Waldorf education

Pinwheels and Climate Action

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Friday, September 20, marked yet another day of activity and action for the school, coming just on the heels of the 100th anniversary of Waldorf education and the kick-off of Waldorf100. On this day our younger students took to the front of the campus for Pinwheels for Peace. The students paraded with class and subject teachers, carrying pinwheels that they made to honor the International Day of Peace, celebrated on September 21. The pinwheels, made of paper and tin, were constructed and decorated by the students with colorful art and messages of peace. Some teachers wove their construction into Geometry lessons and metalsmithing work. Several of the older students also carried signs in support of the Global Climate Strike, taking place simultaneously around the world. After a short circuit along Mass. Ave., singing as they walked, spinning out wishes for Peace, the students planted their pinwheels along the front of the school campus and the horseshoe where they will remain over the weekend. The procession was noted and appreciated by many motorists with horns honking and cheers rising from the passing traffic. The students and teachers were energized and encouraged by all of the well wishers on the road.

Meanwhile, the 7th and 8th grade classes attended Lex Climate Strike, seeing Democracy in action and peaceful protest first hand, which meshed well with their Civics lessons. The students joined a large crowd of local students and adults at Lexington High School as part of an International Climate Action that is gaining attention around the globe. Some of the students and faculty attendees carried hand-made signs to participate in the Climate Strike.

The Festival of Michaelmas

The festival of Michaelmas, which is rooted in harvest traditions from the Middle Ages, falls just after the autumnal equinox, as northern climates head into the dark, cold winter months. Michael is an archangel in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, but the festival can be observed by people of all faiths and spiritual traditions, as well as by those simply seeking fortitude in overcoming challenges large and small. 

 
Under a cloud-lit sky, a WSL 7th grader triumphs, having subdued the dragon of darkness with her sword of light.

Under a cloud-lit sky, a WSL 7th grader triumphs, having subdued the dragon of darkness with her sword of light.

 

During the festival, joy and exuberance can be seen on the children’s faces, which is a hallmark of Waldorf education. Throughout the school year, teachers incorporate many special events, such as Michaelmas, that reach children in mind, body, and spirit. The result is engagement in the curriculum, an intrinsic enjoyment of school and learning, and a spirited school community with friendships across the grades.

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The festival begins on the school’s athletic field with an all-school pageant. Each class performs a portion of a play, where St. Michael confronts the dragon. The play ends with the symbolic slaying of the dragon, which calls on us to overcome the dragons of our age—egotism, untruth, fear, and hatred.

The image of Michael battling dark forces with his sword of light gives children courage and helps them have faith in their own resolve for difficult tasks ahead. Not by coincidence, this festival often falls close to the Jewish High Holidays and the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan, both occasions for self-purification.

After the pageant, children process to a larger field in Lexington for a dragon-themed game, carrying festive colored banners and singing songs of St. Michael.

The Waldorf School of Lexington’s campus abuts the Minuteman Rail Trail, connecting the school to Arlington’s Great Meadows as well as green space in our home town of Lexington.

The Waldorf School of Lexington’s campus abuts the Minuteman Rail Trail, connecting the school to Arlington’s Great Meadows as well as green space in our home town of Lexington.

During the games, each class in grades 1 to 6 represents a village that has had its jewels stolen by dragons, played by 8th graders. Villagers must dash across the field to reclaim their jewels while avoiding the dragons. They are aided in their journey by angels (also 8th graders) and protective trees (7th graders).

 
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Thank you to all the parents and teachers who sewed and felted such amazing Michaelmas banners, and to the creative efforts of many hands in recreating the dragon body this year! It was another wonderful festival.

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