I would like to start by welcoming everyone to the 2019/20 school year! It feels like we are all starting to get used to new/old routines, getting up in the dim light of morning, finding an acceptable parking spot in Tin Town and all the gifts that the start of a school year brings. It has been such a delight to greet new and familiar faces in the mornings, thank you all for finding your way to CVWS.
Did you know that at CVWS our students get to receive the well-researched benefit of play-based learning for longer than most schools are able to offer? Our preschool accepts children aged 3 years (by start of school year) and gives space for them until they are up to 5 years old.
Our Kindergarten program accepts children age 4 (turning 5 by December 31) to age 6 (Grade one for students age 6 by June 30). This allows for up to two years of Kindergarten where play based, hands on learning is a focus. Research on the importance of play during childhood is a hot topic in education due to provincial changes in mandatory instructional hours for Kindergarten. Time for play is under threat when it comes to provincial policy.
Being an Independent School allows us flexibility to show how we meet learning standards set out by the
province through play and over time. Read more about the research on play here (https://www.waldorfresearchinstitute.org/category/research-on-play-in-childhood/).
Did you know that at CVWS we graduate our students after their Upper Grades (Grade 6/7) year? Students will be ages 11 to 13 in their final year. For a child beginning their educational journey at CVWS at age 3 and graduating at 13, that’s a long time to make connections and become an important part of a community.
At CVWS we include our Alumni in as many events and opportunities as we can. This inclusion has many benefits. CVWS benefits from the Alumni’s knowledge of and love for the Waldorf community, and the Alumni benefit by staying connected to their childhood community where their value is recognized and celebrated.
My own daughter who is now a student of a local public high school, began her Waldorf education at age 3 and graduated from CVWS at age 12. She was with me last week as I greeted families in the morning and said, wistfully, as we were leaving, “It’s so nice here, the tinkling school bell, nobody on their phone, everyone greeting each other outside…”. I am reminded to express my gratitude for this very special place.
~ Rebecca Watkin
Faculty Director’s Report (Jen Irwin)
The beginning of a new school year always involves the strengthening of will forces as we adjust to new rhythms and routines. As we shift away from the glorious beauty and freedom of summer, we are now called to bring those feelings and memories inwards, storing them for the winter ahead.
The fall season is preparatory, ensuring that we build up our own inner light to guide our way through the dark season ahead. The summer has turned to autumn, the leaves are beginning to fall, the mornings are darker. It is now the season when our inner life awakens more brightly than in summer when the glory of
nature shone more fully. Then, we were lost in the outward senses.
Now, at this time of year, let us each recognize the power we have to awaken our own self. As nature slowly passes away in front of our eyes, we realize that we are not only part of nature, but that we have individual selfhood, and that now our will forces must be fully exercised.
Rudolf Steiner always pointed to the cosmic battle of light and dark being strongest at this time of year. Just as our ancient ancestors watched the light dwindle each year, and watched the crops die away, battling faith and doubt, hope and fear. Would the light ever return?
We too, often in our unconscious feeling and will, come up against these same struggles and fear each year. Can we make it through another dark time? Of course, in our thinking we know that we will. We have modern technology to support us with heating, cars, refrigerators, stocked grocery stores, and Wi-Fi.
However, this fall time still brings a level of anxiety, fear and doubt, whether we are conscious of it or not. Possibly, we can detect these scratchy feelings to be heightened under the surface: irritability, frustration, anger, anxiety.
Steiner was clear that this time of year brings the forces of darkness closer to the earth, and that humans will find this cosmic battle of light and dark also playing out in our innermost being. We are a reflection of the cosmos. We must awaken and harness the power of our self-consciousness now, while all of nature around us is dying from lack of light.
In our culture, in our hemisphere, seasonal depression is very common. What is seasonal depression other than a feeling of loss and hopelessness due to lack of light. I ask you to deeply ponder this incredible transition from summer to fall, as we head into dark times. I ask you to contemplate Rudolf Steiner's wisdom, that it just might be possible that the most important thing we can do during this time of year is fill our inner self with positive thoughts of faith, hope, love, and enthusiasm for inner creativity, thus kindling the inner light we need to see through the dark.
At CVWS, as all Waldorf Schools, we spend the fall honouring this battle between light and dark through the celebration of festivals. First, we have St Michael (light) conquer the dragon (darkness) in our Festival of Courage, calling everyone to bring the light now into our hearts. While this light is kindled in September and October, we feel the flames grow warmer, as we approach the November Festival of Compassion.
In late November, we hold a Lantern Festival to honour St. Martin, who shone his inner light through deep compassion for others. At this time, we are reminded that our individual inner light is only a start, it is not the goal. The goal is to shine our light to help others, and to shine our lights so that each spark comes together to create the bright inner light of community.
In December we celebrate Advent, the four weeks leading to Christmas. It is at this time that we celebrate the Festival of Wisdom. We are immersed in the darkest times, but also getting closer to the Birth of the Sun. We have gained new insight, inner wisdom and strength.
Each year, these three festivals encourage and support us to stay clear, strong and bright as we move towards December 25th. And when we arrive at this day, three days after the Winter Solstice, it marks the first time we, humans, can detect the light returning.
Blessings on a deeply rich and wisdom-filled fall.
~ Jennifer Irwin
Board Chair’s Report (Christine Farrell)
A sincere welcome to all the new families this year and a hearty welcome back to the families who are
continuing with us for another year. It was a joy to see such a great turn out to our first parent group meeting of the year and to meet others who have expressed interest in joining our board or committees.
Our school functions on a three-fold social order—the faculty focus is on pedagogy, the board focus is on sustainability and responsibility of the school’s finances and administration, while the parent group works on building school community.
This means there is a place and need for everyone involved in our school. We all have individual gifts and experiences to offer. So, I extend to each of you, an invitation to reflect on your own gifts and talents you wish to share with our school. We welcome you to communicate this with your class teacher, principal (Mrs. Watkin), office administrators (Sarah or Marussia) or myself.
Thank you for choosing to be a part of our great school and I wish each and everyone one of you a successful year!
~ Christine Farrell