergarten teachers lead the students onto the campus to greet their new Grade 1 teacher, and to receive a rose from the incoming eighth graders. On the last day of school, the eighth grade class tours through the school, giving roses to the teachers and the administration who have helped them along their journey, closing the circle.
Festival of Courage – Michaelmas
Like many Waldorf schools around the world, the Tucson Waldorf School celebrates the Festival of Courage, Michaelmas, on September 29. Michaelmas is the festival of courage, of girding oneself for the journey into Winter’s darkness. Grade school students open the day with a pageant, performed for the whole community, based loosely on the story of St. George and the dragon. For the big finale, they all join in a joyous field day where they participate, in teams and as individuals, in a series of challenging athletic events. The Festival celebrates human will, inner strength, courage and initiative.
The Harvest Festival is an event that is beloved by children of all ages – grown-ups too! Live music, homemade breads and soups, a warm fire, dancing and handmade costumes are regular features of this event. The highlights of the evening are the two adventure paths: The Protected Path for the young ones, and the Quest Path for children second grade and older. Teachers and parents collaborate to transform areas of the school into worlds of wonder inspired by fairy tales and popular literature.
Festival of Light – Martinmas Lantern Walk
Each November we celebrate the Martinmas, the festival of inner light in the outer darkness of the approaching winter. Celebrating Martinmas serves as a reminder that each of us has a divine spark to carry out into the world and share with others. St Martin was a soldier in Rome in the 4th century. Legend says that one wintry night, he met a poor beggar, half-naked and freezing. Martin removed the heavy military cloak from his shoulders and, drawing his sword, cut it in two, and gave half to the beggar. In a dream, it was revealed that the beggar was in reality the representative of all humanity, calling for Martin to walk a path of service.
The children hear the story of St. Martin, sing songs, and as night falls, carry their handmade lanterns into the gathering night, illuminating the darkness. This festival is celebrated together by the Early Childhood and early Grades classes. As part of the celebration of Martinmas, the TWS community organizes a charitable collection of winter clothing and blankets for local shelters each year.
This is a festival that Early Childhood and Grades students share at the beginning of December, the Advent season. For Early Childhood students, the Advent Spiral is one of the most beautiful and memorable festivals of the season. In a darkened room, a spiral made of evergreen boughs and crystals is illuminated by a single candle in its center. One by one, each child brings an unlit candle into the spiral path, lights it from the central flame, and on walking out places it among the crystals to brighten the way for all who follow. It is a powerful, meditative act.
Advent is celebrated in the Grades through assemblies each week leading up to the winter break. The students gather on each campus every Monday during the Advent season to sing songs, bring offerings for our Advent Table, and hear a story told by one of the teachers related to the theme of the week. From the realm of the minerals in the first week, we turn to the plants, then animals, and finally arrive at the human being in our last assembly before the break. We celebrate the inner light that is found in all the beings of the Earth, and recognize the gifts each of them contributes to the whole.
Fresh! Spring Fundraiser – Silent Auction
Each spring the Tucson Waldorf School holds its most significant fundraiser of the year, Fresh!, to support the Waldorf Fund (supporting your teacher’s salary). The Silent Auction is an adult-only dinner event celebrating community and Waldorf education.
In ancient traditions, the festival of May Day marks what is considered the first day of summer in Celtic lands, and also is connected to Flora, the Roman goddess of spring. A Maypole is another wonderful tradition and is a representation of the tree of life. Typically, there is a large Maypole with flowers on the top and ribbons hanging from it to weave in and out with skipping songs and dances. We all join hands and hearts around the Maypole to rejoice in all of life’s awakenings while we embrace the oncoming warmth and shimmering brilliance of summer! The children make crowns with flowers and finger knitting. Families come, lay blankets down and join others to share picnics.