Postcards from a new school year!

We are so excited to begin the new school year — our 19th! Here are a few images from around the school and from Lowery Farm in these early days of the year.

Clockwise from the top left: August in the school garden; kindergarteners eagerly watching a dump truck delivery of woodchips; opening day assembly for 2nd-8th grades; 1st grade chalkboard; 2nd grade morning movement on the balance beam; 4th grade has begun each morning with recorders and cursive writing practice; 5th grade mandalas kick off botany studies; first paintings of the year in 6th grade; 8th grade is going backpacking in the Olympics and there is a lot to learn and prepare!

May Day at Madrona School

Spring is upon us and at Madrona School, like many other Waldorf schools in the northern hemisphere, we celebrate with a May Day festival. Our traditions include making flower crowns, an all-too popular cake walk, lemon peppermints, maypole dancing, community picnicking and May cake and wine. It is a festive, beautiful day at school for all ages, especially joyful when the sun shines! We treasure the couple of times each year when we gather as a whole school community.

Here are some images from our most recent festival, taken by a few of our photographer parents, as well as the office -- thank you to all who shared their pictures!

8th Grade Independent Projects

The 8th grade provided tremendous presentations of their independent projects last Friday evening. We were happy to have so many in our community present to support these remarkable young people too. Thank you to all those who made it a priority to come! 

Mr. Nottage, our 8th grade teacher, introduced our presenters with some brief remarks that got right to the heart of why our 8th grade students do these projects each year. He reminded us all that our children learned to stand upright in their first year without direct instruction -- it came from within. That is also the idea of these efforts, where the 8th graders reflect and propose a project of their own choosing and embark on a months-long journey that culminates in presentations where we see their inner volition to stand independently before their school community. Poise, humor, flexibility and problem solving are all on display in abundance!

We offer a brief glimpse into the variety of this year's projects:

 Evan was inspired by an outdoor art show he attended last summer. When it came time to choose a project, he reached out to one of the artists he admired, a sculptor working in recycled metal. Learning different welding techniques, he created a ten and a half foot metal arch and planter that will have a permanent home at the school's Lowery Farm.

Evan was inspired by an outdoor art show he attended last summer. When it came time to choose a project, he reached out to one of the artists he admired, a sculptor working in recycled metal. Learning different welding techniques, he created a ten and a half foot metal arch and planter that will have a permanent home at the school's Lowery Farm.

 Macy chose to learn digital photography and editing, shifting her focus from sports photography to nature photography when her mentor changed mid-project. Her photos, shown here on canvas, were beautiful! 

Macy chose to learn digital photography and editing, shifting her focus from sports photography to nature photography when her mentor changed mid-project. Her photos, shown here on canvas, were beautiful! 

 Emily was inspired by a trip to Venice to explore Italian cooking. Working with our own (staff member and parent) Italian chef, she learned to make fresh pasta and ravioli, marinara sauce and cannolis. She put it all together in a feast for friends and family, and even shared cannolis with us on Friday. So tasty!

Emily was inspired by a trip to Venice to explore Italian cooking. Working with our own (staff member and parent) Italian chef, she learned to make fresh pasta and ravioli, marinara sauce and cannolis. She put it all together in a feast for friends and family, and even shared cannolis with us on Friday. So tasty!

 Morgan, with her love of singing and musical theater, chose to learn the basics of guitar, so that she could accompany herself. For her presentation, she learned the ABBA song, "I Have a Dream," and performed it for us. Wonderful playing and singing!

Morgan, with her love of singing and musical theater, chose to learn the basics of guitar, so that she could accompany herself. For her presentation, she learned the ABBA song, "I Have a Dream," and performed it for us. Wonderful playing and singing!

 Ellie was inspired by an 8th grade project from the class of 2015 to create a yearbook for the school. She has been taking and editing photographs around school all year long, and over spring break, began her layout into a book. The yearbook is available to order with proceeds benefitting the 8th grade class trip.

Ellie was inspired by an 8th grade project from the class of 2015 to create a yearbook for the school. She has been taking and editing photographs around school all year long, and over spring break, began her layout into a book. The yearbook is available to order with proceeds benefitting the 8th grade class trip.

 Marisol worked with a community artist to learn the art of graffiti and spray painting. She practiced her new craft on the old buildings at Blakely Harbor, and in her final piece for her presentation, painted on panels and shown here.

Marisol worked with a community artist to learn the art of graffiti and spray painting. She practiced her new craft on the old buildings at Blakely Harbor, and in her final piece for her presentation, painted on panels and shown here.

 Harrison, inspired by a 7th grade Friday elective, worked with a local coach to learn the sport -- the art? -- of parkour. He made a video to demonstrate his skills on a route he devised incorporating the Ordway playground. His athleticism and humor were on display!

Harrison, inspired by a 7th grade Friday elective, worked with a local coach to learn the sport -- the art? -- of parkour. He made a video to demonstrate his skills on a route he devised incorporating the Ordway playground. His athleticism and humor were on display!

 Mikel explored fashion design and honed sewing skills with his project. Working with the owner of Esther's Fabrics, he designed and completed two skirts, as well as a top from a commercial pattern, learning a lot about fabric and drape and construction along the way!

Mikel explored fashion design and honed sewing skills with his project. Working with the owner of Esther's Fabrics, he designed and completed two skirts, as well as a top from a commercial pattern, learning a lot about fabric and drape and construction along the way!

 Isaiah worked to build a stand up paddleboard from the ground up. Made of marine grade plywood and cedar, the paddleboard is a thing of beauty, and will be launched just as soon as it gets its fiberglass coating.

Isaiah worked to build a stand up paddleboard from the ground up. Made of marine grade plywood and cedar, the paddleboard is a thing of beauty, and will be launched just as soon as it gets its fiberglass coating.

 Katja took herself on a creative journey into songwriting. She explored chord progressions, melody and lyric writing along the way. The result was a song which she performed through voice and ukulele at the presentation, and recorded as well. It was a heartfelt and gorgeous piece and performance!

Katja took herself on a creative journey into songwriting. She explored chord progressions, melody and lyric writing along the way. The result was a song which she performed through voice and ukulele at the presentation, and recorded as well. It was a heartfelt and gorgeous piece and performance!

Madrona School Alphabet (K)

Next up in our alphabet-based exploration of what makes a Waldorf education unique...K is for knitting…and our handwork program in general. Handwork is one of the unique specialty classes offered in a Waldorf school. Developed to work in tandem with the curriculum as a whole, handwork strengthens fine motor skills and helps with hand-eye coordination, which in turn help students with writing, reading and math. Knitting, crochet, clay, woodcarving, embroidery etc., all contribute to the formative artistic foundations within a Waldorf education, fostering creativity, flexibility and independence.

Handwork is offered in kindergarten at Madrona School with some sewing and woodworking projects, but the program begins in earnest in 1st grade with knitting, providing a foundation for the rest of the program to build upon in future years. And, while students learn to knit, they come to see the beauty and utility that can be made with their own hands, simple materials and some perseverance. Often, the students will make something in this first year that they use everyday throughout their grade school years, like a flute case. Ask any older grade school student and they can probably remember what it was like to finally see their mistakes and fix them, to count the "mountains" in their knitted fabric, and the pride they felt upon the project's completion. There is a comfort in using something they made, even as they grow older and their skills improve.

For additional information, read Patricia Livingston's article "The Importance of Handwork in the Waldorf School", originally published in Renewal 9(1), 2000. Or see our blog post on handwork dated February 15, 2017.