Waldorf fifth graders across the U.S. gather together once a year to compete in a Greek Pentathlon. It is a coming-of-age competition and a celebration of grace, athleticism, sportsmanship and the upcoming independence of adolescence.
Waldorf students study Greek history at the end of their fifth grade year, learning about the Gods and myths and also about historical Greece and its cultivation of democracy, philosophy and the arts. These lessons intertwine and culminate into a day when the intellectual meets the physical and academics reach a peak of relevancy in the student’s minds.
As the student’s come together with other schools to compete, they do not compete by school, but are instead combined together in cooperative relationships with new peers. All student are assigned to be part of one of four teams representing the Greek city-states of Thebe, Sparta, Corinth and Athens. From there they are directed to the stations of competition for one of the five classic Greek events — Javelin, Discus, Long Jump, Foot Racing and Greek wrestling.
The events are not scored on athletic performance alone, but instead on a number of factors including the athlete’s form (grace and beauty which the Greeks revered) and also on sportsmanship with the other players.
There are many learning opportunities which are both essential and developmentally appropriate for 11-12 year olds to learn during this event. They must learn to test their physical abilities, manage and accept disappointment in their performance, make new friends, strive to out do their personal bests and be gracious in the face of loss.
Surrounding both sides of the competition itself are times of community togetherness. Before the day of festivities, the students gather to read oaths from their school regarding the event and sing Glorious Apollo before a Greek dinner with families. On the day of competition there is an opening ceremony complete with trumpet fanfare, an Olympic pledge and the torch run.
These gatherings hold reverence for the students as they begin and complete this coming-of-age event which inspires aspiration, determination and celebration.
Congratulations to three graduating college students and former SGWS alum.
Julie Chlysta has graduated Magna Cum Laude with Degrees in Anthropology and French from Kent State University. Briana Edgerton has earned her degree in Geology from Allegheny College. And Hannah Schurr has received a Masters in Managerial and Leadership Communication Studies from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
Both Julie and Hannah had Ms. Hunko as their SGWS teacher. Brianna was a student of Royse Crall. Great work ladies!
This Friday, Spring Garden Waldorf will host its annual Waldorf Renaissance Faire for seventh graders from our own school and also Waldorf Schools from Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Ann Arbor. Seventh graders in Waldorf Education study the Renaissance, which appropriately appeals to the emerging adolescent. After all, the Renaissance era’s innovative thinkers were voracious learners, just like our seventh graders, who created and emerged into a new era of thinking by questioning the status quo! Is it any wonder this time in history is such engaging curriculum for our 13 year olds?
The evening before the day of festivities, SGWS hosts a Renaissance dinner for all the seventh grade students and their families, both from SGWS and those visiting from the other 4 Waldorf schools. The dinner includes Renaissance themed performances by each school’s seventh grade class and is attended by faculty wearing period costumes and playing the part of the King and Queen’s court. The next morning the Faire begins.
At the event, teams will be created with a mixture of seventh grade students Spring Garden, Cincinnati, Ann Arbor, and Pittsburgh. Each team will engage in activities which will test their physical, mental, and artistic abilities and reflect upon their recent Renaissance studies. Teams of students are labeled according to Renaissance explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh and Vasco de Gamma.
Each event allows students to collaborate, using their different strengths in intellectual, artistic, and physical challenges, as if they were experiencing the Renaissance first hand. Activities include orienteering, a rope bridge, a trebuchet launch, chalk art station, and a tree climb along with various thought-provoking mental tasks along the journey.
Like the Pentathlon and the Medieval Games, the Renaissance Faire allows students opportunities to strengthen their cognitive, creative, and social skills — and to have fun!
Here is the Class Seven practicing a Renaissance performance:
All are welcome to Spring Garden’s upcoming Walk Through The Grades Day — Wednesday, May 11th, at 9 am. REGISTER HERE or Email our Admissions Director, Amy Hecky, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring Garden is part of the longstanding Waldorf tradition, drawing attention for what the New York Times calls, “a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands on tasks. Waldorf educators strive to implement the right thing at the right time and follow a multidisciplinary approach to teaching, which is supported by modern day scientific research about successful learning.”
Nothing shows the power of this type of education like seeing it in action. Our In Session Class Tours, also known as Walk Through the Grades, provide parents a unique opportunity to see how our teachers employ this innovative approach to education, which gives children the opportunity to learn through a wide variety of experiences, increasing depth of understanding as well as intersecting with individual learning styles.
People often note the quiet and concentration of our Early Childhood students and their ability to listen carefully to their soft spoken teachers.
Children learn best by doing. Movement is key to teaching math, writing and reading in Primary School children.
Music and art are woven into Main Lesson subjects like reading, writing and math.
Third graders are eager to learn about the world outside of themselves and have the skills they need to concentrate and absorb challenging information.
The Fourth grade day is rich, including special subjects like clay sculpture, gardening and violin on top of regular academic rigor.
On tours of Grade 5 classes and beyond, many parents comment about on the amount of collaboration and vibrant conversation among the teacher and the students.
Spanish, geometry, history, language arts are all taught through engaging and interesting projects. Here is an example of the final result of a Sixth grade geometry lesson.
Our Seventh graders are often encountered in the Science Lab, being led to their own conclusions about experiments taught through Socratic inquiry and interaction.
On any given tour, you may find our oldest students helping their First grade buddies, making a chair in woodworking class, practicing for orchestra, studying algebra, anatomy or physics, or working on a paper for U.S. history.
You will also find, that whatever our students doing, they are not only passionate about it, but engaged with the subject and with one another, and respectful and grateful for their teachers.
All are welcome as we celebrate the return of Spring with our May Day Festival Wednesday, May 4.
Early Childhood and the Grades celebrate at different times, so if you have children in both, you can celebrate with both. This celebration is part of the regular school day, so all grades students are expected to remain with their class until dismissal. Parents and siblings who join our celebration are welcome to bring a blanket and picnic lunch. For parents and other visitors, there will be a few extra tables outside of the pavilion that can be used for lunch. Please bear in mind that if you bring children who are not in the Grades with you to the celebration at the Pavilion, you are responsible for their care and supervision at all times.
- 9:00 a.m. – Early Childhood May Day Celebration in the Meadow
- 12:00 p.m. – Grades 1-8 May Day Festival Begins with Procession from SGWS to Sportsmen’s Club
- 12:10 p.m. – Lunch blessing at Sportsmen’s Club pavilion
- 12:15 p.m. – Lunch with lemon cupcakes
- 12:40 p.m. – Scavenger hunt
- 1:10 p.m. – Maypole dancing on field adjacent to Sportsmen’s Club
- 1:30 p.m. – Clean up Sportsmen’s Club and pavilion
- 1:45 p.m. – Blessing of the Garden
- 2:00 p.m. – Early Dismissal
We are currently conducting a survey to connect with our alumni — to learn what they’re doing, what they’re passionate about, and which of their experiences at Spring Garden Waldorf School have continued to have an impact on their lives over the years. If you did not receive an invitation via email, you can take the survey here.
Though we do collect personal data such as addresses and email addresses, this information will be used for internal purposes only and will be separated from the data prior to data analysis. Your answers to survey questions will be analyzed to identify trends, and the information you provide will allow us to be reflective about our work as well as to speak honestly and accurately to prospective families and other members of the Waldorf community about how our students fare in high school and beyond.
The survey has options for alumni who are 18 years or older, alumni who are under 18, and parents of alumni. The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.
The survey will remain open through early June. We’re grateful to those alumni who have responded already, and we look forward to hearing from more of you!
Check out these wonderful works of art that we will sell Saturday at our live auction!
These class projects bring parents and students of each class together to support the school through a creative, valuable endeavor. The creative works that come out of these collaborations are truly priceless, not only by design, but by the spirit all bring to the task.
The effort and care brought to these projects shows. We hope you’ll bid, in person or by proxy, on one of these priceless works to help you forever remember your child’s elementary school experience at Spring Garden.