As much as I’ve written about our son’s Waldorf School, you’d think I was their marketing writer. I sure feel like it, but it’s all volunteer … and fun.
In lieu of the past few installments of Wednesdays at Waldorf,* I’d like to offer the following article, “Celebrating 25 Years of WSA,” which I wrote for WSA’s Garden Breeze e-newsletter. A write-up of the school’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, it got some good reviews and was a joy to write.
I hope it gives you an idea of what the party was like and perhaps a better understanding of this great community that is WSA:
On a cool, clear October evening a few weeks ago, the Waldorf School of Atlanta gathered to celebrate a tremendous milestone: our 25th anniversary. In fashion fitting our school, we didn’t let the falling mercury get in the way of a good party, especially when the occasion celebrated our school’s rich – yet humble – quarter-century history.
More than 300 members of our extended Waldorf family attended, including parents of present and past students, grandparents, and friends. Guiding the way were several hundred luminaries, winding along and lighting a path through the woods to the grove that housed our celebration.
And what a scene that was.
As one party-goer quipped, “It was absolutely a feast for the eyes.” Coming down the trail that opened into the clearing, one had the sense of being welcomed to a freshly appointed nature table. A nature table with a huge white pavilion. To call it a “tent” would be inadequate, in the same way that calling Rudolf Steiner “a guy with some different ideas” would fail to hit the mark.
Fabrics and flora in a fall spectrum accented the structure inside and out. A fire pit outside warmed hands and sparked conversation. The brisk fall air in the grove and the pavilion’s warm glow welcomed us inside. Tables and chairs for dining – and for conversation – spread throughout the space, while delicious fare and spirits from Meehan’s Public House filled the air and our bellies.
As the evening continued, our Leadership Team – Randy, Sara and Ashley – took the stage at the far end of the pavilion, greeting everyone before welcoming Katie Reily, the founding parent of the first Waldorf class. As she shared memories of our school’s beginnings with the gathered crowd, you knew that her words came from her heart; she recalled student names from that pioneering class as if she had just called roll that morning. You could sense, too, her sincerity: some parents who arrived early witnessed that virtue in Katie as she, alongside present-day parents, helped light the luminaries. Though removed by years and miles, her connection to WSA was clear, straight, and true.
Jackie Conley followed Katie in addressing the gathering. A mother of three Waldorf students in grades 2, 5 and 8, Jackie shared her thoughts about WSA from the parent’s perspective. But offering a perspective that could reach a group comprised of such disparate walks of life, experiences, occupations, circumstances, and generations was quite a task. She met the challenge well; borrowing century-old verse, she put to words a shared inclination among WSA parents and supporters:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
After the litany of speakers and applause, Kingsized took the stage to keep the party going. And did they ever, playing great covers from the 50s through today. In no time, they had filled the dance floor with revelers who didn’t need much prompting to begin with. Never one to disappoint, Meehan’s kept the beverages flowing. And with no kids in tow, parents jumped at the opportunity to catch up with friends often seen only in passing.
Summed up by Judy and Gary Carson, “[The celebration] was amazing – walking down a star-lined path, pulled ever onward by laughter and the tempting aroma of a great meal. Surrounded by merriment and a positive atmosphere, we made new friends, clinked our glasses in toasts to an evening of smiles and fun, and thought how lucky we are to have been a part of this great place.”
Taking in the bustle of the lively gathering – and even a glimpse at those outside, warmed by coffee, coals, and conversation – we were witness to something special, a group not forced upon itself, but a community brought to fulfillment by shared experiences, ideas, and dreams. The words of Frank Lloyd Wright seemed entirely appropriate: “We have here a thing organic.”
With the Waldorf School of Atlanta’s 25th anniversary, we didn’t so much celebrate a milestone as we commemorated this place in our history, a place that draws as much meaning from where we’ve been as where we’re going. The party was indicative of this banner year, and it’s certainly a harbinger of good times to come.
* My working hours have shifted in a positive way, but regrettably will keep me from continuing this weekly feature. The schedule change, however, won’t entirely preclude me from attending Coffee Wednesdays. Woo-hoo!