• Diwali

November 18, 2013

Welcome to the November issue of the Kimberton Star!

On Friday, November 1 we had a rebirth of sorts at Kimberton Waldorf School. The new Seven Stars Shop opened in our new Parent Hub space in the entrance foyer of the Gymnasium. KWS parent Tara Romanowich did a fantastic job making the new space beautiful, warm, and welcoming. The Shop room was filled with books, toys, and other special items and treats that complement and support Waldorf Education. On opening day she transformed the foyer with products beautifully displayed, braided rugs, and colored filters over the fluorescent lights. It was delightful, and the Parent Hub space was a buzz of activity starting with the morning Coffee Cart, customers throughout the day, and many students stopping to look as they passed through on their way to and from lunch or classes. Thanks to Tara for the gift of her time and energy to keep the Shop alive in a new location in the school. This is an opportune time to again thank alumni parent Peg Savage for the work she did over many, many years to help the Seven Stars Shop blossom and grow in its original location in the Middle School building. She did a fantastic job, and we owe her a debt of gratitude. Thanks again, Peg! When Peg decided that it was time to retire and close the Shop at the end of last year, and when we decided to turn that space into a new and beautiful handwork room for the children, the future of the Shop was up in the air, until Tara came forward. It’s exciting to see a new phase in its life begin!

There is so much happening at KWS! Thanks to current parents Heather Devine and Tom Miles for organizing the First Annual Kimberton Waldorf School 5K Trail Run. The event was held on November 3 with 160 participants and raised $3,032 for the school! Not bad for the first run! Also thanks to Clint Martin, Ben Bowers, Tom McLean, and others for constructing a bridge over the small creek along the run’s route. We are already looking forward to next year’s run!

Thanks also to former KWS parent Martin Weinberg for organizing the Keyboard Mania benefit concert at the Colonial Theater this past Thursday, November 14th. Proceeds from the concert benefit the KWS Steinway Restoration Fund (for needed repairs on the school’s Steinway pianos). It was a great night of music, and included our own Mike Ruhl, and alumnus Dylan Babitch ‘05.

And this past Saturday night was the Diwali Festival, which, for the past several years, has been a wonderful event for the whole family. Thank you to the Diversity Committee for the coordination of this beautiful evening, and thank you to all the amazing and dedicated volunteers, performers, and cooks who helped to make this year’s Diwali an incredible celebration. We had about 350 people in attendance.

Many people continue to work tirelessly to help share our school with the wider community. We recently held a successful Waldorf Works program that was attended by a number of educational consultants, representatives from schools in our region that can be feeder schools for us, and prospective parents. Emily Shaker, our Outreach and Marketing Director is focusing on bringing people to Waldorf Works who are in a good position to spread the word about our school. Our visitors were treated to a barbershop quintet performed by our high school boys, an overview of Waldorf Education at KWS, and brief visits to the Kindergarten, the Third Grade, our organic lunch program, the woodworking studio, the 10th Grade Odyssey main lesson, a panel of high school students, the Garden Building, and the Rosebud Garden building. Based on feedback from the participants we know that they were deeply impressed with the program at KWS. Thanks to current parents Tom Burlington and Liz Precopio, and alumni parent Kris Keller for their help in making the event successful. We also held an All-School Open House two weekends ago that was well attended and included sample mini main lessons across the grades. Thanks to the many parent volunteers who helped make this a successful afternoon.

While these events help attract new families to our school, word of mouth is always the most powerful enrollment tool we have. We need your assistance! Please help us to spread the word about the school. Whether you are a current parent, an alumni parent, or an alum, we would love for you to be a part of these efforts. Contact Emily Shaker if you are interested in becoming an ambassador for the school, or if you are interested in helping out on our Outreach Committee. We need an army of volunteers to help us get the word out about our school. Even if you don’t live locally, there are many ways to help. And, if you are a current parent you can receive a $500 credit on your commitment deposit if you refer a new enrolling family to the school. Contact Emily for details: or 610.933.3635 ext. 107.

We are also launching our annual fund drive, the Community Spirit Fund. Seth Bacon, current and alumni parent, Board member, and tireless promoter of Dad’s Night, is the Chair of this year’s fund drive. Please join Seth in supporting the education provided at KWS. We need everyone’s help: alumni, current parents, alumni parents, Board members, faculty, staff, and friends. Your gifts will help KWS to continue to offer Waldorf Education into the future! Fundraising is a critical aspect of any independent school’s finances. Our budget for this school year includes $250,000 in fundraising. Help us achieve that goal!

I also would like to take this opportunity to share with you how we are handling our development office tasks this year while we are searching for a Development Director. Emily Shaker has experience in development work and she is managing some of the development office tasks such as the Community Spirit Fund and the Annual Report. Melanie Warwick is our Development Assistant. We are also pleased that Mary Hirsch, our former Development Director, will do Major Gift cultivation. Nancy Coe McLane continues to handle our Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program which she has done for many years. We are grateful to Emily, Melanie, Mary, and Nancy for their work to support our development efforts.

I recently have been observing the students in the Third Grade class, who in connection with their main lesson block on farming having been keeping their own mini farm on campus. Every day they can be seen doing their daily chores as they care for Firecracker, the miniature horse; Magnolia, the miniature goat; and twenty-five regular size chickens (too many to name, but they do have names...the children have told me!). They groom, exercise, feed, and water the animals under the guidance of their class teacher, Carmen Maciarello. The class also recently made brooms from broom corn they planted in our school garden when they were in Second Grade. (You can see a few examples of the brooms in the Seven Stars Shop). The brooms are beautiful and work well! I think these activities are an example of what makes Waldorf Education and the education at KWS so special (and activities and experiences like these happen in each grade level of the school). We live in an age where children's experience of the world is increasingly a virtual experience, and the boundaries between the virtual world and the real world are becoming blurred. I think this has serious implications for the future---and for the future of education. We are in danger as a culture of raising children to be simply heads that take in information and experience the world vicariously as consumers of information, detached from their own bodies and from real experiences of the world. One of the values of Waldorf Education is that it is based on giving children and young people real experiences: to use their hands to make something useful and beautiful out of materials from nature, to play a musical instrument, to perform a Shakespeare play instead of simply watching the video, to experience the actual phenomena that one is studying in a science class, to grow a crop of vegetables that will be part of a lunch served in the school cafeteria. These are experiences that in the past may have been taken for granted. Today they are increasingly rare, and in that context are now gifts that help children form healthy relationships to the world around them, strengthen the process of developmental integration with their own bodies, and provide sustenance for the development of a rich inner life of thought and feeling. In the fairy tales that we tell the children in the Kindergarten and First Grade, images abound of gifts that are given to the protagonists to help them navigate the challenges of the various trials they will encounter as part of their developmental path. In likewise fashion, the experiential emphasis of Waldorf Education can provide inner gifts to students that will help them navigate the trials and challenges of our quickly changing world.

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and we have so much to be thankful for at KWS: dedicated parents, teachers, staff members, and friends; a beautiful campus in the midst of an organic and biodynamic farm; and the gift of Waldorf Education. We can also be thankful for the many people in the past who played a role in the life of the school: first as Kimberton Farms School, and later as Kimberton Waldorf School. There are too many to mention by name, but I would like to acknowledge Alarick and Mabel Pew Myrin who were the founders of our school in 1941. Without their vision and inspiration, this school would not exist. May the spirit of their vision for a renewal of education and agriculture live into the future.

Kevin Hughes