Dramatic and stage presentations are an essential part of the life of the school. Students give presentations beginning in kindergarten and increasing in complexity through the grades. These presentations complement the subject matter of the grades. The eighth grade play is a major production that utilizes the acting, language, musical, manual and artistic skills the students have learned throughout the grades. Students develop poise, confidence, and grace on the stage. These events are also opportunities for parents and the wider community to see Waldorf education at work.
A teacher's reflections
Shortly after her second grade class completed their class play, class teacher Catlin Kennedy shared these thoughts:
"As the second grade basks in the afterglow of our performance, I am reminded of why we perform a yearly class play throughout the grades at Pine Hill. Play-acting develops clear speech and improved spelling, the use of meaningful gestures develops careful listening, and learning to move with ease about the stage enhances spatial orientation. Beyond this, putting on a show brings the class together as a whole, solidifies their social bonds, and creates a sense of community among all the children in the class. I watched this happen right before my eyes last year in first grade as the class came together for the first time. Truly, they have been a unified class ever since!
"This year I witnessed yet another and perhaps more important aspect to putting on a class play, namely the development of the will. There is a point in every production when the children are tired of the play, they already know the story and are ready for something new. Admittedly, sometimes the teacher also feels a longing for some fresh material as well! But when we persevere through the "doldrums" as a class, the children begin to strengthen their will forces. They begin to learn that while life for the most part is fun, there are times that call for just plain hard work. And through the experience of putting on a play, the children reap the reward of their hard work when the audience comes and the performances soar!
"The class has a palpable sense of accomplishment and capability now. We have completed our second play together and this has carried us into our first true writing block. We don't do art for art's sake at Pine Hill, but through the arts we develop the children's capacities to a much fuller extent than any amount of homework or testing could ever do. Though it is hard work, I would not give up the class play for anything!"