We begin our year together with a Rainbow Bridge Ceremony. We gather together as a community. The teachers welcome their students by inviting them to cross the rainbow bridge. Families walk up to the bridge together and watch their child cross, symbolically letting our children leave our care for a few hours to be nurtured by their teachers. At the end of the year at our Closing Ceremony, we do this in reverse, with our children leaving their teacher’s side and joining us on the other side of the bridge. It has been a sweet and lovely tradition in our community and a wonderful way to start and end the year.
On a Tuesday close to the Fall Equinox, the community gathers to celebrate with gratitude the harvest, and we strengthen ourselves and our inner lives for the long, dark nights as the days grow shorter and the year marches toward the Winter Solstice. A seasonal story is recited to the community by one of our teachers followed by songs. Afterwards the children can help press cider with an old-fashioned cider press, which we all get to enjoy drinking!
On or around Martinmas in November, we invite our community to gather after dark at a local forest with lanterns that can be carried while walking. We then walk through the trails of the forest while singing lovely songs like “Glimmer, Lantern Glimmer”, “My Lantern, My Lantern”, and “I Go Outside With My Lantern”.
Every year, around the Winter Solstice, we invite our community to walk through a spiral constructed of evergreen boughs to celebrate with light and love the darkest time of the year. During this moving ceremony, one of the teachers will tell a story to the community. Each family will then be invited to walk through the spiral with an unlit candle, in the dark and quiet, accompanied by the soft music of the lyre, to reach the center of the path where a lone candle burns. Each person/family lights the candle from the center light and looks for a golden star along the path upon which to leave the candle as they walk out of the spiral. In this way, the spiral becomes brighter and brighter as the spiral walk proceeds. Families leave silently so all can hold the twinkling of the lights amidst the darkness within themselves. In this way, when the outer world grows darkest, we are reminded that we each carry a light within ourselves that can sustain us and be shared with others until the outer light returns.
Prior to our Winter Break, our community gathers in the Fellowship Hall to enjoy a short presentation of songs and performances by each class followed by refreshments and social time.
Every February or March, on a Tuesday evening outside of Lilac class time, children have the opportunity to sing, dance, recite poetry, read original works, perform skits, juggle, etc. Children can also exhibit art work. The Talent Show is a fun and casual opportunity for our children to share what they enjoy doing outside of class.
At the Spring Equinox, we gather as a community in the Fellowship Hall to celebrate the anticipation of the renewal of the earth. During the festival, the children share songs and performances with the community, after which the teachers tell a story. There are four tables set up in the room representing different elements of nature. The children are then invited to visit each table with their families at which they will gather seeds to plant at home.
After several months memorizing their lines, and preparing sets and costumes, each class presents a play based on the curriculum they have been studying throughout the year. The children are always very excited about their plays and get deeply and joyously involved in the cooperative production of the plays with their classmates. The plays are performed during the day on a Tuesday and then the following Thursday in the evening.
Each year at the end of May, we gather on a Tuesday at a local park to celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of a new adventure – summer break! This picnic is a casual affair with no structured activities. Families bring a picnic lunch and any toys or activities they wish to enjoy.
To celebrate High Summer, the community gathers in late June at a local park. One of our teachers shares a solstice story, which is followed by a potluck dinner. We also have a simple craft table set up for the children and other nature activities.