Maine Coast Waldorf School’s 38th school year opened today as we welcome 267 students—200 returning and 67 new— to our beautiful 75-acre campus. After a restful summer, Grades 1-12 have quickly returned to their usual flurry of activities in classrooms and are out and about in our fields, forests and gardens, happy to see old friends and greet new ones. Our youngest students in the Early Childhood program will begin their school year next Monday.
After a pause last year due to Covid-19, we are also pleased to welcome six exchange students from Germany, France, and Austria to our High School, building on our history of a vibrant exchange program. They will be joined later this month by another five, also from Germany, France and Austria—one of our largest groups in recent history.
As is tradition at the beginning of each school year, the Wildflower Ceremony, postponed by rain today, will bring together first and twelfth grade students tomorrow. Twelfth graders will present a bouquet of wildflowers to the first graders, a promise for the future of the coming years in this education.
“The significance of giving these first graders wildflowers is found in the gesture of a wildflower,” explains Pedagogical Director David Eichler. “Wildflowers have a vitality that allows them to thrive in many types of soils, they are resilient, and they can have a rough and tumble nature to them. Younger children can resemble wildflowers in many of these ways, including how varied and unique each one is.”
And, 18 months into a global pandemic, we begin what is now the third school year affected by Covid-19. The policies and practices we followed during the 2020-21 school year allowed us to safely offer in-person learning more than nearly any other school in our area. Our 2021-22 COVID plan builds on our success from last year, continuing many policies while allowing for more community interaction where possible. Our blueprint is an ongoing effort to provide the most comprehensive, in-person Waldorf education possible to our students under the omnipresent threat of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
Thanks to the tremendous efforts of volunteers last year, we are well poised to tackle the many challenges Covid continues to pose. Our many outdoor classrooms spread across the campus are ready for students and faculty to use, allowing students time outside immersed in nature. Already, our fields, forests, gardens, pollinator habitat, and woodland trails are buzzing with activity, and these outdoor resources have proven to be a vital resource and opportunity for our students to learn, discover and explore. Seven of the outdoor classrooms are one-of-a-kind semi-permanent SOuL canopies, which are 26 feet in diameter and made of tightly woven cloth, which is waterproof and strong enough to withstand moderate winds and snow. Together these outdoor classrooms are creating a village for inspiring, nature-based education where students can learn in all kinds of weather, both now and into the future.
While we know there will be challenges ahead, the work is worth it because we know the power of a Maine Coast Waldorf School education to develop curious, confident, and well-rounded students who are prepared to meet the world with courage and enthusiasm.
Here’s to a great year ahead!