November 2021
News, Notes & Updates

It has been quite a busy year so far, our second fully in-person school year during a pandemic! This year our faculty and staff continue our ongoing DEIJ work, dedicating a portion of our full faculty meetings to discussing the Seeing White podcast, increasing the representation in our library books through new purchases, and collaborating with Alma Partners, who are provide training and support in reexamining our curriculum, policies, and procedures with an eye toward racial justice and equity. This work has been strengthened by offerings from CAIS (the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools) and AWSNA (the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America). One of the unexpected up-sides to working at a school during a pandemic has been the collegiality that has blossomed, through virtual means, across schools. I am deeply grateful to both CAIS and AWSNA for the resources they continue to provide to educators working to advance DEIJ goals.

The health and safety restrictions currently in place in Connecticut prioritize making decisions that allow for as "normal" an in-person school year as possible. We are still limiting the number of parents on campus at any given time, and miss our large community gatherings, but day-to-day life in the classroom feels pretty much like a normal school year (with even more time outside!). In addition to days filled with rhythm, routine, meaningful work, and play (early childhood) and main lesson blocks and specialty classes (grade school), our students have celebrated many festivals already, including Michaelmas, Diwali, Martinmas (our early childhood celebration is this Friday), Day of the Dead, and Halloween. The Fifth Grade presented their class play, The Mahabharata, outside last month (as always, there are some serious thespians in this class!) and our grade school students are greatly enjoying all of our new playground equipment. We look forward to honoring our beloved and dearly missed Nigel Harrison at a playground dedication ceremony for students and teachers next week. In addition to being a committed trustee, teacher, husband (to Marleen De Grande), and colleague, Nigel was a generous benefactor to HVWS and made our recent playground upgrades possible.


Christina Dixcy
Communications Director and Office Manager, COVID Coordinator

Pictured below: Fourth and Fifth Grade autumn tree watercolors.
Thanksgiving Address
For a number of years at our Thanksgiving assemblies, Music Teacher (and now, First Grade Assistant Teacher) Danielle O’Neil has shared a bit of her heritage with us through the following Thanksgiving Address. Ms. O'Neil writes, "My Great-Great-Grandmother was Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Turtle Clan Mohawk. Because the Haudenosaunee are a matrilineal society, you are considered Mohawk if your mother is Mohawk and our lineage is all on the maternal side. The Mohawk word for the Mohawk people is Kanien’kehá:ka."

Our Thanksgiving assembly remains on pause, but we 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.
We're Hiring!
We are currently interviewing for both teaching and administrative positions. Visit our website for current postings.
We will have a half-day on November 24 and will be closed November 25 and 26 for Thanksgiving break. There will be no afternoon bus service and no afternoon extended care on November 24.
Playground Dedication
Tuesday, November 23, 2 PM

Faculty and staff, grade school students, and special guests are invited to meet at the grade school play yard to share time together to recognize the generosity and gracious gift of our fantastic new playground equipment and honor our beloved Nigel Harrison.
Winter Spiral
Early Childhood, Thursday, December 2
Grades 1-8, Friday, December 3

The spiral path is made from pine boughs, crystals and shells. Walking on the path through the spiral represents the child walking through life on earth. The apple represents the nourishment that the earth gives us. The light of the candles suggest that people should be clear and bright of thought and warm of heart.
Thank you to Tom Giudice for kitchen help for the recent Middle School luncheon!

Thank you to HVWS Trustees Chip Parrish, Naveen Terway, and Sunshine Lucas for volunteering in the office.

Thank you to Carol Reznikoff and Jodi Knuff for sewing costumes for the Nativity Play. And thank you to Jodi Knuff for devoting many hours to reorganizing, refurbishing and rejuvenating our costume closet! The grades teachers are eternally grateful to you.

The Sunflower and Rose children and teachers are very grateful to Chris and Marcella Kapsaroff who donated these beautiful tables to our classes. The classrooms look so beautiful with these new tables (pictured).

Thank you to the 4th Grade parents who helped the students clear the woodland path for Martinmas (pictured).
We send love, light, and condolences to Sandy Proksa, Alison Hobbs, Janelle Beardsley, Laura Hayes, and their families on the recent passing of their beloved fathers, and to Dunja Morrow on the loss of her dear husband.
Classroom Updates
Morning Glories
Marcela Perez

We are so happy for the return of our Morning Glories parent-child classes! This year all classes are meeting outside.
Bluebell Nursery
Nancy Disbrow and Sandy Proksa

In a cozy corner of the play yard, under the golden sun, the Bluebell children recently celebrated our first- of-the-school-year birthday celebration! All were starry-eyed and sweet as they offered their beautiful drawings and their birthday wishes. Happy Birthday to Juliette!!!
Dandelion Kindergarten
Marcella Kapsaroff and Cecilia Ponce

The Dandelion class took in all of the changes the Michaelmas season had to offer. Our daily schedule and weekly rhythm are deeply held by all the children. We are all so happy to be together again! Outside in our dear little play yard the children dance about merrily as the leaves fall rhythmically from the trees. The children are noticing all the woodland creatures as they begin to prepare for the cold season ahead. The class enjoyed a beautiful fall trip to Warrup's Farm where all the children chose a just-right pumpkin to take home. Sweet and exciting thoughts of Halloween flowed amongst us as we prepared our classroom for this enchanting festival. All the children helped scoop out the insides of two little pumpkins which were carved into two smiling Jack-O-Lanterns! The children loved our Halloween songs and their eyes sparkled when we sang Halloween Cat, Jack-O-Lantern, and The Pumpkin King! For our Halloween Celebration we made pumpkin bread muffins and had pears and toasted pumpkin seeds. The children were delighted to find that a tricky gnome or hobgoblin hid little bumpy gourds in our play yard and all the children found a gourd to bring home! We ended the day with a puppet play of The Hobgoblin.
Rose Kindergarten
Carrie Reilly and Briana McCann

The Rose class has been enjoying all the gifts of the Autumn season! Our nature table is overflowing with painted leaves and brightly colored stones and acorn/pine cone treasures. The children enjoyed listening to the story of Witchamaroo, the pocket witch, who finds, through her brave heart, a dear friend in the hay field. The Rose children are busy painting, cutting and gluing their beautiful lanterns that will illuminate their path while we walk under the Autumn stars for Martinmas. We have walked during our circle time while curtsying to the poplar trees and bending low with the birches, all the while keeping our eyes open so we do not step in "green, gooey gum that goes into the garbage." We hope you enjoy the rest of the Fall season as much as the Rose children have been each day!
Sunflower Kindergarten
Isabel Gandara and Aliz Mihok

"Dancing and whirling the little leaves went, Autumn had called them and they were content.
Soon they will sleep in their soft earthly beds, Waiting for winter to cover their heads."

This is one of the verses that the Sunflower children have been reciting during circle time. They all become leaves that whirl, flutter and fall on the ground. Then we go on a journey to look for pumpkins in a pumpkin patch. As they go to the pumpkin patch, the children walk, run, skip, hop, jump on two feet, and cross a bridge (over a balance beam). At the end they become pumpkins that roll down the hill (the children roll on a mat). This past month the children have been loving picking up all the beautiful colorful leaves that are falling. Also, they have been helping the teachers rake the leaves and then love playing in the leaf piles. For beeswax modeling, the children made pumpkins, apples, witches, and acorns. They have also made beautiful paintings with red, orange and yellow watercolors. In October the Sunflower children and parents went to Warrup's Farm. They enjoyed a beautiful sunny day as they rode on a hayride, walked in a maze, picked pumpkins, and ate delicious apples that Farmer Bill gave us. For our Halloween celebration, the children helped the teachers make a Jack O' Lantern, they played hide-and- gourd-seek and Pumpkin King, watched a puppet show, and ate delicious pumpkin bread and toasted seeds. Autumn is truly a beautiful time of year that brings the children closer to nature.
First Grade
Class of 2029
Brigitte Cadigan

First Grade is off to a beautiful start. The children follow Sol and Luna’s journey hearing stories from many lands. We enjoyed our first block drawing lots of forms, and then dove into Language Arts. They enjoyed the Michaelmas celebration and did a wonderful job reciting their part in the school play as working gnomes. The children are experiencing what consonants feel, look, and sound like. Through several stories the first graders have discovered the letters B, F, M, C, V, D, H, L, Y, T, R and S. The students love to play outside, climb trees and structures, and jump rope. They are painting, modeling beautiful beeswax creations, and having lots of fun in the classroom as well as with their specialty teachers. We hope we can still soak up many more days of sunshine and continue to spend lots of time outside!
Second Grade
Class of 2028
Jennifer Chapman

Second Grade has been busy learning about vowel teams and preparing for the Martinmas play and making our lanterns. We are enjoying our budding reading skills and feeling empowered by this knowledge. We are also busy putting together blessing bags to send to a women’s center and to people in need. We continue to work on arithmetic and creating various math “stars” based on which multiples we are exploring. All is well and busy in the Second Grade!
Third Grade
Class of 2027
Laura Wittmer

The Third Grade has been busy doing many practical activities this year. We have enjoyed field trips to Riverbank Farm to harvest sweet potatoes, beets, and carrots, use the gigantic root vegetable washer, make sauerkraut, and play in the river. We have also loved working with Ms. Kapsaroff on our own school garden, harvesting green beans, tomatoes, potatoes and seeds, weeding the beds, and planting garlic. During our Time block, we experienced some historical clocks such as sundials, hourglasses, water clocks and candle clocks, and had fun experimenting with these in the classroom. We especially enjoyed working with our analog clocks and learning to tell time.
Third Grade Diwali Celebration Photos:
Fourth Grade
Class of 2026
Emily Remensperger

The Fourth Grade was busy in October with their Introduction to Fractions block. Learning about fractions is always a good reason to slice, measure and bake something. We used an old family recipe for the perfect apple pie and calculated and cut our way through the tart autumn apples and flaky pie dough. It was mathematically delicious!
Dorothy Day House

Last week the Fourth Graders made and donated 35 sandwiches (and treats) to Danbury residents in need via the Dorothy Day House. The Dorothy Day House hands out 80 "Grab and Go" bags each day that contain one sandwich, a bottle of water, a piece of fruit, chips and cookies. On the weekends, they hand out 120 sandwich bags. That means they need 640 sandwiches each week!
Fourth Grade Day of the Dead Celebration:
Fifth Grade
Class of 2025
Janelle Beardsley

Fifth Grade put on their class play, The Mahabharata, on October 5th, as part of their Ancient India main lesson block. Now nature studies in Botany are continuing outside in the fine fall weather. The students have discovered a wide variety of mushrooms, toadstools, puffballs, ink caps, and stinkhorns hiding in plain sight right on the playground and in the forest! Sketching them has been most enjoyable. The Fifth Graders are on to collecting, identifying, and pressing beautiful fall leaves.

Pictured above:
  • Olivia Setkoski speaks as the narrator, Vyasa, to the Pandavas in exile
Pictured below:
  • Eva Maroney, as Yudhistira, answers cosmic questions from the God of justice, Dharma, played by Izzy Jane Kapsaroff
  • Eirwen Poston plays Duryodhana, the jealous cousin.
Thank you to Ms. Patalia for sharing a Diwali celebration with the students!
Sixth Grade
Class of 2024
Allison Washington

The Sixth Grade started off the school year in a Geometry block. For the first time, students used a compass, ruler, and protractor to practice bisecting angles and circle divisions. This engaging block allows for the experience of the concepts that students will study in succeeding Geometry blocks. This practice, along with the application of color, made for a beautiful display of unique geometrical designs! Outside the classroom, the Seventh Graders accompanied us on our first field trip in a long while! Students worked together to paddle down the Housatonic River and to stay afloat in the few rapids that were encountered. A wonderful experience was had by all.
Seventh Grade
Class of 2023
Leslie Lew

This summer Laura Hayes (Eighth Grade), Leslie Lew (Seventh Grade) and Allison Washington (Sixth Grade) sat together and planned a block on Asian Geography and Culture for the Middle School students to share together. For two weeks this November the students were immersed in this area of study. It was a great opportunity for the three classes to join in a common classroom to engage in learning. We began by studying the geography of China and some of its rich history as well a side trip learning about different types of tea. Next, we moved on to Japan. In addition, each student worked diligently on a Geography project for a different Asian country, which they then presented to their classmates. We crowned the block with a lunch banquet, for which each student brought a dish typical to the country they studied for their project. To enrich our block, we had some wonderful guests who presented on a number of topics:
  • Sensei June presented Qi Gong and Tai Chi to the students and shared the history of this meditative form of martial arts.
  • Wei Bertram (mother of Rose, Class of 2019) and Andrew Yu (father of Enya, Class of 2022) spoke about the history and varieties of tea. As a bonus we all had a tasting!
  • Dr. Kim visited the class to speak about Korea.
  • Ms. Remensperger taught the students Japanese calligraphy.
Thank you to the individuals who helped enrich our studies!
Pictured above, Sensei June works with Middle School students. Pictured below, Wei Bertram and Andrew Yu teach the students about different types of tea. 
Water for South Sudan

We would like to inform you about an exciting project the Sixth and Seventh Grade classes have taken up. After reading the book A Long Walk to Water, students became inspired and expressed a desire to raise funds for the organization, Water for South Sudan, which they learned about in the book. This non-profit organization drills water wells in South Sudan which provides access to clean, safe water, and improves hygiene and sanitation practices in areas of great need. Here is a link if you’d like to learn more about this organization:

Water for South Sudan

Students have conceived a fundraiser and committed to raising $500 to support this organization. A jar will be deposited in each classroom and they are asking students for pocket change.
Eighth Grade
Class of 2022
Laura Hayes

The Eighth Grade began the year with a history block on Revolutions and Classism. We learned about the American, French, and Haitian revolutions, studying what factors led to each revolution and what impact they had on society. We compared outcomes and emerging ideas from the revolutions. The students debated Hamilton's ideas on democracy and class with vigor and were fascinated by Toussaint L'Ouverture's life. Later in October, the Eighth Graders studied Organic Chemistry with an emphasis on food chemistry. They made caramels, gummy bears, vinegar, cheese, soap, body lotion, meringues, and much more. The block culminated in a technical challenge: the Great Waldorf Bake-Off (for which each student made a lemon pound cake). The students had a lot of fun with the many hands-on experiments and delicious outcomes. A big thank-you goes out to TaNesha Barnes (mother of Solana) for coming to our classroom with baskets full of knowledge, expertise, and delicious fragrances. She not only brought the Haitian revolution to life, she also showed us how to create a body lotion!
Martinmas Photos
Halloween Photos
Thank you to Patricia Campbell and Fran Hendrickson for leading our dances and providing the music!
Michaelmas Photos
Waldorf Alum Networking Platform
The following are a few of the exciting features, opportunities, and offerings on Waldorf Alum Connect:
  • The Continental Waldorf Alum Business Directory
  • Mentorship and Mentee Opportunities
  • Alum Parent Registration
  •  Internship and Employment Postings
  • Searchable Alum Map by location, industry, class year, school affiliation and more.

Waldorf school teachers and staff are also welcomed to register, share alum news and school events!
Waldorf Alum Social Hour
AWSNA warmly invites alums, alum parents, teachers, and staff to join a bimonthly Waldorf Alum Social Hour! During the first alum social hour, over 70 Waldorf alums from across the country joined the call. Stories were shared, new connections made, and old ones rekindled. We left feeling inspired and grateful for one another and for our shared histories. We warmly welcome you to mark your calendar for these upcoming gatherings, all of which will begin at 7:30 PM ET:
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!
The Movement Academy
October 28, 2021

The Newtown Bee
October 12, 2021

October 8, 2021

The Newtown Bee
September 22, 2021

Janet Lansbury (blog)

KQED Mind/Shift
June 29, 2021
Bookmarks and Resources
Support HVWS
Stop & Shop Community Bag Program
School Store Now Online!
We are selling all the items that you know and love: modeling beeswax, crayons, color pencils. Plus new toys, homeware, and books. New items are being added daily!

If you don't see something that you know we stock, please email:

The Rainbow Garden School Store is volunteer-run. All proceeds support the HVWS operating budget.
HVWS Fleece Jackets
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 ||