The Denver Waldorf High School provides a liberal arts education consciously aimed to nurture and encourage adolescent ideals and to balance the students’ academic needs with their longing to find meaning in the world.
From grade nine through grade twelve, a new image of the adult stands in the young person’s mind as an ideal. Truthfulness, thoughtfulness, self-possession, consideration, strong-mindedness, warm-heartedness — these are the qualities the adolescent holds as ideals.
From around age fourteen, the student looks for such qualities in his teachers. No longer blindly accepting authority, he looks to a mentor who inspires him and who is clearly worthy of emulation.
The high school student also needs teachers who have devoted themselves to and mastered particular subjects or skills-the logic in mathematics, the control of the hand and sharpening of eye in metalwork and wood-carving or the development of bodily grace, control and expression in Eurythmy.
Students will gravitate towards particular people and areas of study according to their individual preferences and talents. At the same time each student should continue to accept the discipline each subject demands and also appreciate the insights and broader perspective that an interdisciplinary approach makes possible.
Dramatic and Performing Arts
In the High School, as the individual student emerges, the dramas begin the investigation of individuals within the context of a complex theme. In Grade 9 we take on short, one-act plays. The character development will be short, but the student will begin to understand individual characteristics of the human being. Grades 10 through 12 students will take on dramas that offer characters that will give them the chance to wrestle with their opposite, highlight themselves, or in a perfect situation, offer them the chance to gaze into their own souls.
Seniors perform in a local theater at the end of the school year and the whole school community celebrates their accomplishments. At The Denver Waldorf School we offer drama in Grades 1 through 12 and so with this wealth of theater the students are able to develop a well-rounded theatrical life that can take in the human and technical parts of the world they live in and begin to see how they fit.
Students also meet in a chorus class twice weekly with school performances throughout the year. They are also invited to join a HS orchestra, which meets once weekly and again performs throughout the year. Both music groups culminate their school performances in a spring show and in celebration of the Seniors at graduation.
Fine and Practical Arts
Art classes in the High School meet one hour every afternoon in four-week blocks and follow the developmental needs of the student at each grade level. Fine arts classes each year are selected by the Arts Director and could include Black and White Drawing, Pastel Drawing, Printmaking and Etching in Grade 9; Casting Light and Shadow, Black and White Design, Drawing and Portraiture with Oil Pastels, Watercolor Painting and Mural Painting in Grade 10; Expressive Portraiture and more Printmaking in Grade 11; and Expressive Portraiture, Oil Painting and Veil Painting in Grade 12. Practical Arts include Relief Clay Sculpting, Clay Modeling, Basketry, Felting, Mixed Media, Calligraphy, Stained Glass, Bookbinding, Drumming, Copperwork and Woodwork.
Gym and Athletics
Students participate in hour-long P.E. classes, often involving team sports at the neighborhood park. The number of classes in the week varies for each student, but range from two to four times. DWS is a member of the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), and participates in inter-scholastic competition on a 1-A level. Girls Volleyball and Basketball and Boys Basketball are offered.
Through offerings in the humanities, the students are re-exposed to the major religious traditions and disciplines in the world and also deal with questions directly regarding spirituality and its application in the modern world. Sometimes religion is the focus of study, in such courses as History of Religion, Bible as Literature and Transcendentalism. Other times students gain different perspectives on different religions while learning about past eras, people and cultures, such as Medieval History or the History of Revolutions, and sometimes students learn about religion while looking at other topics such as History through Art, History through Music, Parzival, 20th Century History, Russian Literature and Faust. The integrative nature of the curriculum allows religion to be explored from many angles.
Student Activities and Organizations
The archery club was founded in 1999 as an after-school, self-funded, extracurricular activity. Students in Grades 6 through 12 are invited to join. The goal of the archery club is to safely introduce the students to the sport and to provide the physical and mental training needed to become a skilled archer. Another goal of the archery club is to provide another means of enjoying outdoor recreation. The club uses only “traditional” archery equipment (no sights, mechanical releases, pulley or cams) to emphasize the archer’s skills. The mood of the club is non-competitive, safe and fun.
Early Music Ensemble
The HS Early Music Ensemble meets twice weekly to focus on the music of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The emphasis is on ensemble work, developing good listening skills, learning about period composers and the types of pieces they wrote, and tone and rhythmic technique. Students are responsible for holding their own part. Rhythms are complicated and often conflicting rather than congruent from part to part. There is emphasis on fine-tuning the ensemble work and nuances of each work. When possible, additional instruments such as viola da gamba, rebec, and psaltery are brought in, and some pieces include vocal parts or are sung a cappella. Students have performed in other schools, a nearby nursing home, for school events, and sometimes in public fairs.
Cultural Exchange Program
Students have the opportunity to participate in an exchange program with other Waldorf schools internationally. We have either sent our students to, or received students from, Germany, Switzerland, Brussels, Brazil, South Africa, Korea, Australia, Vietnam, and the U.K.
Each year, high school students are invited to enter a math contest sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America. Typically, a number of students participate in this annual event. Interested students may also meet weekly as a math club to work on contest problems or other math questions.
As twelfth graders stand on the edge of adulthood, they long for independence and yet are still unsure of their place in the world. The Senior Project is designed to help students begin to bridge this gap, preparing them for college studies and professional work in the world. Students must design a project that forces them to pursue a new area of interest or something that will stretch their abilities, mentally, physically, and/or emotionally. The individual projects are approved by the HS faculty and supported by an adult mentor who is an expert in the chosen field of endeavor and preferably someone outside of the familiar school community. The project scope is equivalent to one main lesson block, or about eighty hours of work, and typically extends over many months of the school year. The project culminates in a formal presentation of learning to the community.
Service Learning/ Community Service Program
The Denver Waldorf School faculty believes that young people today want to be respected as valuable members of their community. Additionally, schools, colleges, and universities recognize that service helps to foster the development of a sense of caring for others and that service is an essential part of today’s education. Therefore, either individually or as a group, students are expected to participate in activities that serve the community.
Students participate in a class trip with a service-learning component as follows:
Sophomore Class – Cresset Community Farm
Students spend a week working on a biodynamic farm in Boulder County while looking at Acids & Bases through soil sampling.
Junior Class – Colorado Life-sharing Community Initiative
Students spend time with developmentally challenged adults at the Colorado Camphill Initiative in Loveland, CO, while learning about human development.
Senior Class – determined annually
Previous Senior Trips have involved purchasing pigs and chickens with Heifer International, distributing them to low income families, and building pens and corrals to house the livestock in rural Kentucky; providing an urban garden in an economically disadvantaged community in Texas; working with Aborigines in Australia; working to transform a hundred-year-old German villa into a home for troubled youth.
Each student is encouraged to complete twenty hours of community service throughout the year. At least ten of the twenty community service hours are required to be done outside of the school community. Students with support from their parents are responsible for creating these opportunities.
The yearbook committee plans and prepares the Kindergarten through Grade 12 yearbook each year and is open to students in Grades 8 through 12.