Let me know if I am breaking a rule by posting this, and I will delete this post. These are highlights from an e-mail that was sent from the Newtown Waldorf School regarding the Sandy Hook tragedy. I selected just a few of them. The original e-mail was much longer, and included photos and drawings. A particularly moving drawing was by a 7th grader who drew a beautiful angel leading a group of little children, dressed in white, to Heaven. Seeing that drawing was when I finally, officially lost it.
It has been a week since the unimaginable loss of the lives of children, teachers and administrators at our neighboring Sandy Hook Elementary School, less than 6 miles away from us. Our hearts hurt as we all send prayers of light and love.
A "business as usual" News, Notes & Updates didn't seem the appropriate gesture at the moment. This week at HVWS the heartache has been palpable, yet it has been sprinkled with incredible tenderness, love and outreach. We are fortunate that the Waldorf curriculum and community life hold rituals that ground us - and in these times heal us.
Last Friday evening, the youngest among us innocently and sweetly walked the Advent Spiral while their parents and teachers sent prayers out into the world. The staff created the opportunity for the adults in the community to walk the spiral on Sunday morning; more than 60 gathered. On Monday morning the grade school children had their chance to walk.
Words cannot express our gratitude for HVWS parents *** and ***, who were onsite providing crisis intervention counseling on Monday, or to the HVWS parent who works at Danbury Hospital and was calling our office on Friday to inform us about what was unfolding before the media did, giving us precious minutes to discern next steps.
This week 28 candles have burned quietly in the front lobby, and green and white balloons -- Sandy Hook Elementary School colors -- have adorned the HVWS sign on the grades campus next to the flag that flies at half-mast. The balloons were then replaced by a big heart made out of evergreen branches.
Below is an attempt to share with you a small glimpse of the thoughtful communications between our teachers and parents, reflecting how the students were held; and a glimpse of the sentiments HVWS and Newtown have received from many friends. All the correspondence couldn't possibly be shared in this small space. This is just a snapshot. For each email below there were another five... and then there were the phone calls:former board presidents, teachers, staff, parents, etc. The emails are in no particular order.
Thank you to the parents who courageously sent their children to school this week; thank you for your trust.
We are a school in Newtown; we stand beside Sandy Hook.
Watch for the light.
Dear 2nd Grade parents,
It was something of a surreal scene yesterday. The children happily and unquestioningly played indoors at recess, and had Handwork in their classroom instead of in the other building, unaware of the devastation and chaos playing itself out on the other side of town - and, to a large extent, in the souls of the teachers who knew something about what was happening. What I was feeling was really a metaphor for the wall of protection we try to create around these precious young beings, to shield their childhood from the world's harsh and brutal winds, and to allow them to develop in peace and joy until they are strong enough to be able to process and handle life's uglier aspects.
I trust you will find the right way to bring yesterday's events to them in as muted a way as possible, and that you will also encourage older siblings, friends and relatives to leave them as untroubled as possible by media images and reports.
On Monday we will walk the Advent spiral, a beautiful and powerful medicine against the world's darkness. I encourage you (without children) to come tomorrow morning between 9 and 11 to the Eurythmy room where the spiral is set up, to walk it yourselves in honor of the lives of yesterday's victims.
The 2nd Grade curriculum, like that of every grade, is itself a powerful medicine that awakens the children's awareness of good and evil, heightens their compassion for each other and for the world, and fortifies them inwardly so that one day they will be ready to engage properly with the world. Their steady diet of Saints stories on the one hand, and Fables on the other, goes straight into their wondering souls and works deep within them. I see it every day!
2nd grade teacher
On Friday morning, while our HVWS children were going about their business of play and work, their counterparts just a few miles away in Sandy Hook descended into a vortex of unspeakable horror that will forever impact the lives of so many. As members of the Newtown community, we bear the burden of grief, disbelief and awareness of the fact that while our families will be sending children off to school next week, some neighbors will not.
Rudolf Steiner was deeply troubled by WWI and wanted to foster a culture that would not repeat its horrors. He wanted to develop a prescription that would inoculate the future generations from the antipathy that threatens to devolve society. Together with our community, our obligation as keepers of his vision is to cultivate the healthy development of whole human beings "who are able, of themselves, to impart purpose and direction to their lives."
4th grade parent and Board President
I do not know how much your children might be sharing with you about our day today so I thought I would try to do so.
We started our day as usual with going through our homework assignments that needed to be handed in etc. and then moved to the atrium for our daily Advent candles lighting and singing together with grades 5 & 6.
Once back in class I lit a candle for all victims of Friday's tragedy. We left it burning all day and will do so each day of this week.
I then spoke to the students about my/the school's reasoning behind not telling them anything on Friday afternoon. I spoke to them about the fact that many younger students at school or other younger children in their environment might not know the full extent of what happened so I asked them to only speak about it in our classroom. I let them know that they could speak freely about it and could ask questions whenever they wanted to.
Some children cried as they said they felt helpless and so very sad, another said to be really angry about this all. I told them I had cried too and it was only very normal to be sad about this. We spoke about it being different as this happened in Newtown where our school is and where some of the students live.
After dismissal time I was left in the classroom with Dylan and Marley. Dylan shared with me that he would like the class to dedicate their Nativity Play performance on Thursday to the victims of the tragedy. I was very touched by his thinking and asked him to share this with Ms. Merkling. We will speak about this some more tomorrow too.
I would like to share with you that today was a good day in school. The routine and comfort of it was soothing. More importantly the students are so amazing in their care and resilience.
My goal for this week is to try to keep it as regular as possible. We will burn the candle for victims each day and I will ask the class each day how they are doing. Please urge them to speak with me or another adult at school if they feel the need to.
7th/8th grade teacher