Madrona School Alphabet (F)

As we continue to celebrate what makes a Madrona School education unique through the alphabet, we have reached the letter 'F' ... for Field Trips and Festivals!

Field trips take Waldorf education on the road, and many of our field trips are regular and highly anticipated additions to the curriculum.

As many of you know, and your children experience, our early childhood classes are outside each week -- to Lowery Farm, as well as each Friday to other island parks and beaches. Our young students, in full weather-appropriate gear, make a colorful and energetic addition to our community, and they are able to fully engage in the outdoors in a way that is just not possible in our smaller play yards.

Many field trips are designed to enhance the grade school curriculum. They become rites of passage too -- trips to look forward to as you move through the grades. In May, our third grade will embark on their first overnight, to Pioneer Farm near Mt. Rainier, to help wrap up their year long study of the practical arts. Earlier this year, our fifth grade made a trip to the Hoh rainforest during their botany block, getting creative when their trip fell smack in the middle of the government shutdown. And our sixth grade trekked overnight to Mount St. Helens for a geology block. What natural riches we have to explore in our backyard!

And we offer trips to build community between the regional Waldorf schools, too. Beginning in fourth grade with a potlatch on Whidbey Island, our students meet with other area Waldorf schools to explore common themes from their year. In fifth grade they gather and compete in a Pentathalon; in sixth grade they participate in Medieval games; in 7th grade they enjoy a Renaissance Faire. All wonderful opportunities to spread their wings a bit, and meet other Waldorf students beyond their class communities.

Festivals are a vital part of the rhythm in our community's year. Celebrating the passing of the seasons, festivals also offer the opportunity to come together and socialize school-wide. In September, we mark Michaelmas, with a re-telling of the legend of St. Michael and the dragon, playing through challenges that remind us of our inner strength and resolve as we move into the darker and wetter time of the year. Highlights of this festival include crawling through the dragon's lair built by our 8th grade, and feasting together on potatoes from our school garden. In November, the story of St. Martin illuminates kindness and generosity to strangers, and our students revisit his story and mark the dark night with lantern walks and songs. In May we celebrate the burgeoning of spring with May Day festivities, making flower crowns and dancing around a maypole. It is a joyful, colorful end to our festival year.