What is a Lantern Walk?

The Lantern Walk – The Celebration of St. Martin

In early November, our Lantern Walk affirms symbolically that light can continue to shine even as the light and warmth of the sun are waning. Now light and warmth come more from our homes, and from the fellowship of friends and family. Carrying a light into the darkness in the company of others – as we do during the Lantern Walk – can be reassuring.

American Waldorf schools have adopted the Lantern Walk tradition from its European heritage. The walk is celebrated around the time of Martinmas, November 11.

From France comes the legend of St. Martin, who as a young man passed under an archway in the city of Amiens and found a destitute beggar there. Martin tore his own cape in half, to cover and warm the beggar. After a dream the following night, Martin was convinced he was to devote his life in service of all humankind, and became the patron saint of beggars and outcasts. A gentle and unassuming man, he brought light and warmth to all those whose lives he touched, hence his association with the lantern.

Lantern Walk Mother & Child

DWS Soccer Players Head to State Championships

DWS Soccer Players Head to State Championships

Three High School students from The Denver Waldorf School have been playing on the Denver Christian Boys team this season. Senior Xilal Rima and Juniors Ian Connolly and Matthew Douglas-May will take the field in two playoff games this weekend in Colorado Springs. They are a strong team and beautiful to watch. If they win this weekend, more tournament games will follow. We wish them the best of luck!

2013 DWS Boys Soccer Action

2013 Boys Soccer Block

2013 Boys Soccer

2013 Boys Soccer Header

 

The DWS Junior Class Presents…

The DWS Junior Class Presents…

Junior Class Play Flyer

Friday & Saturday, Oct. 25th & 26th at 7 pm

In ancient times, knowledge was given through stories and parables. Humans instinctively knew the symbols and meaning hidden in the yarns that storytellers told.

As man matured and developed the capacities of reason, our understanding went from instinct to thought. Stories flowed from picture images to the abstract. The way to hold this thinking was through the development of an abstract alphabet, to written words, to books.

Books then allowed us to form our own pictures, to create dialogue human to human.
It has taken thousands of years to form this knowledge. What if it all suddenly went away? What if we were not allowed to read books and form our own pictures? What if we were not permitted to leave the cinema and talk with one another about what we experienced?

What if our feelings were spoon-fed to us, and our thinking took place without perspective?
Initially, Fahrenheit 451, a novel by Ray Bradbury, was a protest against censorship and government overreach during the Joseph McCarthy/House Un-American Activities (HUAC) Committee hearings of the late 1940s and early 1950s. The play is an updated version that takes on the power of technology and the two-dimensional nature of television. 

The 11th Grade will perform this fast-paced, challenging play on Friday and Saturday, October 25th and 26th at 7:00 p.m. in the Ginny Boone Oppenheim Festival Hall. All are invited and encouraged to support our students’ performance of this important work.

by Mr. David Johnson, Director

Alumni Profile: Peter Ragonetti ’99

Alumni Profile: Peter Ragonetti ’99

After struggling with undiagnosed attention deficit disorder (ADD) at other schools in Kindergarten through 4th Grade, Peter Ragonetti was not sure about his ability to succeed in school or even his willingness to try.

Choosing Waldorf

Peter’s mother Marcia, a mezzo-soprano with Opera Colorado, was convinced that the style of teaching and learning at The Denver Waldorf School would better fit Peter’s needs. “I learned about the school from Joan Condon, rest her soul. Joan was my very influential English teacher at Cherry Creek High and we kept in touch.”

Peter and Marcia Ragonetti, 1993Peter’s father Tom, a race car driver, wasn’t so sure about the school. “I first felt that Waldorf was perhaps a little strange, too soft and whifty. I was not certain that knitting and eurythmy were useful, but that all changed nearly the moment I spoke with Mrs. Ina Jaehnig.

“She was the most clear-thinking educator I had ever spoken to. I knew that this was the right place for Peter. Ina is an incredible person and the best thing that ever happened to Peter Ragonetti,” Tom says.

It didn’t take long for both of his parents to see that they had made the correct decision. Peter began to thrive and flourish. Marcia said, “In retrospect it would have been great to have Peter start at Denver Waldorf when he was in First Grade, but the school has proven to be the right choice. It was pivotal for Peter, even if it was just for 4 years.”

Influential Teachers, Challenging Roles

Marcia recalls, “After Ina accepted him into her class, she told me that he was not done yet. I didn’t quite understand the full meaning of what she was trying to say at the time, but now I do. Ina knew that it was too early to judge him or any child, that it was her duty to continue to fill them up, allow them to take it in, and trust that they will eventually take all that they have learned and in their own time, bloom. Ina took the banner from me and was Peter’s cheerleader.”

Peter has done just as Ina predicted: he bloomed while at DWS, he bloomed in high school and college and now is continuing to bloom in his career and his recent marriage. “I credit the strength and understanding that Ina gave to him and us. It opened our eyes as parents and we’re thankful,” Marcia adds. quite understand the full meaning of what she was trying to say at the time, but now I do. Ina knew that it was too early to judge him or any child, that it was her duty to continue to fill them up, allow them to take it in, and trust that they will eventually take all that they have learned and in their own time, bloom. Ina took the banner from me and was Peter’s cheerleader.”

Reflecting on his experiences in fifth through eighth grade at DWS, Peter says, “I’m not certain if it was any one thing that made the difference; I think it was everything put together. It was the dedication and love that Mrs. Jaehnig put towards me and the rest of the class, it was the curriculum and how it was presented.”

Peter had learned how to read at a young age but felt no real interest in it. The challenge for him was not actually reading, it was focusing on the content. “I would get so distracted that I wouldn’t be able to remember what I read or actually learn from it. That is where having information presented by Mrs. Jaehnig in the home room environment was so beneficial. I could relax and listen rather than force myself to focus and the information sank in much deeper. Those ideas and stories lived in me and helped with my comprehension, which then made reading fun.”

Peter Ragonetti Class Photo

As a boy, Peter was initially skeptical about eurythmy, but from his perspective as an adult, it was essential to helping him manage his ADD. “I was a very energetic young boy, but when I went to eurythmy class, it relaxed me and gave me an opportunity to be within myself while still moving. Eurythmy was better than being prescribed Ritalin. It was pretty amazing. I certainly do hope that The Denver Waldorf School still teaches eurythmy.”

I assured Peter that not only does the school still teach it, we continue to emphasize the value of this coursework for current and future students. As part of our long-range Campus Master Plan, we are looking to build a room specifically designed for the class.

Peter’s mother Marcia reflects that she sometimes questioned the school’s teachings, but then was always amazed by the results. “Peter joined a class in 5th grade that had been together and knew each other for years. They were a pretty tight bunch. Ina cast Peter as the lead role for the class play Perseus. I thought she was nuts; being a performer myself in Opera, I just didn’t see Peter doing this.

“Other kids with more experience wanted it and were probably more of an appropriate choice for the role. But in the end, Ina set out to put him outside of his comfort zone. Playing Perseus was not a gift for Peter, but a responsibility. He had to hold the class up in playing this part and Peter understood that and did it well.”

Peter left DWS after 8th Grade to attend a charter high school that was very self-directed. “In my high school, I essentially chose my path as to what classes I would do. This was a fairly easy concept after working on and creating my own textbooks and main lesson books at The Denver Waldorf School. I already had all the tools I needed to think, act independently and prioritize,” he recalls.

Life After Waldorf

Peter Ragonetti, DWS '99When Peter was in high school, he didn’t have a computer in the home. In college, Peter still designed and prepared his artwork by hand. “Designing on computers just started during his last couple of years of college,” Marcia notes.

Peter is now Design Director of Kikkerland Design, Inc., a large design firm in New York City, and credits the arts-integrated curriculum at DWS for his career choice. “As an Industrial Designer I have designed and built furniture and models, and have a full understanding of manufacturing and craftsmanship and the product marketplace. Since I graduated from Pratt in 2004, many of my own designs have come to market and have been patented. Currently I am responsible for overseeing the launching over 300 new products a year.”

Some of Peter’s designs can be seen on his website, and in this video from the Pratt Institute. “I continue to see the influence that Mrs. Jaehnig and DWS has on me. I try to incorporate the beauty of nature and the world around me.”

Despite his impressive professional achievements in design, Peter’s most treasured creation is a humble one. “Out of all of the things I’ve designed and can attribute my name to, the one item I cherish most is the wooden spoon I made in Mr. Baker’s woodworking class. It’s currently displayed on my mantel. When I was a student you had to finish a mallet and spoon and then you could make anything you wanted. Most people made a project each semester. In four years, I made a mallet and a spoon – but it is a very nice spoon,” he notes.

In May of this year, Peter got married in Brooklyn, NY. His wife tells him that she wishes she’d had the opportunity to attend a Waldorf School. She also has A.D.D. and struggled in a traditional education setting, and hopes their future children will attend a Waldorf School in New York City. (Peter, your kids are always welcome at DWS!) One of Peter’s DWS classmates, Claire Boswell, is now a teacher at the Brooklyn Waldorf School.

Peter and his wife already value the Waldorf approach to education. “I can see even before having children that there are so many things that Waldorf is doing that are so relevant today. Kids have access to so much technology everywhere else, so not having the technology in the classroom is beneficial. Having to do things on your own and solve problems without the aid of technology is healthy and helpful in understanding the world,” he explains.

The Denver Waldorf School made an impact on the entire Ragonetti family. Peter’s father Tom believes that DWS helped to shape the man Peter has become. Peter himself recalls his four years at The Denver Waldorf School as being the first time he could see what he was capable of and what was possible for him to achieve.

Marcia adds, “The biggest gift that Waldorf gives to students is making them unafraid to go out into the big wide world. They want to be out in the big world and when they finally go, they are grounded and they are not afraid. Peter certainly benefited and we’re thankful.”

As our conversation ended, Peter mentioned he was headed to Massachusetts, his wife’s home state, to go fishing for the weekend. “I enjoy fishing. It is an opportunity to get away and see the truth and beauty of nature. I guess there’s a bit of Waldorf influence there as well.”

Alumni Profile: Ariel Elich ’07

Alumni Profile: Ariel Elich ’07

Ariel Elich, Denver Waldorf AlumMy name is Ariel Elich and I graduated from The Denver Waldorf School in 2007. I went on to study Photography at the Art Institute of Colorado. After college I found myself a little lost, not really knowing what I wanted to do with my new skills and education.

I knew I wanted to travel and I had the money to keep me abroad for quite some time, but I also knew I didn’t just want to blow all my money on traveling for a year and then be back to square one when I came back.

One night around a campfire, my sister Rachele (also Waldorf Alumni – Class of ’02) and I were reminiscing about a childhood dream we had of sailing around the world. It hit us then that this was actually a dream we still harbored in our hearts.

We decided that we wanted to buy a boat, or at least look into it. Sounds crazy right? It was a crazy idea and we knew it! But we went ahead and started crunching some numbers to see if this was really something we could turn into a business. Low and behold the numbers worked out.

A “Synchronicity of Destinies”

The next hurdle was to find that “perfect boat” that we had been dreaming of all these years. At first the search for our boat seemed bleak. We found lots of nice boats that were way out of our price range, and the ones that were in our price range were junk barely afloat! Then (to quote a wise man) in a “synchronicity of destinies,” we stumbled across One World, a beautiful, affordable, 64-foot Brigantine Schooner. It was love at first sight. From that moment, our world became One World.

Three very short months later we had sold most of our worldly possessions and moved out of the country to Panama (where the boat was at the time we bought it) We worked between Panama and Columbia for about a year and a half, taking backpackers between the two countries and through some very picturesque islands in Panama, it was good work and good money but alas our wandering hearts were ready for a new adventure!

One World - DWS Alumni Profile On December 17th 2012 we set out from Columbia and sailed 2,500 nautical miles across the Caribbean sea all the way to Florida. It was one adventure after the next! Now the boat is in Florida having regular maintenance done before we set out for the Yucatan peninsula and Roatan in Honduras.

We now offer space on the boat for as long as a person would like to stay with us. We keep our prices affordable because, after all, we started this whole thing so we could travel and see the world and share that experience with like-minded adventurous people.

DWS Education: The greatest gift

Our ultimate goal is to make a complete circumnavigation of the world and we plan to cross the Pacific Ocean in the next year or so. It has been an amazing experience so far and I like to think that without my Waldorf education I would not have had the courage, creativity and wit to pull this all off. My hat is off to everyone at the Denver Waldorf School and I give a big thanks for the greatest gift I have ever received: My education.

You can check out our website at www.sailingoneworld.com, where you can find links to our Facebook page, blog and lots of photos! My photography website is currently under construction but should be finished and back up and running in the near future at www.arielelich.com.

Back-to-School Preparations

Back-to-School Preparations

It’s that time of year! The Denver Waldorf School administrative offices are buzzing with activity as we prepare to welcome all of our new families and welcome back all of our returning families.

Emails with information and forms will be sent out on Monday, August 5th. If your student’s 2013-14 registration is complete and you do not receive your Back-to-School email, please contact Christa Gustafson, Main Office Manager, at 303-777-0531 x 100 or dws@denverwaldorf.org. We’re looking forward to a great year!

A Waldorf Spotlight on Rachel Ladasky

A Waldorf Spotlight on Rachel Ladasky, The Denver Waldorf “Bluebell Garden” Nursery

476095_10151122445125550_1500954163_o-1The Denver Waldorf School is opening a second, off-site nursery school to enhance our early childhood education program and meet the growing demand for Waldorf education in our area. We have located a church site at 17th and Dahlia in Park Hill and, if all goes according to plan, The Denver Waldorf School will open “Bluebell Garden” in fall of 2013. In preparation, The College of Teachers has offered Rachel Ladasky, Morning Glory Lead Assistant, the position of Lead Nursery Teacher and she has accepted.

6881168698_afe57bd532_o-1Rachel first came to The Denver Waldorf School as an intern in Morning Glory Kindergarten and then worked as a substitute and Lyre Assistant. She attended a Waldorf nursery school herself and was also a volunteer French teacher and substitute at River Song Waldorf School for two years. Rachel holds a BA in French and Education from Colorado State University and a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Waldorf Education from Antioch University New England. Congratulations, Rachel!

A Conversation With Rachel Ladasky …

Hi Rachel! Tell us about the name for the new nursery site?

“Bluebell flowers are known as fairy thimbles. As the fable goes, you ring a bluebell to gather the fairies in the forest. Bluebells are such delicate, sweet little flowers. They have this connection to the fairy world and the spirit world and that’s right where the little children are, still connected to the heavenly realm.”

Why did you want to become a Waldorf early childhood education teacher?

“In early childhood, everything is new and magical and exciting to them and watching it unfold is just incredible. The Denver Waldorf School Nursery Program is such a bridge between home life and Kindergarten. It’s their first experience of school, the whole world is new to them and they’re safe and secure. There is beauty everywhere and it’s a good place to be. I get to help them grow into themselves and be happy and secure.”

What are you most looking forward to next year?

“I’m really excited to have my own class and I’m really ready for it.
The space is so sweet and warm and cozy, it’s the perfect space to hold the children and gently introduce them to Waldorf education.”

You have spent time in more mainstream educational environments ~ what draws you to Waldorf education?

“Waldorf is so much more heartfelt and purposeful. Not just with the children but among the faculty as well. There is no way I could go back after experiencing and seeing first-hand the love the teachers here have for the children. Having such a strong philosophical foundation that we’re all working out of is so unique. To be in a school that honors the children’s development to help their growth versus focused on what they need to know, that is truly beautiful.
Here, it’s magical and it’s fun and it feeds my soul.”
~Interview by Jennifer Parker, Community Development Coordinator