Sunday, 7 December 2008

New beginnings

Advent. Our most wonderful festival. And we turned out in full force to make it once again, the best Advent celebrations in the whole of Northern Ireland, if i do say so myself. The food was second to none, the craft workshops were amazing and top notch, the crafts on sale impeccable and the support for the parents and teachers were unmatched. Here are some of the highlights from the day. Enjoy! I apologise for not having the carols at the end of the evening - they were exquisite, but i had run out of memory! And Ghin was sleeping in my arms making any photo taking impossible.

Ringing the bells for advent AND climate change. Class 11 Bell Choir.

The packed stairway in Upper School at the start of the celebrations

Jacob lights the first advent candle with some assistance from Ed.

The Walnut Boats. I'm really pleased that i managed to get some shots of these. It's a magical world of water, fire and moss. Like some place in Middle Earth.

Lucy and Okowe show the best way to share a meal is with a friend.

The gingerbread house that we raffled. I'm not sure if i'll have it again next year. It nearly killed me to see all those disappointed faces who didn't win!

The restaurant where all our yummu food is served. The tables were decorated with gold stars and red ribbons. How such a small parent teacher body can produce such talent will always be part of the Steiner miracle for me.

This year we had so much of food that the clean up team were well supplied on the Sunday for lunch!

Paper stars adorned the whole school, creating an etheral stained glass glow in the rooms.

Craft activities in the school hall. Badge making was made with watercolour paintings done by the students over the year.

Students take part in the activities, showing how to combine geometry with beauty here.

Beeswax nativity sculptures

Johnny, Angela and Amelie check each other out in the cafe.

Yvonne and Megs make sure that Operation Traybakes goes without a hitch.

Politician and mince pie salesman, John Barry flogs his wares to an unsuspecting crowd.

Kathleen, the high keeper of the crafts group dispenses her fluffy confections to an adoring audience.

Ah, the piece de resistance for this year's woodwork class - the nativity scene. If you look back at the Open Day, you will see the shepherd being worked on. The scene is almost complete and so many people stopped to admire it. A woodturner was besotted with the results - as were we all.

Angela stocks up on her bedside reading.

At the Glencraig stall, Siggy indulges in some philosophical meditation as he ignores the camera.

Students sold a lot of their own stuff as well this year. Here is Class 10's stall.

I know you all want to see what else there was on the crafts stall. Prepare for an Awwwwwwww!!!! attack.

This is not the stall - apologies, the photos got switched.

That's better...the star children who are coming down to earth. See, i told you... awwwwww!!!!!

Many past pupils were also there. It was a reunion of sorts for many, many students. It was also heartening to see families who had recently been part of the school also turn up, keeping in touch with the larger family.

Just a couple of shots to remind us what a lovely day it was. Frosty and bright with lots and lots and lots of winter sunshine.

A BIIIIGGGG thank you to everyone who has been part of the school - you have all made this incredible place and space possible. And for those who are interested, the takings, which were still coming in today, were up from last year. At a time of the credit crunch and with so much going on now in Belfast and Holywood, it was a testimony to the school's reputation for putting on a great event.

Saints and scholars

Over the last few weeks in the run up to Advent, the class concentrated on their Main Lesson in English through the lives of the saints. I was astonished to see the number of saints they had covered in their daily work - St Elizabeth of Hungary, St Giles, St Francis and of course, St Martin, to name but a few. Since i am not entirely au fait with all these saints, it was a real delight for me to view their work and see the amazing young people they are and are becoming. I was especially delighted with the little clay sculptures which they had made, vignettes of St Martin which were thoroughly imbued with the spirit and essence of the story. The confluence of ethics and exercise has been an amazing one for me to experience and because Oisin never brings homework back, it is sometimes easy to miss the sheer amount that they do go through while they are at school.

Oisin made this wee hut at home one morning and he took it to school. It has since been occupied by two wee gnomies.

Vignettes from St Martin's life. They all depict St Martin's encounter with the beggar. It was noticeable that many of the Saints which they were studying were those who cared for the poor and hungry.

St Martin divides his cloak in half.

This one has St Martin riding through the wind and snow. They sing this beautiful song at this time of the year about St Martin.

Saint Martin
Saint Martin, Saint Martin, Saint Martin rode through wind and snow
On his strong horse, his heart aglow
He rode so boldly through the storm
His large cloak kept him well and warm

By the roadside, by the roadside, by the roadside a poor man arose
Out of the snow in tattered clothes
"I beg you help me in my plight, or else I'll die of cold tonight."

Saint Martin, Saint Martin, Saint Martin stopped his horse
And drew his sword and cut his cloak in two
One half to the beggar man he gave and by this deed his life did save.

The beggar and the horse.

This was such a sweet little thing on Donna's desk. With the study of colour, it was just so delicious on a silent, empty Friday November afternoon in the classroom.

St Francis talks to the wolf.

Their writing book.

Elizabeth of Hungary

St Francise again

Here he is with the birds.

Here's the fable of the dog whole swallowed a shellfish.

Form drawings

Preparing the stars for advent

This one's of Paddy Woods who was selling waffles in St George's Market! All those festivals have now gone into something fairly entrepreneual. Go Paddy!

The preperations for Advent continue apace as well. One of the things which has become more and more important for me as a parent and a person in the school are the Festivals. Sure, they are a critical fundraising exercises, but more than that, they are a vital way in which the children experience community. They are the crest of the waves, the peaks in the rhythm of the year. As i have watched them over the years prepare for the festivals, i know that they are doing more than simply receiving an education. They are learning to work as a society, an organic and harmonic whole. As they prepare the grounds, clean the classrooms, indulge in serious spring cleaning and making decorations, they are receiving silent lessons about themselves as human beings. They are also building an excitement within them, a real anticipation about the school and their friends and families coming together to celebrate the year. For these reasons, and more, the festivals are not just PR, marketing and money making exercises. However, there must always be balance, and it is also vital that we do keep an eye on the bottom line when we do organise it. And it is this balancing act which i have watched over the years, which i have come to appreciate, anticipate and enjoy as a member of the school community. To the dedicated and talented, caring and tireless teachers, i must say thank you.