November 2020
News, Notes & Updates

As thrilled as we are to still be on campus with our students, we have missed inviting all of our parents onto campus to join us for festivals and performances this year. Here and there, as possible, we are making an effort to include parents, by class, for specific outdoor events and we thank everyone for adhering to our COVID-19 protocols. Meanwhile, our teachers are working to incorporate new approaches to these events. As one example, our Seventh and Eighth Grade students are about to begin work producing a (seasonal) radio play instead of a stage play. We can't wait to hear the results and share them with you.

Schools around us are finding it necessary to switch to remote instruction as their staffing is impacted by quarantine restrictions. We dearly hope it will be a while yet until we find ourselves faced with such a situation. But if we have trust in anything, it is in the dedication and creativity of our teachers. They will continue to pour their hearts into their teaching, come what may!

We are entering a holiday season during which many of us are also working to find new ways to celebrate at home, just as we are looking for new ways to celebrate at school. This can feel unsettling and sometimes lonesome. But remember, we are all in this together.

Sending you wishes for health, stability, and many Thanksgiving pies,

Christina Dixcy
Communications Director and Office Manager
View our COVID-19 Community Health & Campus Operations Plan on the Current Parents page of our website.
We will have a half day on Wednesday, November 25, leading into Thanksgiving break.
We will have a half day on Friday, December 18, leading into our Holiday Break. We return to campus on Monday, January 4.
2020-21 Annual Fund
In a year unlike any other, please help us reach our 30K goal! The Annual Fund helps us keep our commitment to our community by allowing us to provide a rich Waldorf Curriculum supported by talented and experienced teachers. It allows us to strive to keep tuition affordable with the goal of providing this education to as many children as possible.

Please give to the extent to which you are able. Whether you can give a lot or a little, please show your commitment. Every family, every teacher, every Board member, every friend participating really DOES make a difference.
Happy Thanksgiving!
For a number of years at our annual Thanksgiving Assembly, Music teacher Danielle O'Neil has shared a bit of her heritage with us through the following Thanksgiving Address. We didn't have an assembly this year but would still like to share the Thanksgiving Address with you. Happy Thanksgiving!

"The Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen (words before all else) is the central prayer and invocation for the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Iroquois Confederacy or Six Nations--Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora). It reflects their relationship of giving thanks for life and the world around them. The Haudenosaunee open and close every social and religious meeting with the Thanksgiving Address. It is also said as a daily sunrise prayer, and is an ancient message of peace and appreciation of Mother Earth and her inhabitants. The children learn that, according to Native American tradition, people everywhere are embraced as family. Our diversity, like all wonders of Nature, is truly a gift for which we are thankful."

The version of the Thanksgiving Address presented by Ms. O'Neil was sent by the Mohawk Nation and the Haudenosaunee Grand Council via Chief Jake Swamp to the Fourth Russell Tribunal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, November, 1980. It includes the following refrain:

Etho niyohtonhak ne onkwa'nikònra.
("Now our minds are one" or "So let our minds continue to be")

Thanksgiving Address
Greetings to the Natural World

The People
Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Story of Grandmother Spider
Storyteller Grandfather Sings-Alone shares The Story of Grandmother Spider. Grandfather Sings-Alone writes: "This story comes from the Southwest where Hopi, Navaho, and some smaller tribes live. I tell native stories that speak to me from all the tribes. I am an enrolled Cherokee (Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee)."

Find children’s books by Indigenous authors:
For teens:

Whose land are you on? is a website run by the nonprofit organization Native Land Digital. We strive to map Indigenous lands in a way that changes, challenges, and improves the way people see the history of their countries and peoples. We hope to strengthen the spiritual bonds that people have with the land, its people, and its meaning. We strive to map Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages across the world in a way that goes beyond colonial ways of thinking in order to better represent how Indigenous people want to see themselves. We provide educational resources to correct the way that people speak about colonialism and indigeneity, and to encourage territory awareness in everyday speech and action.
StoryCorps, The Great Thanksgiving Listen
This Thanksgiving, consider joining tens of thousands of people across the country in an annual StoryCorps tradition, The Great Thanksgiving Listen. The concept is simple: honor a grandparent, a parent, or another elder you admire with an interview over the Thanksgiving weekend. Together, we can create connections at a fraught moment for so many of us.

What are you grateful for?
Classroom Updates
Dandelion Kindergarten
Marcella Kapsaroff and Liz Koors

The Dandelions begin every day outdoors in their sweet garden surrounded by a picket fence and each tree, stone, leaf, plant, and animal are special to the children. The children especially love our Autumn circle because we go on a walk in our play yard and visit all of the little animals that are scurrying about getting ready for winter. We visit with mother squirrel, little chipmunk, and slowly moving snail. As we enter late Autumn the children tiptoe on their walk because they don't want to wake the little woodland animals who are now safely snug in their leafy nests with plenty of nuts stored away and are fast asleep under the logs, leaf litter, and stones in our garden.
The children are now imagining the gnomes who are busy gathering all of the woodland seeds and bringing them to Mother Earth who will keep the seeds warm under layers of leaf litter so that Jack Frost will do them no harm. On our lantern walk Tuesday evening, the children held the image of the gnomes tripping and trapping through the forest with their bright little lanterns, singing their lantern songs on their way to Mother Earth, and they were mesmerized as they approached dear Mother Earth who gave them a small gift of a bulb to be planted in their gardens at home.
The children have enjoyed this beautiful image during our in-class puppet show, Spindlewood, where a young girl follows her dear friends the fairies and gnomes down to Mother Earth's grotto where she is given a special gift of seeds to plant in her garden. Mother Earth reminds the little girl that she will know her fairy friends are returning to be her playmates when the little seeds sprout in the spring.
Rose Kindergarten
Carrie Reilly and Sandy Proksa

"Tall trees are in the forest and pumpkins are on the ground..." the Rose children stretched themselves up high and then rolled quickly to the ground. This fast, quick, silly movement evoked quite the belly laugh among the children, always a great sound to hear!

The Rose children have become quite a cohesive group. They collaborate in their play and share their ideas with each other and all get involved. The Rose children have eagle eyes when it comes to finding the most sparkling of crystals, the brightest of fallen leaves, and the most magical of pine cones. They love to lay their treasures on the nature table and thank Mother Earth for all of her gifts. The Rose children decorated our nature table most recently with their vibrant painted lanterns. They worked diligently on making designs of autumn leaves and heavenly stars. The lanterns shone golden light on our enchanted path, which they walked along happily singing, "I go with my little lantern, my lantern goes with me..."
Sunflower Kindergarten
Isabel Gandara and Aliz Mihok

In preparation for our Martinmas celebration, the Sunflower children were very involved in the making of their beautiful colorful lanterns. At circle time they walked with their lanterns while singing many of the beautiful lantern songs. The children were very excited about the lantern walk. On the day of the celebration they all enjoyed it so much.
Our circle also included a story about a squirrel that had so much to do, collecting acorns and nuts for winter time. She looked for them on the ground while she scratched between the leaves. And then when she found them, she hid them in a hole in the ground: "Diggety, diggety, dig, in goes the nut, shuttedy, shuttedy, shut." Then the wind began to blow: "It blows me in, and blows me out; it blows above and below, it blows in my left and my right." When it became dark and cold we looked for the sun to help us light our lanterns.
First Grade (Class of 2028)
Jennifer Chapman

The First Grade is busy helping their friend, Stubby the Squirrel, find and count his walnuts to make his delicious walnut chocolate pie and walnut tea along with walnut syrup for Queen Equals. We have learned about ancient numbers (Roman numerals), Arabic numbers, and the quality of numbers through a variety of fairytales. We are still spending our circle time outside and having lots of fun with all sorts of movement activities. We made lovely cornucopias out of beeswax this week!
Second Grade (Class of 2027)
Laura Wittmer

The Second Graders have been enjoying stories from Africa, including King Lion's Gifts (Khoi) in which the king of beasts hands out horns, clothes, ears, and other attributes to his party guests, The Snake Chief (Zululand) where a mother promises her daughter to a snake only to find that he is an enchanted chief, and Natiki, a Cinderella story from Namaqualand. We made beautiful lanterns for Martinmas and did a fantastic job performing the St. Martin play for the lower grades and for our parents.

Pictured: lantern watercolor paintings, beeswax lanterns, finished Martinmas lanterns.
Third Grade (Class of 2026)
Emily Remensperger

The Third Graders are busy working on developing their skills as writers. We are learning how to edit and revise our paragraphs, summaries, and stories so that they are clear, lively, and grammatically correct!

Becoming capable of expressing yourself through written language is a very exciting milestone in the lower grades' work with literacy, and the Third Graders are eager to do their best, and share their work with one another.
Fourth Grade (Class of 2025)
Janelle Beardsley

Fourth Grade has been studying local geography and our journey led us to consider Codfish Hill and how steep it is! We also looked at maps of our area: satellite, topographical, political and we drew some of our own maps.

Since Fourth Grade was in charge of Martinmas this year, we drew maps of our grades' campus and charted the route we would take for the Lantern Walk. We lit 65 lanterns in all along our walking route for grades 1-4.

We also learned about the enormous glacier that covered Connecticut up to Long Island Sound until about 10,000 years ago. We've studied about the Native Americans, including the Pootatuck, who lived in Newtown for thousands of years. Just in time for Thanksgiving we are planning to talk to our families about how we came to live in our own houses. The founder of HVWS, Ms. Melissa Merkling, told us the story of how our school started out as Star Meadow and how it steadily moved to new rented locations southward from New Milford in 1989, to Bridgewater, to Brookfield and finally Newtown in the year 2000. We realized how important the Housatonic River is to our area and our name! Beautiful Compass Roses now grace our class bulletin board.
Fifth Grade (Class of 2024)
Allison Washington

The Fifth Grade would like to offer their sincere gratitude to Mrs. Patalia for enriching our Ancient India block! Students have thoroughly enjoyed hearing India’s epic stories, map drawing, and designing mandalas in celebration of Diwali. It was wonderful to have Mrs. Patalia share her culture and personal understanding with the Fifth Grade. It has been a memorable experience for all!
Sixth Grade (Class of 2023)
Leslie Lew

The gaze of the Sixth Graders is turned towards the heavens as we study the movement of the sun, moon, and stars in our Astronomy Block. We have learned about some of the constellations and drawn these on blue paper to reflect a night sky. We are following and charting the phases of the moon for the month of November and have learned about the movement of Saturn and Jupiter, which are headed for what is called the Great Conjunction of 2020. On the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer together in the night sky than they have since July 16, 1623. Mark your calendars!
Seventh Grade (Class of 2022)
Eighth Grade (Class of 2021)
Laura Hayes

The Seventh and Eighth Grade are currently in a math block. Alongside negative numbers, ratios, and the order of operations we are also studying civics. During the weeks leading up to the election we learned how voting in the United States works, what the electoral college is, and what a transition of power usually looks like. Due to the pandemic the Seventh and Eighth Grade won't perform our traditional Nativity Play but instead will present a radio play! Last Thursday, the students were excited to find out which role(s) they were going to perform in our audio production of A Christmas Carol. Stay tuned for more announcements.
Music Class
Ms. O'Neil taught our Seventh Graders a hopscotch game, which she first saw online demonstrated by a group of girls from Brazil doing the same pattern. It was called Amarelinha Africana which means "African Hopscotch." Here the Seventh Graders graders are doing the pattern to the song T'Smidje which is in Flemish. Ms. O'Neil chose this song about a blacksmith because of the rhythm. She reports that this hopscotch dance is being done EVERYWHERE with many different patterns and grids. It works with many different types of songs, and kids can be creative by making up new jumping patterns and chalk designs!
Transgender Awareness Week (Nov. 13-19)
In honor of “Transgender Awareness Week” the First, Second, and Third Graders read two books about gender expression from our new diversity library. Both of these books were purchased last year with funds from our NoVo grant, and both titles serve as wonderful tools for exploring ideas about gender variance, expression, identity, and acceptance of ourselves and one another.

The children were enthralled by the beautiful artwork in Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love and were interested in the simple language and ideas about gender contained in the wonderfully age-appropriate Who Are You? by Brook Pressin-Whedbee.

We are excited to share many more stories of equity and inclusion throughout the year as we celebrate bringing more diverse representation to children of all ages.
Halloween Dance
This year Ms. Campbell and Ms. Hendrickson braved a very windy, chilly day and with the page-turning support of Ms. O'Neil and shelter from the Pavilion, led our grade school in an outdoor Halloween Dance. In the video above, our First Graders enjoy an impromptu dance with their Seventh and Eighth Grade buddies.
Seventh and Eighth Graders, as the three witches, performed a scene from Hamlet. Thank you once again to HVWS alumni parents Sarah Pfisterer and Rick Hilsabeck of WireMill Academy for their donation of beautiful costumes!
Thank you to the Fourth Grade for organizing an on-campus afternoon Martinmas Lantern Walk for grades 1-4. The Second Graders were able to give a repeat performance of the Martinmas play for their parents after school. On our Early Childhood campus our teachers were able to host evening lantern walks separated by class.
The Fourth Grade performs a Martinmas song on flute.
Special Mentions
Thank you to Inaeh and Eric Johnson for a lovely donation of All of Us skin tone crayons for our students. "When a child honors their own skin color, and the skin colors around them, they develop confidence and empathy for the world." -Sabine, founder of All of Us crayons

Thank you to HVWS parents Laura and Dave of Riverbank Farm ( for more delicious greens! The HVWS faculty and staff have enjoyed them and we are so grateful.

Thank you Julie and Whitney of Farmers and Cooks ( for the sweet Día de los Muertos rolls for the Sixth Grade celebration. They were delicious! Thank you, Maestra Marcela, for hosting this beautiful festival with the Sixth Grade.

Thank you to everyone who donated items to the Fourth Grade's Martinmas coat drive. We collected a big bundle of warm, beautiful coats, sweaters, hats, scarves, and gloves that HVWS parent Natasha de Castro brought to Danbury to the Rogers Park Middle School where her husband, Bernardo, is a teacher. They realized that during this pandemic, many families at his school have participated in the free lunch program run by the school, and many of these families will probably benefit from some warm winter clothing. The principal of the school, Ms. Zaleta, and Natasha set up tables to offer these donations to those coming to pick up their food. Natasha extends her gratitude to everyone who gave something which can now be given in the loving spirit of St Martin. This is a difficult moment in all our lives, and these gestures of kindness shine all the brighter in this darkness. Thank you, thank you for bringing light to families nearby in Danbury.
Waldorf Alum Networking Platform
Last year AWSNA member schools joined together to support the launch of Waldorf Alum Connect, a North American Waldorf Alumni Networking Platform. Today, there are approximately 1,300 registered Waldorf alums on the site. The intention of this platform is to support our alums to find employment, internships, mentoring, and work opportunities. We wish for our alums to thrive in today’s world, and what better way to support them in doing so than through a network of like-minded individuals.

To further this mission, AWSNA is now extending the invitation to alumni parents to join this networking platform with the hopes that you as an alum parent community can be of service in offering employment and internship opportunities, volunteer positions, and mentoring to young Waldorf alums.

This site is much like LinkedIn in that you create a profile and share as much information as you wish to. Other users are not able to view your contact information, but are only able to connect with you through the site via email to your inbox. Neither we nor AWSNA are sharing your information in any way, nor will we, AWSNA, or any member schools be reaching out to you or your alum/s for development or fundraising purposes through the platform. The intent and purpose of this site is truly to further support our alums to shine and thrive in the world beyond our community. To that end, we invite you, as a parent, to use this platform solely for the purpose of supporting Waldorf alums as a mentor, employer, or internship provider.

We warmly invite you to create a profile on Waldorf Alum Connect today. You can do so by simply clicking here. It is easy to join and fun to explore.
Seeking Submissions from Alumni!
HVWS alumni are amazing people doing amazing things!

Please consider a submission.

The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) launched its Waldorf Alum Connect Spotlight campaign last January and is seeking published news about alums. The aim of this campaign is to spread the word about the amazing work that our Waldorf alums are undertaking as scientists, artists, teachers, engineers, musicians, advisors, entrepreneurs and more.

We are seeking published news articles, personal websites and published research about what our alums are doing out in the wide world.

Please consider nominating yourself or someone you know here!
Bookmarks & Resources
Gear up for Winter
Order your HVWS fleece jacket!
Orders may be shipped to your home.

Sizing guidelines for youth sizes:
YS  6-8
YM 10-12
YL  14-16
YXL 18-20
Danish Woolen Delight
Danish Woolen Delight (, a business that offers children’s and adults’ items made from biodynamic (DEMETER) wool, is extending a 35% discount to Waldorf schools this year, in order to help more parents get more children into woolen layers for more time outside.

This year we are not placing an order through the school – this is not a fundraiser – rather Danish Woolen Delight is offering a discount code to be used on their website. The code HOUSTCVWS20 will give 35% off full-priced items (not including sale, factory outlet or combo sets, which are already discounted) and is valid through 12/31/2020.

We can't stress enough what a difference wool underlayers make in a child's enjoyment of time spent outside in the colder months!!!
With winter approaching, Reima ( is offering a discount to many Waldorf and forest schools across the country and they are extending a 30% discount to our community through the Spring.

Enter the code HOUSATONIC30 at checkout to receive the discount.

"Reima is a world-leading kids’ activewear brand from Finland. With over 75 years of experience, we know it’s the small details that make the biggest difference. That’s why our award-winning products are safe, innovative and sustainable - and stand the test of time. We make clothes that are designed specifically for kids, not just miniature versions of adults. With our gear kids can explore outdoors for hours and stay dry, warm and comfortable whatever the weather."
To provide a lasting education that cultivates resilient and creative human beings who are capable of free thinking, confident action, and deep connections with others and the world.
Housatonic Valley Waldorf School | 203-364-1113 ||