Celebrations throughout the year
A sense of reverence for the world and for the wisdom and beauty apparent in its formation are cultivated and celebrated at Pine Hill. Our many festivals and celebratory events generally follow the annual seasons. Some of these occasions are school-wide, with adults and children invited to participate, and others are specifically for certain ages or classes.
September Rose Ceremony
First day of school. Each class is given an enticing look at some aspect of their curriculum for the coming year. The first day assembly ends with a welcome to the entering students. The "Rose Ceremony" is a special memory for each incoming student, as an eighth grader presents a rose to each first grader, establishing a bond that will continue throughout the year.
On or near September 29. The whole school hikes Northpack, near Mt. Monadnock, in recognition of the season.
Saturday around September 29. The festival of Michaelmas, in which children experience the image of good overcoming evil in the reenactment of the hero slaying the dragon, is celebrated with an assembly, a procession with shields and banners, the planting of bulbs, a work schedule to help clean up the school and prepare for winter, and an outdoor picnic with games and events following. Celebrating Michaelmas reminds us of the value of hard work, steadfastness, strength,and courage.
Milford Pumpkin Festival. In recent years, the Early Childhood teachers have brought their long-standing tradition of the Halloween Walk to the whole community during the Pumpkin Festival. It is a magical experience for young children who are lead through the forest and come upon characters in costume such as the fisherman, from whom the children can catch a "fish," or Mama Baker who gives each child a cookie.
Martinmas Lantern Walk
Near November 11. At dusk, the youngest children gather with their parents in their classrooms for a story. The children are then led out of the school by their teachers, carrying lighted lanterns they have prepared, in a procession through the darkened fields in the back of the school. As they walk, they sing songs about lighting the darkness. Each light carried in the dark signifies the inner light we must hold throughout the long, dark winter.
Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving. Parents, grandparents, and friends are invited to the first assembly of the year with each class performing. Tables are set up in the foyer in the days before the Thanksgiving break to collect non perishable food and supplies that will be donated to charity.
St. Nicholas Day
December 6th. St. Nicholas makes a surprise visit to each classroom and leaves a special treat for each child. In the younger grades, St. Nicholas reads something pertinent to each child from his book. In the upper grades the class is visited by Ruprecht, his somewhat unruly companion, who brings the children fruits and nuts.
The first Saturday of December, and the Friday night before. Pine Hill's Holiday Fair is well known throughout the area for excellent entertainment, the best local artisans, delicious food, and a children's wing with engaging activities such as crafts and storytelling. Friday night is an adult-only night for shopping and enjoying good music and delicious treats. On Saturday, children find a wondrous environment to explore while adults shop and socialize.
Spiral of Light
Usually the first Sunday in December. A beautiful, quiet and meditative celebration that focuses on the inner light amidst winter darkness. Apples, each with a candle set into its center, are carried by the early childhood children around a spiral of evergreen boughs and placed amongst the crystals and other treasures in the spiral..
December 13. In Sweden, Saint Lucia (Loo-see-a) Day is the beginning of the Christmas season. The oldest girl in each family rises before dawn and prepares a hot drink and sweet bread, then serves it, entering each bedroom wreathed in light from her crown of candles and singing sweetly. Many Waldorf Schools have adapted this beautiful tradition.
The second grade, led by Saint Lucia ( the oldest eighth grade girl) visits each class and gives cookies or sweet bread to all the children. The second grade children move through the school dressed in white and singing, creating a special experience for the whole school.
The Gathering of Light
An evening early in December. A community gathering of families to celebrate the holiday season. Groups and family ensembles may bring musical performances, poetry or readings to offer, or in some years the celebration has taken on a Christmas Revels theme.
The Shepherds Play
Just before Holiday Break. This play is part of a series called the Oberufer Plays, which date from the 15th century. Traditionally this play is performed by the teachers in Waldorf Schools all over the world. It tells the story of the birth of Christ and the three shepherds who journey to the manger with gifts for the child.
Throughout the school year. The return from Holiday break marks the start of class play season. Each class presents a play each year based on a pedagogical theme related to the curriculum of that year. The plays start small, in the classroom just for parents to watch but grow in scope, audience and venue to the culmination of the 8th grade class play in the auditorium in full costume and sets which is open to the community. Often class plays include singing and accompanying music by students in the class.
Late January. Grades five through eight perform the music they have mastered in their various music classes.
The Hilltop Circus
Late February. The annual circus is the fruit of our movement program. In fourth grade children begin to learn juggling, balancing, unicycling, clowning and other skills that are brought together in a middle-school story-circus performance which is enjoyable for all ages. It is a very popular event in our community, with many school groups attending. Admission is charged.
Spring, after Purim. The 15th through the 21st of the Jewish month of Nisan. The third grade curriculum includes the Old Testament, and most third grade classes chose to celebrate this holiday. Depending on parental input, matzo can be baked and eaten in a classroom Seder during the school day. The class teacher may decide to celebrate a Passover seder with students and their families.
The first Sunday following the full moon after March 21, the Spring Equinox. Classes may decorate eggs or bring in boughs of apple or Forcythia to bud indoors. Classes may plant grass in the classroom or make baskets. The story of Christ’s life and teachings is usually told to the sixth grade as part of the history of the Roman Empire and as a precursor to medieval and renaissance history.
Mid Spring. Middle school students present a science fair to the school and community, engaging all ages with the wide-variety of projects. Each student conducts research or an experiement, makes a presentation board, and then answers questions about their project on fair day.
Grandparents and Special Friends Day
A Friday in early May. Grandparents and friends may visit the classrooms and get a peek at what a morning lesson is in a Waldorf school. Then, all classes perform in an assembly dedicated to extended family.
A Saturday in early May. A brief Spring Pageant is offered by the faculty and staff featuring King Winter and Lady Spring, with Winter vanquished by the sun's return, bringing new life and warmth. This is followed by an hour or two of spring cleaning around the campus to prepare for the summer. Music and dancing is provided by the middle school students and faculty. Weather permitting, strawberry shortcake follows a bring-your-own picnic.
Late May. The fifth grade studies ancient history, including ancient Greece. It is common for the Olympiad to coincide with the study of Greek history in the main lesson. Our students join other Waldorf Schools in Vermont where ancient Olympic competitions are held. Events include the classic pentathlon, javelin, discus, the 100 yard dash, Greco-Roman wrestling and the long jump. Honor and integrity in sportsmanship are celebrated.
June Rose Ceremony
Last day of school. The final assembly of the year includes performances by each class dedicated to the graduating eighth graders. Mirroring the opening Rose Ceremony, each eighth grader receives a rose from his or her first grader, in very emotional ceremony. A recent tradition is to have college-aged alumni who graduated 8 years ago attend, and recognize 'their' first grader who are now graduating students.
Mid-June. Families, teachers and students celebrate the graduation of eighth grade students, many who have been in the school for 11 years. Recognition of student accomplishments and remembrances of their journey together are celebrated.