Graduation – Chicago Waldorf School Class of 2014


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.

graduation shoes


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.

graduation rose 1

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:

Graduation Ceremony 2014 from Katybeth on Vimeo.

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!

graduation Kindergarten

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.

graduation rose ceremony

Cole standing in front of the senior he presented a rose to in 1st grade. I think he caught his seniors hair.

graduation 8th grade

8th grade graduation. Cole has big hair and is standing next to the green shirt.

grad 8th grade

Does a picture from Cole’s 8th grade graduation count?

graduation pictures

Born to wear flower crowns.

18 thoughts on “Graduation – Chicago Waldorf School Class of 2014

  1. What an amazing school and an incredible educational opportunity! I love that Cole sees possibilities and not limits! And I love knowing that Cole will go to Germany in the fall. Sounds like an great opportunity!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Thanks Kathy. A Waldorf education offered Cole so much beyond academic achievement. Certainly, he earned a good education but more importantly he learned that he can go out and make a difference in the world in so many different ways.

      Germany! We have high hopes.

      ♥ from Chicago

  2. Thanks for the summary (and I LOVE your graduation shoes!). Nice to hear how the Class of 2014 is eagerly embracing opportunities to go out into the world and DO STUFF! What is it they say, Education doesn’t cost; It pays!
    This is BIG, Katybeth. A move from one stage of life to another. You handled it well, mom, and so did your teen! Have the road warriors traveled back home yet, or did they decide to stick around for a while??

    • You liked my shoes?? Why thank you so much. And thank you so much for thinking of Cole on graduation day!
      The road warriors could only stay one week. Much to short a visit but I enjoyed every minute and understand they have busy lives back home.
      Thanks for the vote of confidence. Now we are looking towards what’s next?

  3. Since I have all the time in the world today & it’s raining (yes!), I did view both videos. I was amazed the Kinders could stand & wait as well as they did for their play. On cue, there was a crack of thunder here to go along with that section of the skit. The graduation ceremony wasn’t bad at all. Speakers were worth listening to with great advice & wisdom. Two questions: How did the girl with the very (very) short white dress even take one step outside her front door that morning??? Also…..who is that kid who pinched the gentleman’s nose??? Just wondering…….
    Congratulations to Cole! Nice job with your special event shoes, too!

    • Oh, you are so one of us–it is almost spooky. You’d of loved to have been in the car with us on the way home. The dress. Do you remember the mother I spoke about in the slide show? Let’s just say she is paired with the girl in the dress – who is is delightful and sweet and who needs a parent who puts her first. The nose pinch came from a boy with Asperger’s and while none of the kids really know what the nose pinch was all about they all believe it was his gesture of affection.
      Around Christmas during Early Childhood I attended an event where our 5 year olds were expected to sit quietly for about 15 minutes. They were given beeswax to hold in their hands to warm and mold but I was still amazed and asked their teacher how she managed to keep all 15 of them so quiet and still. She smiled and reminded me it was close to Christmas and how much Santa appreciated good little girls and boys. I’m not sure what spin she put on it for the jewish children but it worked–they were quiet as mice. And I loved the teachers honesty and gleam in her eyes that seemed to say, you do what works.
      Glad a little rain fell your way! Cole put a card in the mail to you today. You are much too good to him.

  4. Love has been the essence of your family, beginning with your parents who showered you with acceptance and encouragement (even when you chose to take the different path from friends graduating from high school in Texas. Don’t have to wonder where Cole receives the acceptance to travel a different path than classmates) including Joe’s love for you, topped with your and Joe’s love for King Cole (and yes he was a king long before the Waldorf crown). Life has been a blessing for all involved.

  5. I loved every minute of the rose ceremony and the graduation. Everything was so perfect. Even the weather co-operated. And to top it all off, Katybeth didn’t kill herself in those shoes!!!

    • Me too and the best part was you and daddy were here! Of-course I didn’t kill myself. But if I had the timing wouldn’t have been bad. . .

    • It was a wonderful journey. Lots of special people along the way. Thank you for your reading and congratulations. I will pass it along!

  6. I didn’t notice any dresses. Those shoes look a torture device. Great looking group of kids. The world is lucky to have them. Congratulations Cole.

  7. Finally getting around to reading this—it’s been a busy week or so. So happy to read all of the fun stuff that went on and the wonderful ceremonies that the school has. I love the idea of the rose ceremony–what a special thing to have as a tradition. I have no doubt that the entire place will make a fabulous contribution to the world. Thanks for sharing all of this with us—oh—and those shoes ROCK!

    • You liked my shoes? Thank you. Really, when it was all said and done–it was all about my shoes. I knew you would understand.
      Thanks for staying up to date and the moral support

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