June 2020

What a whirlwind of emotions we are all experiencing! From anger and indignation as expressed through protests and rallies across the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, to exhaustion and perplexity when facing the yawning summer months of children at home in a semi-quarantined (or full quarantined) state, to concern over what the 2020-21 school year might look like ( CT is starting to release guidelines), to love and pride at the work our students have achieved this year under such strained circumstances.

Earlier this month our whole school came together for a last day of school virtual assembly. As my 6th grader observed, "You couldn't have a more Waldorf-y event." There was singing, there was dancing, and there were very few dry eyes. This feeling of community and "Waldorfiness" continued as both our 8th grade and our kindergarten "sun children" graduated. To mark these milestones our teachers were able to come together to celebrate them in new and moving ways. Our 8th graders were joined by their former 8th grade buddies and their current 1st grade buddies, former and current teachers, family and friends for a video call that spanned the globe. Our graduating kindergarten families were each able to visit our Early Childhood play yard one-by-one for their child's celebration. These communal experiences filled us all with much needed warmth and human connection. We have been able to collect and share some slide shows and videos, which you can access below.

We are now very busy planning how the school year will work next year. We intend to keep our Early Childhood classrooms open under the childcare center guidelines from Connecticut's Office of Early Childhood, even should the grade school need to pivot to distance learning. And we are assessing our spaces and class sizes across the school to enable a return to campus with physical distancing. Based on initial guidance from the executive summary of Connecticut's school reopening plan, changes will include cohorting, increased cleaning, mask-wearing indoors by all adults and grade school children, health check-ins each morning, and restrictions on visitors on campus. Full guidance from the state should be released next week. We expect this guidance will change over time. Next year we will need to rely even more heavily on our flexibiliy, creativity, and a sense of community and mutual support. We can do this!

In gratitude,

Christina Dixcy
Communications Director and Office Manager
How To Be An Antiracist
As with schools across the nation, HVWS is grappling with how best to address racism in a way that fosters healthy, if at times uncomfortable, conversation and growth. This is a topic we have been working with--sometimes more successfully, sometimes less--for years in the faculty and staff and a problem on which we need to shine a brighter light. It is important that parents and teachers work together to support our children's understanding of racism in a manner that is age-appropriate and unafraid. We know this will sometimes make us uncomfortable and that is okay. In fact, it is necessary. We would like to invite all of you to join us in reading How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi this summer. (While this title is currently hard to find in bookstores, you could place an order through Byrd's Books in Bethel where it is also available as an ebook or audiobook.) As Mr. Kendi writes, "This book is ultimately about the basic struggle we're all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human."

Thank you for your support in this work.
Our Campus is Closed but Admissions is Open!
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Virtual Open House
  • July 10,
  • July 21,
  • August 11
All Tours Begin at 10 AM

Please join our Enrollment Director, Therese Lederer, for a virtual open house and tour.

First Day of School 2020-21
Welcome banner
Grade School
  • Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Early Childhood
  • Thursday, September 10, 2020
All events are subject to change.
Classroom Updates
Early Childhood
Annette Previtti and Sandy Proksa (Bluebell)
Marcella Kapsaroff and Liz Koors (Dandelion)
Carrie Reilly and Brigitte Cadigan (Rose)
Isabel Gandara and Aliz Mihok (Sunflower)

The Early Childhood teachers are so happy that summer is upon us and the children can be out in nature and explore all of its beauty! We have missed all of you so much but have enjoyed sharing puppet shows, stories, and songs with you each week. We have all learned a lot through this interesting time. We are grateful for the smiles we see from your children and the joy and love we hear in their voices, even if it has only been through the phone. They bring joy to their teachers no matter how far away they are! We appreciated seeing pictures of the crafts you made while at home and hearing of children that helped make soup or bread or yummy treats for their family. We are so proud of the Sun children who "Crossed the Bridge," taking all the love from their teachers and their friends into first grade. We wish them a journey full of imagination, friendship, and dedication. Best wishes over the summer!
Crossing the Bridge
Our teachers welcomed each Sun child and their families at an appointed time outside on our early childhood campus for this moving milestone. Thank you to Rose Class Assistant, Brigitte Cadigan, for assembling the slideshows below!
First Grade (Class of 2027)
Laura Wittmer

The 1st graders have come a long way since their first day of school last September. We have had fun learning together, playing together, and staying in touch with weekly show-and-tell sessions since we've been apart. I enjoyed hearing the students each read to me over our last week. It warmed my heart. I am so proud of all they've accomplished. We are ready for 2nd grade!
Second Grade (Class of 2026)
Emily Remensperger

I am so proud of how hard the 2nd graders worked from home during our distance learning blocks! To end the year the students each demonstrated for me their new and developing skills as readers, writers, and math solving wizzes! My favorite part of the distance learning was receiving so many beautifully written notes (some in cursive! Wow) and hand drawn cards from my students. Stubby and Floppy (our unofficial class mascots) also got LOADS of fan mail !!! I hope you all have a wonderful summer, and let’s keep writing to each other.
Love, -Ms R.
Third Grade (Class of 2025)
Chandrika Patalia

The 3rd grade students made the best of their shelter-in-place time by learning about Shelters and then applying their learning to create beautiful Shelter Projects.

Fourth Grade (Class of 2024)
Allison Washington

The 4th grade finished up their school year in a local geography block. As students became more familiar with our state of Connecticut, they worked on two projects. Along with learning about the topography and geography of our state, they created salt dough maps. Students made their own salt dough which they built up to show the relief of the Connecticut land. Once it became dry and hardened, they then painted the dough by geographical region and created a map key.  Additionally, students created Connecticut Travel Brochures where they highlight such things as our state history, interesting places to visit, state flag, wildlife... and more. As difficult as it was to be apart these past months, I am beyond impressed with what this group has accomplished and I hope they feel proud of themselves!
Fifth Grade (Class of 2023)
Leslie Lew

The Fifth Grade Pentathlon

All across North America during the month of May, Waldorf 5th graders gather from multiple schools for the annual Pentathlon. We owe gratitude to the “Spacial Dynamics Movement” for developing this rewarding tradition that gives schools a day of social interaction as well as a beautiful manifestation of the 5th grade curriculum, specifically Greek history.

Most Waldorf Pentathlons include: the long jump, the javelin throw, the discus throw, wrestling, and a relay race. The community of 5th graders are combined and sorted in to four city-states: Sparta, Corinth, Athens, and Delphi.

As with all aspects of the Waldorf curriculum, this event is designed to take advantage of the peak moment of a child’s development at this age. What is important is not how fast, how far, or how superior the results are athletically, but rather the athlete's form, comportment, and performance while achieving excellent results. There is a mood of reverence throughout the event.

This gathering of young people at the brink of the pinnacle of their childhood years, dressed in white for the day, ready to do their very best, with the gods and goddesses of Greece watching over them is a beautiful sight. The looks on these young faces of aspiration, hope, determination, inspiration, and beauty are not to be missed and their youthful grace is a wonder to behold. Their gladness in striving to stretch to achieve great things with such innocence is apparent in all the young “Greeks” and will melt your heart! It is a glorious celebration to witness.

Creating a space for this event presented a challenge and our HVWS Gym Teacher Laura Geilen was up to the task! She created a program for our class with daily practice and a beautiful event at home in which all the 5th graders participated. It truly brought me to tears. Thank you, Laura and Danielle O'Neil for supporting this wonderful event. Thank you, Maria Green and Laura, for putting the video together and thanks to the 5th grade families for supporting this at home!
Sixth and Seventh Grades (Classes of 2022 and 2021)
Laura Hayes

To wrap up the year, the 6th and 7th graders worked on insect projects. Each student chose one insect to research from the vast and diverse list of insects in the world. Some students were curious about the more common pest like the American cockroach or the Colorado potato beetle, others found the rarest of examples like the land lobster that only lives in the wild in one bush on an outcrop off the coast of Australia. Others were drawn to the beauty of the insect like the orchid mantis, 88-butterfly, or Atlas moth. We also had the dragonfly and lesser known damselfly represented. One student researched the bullet ant which is among the largest ants and inflicts the greatest pain any insect is known to administer.

During this long distance learning block, the students honed their research and writing skills, as well as produced beautiful artwork. This was a rewarding end of the year project, and I can't applaud the students enough for persevering through these different times.
Congratulations to Enya Yu, HVWS Class of 2022. Enya won the First Place for the American Protege International Music Talent Competition Spring 2020. She is scheduled to perform a solo at Carnegie Weill Recital Hall on December 19, 2020!
Eighth Grade (Class of 2020)
Marleen De Grande

We reached the end of of 12 (!) weeks of distance learning for the Class of 2020. These last weeks threw us into 20th century history with topics such as WWI, the Roaring Twenties, the Suffragettes, the Great Depression, the Spanish Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, the protest movement of the 1960's, Flower Power and the Hippies, the Vietnam War, and BLM.

We were graced with two guest speakers in our last weeks of school. Guy Beardsley spoke with us about his experience as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam war and David Hayes spoke to the whole middle school and their parents. David shared some of his experiences growing up as a black man in primarily white spaces. (Thank you to Mrs. Hayes for organizing that for us!)

And then it was on to preparing for the graduation of the Class of 2020. Congratulations and all the best of luck in high school to Áine, Alexis, Sophia and Jackson!
Videos from our Class of 2020 virtual graduation will be available online. View a video of the celebration (available soon), a slideshow of student work from 1st-8th grade, a slideshow of class memories, and an audio recording of our Middle School Recorder Ensemble, recorded for the festivities. This was our 14th graduation and our newest alumni are now part a community of 134 HVWS graduates!
8th Grade Project Presentations
If you have not already done so, take a moment to view the Class of 2020's 8th Grade Graduation Projects online! This year’s presentations include:

  • Áine Ancona, Digital Drawing
  • Jackson DellaCamera, Designing a Website on Architecture
  • Sophia Merkulov, Breaking Pit Bull Stereotypes
  • Alexis Steger, Interior Design
Congratulations Ms. De Grande, Áine, Alexis, Jackson, and Sophia!

Next year Áine will attend Staples High School in Westport, Alexis will attend Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, Jackson will attend Avon Old Farms School in Avon and Sophia will attend St. Joseph High School in Trumbull.
Traditional Dance
Patricia Campbell

Decolonizing and Appropriation

There are two areas of research and thoughtful contemplation that I’ve been working on. One is what is referred to as “decolonizing” the music room, meaning “challenging the established dominance of Western European and White American music, narratives, and practices by disrupting the minimization and erasure of racially and ethnically minoritized cultures and identities.” (From https://decolonizingthemusicroom.com.)

One genre of dances I lead are what are called “Singing Games” or “PlayParty Games” (dances done to song rather than instrumental music). I have been researching the background of the dances I often use. When I find one that has come out of oppression (e.g., minstrel shows) or is in some other way racist or derogatory towards (any) group of people, that one goes out of my repertoire unless there is a good reason to use it as a teaching tool under the right circumstances.

The other area I have been examining is appropriation. Michelle Heffner Hayes, a professor at the University of Kansas' Department of Theatre & Dance, describes cultural appropriation as, "taking the external trappings of cultural traditions and using them as decorations on your own history without developing mutually supporting relationships in the community that you're taking from." In an interview, she put it this way: “I have been entrusted by the gatekeepers of this tradition. I have been given a gift by my teachers, and I feel a responsibility to use it in a respectful or appropriate way. … It’s not that you can’t ever practice or eat food or wear symbols from another culture, but it’s about how respectfully you give credit and recognize continuing exclusion."

I attend an annual conference for dance and music teachers who work primarily in schools and communities and my colleagues and I have many discussions about these issues. We look towards understanding where the lines are drawn between celebrating another culture’s work--bringing it to the awareness of other people--and culturally appropriating another culture’s work. One of the things I realized is that I have to feel some level of ability that I am at least adequately representing the dance of another culture, even if I may not have it perfected. This is sometimes difficult. I have not spent time in all the cultures that the dances I lead are from, but as much as I can, I research them enough or have been presented with enough context by those from whom I’ve learned the dances, that I feel I can impart/share a bit of the feeling of the culture the dance is from.

Is it perfect? Far from it. But, in the words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Further Reading:

Customized virtual family dance sessions are available from Patricia Campbell over the summer. Email Patricia at countrydancecaller@gmail.com for more information.
Thank you to Rob Sawyer for his beautiful work refurbishing our school sign!

Huge thanks to Tom Cardillo, Zack Holly, Chris Kapsaroff and Dave Demment for all of their hard work transporting milled wood donated to HVWS by Zack Holly (and thank you, Zack, for the beautiful wood!)
We send our deepest sympathy to the Tsangaris family (Isaiah Tsangaris, Class of 2010) on the passing of Michael Tsangaris.
Alumni Updates
Congratulations to Lily Blyn (HVWS Class of 2017) for winning Shepaug Valley School's Rensselaer Medal Award this year. This award, from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, goes to an outstanding science and math student in the junior class, "to recognize superlative academic achievement...and to motivate students towards careers in science, engineering and technology." This merit scholarship, with a value of $30,000 per year, is guaranteed for four years (five years for the B.Arch. program or the Co-Terminal Program) for each Medalist who is accepted and enrolls at Rensselaer.
Alumni Panel Video
Alumni gathered in January 2019 to reflect on their experiences at the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School. This video of the event was filmed and edited by Henry James who graduated from 8th grade at HVWS in 2017.
Waldorf Alum Networking Platform
Calling all HVWS alums! A few of the opportunities that await you at Alums.WaldorfEducation.org:
  • be a part of a continental network and community
  • mentor younger alums in your field
  • seek out work or internships with a Waldorf alum
  • hire other Waldorf alums to work with you on a project or within a company or organization
  • attend a regional Waldorf alum event or party
  • find "long lost" friends and reconnect
  • meet new Waldorf alums in your area
  • follow the Waldorf alum news and be inspired by what your fellow Waldorf alums are doing in the world!
Seeking Submissions from Alumni!
HVWS alumni are amazing people doing amazing things!

Please consider a submission.

The Association of Waldorf Schools of North American (AWSNA) launched its Waldorf Alum Connect Spotlight campaign in 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 alum are doing out in the wide world.

Please consider nominating yourself or someone you know here!
Talking With Children About Race
It's hot outside but it will be fall before we know it! 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
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 | office@waldorfct.org| waldorfct.org