In the Loop, Winter 2013
Newsletter for and about the Waldorf School of Lexington alumni community.
IN THE LOOP Waldorf School Please share this newsletter with friends and family. Winter 2013 A Publication for the Alumni Community of Lexington The Threads of a School’s Legacy by Robert Schiappacasse, School Director From my office window I can see the kindergarten children playing in the snow, building structures, pouring water, digging holes and displaying the industriousness so natural to their age. Part of my work as School Director takes me to the other end of the spectrum of our students’ journeys, where I get to know alumni and alumni parents through their continued interest, affection, and support for the Waldorf School. I enjoy hearing the many stories that describe a moment in the school’s biography like the April Fool’s Day episode when a new parent gave a generous gift, out of the blue, that made it possible to purchase the Adams School building. Our various stories are part of the colorful warp and weft of the ongoing tapestry that is the Waldorf School of Lexington. With the first editions of “In the Loop” in 2012, we began to share stories of the students who previously walked the halls of WSL. Reading about the journeys of our graduates and learning from their insights holds an innate fascination for us. The stories of how they make their way in the world highlight their intelligence and character and diversity of interests. Our graduates’ lives are the best demonstration of how the Waldorf curriculum and culture distinctively provides a foundation for each stage of development. The result is that our students have the skills and capacities to adapt and meet the challenges of an ever-changing world in a thoughtful, ethical, creative, and responsible way. We were reminded of the efficacy of Waldorf education when kindergarten teachers, Wendy Margo, Leah Palumbo, and I were again invited by the Harvard School of Education to present to its students the principles that underlie Waldorf education and its approach to early childhood education. Both neuroscience and child development research continue to reaffirm that children succeed and thrive when they are taught and nurtured through a developmentally-appropriate curriculum. In this edition, we share with you the stories of graduates from classes 1993 to 2005. In addition, we look Upcoming Events Mendenhall Benefit Concert May Day March 8, 7:30–9:30 p.m. Reserve here. May 1, 12:30 p.m. Join us around the Maypole Gala: Twist & Sprout Fifth Grade Olympics May 4, 6:30–11 p.m. Details here. May 10, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Cheer on the Olympians forward to upcoming community events where we hope to reconnect with both alumni and alumni parents. As we plan future publications we encourage you write to us and let us know what you are doing. On a side note, we wish part-time Development Director Linda Mack all the best on her own journey as she takes on a full-time position at Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts. She leaves us with a strong development office that will continue to support the mission of our school. Alumni Profile Daphne Berwind-Dart, Class of 1993 Daphne began her early education at the San Francisco Waldorf School and continued at the Waldorf School of Lexington in fifth grade when her family moved to the Boston area. She attended Belmont High School and then Barnard College of Columbia University where she majored in English Literature and graduated with highest honors. After college Daphne worked for three years at a public relations agency in Boston before deciding to start her own business practicing the healing art of Rolfing® Structural Integration. She opened her Rolfing practice in 2006 and has been helping people get out of pain and improve their health ever since. To learn more about her work, visit www.cambridgerolfing.com. Like many Waldorf graduates, I look back on my Waldorf years with a certain nostalgia for the wholesomeness—the smell of freshly baked bread, the feeling of soft, warm beeswax in my hand, the sound of harps and recorders, magical storytelling set to perfect puppetry, long walks in the woods, field trips to the farm and to artisan shops, dancing around maypoles, reenacting the Ancient Olympic Games, painting, knitting, woodcarving.... Of course I also remember the amusing difficulty of trying to explain Eurythmy to non-Waldorfians, as well as the occasional impatience I felt toward some of the time-honored Waldorf traditions such as lining up every morning outside the classroom to greet the Main Lesson teacher with a handshake. But the older I get and the more I encounter the peculiar dilemmas of modernity, the more gratitude and respect I have for these early life experiences. In a world that increasingly suffers loss of community, the devaluation of human work, and the destruction of nature under an economics devoted to the mechanistic pursuit of products and profits, I believe it’s never been more important to give children a sense of place and context. At Waldorf schools, skills and knowledge are introduced in relation to practical circumstances. Much of the learning happens through direct experience which makes it transformative rather than simply informative; knowledge is more internalized than acquired. What develops, then, is both personal integrity—where what we think, feel, say and do are more or less in sync—and a sense of communal belonging. This sense of integration and connectedness may be lost but it is never forgotten. My own story is one of loss and renewal, and it is this seeking of atonement—in the root sense of at-one-ment—that I believe we Waldorf alumni have most in common. Like many of my Waldorf classmates, I went on to public high school, and like some I found the transition to be difficult. It was my Daphne works with a client at her Rolfing first real experience of institutionalized competitive learning: standardpractice in Cambridge. ized tests, course placement, quantitative grading, class rank, etc. I was extremely sensitive to the hierarchical framework and yet eager for its validation. These years brought out the competitive performer in me. College was immensely stimulating intellectually but I often found myself getting carried away—engaging in excessive and sometimes quite unproductive analysis of myself and the world around me. I was thus becoming something of a neurotic competitive performer. Then came my first real job out of school. I worked in public relations. I learned a lot during this time but, again, I felt off balance, wavering, rather dramatically at times, between anxiety and depression, between pride and despair. In retrospect I see clearly that the work was too specialized for me, too separate from the action. I was becoming a “communications expert” when what I really wanted was to be someone who had something to say. 2 At the time, however, my insights were more instinctive: like any creature unsure of its way, I longed for physical landmarks. I recognized in myself a tendency to go astray—to overthink and overfeel—and so I knew I had to ground myself. I had to engage my body more and connect myself more directly and more responsibly to practical circumstances. I had to find work that would occupy all of me—body, mind and heart—and that would respect the wholeness of others. Fortunately, I had met a Rolfing practitioner in college and had experienced the healing work of Rolfing. This unique and holistic form of bodywork seemed to fit the bill. So I quit my job and moved to Boulder, Colorado to learn the trade. It was during this time that “wholeness” became my new definition of “health,” and health the new standard by which I evaluated things. I’ve been practicing Rolfing in Cambridge, Massachusetts for seven years now, and I continue to experience my work as a kind of spiritual homecoming. Sometimes I look at the choices I’ve made and I smile to myself thinking, “I really am a Waldorfian!” I have no car (I walk to work), no TV, and no Facebook account— not because I have some abstract moral objection to these things but because I have found them to be either unnecessary or overly distracting. My life is not free of frivolity and distraction, and I only mention these three particular choices because they require a certain amount of will and resistance in our culture. The point is not to be willfully resistant but rather to know yourself and be true to yourself—to examine what works for you and what does not based on your experience and to act accordingly. It is in this trueness to ourselves that I believe we empower ourselves to do good things and inspire each other. That, for me, is what Waldorf education is about. Through tradition, ceremonies, rituals, and rites of passage, Waldorf fosters the experience of personal wholeness and mutual belonging. It’s a measure by which we can know when we falter and a compass to bring us home. A-Maying We Will Go by Holly Kania, P ’08, ’12 Plans for this year’s Gala Benefit are well underway, with alumni parents taking a lead role alongside current parents. Co-Chair Holly Kania, P ’08, ’12 and volunteers Nancy Heselton, P ’03, ’06, ’08 and Kim Wass, P’06, ’09, ’12 join forces to represent five graduating classes and eight WSL alums. The trio is excited to bring an alumni and alumni parent perspective to the party: “The Gala is the perfect opportunity for the alumni community to reunite with faculty and old friends, and to revisit what the school meant to them for so many years,” says Wass. To benefit the OL WALDORF SCHO of Lexington “Alumni parents are often hungry for the kind of heartfelt gatherings you miss so much after moving on from the Waldorf School community,” adds Heselton. T wi s t & S p r o uatla! Ma y Da y G SAVE THE DATE! Saturday, May 4 6:30 - 11:00 p.m use John H. Pierce Ho 17 Weston Road setts Lincoln, Massachu The Twist & Sprout! May Day Gala takes place Saturday, May 4 from 6:30 – 11:00 p.m. at the historic John H. Pierce House in Lincoln, MA. This adults-only party will feature food, drink, entertainment, a “50/50” raffle, live auction, and dancing to the tunes of live band “Six,” helmed by alumni parent Walter Ogier, P ’03. The fundraising fun begins in April, when the Twist & Sprout! online auction goes live. The auction will feature everything from one-of-a-kind experiences to beautiful handmade items. The Gala committee is eager to feature online donations from Alumni and Alumni parent artists, crafters and creators. If you have an item or service you would like to contribute to the online auction, please contact Misty Ojure at email@example.com. So save the date, and keep an eye on your inbox for your invitation. 3 Finding Love in the Halls of WSL by Megan Curtis, Class of 1994 As our school enters its fourth decade as an established institution—we’re already 42 years-old this year!—we are able to boast of alumni that are increasingly mature. While our graduates attend excellent high schools and colleges, we are reminded happily that there are many adult milestones that our alumni are passing in larger numbers, such as marriages and the birth of children. This past year, we note with joy that several of our alumni have tied the knot with fellow students they have met in the halls of our school. Jesse Ruggiero ‘94 and Theresa Green ‘94 Theresa and Jesse have known each other since they joined Mr. Bloomquist’s first grade class in 1986. They attended Lexington High School together as well. It was once they parted ways to attend college—Theresa graduated from Wellesley and Jesse from Connecticut College—that they became a couple. They were wed in October 2011 in the company of family, friends, and many of their Waldorf classmates and teacher. Pictured here are Jesse and Theresa with their daughter, Evelyn Rae, who was born in July. Jesse works in real estate in Cambridge and Theresa teaches Earth Science at Wellesley High School. Theresa received an award from the nonprofit, Green Schools, in 2010 for “Outstanding Commitment to Environmental Education.” Adam Curtis ‘97 and Laura Bliss ‘98 Adam and Laura have been a couple since they first met in middle school at WSL. They both attended the Waldorf High School of Massachusetts Bay, parting ways only for college—Adam at Rhode Island School of Design, and Laura at Mount Ida College. They tied the knot in Maine in September 2012. Included in the wedding party were Megan Curtis ‘94, Dave Wells ‘97 (WHS ‘01), Andrea Pollack ‘98, and Jana Pollack ‘00. Adam’s mother, Susan Cody, and his sister Megan are currently faculty members at WSL. Adam works for the Town of Lexington and has a furniture design business (see his work at curtisbuilt.com). Laura works at Brookline Bank in Lexington and is also a graphic designer. Jenny Howell ‘94 and Percival van Daam ‘91 Jenny and Percival were wed in Maine in August 2012 with several alumni from both classes in attendance. Jenny first had her eye on Percival in fifth grade when she looked up to him as an eighth grader. However, it was not until years later that Jenny and Percival reconnected at a cafe when Percival came over to invite Jenny and her friends to join his table. So started their romance. Percival is the son of Brigitta Witteveen, our resource teacher, and is an ER Physican Assistant at a Cambridge hospital. Jenny is Director of Coffee Sourcing and Development at George Howell Coffee founded by her father, George Howell. 4 Megan attended Lexington High School and continued on to Sarah Lawrence College where she received a BA in creative writing and philosophy and graduated in 2002. She next enrolled at Emerson College UK and completed her Waldorf Teaching Degree in 2006. Megan teaches English Language Skills at WSL. Tenth Robert W. Mendenhall Benefit Concert by Leah Bartell, Music Director This year, the tenth year to present the Mendenhall Benefit Concert, marks a milestone for the Mendenhall Scholarship Fund. These past ten years WSL has been able to offer scholarships to students who would ordinarily be unable to afford private music lessons. Thanks to the generosity of our community and friends, not only have we created a means for students to more deeply explore their own musicality but the music program at WSL is more vibrant and well-rounded. In addition, we are excited to be part of the 300 Year Anniversary celebration for the town of Lexington. This concert is one of the coordinating events for the town’s year-long celebration and we have created the program to span 300 years of music with works from each century, from Corelli to Astor Piazzola to an original composition written this year by alumnus, Daniel Rodriguez. As usual, we are fortunate to benefit from the musical virtuosity of faculty, parents, alumni, and friends of the school who donate their time and talents to create an evening of beauty and expression. For online reservations, go to: http://www. thewaldorfschool.org/mendenhall. Mendenhall: An Inspiration by Jenna Calabro, Class of 2005 until grade 6 As one of the first recipients of the Mendenhall Scholarship Fund, I benefitted from this gift for my first years of cello instruction, and I always appreciate the opportunity to give back to this wonderful school by performing in the Mendenhall Benefit Concert. The scholarship made it possible to begin my studies with my cello teacher, Jane Sheena, who nurtured my musical abilities from fourth to twelfth grade, and I am indebted to her for the infinite ways in which she continues to inspire me. Reflecting back on my early years at Waldorf, I remember quite distinctly the day that I chose the cello. Sitting in the gymnasium with my fourth grade class, we waited anxiously for Jane and Leah Bartell to enter with their instruments and introduce us to the world of strings. From the very first note, the cello won me over. I will always remember how warm and inviting it sounded. I will admit, though, that the main reason I chose the cello was because of how comfortable it looked to play! Thoughts on an Original Composition by Daniel Rodriguez, Class of 1998 While composing “Brief Intersection,” I realized I was working on a non-programmatic piece for the first time in several years. Initially, I was a little intimidated by the freedom to write whatever I chose and came up with many different ideas and concepts for the nature of the piece. I tried to incorporate characteristics of the many styles I’ve worked in as a musician and composer though my tendency here was in the direction of tonal neo-Romanticism. Eventually I narrowed my thoughts down to two main ideas, both essentially tonal, but otherwise not sharing many similarities. I decided that rather than a more typical formal structure developing a single theme, I would use both ideas, presenting them both at first on their own, and then concluding with the two themes joined in a new harmony taking advantage of the instrumentation of cello and piano by trying to use various timbres and ranges on each instrument. Cello ensemble and orchestra were my favorite classes. Mr. Mendenhall was an inspiring music teacher who, through kindOnce I had this inspiration, the actual work of comness and intelligence, made the music program at WSL enjoyable posing the rest of the piece followed swiftly thereafter. and fulfilling. Beginning with my Waldorf experience, I have grown as a cellist through the Longy Youth Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Youth Orchestra, and most currently the Boston Conservatory Orchestra. For those lucky enough to spend their elementary years at the Waldorf School of Lexington, I say, take advantage of all the incredible creative opportunities that are offered. The more you take from your experience at WSL, the more you will be able to, in turn, inspire others. The beautiful way in which Waldorf shapes you as a creative individual will stay with you for the rest of your life. Jenna attended WSL from kindergarten to grade six. She studied cello with Jane Sheena until graduating from ActonBoxborough Regional High School in 2011 and is pursuing a B.Mus. in Cello Performance at The Boston Conservatory. 5 Alumni Notes: Class of 1998 The Class of 1998 organized a mini-reunion in July 2012 in Somerville, MA. Some of them are pictured here (from left to right): Larah Luft Massey, Jamie Highsmith, Eli Gerzon, Jeremy Weiland, Andrea Pollack. Read below some highlights of other 1998 graduates pursuing their life journeys both far and near. Eli Spindel founded the String Orchestra of Brooklyn and both conducts and plays the violin. In a description of a performance in 2011, the NY Times wrote “Mr. Spindel elicited sharply defined, urgent playing that illuminated every mood of this haunting score, from the throbbing ostinatos and angry surges to meditative, eerie sweetness.” Eli currently works as Managing Editor of Publications at the International Center of Photography and is also on the editorial board of the PEN America Journal. Click here to listen to the orchestra and an interview with Eli. Annelise Parham and husband, David Kahn, welcomed their son, Theo, to this world in July 2012 a month after she graduated with an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. She currently works at Boehringer Ingelheim and writes a blog, Dear Theodore, where she chronicles for Theo his adventures since his birth. Daniel Rodriguez has been nominated by the IRNE awards for Best Music Director for his direction of Bye Bye Birdie at the Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston. The Independent Reviewers of England (IRNE) recognize each year the wealth of talent in the Boston theatre community. Daniel has won Best Music Director several times in the past years for his work at the Reagle, the American Repertory Theatre, and the Blue Spruce Theatre. Nathan Prouty has a ceramic art piece in the the Lacoste Gallery show “Blue & White: Contemporary Spins of Blue & White Ceramics”. The gallery is in Concord, MA. This piece and others found in various galleries across the country stem from his work as artist-in-residence at Winsteeton, 2011 The Clay Studio in Philadelphia. 6.5 x 6 x 6 in. Nathan is currently pursuing an MFA degree in ceramics at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. PLEASE BE IN TOUCH! Email your news to the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can update your contact information and give us the latest news at http://www.thewaldorfschool.org/alumni_update. Editors Carol Damm, Communications & Outreach Director Linda Mack, Development Director Photo Credits Betsy Peck, Development Assistant Other photos courtesy of alumni and alumni parents 6 © 2012 Waldorf School of Lexington. All rights reserved. 739 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA 02420 781-863-1062