Wonder to Wisdom: Celebrating our 60th Anniversary in Full Community

By Kat McFee and Dean Smith

September 21, 2019 was an absolutely beautiful sunny day to celebrate our school’s 60th anniversaryand 100 years of Waldorf Education in the world. We began the day with opening words to honor these milestones.

We remarked that this education arose out of the intention to educate human beings to think and work together in innovative ways. We spoke about the 60th anniversary of Sacramento Waldorf School, focusing on the context of our origins in 1959 (the Twilight Zone premiered, Fidel Castro rose to power, a home cost $12,400) and how our school has endured because it has remained true to its principles.

Andrew Sullivan spoke about it being a sunset and a sunrise, us standing at the threshold, honoring the past, and looking toward the future. That was the theme.

We honor the developmental elements of childhood. Parents and faculty came together to create this community that had children at its center, and they’re still here because we keep coming back to the core foundations and principles of Waldorf education. 

In the years since, a lot has changed, but the focus and philosophy of Waldorf has remained the same. Today, $12,400 won’t cover your closing costs, Castro’s no longer with us, and The Twilight Zone only lasted five seasons, but we are celebrating the 60th birthday of Sacramento Waldorf School and looking ahead to a strong and beautiful future.

It was a day of integration. Integrating the 60th with the 100th, the faculty integrating the curriculum demonstrations that showed how our curricula interweave and inform each other. And September 21st was the United Nations International Day of Peace.

Rudolf Steiner would have been pleased with our intention of bringing about a new way of thinking and working together to support social renewal. Our founder believed teachers are really artists, creating this education every day in the classroom. That’s how this education continues to stay relevant.

Our community families and friends and people new to us went from opening remarks to rotations through activities, where teachers demonstrated curriculum experiences and welcomed participation in hands-on activities. Math paired with music, language arts stood on its own, science and fine artsworked together, and movement interwove with world language. Practical arts and the farm were worlds unto themselves.

It was our intention to give participants a more immersive experience of what Waldorf Education islike. We wanted to highlight that this is a K-12 education, so our focus was the beginning of learning and how concepts and ideas and subjects expand and evolve over the years to take children on a true journey from Kindergarten exploration to 12th grade knowing.

We wanted the experience of learning to be tangible. The science demonstration left them with freshly baked bread. Movement and world language began with song and ended with a basketball game.

At the farm, Farmer Steve spoke about the history of this land, how the first classroom on this land was the farm, and then Nicole Fields spoke about handwork. Our practical arts display began withhusbandry, starting with raw wool from our sheep, then carding, spinning, dying, and finally knitting a shawl from it. The journey of learning, from sheep to shawl. 

We explored fibers from plants, wood and willow, minerals, clay, glazes, iron and rock from blacksmithing. We gathered for a communal lunch made by 1983 Sacramento Waldorf Schoolgraduate Ernesto Jimenez, a delicious buffet of food from his local restaurant, Zocalo, using ingredients from our campus farm, which were grown and harvested by our students. 

The high school orchestra played. Former Administrator Liz Beaven spoke. Our sister schools joined us for this journey through Waldorf Education, which is a true collaboration uniting heads, hearts, hands. We welcomed more than 250 people on tours through our campus and through the journey of this education, which is a whole-body, full-family experience.

At the end, we filled a time capsule with messages from our children – blessings for our school, messages of preservation of this place 40 years from now – as well as messages and items from our local sister schools. We will bury the capsule in the spring, when the land awakens.

So many people have impacted this school. We spoke their names aloud as the minutes ticked past. Johanna Frouws, age 90, approached the microphone and shared the story of her drive down the hill before a driveway made it an easy descent, when she, her husband and their son were the first people to see this property along the San Juan Rapids of the American River. 

A multigenerational cadre of important people on our campus – Miss Valerie, three generations of the Burgess family (Russ, Joel, Abby) – blew out the candles on the gorgeous cake made by Nassim Hendessi. And we sang happy birthday in rounds, led by Luisa Burgess.

It was a day to remember, and a day for remembering all that has grown here, and all that is possible. Through Waldorf Education, on this beautiful land, led by the heart-conscious purveyors of this century-old way, peace, harmony, and a glorious future are possible. We are proud of all that has been accomplished in the past 60 years, and we look forward to what we cannot yet see in the years to come. 

Kat McFee is Lower School Administrator. Dean Smith is High School Administrator.