Chicago Waldorf School – Class of 2014
One week ago today Cole graduated from the Chicago Waldorf High School.* On the Friday before graduation he was part of the school’s traditional rose ceremony. (*click link to find out where the class is headed next)
I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I did not take one picture on graduation day. Other people took pictures of the graduates but I took nary a picture of Cole, or of his GRANDparents. This may seem sad. But it really isn’t. My road warrior parents traveled the 1300 mile trip to Chicago so that we could all be together to watch Cole accept his rose and his diploma. They looked terrific at both the rose ceremony and the graduation! They always do. The memory will remain sweet, even without the pictures. And frankly after the slide show preparation we were all a little snapped out.
No worries, tho, I will show off a picture of my graduation shoes. I’ve always wanted a pair of shoes like these, and I knew they would go perfectly with my dress.
They were kind-of comfortable, and to everyone’s surprise, including my own, I managed to walk on them without killing myself… The shoes are now my $20.00 graduation souvenir. Cole has his graduation flower crown, and I have my shoes. Done.
The morning of the rose ceremony, I had an eerie feeling of being caught between two life changing events: the morning after Joe died, and the morning after Cole was born: surreal, the one beyond sad and the other beyond happy. I had an overwhelming urge to buy a deli tray (raise your hand if you don’t understand the significance of deli trays and life changing events).
The rose ceremony was the thread in Cole’s education that brought his education at the Chicago Waldorf School full circle. At the beginning of his 1st grade year he accepted a rose from a senior, and at the end of first grade he gave a rose to a departing senior. At the beginning of his senior year he gave two first graders a rose to welcome them to the school, and at the end of the year he accepted a rose from his 1st graders.
On Sunday the school graduated its seniors with reverence, love and a sense of humor. Our 13 seniors were well known as “a party class”, but they were also known for their ability to engage with one another, as well as with their teachers. I am quite certain my teen and his classmates can tell you where every one of his teachers grew up, the size of their families, and their favorite foods. The teacher they chose to give their commencement speech was one of their favorites, and it wasn’t for his love of Shakespeare. It was because he walked into the classroom ready to teach, and willing to engage with his students. In return, they gave him their attention, their best work, and a place in their hearts.
I think it is remarkable that Cole accepted his HS diploma with two friends with whom he had graduated from kindergarten, and with six friends he graduated with in 8th grade. The graduation audience included Cole’s parent/child teacher, kindergarten teacher and his grade school teacher, who had stayed with her class for 8 years. The love flowed both ways.
Our family was an active part of the Chicago Waldorf School for 16 years. We choose the Chicago Waldorf School for many reasons: The school does not push academics in early childhood, or in Kindergarten. There is limited media usage, and no computers are used in grade school. Art, music and theater are considered part of the curriculum, and not as extra curricula. Beauty and reverence are key components of every subject taught. The teachers are free to form their own curriculum and testing and grades are kept to a minimum until Junior high. The Chicago Waldorf School is far from perfect, and I could check off its flaws as easily as it virtues. The Waldorf educational model is certainly not right for every child or every family. But it was the best education for Cole and community for our family. Cole summed up his 16 years at the Chicago Waldorf School in the following conversation that he shared with me after he had attended a faculty meeting that all Seniors attend prior to graduation:
Me: How did your meeting with the faculty go?
Cole: I told them the story about how, when you and dad visited the school you planned to enroll me in, they explained that they taught the kids how to use things properly, giving a chair as an example, and that you and dad were not impressed. You both said that a young child could see a lot more possibilities in a chair than just being some place to sit. The teacher you were talking to thought you were a bit odd.
Me: Yes, I remember the teacher explained that young children wanted answers, and to learn how to use use things appropriately. The teacher told us, “we teach children that chairs are for sitting in.” Your dad retorted that once you are told what something is used for, it is harder to imagine it as anything else. The meeting went downhill from there.
Cole: That is what I said, and then I told them that my education had shown me that a chair could be a boat, a hot dog stand, part of train, or a mountain. We used chairs for everything. Chairs had infinite possibilities. My Waldorf education encouraged me to look for possibilities – not limits.
Thank you! Chicago Waldorf School for graduating my high-school senior with the knowledge that the diploma he accepted holds infinite possibilities for his future.
Graduation ceremony Video:
Odd Loves Company
P.S. A friend is taking a “graduation” picture of Cole and I this week. She insisted. I agreed, but only because I want proof that I wore those shoes!
Cole’s kindergarten class presented a puppet show for their graduation. Each kindergartner made their own puppet and their teacher weaved a story around their puppets. We had surfers, wise men, princess and so much more. Click for the link to the video. The picture of the Madonna and child hanging on the wall does not associate Waldorf with any particular religion. It represents the love and beauty you find in every Waldorf kindergarten.
Cole standing in front of the senior he presented a rose to in 1st grade. I think he caught his seniors hair.
8th grade graduation. Cole has big hair and is standing next to the green shirt.
Does a picture from Cole’s 8th grade graduation count?
Born to wear flower crowns.