Community Events to engage the head, heart, & hands

All School News

Why Free Play is Essential for Learning & Growth

Peter Gray, Professor of Psychology (emeritus), Boston College stresses the importance of Free Play

A Waldorf education places great emphasis on the role of free play in a child’s development — play being the ‘work’ of a young child. The October issue of The Atlantic echos this important truth. Author and M.D. Esther Entin examines play-based research conducted by Dr. Peter Gray, Ph.D.
Gray argues that the decline of free play among children has resulted in higher suicide rates and increased behavioral issues. He suggests a return to basics like extra time on the playground or a reduction in organized activities to help children grow into happy, well adjusted adults.

Doctor Gray enumerates the FIVE WAYS PLAY BENEFITS KIDS

When children are in charge of their own play, it provides a foundation for their future mental health as older children and adults:

1. Play gives children a chance to find and develop a connection to their own self-identified and self-guided interests.

2. It is through play that children first learn how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self control, and follow rules.

3. Children learn to handle their emotions, including anger and fear, during play.

4. Play helps children make friends and learn to get along with each other as equals.

5. Most importantly, play is a source of happiness.

As Ms. Entin commented, “For more than fifty years, children’s free play time has been continually declining, and it’s keeping them from turning into confident adults…”

Click here to continue reading this insightful article in the Atlantic.

Image: Wikimedia Commons. This article originally appeared on


Waldorf School’s Michaelmas Celebration

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Students Perform Slaying of the Dragon

Chicago Waldorf School grade school, middle school and high school students gathered on September 29th, 2011 to celebrate the Festival of Michaelmas. Often called the festival of “strong will,” the community celebrates Michaelmas as marking the initiation of personal reflection. The festival is named for the archangel Michael, the protector of humanity, who inspires qualities of courage, initiative and steadfastness.

The students enjoyed a full day of festivities which included a performance by the Midwest Eurythmy Group, telling the story of St. George and the Dragon, a discussion on the life of Rudolf Steiner and a school-wide participatory Dragon Pageant. The day concluded with multiple bonfires for the individual grades at Albion beach.

These wonderful photos captured by CWS parent, Craig Lewandowski

Rocket Club Alumnus: A Boy and His “Bottle Rocket”

Chicago Waldorf School alumni Jackson Lubin (grade school class of 2011) and current parent Judy Lubin were featured on the Science Channel in a show called Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships. Over Labor Day weekend, Jackson and Judy travelled to Kansas to take part in a national rocket launch and “odd rocket” competition. The challenge of the competition is to turn an ordinary object into a rocket.

Making an “odd rocket” is much more difficult than making a regular rocket; ordinary objects are not meant to fly!

As the main engineer and design expert on the team, Jackson put his skills to the test for this project. The team started with a 5 foot tall, 2 foot wide garbage can & recycling container shaped like a soda bottle. After 10 months of hard work, the finished rocket weighed over 100 pounds and was skillfully engineered to be aerodynamically stable. With the help of 10 pounds of solid rocket fuel, the soda bottle soared to over 4,000 feet and clinched second place in the competition. To learn more information about the project, visit Science Discovery and JLRockets.

Sumbitted by Judy Lubin, Chicago Waldorf School Parent/Rocket Club Advisor / Photo by Sather Ranum

Janet Oliver- The Eight Primary Reflexes

Full Day Workshops: Sat & Sun, November 5th & 6th

A former Montessori Pre-school teacher, with a Masters in Human Development and over a decade of clinical experience, Janet Oliver will present a workshop on the eight primary reflexes and their development and integration. Primary reflexes are instinctual movement patterns which help us to survive. These include the finger grasp reflux of a newborn or the startle ‘Moro’ reflex of a baby. They are not meant to last a lifetime, but rather organically integrate into our central nervous system. Children and adults who still retain elements of these reflexes can be frustrated because they are constantly being subverted by interfering instinctual responses. These reflexes may affect a person’s learning, behaviors, and well being.

This workshop is for any parent who would like insight into their child’s neurological development.

Janet L. Oliver has been in private, clinical practice in neurodevelopment and reflex integration for thirteen years. As a certified HANDLE Practitioner, her passion is in sharing the sensory motor developmental model for lifelong learning and efficient functioning. She works with public, Waldorf and Montessori Schools for teacher trainings and helping students with developmental delays.

The Janet Oliver workshop will take place at the Chicago Waldorf School in the Upper Eurythmy room. It is designed to assist body workers, occupational and physical therapists, teachers, parents and caregivers. Follow this link for the registration form for this workshop. For more information, please contact CWS Educational Support Teacher Cynthia Trevillion.

PTO Sponsored Events for October

Celebrate the Fall and the coming of All Hallow’s Eve in the October Commons on the Corner events!
Join us in the Parent/Child room on Friday mornings after drop-off for a coffee klatch and discussion sessions with these excellent workshops:

Halloween Costume Making Workshop with Lisa Zweben

Friday, October 7th and 14th at 8:10am

Parent-Child Room: #1301 (SW corner of Loyola & Lakewood)
Lisa Zweben has been making her children’s’ Halloween costumes by hand for years. Please join her as she answers your “how to” questions and goes over costume making ideas. Lisa will bring in several costumes she has made to demonstrate her technique, and will also show us some simple tricks to get the job done easier. Bring your materials for some social time and costume building. Lisa thinks the key to a successful costume is to recreate with what you already have, and remember simplicity works!

The Origins of Halloween

Friday, October 21st at 8:10am

In the Early Childhood Wing
Come explore the essence of this ancient tradition as seen from many cultural expressions, with Hazel Archer Ginsberg, a non-denominational minister ordained at the Spiritual Science Center, a school dedicated to teaching comparative religions, philosophy, and service to humanity.


Tuesdays and Thursdays in October & November

Children’s House and the Care to Share Committee will be crafting together every Tuesday and Thursday from 8:15am-noon in the Early Childhood Common Room. We are hoping to build a vibrant community of crafters where we can share our ideas and our skills. Come and learn how to make fairies, wands, dolls, magic rocks, cute mice, gnomes, finger puppets and much more. If you are not skilled, we will gladly teach you. If you are skilled, please share your working hands along with your crafty ideas.

Crafting starts on Tuesday, Sept. 27th and continues until the Holiday Fair. Small Children are welcome. Come and join us.

Submitted by: Dru Muskovin, Care to Share Committee

Eurythmy Spring Valley Ensemble to Perform at CWS

Friday & Saturday, October 21-22

In School Performances on Friday:
EC and 1st grade @ 9:30am / 2-6th grades @ 10:30am / 7-12th grades @ 1:50pm
Saturday: Public Performance for the community at 7:30pm in the CWS Auditorium

The Eurythmy Spring Valley Ensemble will perform The Flea and Little Louse – a charming and comforting tale from France – for younger children (EC through 1st grade). Children in grades 2 through 6 will see a performance of The Goose Girl at the Well, a fairytale from the Brothers Grimm which cautions us that nothing is as it appears. Original music by Jonathan Ackerman leads us into this tale of enchantment where perhaps the witch is not really a witch, and the ugly goose girl not so ugly. Grades 7-12 will see the high school program.

Eurythmy Spring Valley’s evening program for adults is centered on Yeats’ poem “Sailing to Byzantium.” Evoking an image of the “holy fire as in the gold mosaic,” it movingly portrays the journey of deepening, with an understanding that, “An aged man is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing.” Through its ancient pictures, it tells of the search we each face to find what lies beyond our everyday self. Original music by Marcus Macauley is interwoven in the telling of Yeats’ dramatic tale. Surrounding this journey are pieces on the theme of light by such poets and composers as Wendell Berry, Meister Eckhart, Debussy, Massenet, and Messiaen. It is also influenced by the last panel of the Foundation Meditation by Rudolf Steiner.

Tickets for the evening performance are $12.00 in advance (available in the Main Office) and $15.00 at the door. Cash only, please, and exact change is greatly appreciated!

An additional opportunity for a full day of study with Spring Valley Eurythmy Ensemble:

Two Eurythmy Workshops and an Evening Performance on Saturday, October 22

Attend these dynamic workshops:

Speech Eurythmy Workshop with Christina Beck: Moving Sounds of Poetry
In this speech eurythmy workshop, you will move to seasonal poetry. The group will explore
creative texts through rhythms, sounds and meaning. Please wear loose fitting clothes and eurythmy shoes.

Tone Eurythmy Workshop with Barbara Schneider-Serio
You will be working with exercises and elements of tone eurythmy, such as pitch, rhythm, harmony, and phrasing, and the group wil look at a Schumann piece and enjoy finding a choreography for it.

In the evening you can attend the Spring Valley Eurythmy Performance with workshop members.

For complete details, and a history on the Spring Valley Eurythmy School, Click Here for the event flier and printable registration form.

Questions? Or to register, please contact Susanne Zipperlen , CWS Eurythmy Teacher at 773-728-5282.

These events are co-sponsored by Chicago Waldorf School, Rudolf Steiner Branch and the Christian Community Church.

Weekly Adult Eurythmy Group

Wednesdays 8:15-9:20am

Want to start your day off feeling refreshed and harmonized? Join us in the upper eurythmy room on Wednesday mornings after drop off. We will explore artistic movement to beautiful poetry and magnificent music through eurythmy and rediscover our connection to beautiful sound and gesture. All levels of experience welcome. Wear clothes you feel comfortable moving in and bring eurythmy shoes if you have them, otherwise, socks are fine too. Suggested donation of $5 per week to help defray the costs of music accompaniment.

Questions? Contact Sue Hiertz.

Canamac Productions Presents “Defamation” at CWS

Monday Oct 24th at 1:30pm

Performed for 9-12th grades
in the CWS auditorium

Defamation, written by Todd Logan, is a take-no-prisoners drama exploring the timely issues of race, class, and religion. In the play, Regina Wade, an African American businesswoman from Chicago’s south side, sues Arthur Golden, a Jewish real estate developer from Winnetka, for defamation. And there’s a twist: the AUDIENCE IS THE JURY. This compelling play offers a fresh approach to generate constructive dialogue about the ways we continue to be divided along the deeply personal, highly charged issues of race, class and religion, as well as how they impact the legal system.

“In a speech in February 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder made the ‘controversial’ comment that in spite of Obama’s election there continues to be a serious racial divide in America. I believe Holder is right,” said Logan. “For several years I’ve been trying to write a play that deals with the question ‘what does it really say about ourselves about where we go to bed at night?’ I finally found a dramatic way into the subject through a story about a professional African American woman, a successful Jewish businessman and a watch.”

This event is open to all members of the CWS community and our neighbors, the students and faculty from the Global Citizenship Experience High School who will be joining us for the play and interactive discussion sessions. This Fall, Defamation is on tour throughout the Chicagoland area. For more information, visit their website

This event is sponsored by the CWS Inclusion & Diversity Committee. In partnership with the Global Citizenship Experience High School. If you would like more information about the Inclusion & Diversity Committee contact Jennifer Zielinski at

Sign Up Now for Fall Parent/Teacher Conferences

Conference sign-up schedules will be available starting Wednesday, October 5. Appointments will be taken through Tuesday, October 25th. Additional appointments after this date will only be scheduled at the teacher’s discretion. Parents trying to coordinate conferences with multiple teachers are especially encouraged to schedule earlier rather than later. Special subject teachers will be making conference requests for specific children and they will also accept requests from parents who wish to meet with them.

Conferences are Mon/Tues, Oct. 31st & Nov. 1st.
Note: There are no classes on either of these days.

To make your Teacher Conference Appointment:
Grade School: Call Ilene Warfield 773.828.8818
High School: Contact Catherine Herzog or

Calls should be made between 8:00am-5:30pm Monday-Friday or between 10:00 am-3:00 pm on the weekend. If your call goes to voice mail, please leave a message that includes your name, call-back number, student name(s), and, if desired, the date and a range of times that will meet your scheduling needs. Ilene Warfield will return your call to schedule or confirm a time she has been able to arrange for you based on the criteria detailed in your message. (Please note that the Grade School Office line is not being used for conference scheduling.)

High School Conferences scheduling is centralized through the High School Office; in order to assure efficient scheduling please do not reach out to teachers directly. Direct all inquiries to Catherine Herzog, High School Office Manager.

Farm, Orchard and Pie, Oh My!

The 5th grade celebrated the first day of autumn with a trip to a farm and an orchard. In connection with our study of botany, we travelled to Susanna Farms in Lake Villa where the students practiced their orienteering skills in a corn maze, viewed varied habitats on a hay ride pulled by an antique tractor, learned some animal husbandry, and were able to pet and observe active racehorses. Farmer Lauri shared her failures and successes using purely organic farming methods. Each child was able to take home a small pumpkin. Her farm welcomes the public and offers a Haunted Hayride from dusk until 10 p.m. the last three weekends in October.

5th graders observe the cycle of fruit from tree to plate!

After the farm, the group headed south to Heinz Orchard in Green Oaks where proprietor Anthony taught us about bee husbandry. We learned how apple trees are propagated and tended. The students picked delicious empire apples that became the key ingredient to our homemade pies. Heinz Orchard is a family run, low spray orchard that is another great family field-trip destination. On Saturday, Jeff McCullough, parent of Will, taught students the art of baking pie crusts from scratch! The class then shared our bounty with the social services Kovler Center on Albion Avenue.

Submitted by 5th grade teacher, Karen Hartz

The Gift of Teacher Development

As part of last year’s Year of the Teacher fundraising at the CWS Gala, new funds have been established to support CWS Faculty’s educational development.

High School Art Teacher, David Dozier, reflects on the value of his recent Professional Development Workshops

“Since I teach full time for CWS, and also teach on Saturdays for Arcturus half the year, I don’t have much down time for my own artwork (except during faculty meetings when as a habit I’ll admit that I sometimes draw ‘stealth portraits’ of my colleagues). I rely mostly on the summer months for my artistic development, usually working outdoors on landscapes in oil and pastel.

Landscapes are wonderful, but working from the human form is the cornerstone of drawing, painting and sculpture. It’s been over two years since I was able to work from the human model on a regular basis. Through the gift of the Teacher Development funds, I attended an eight-week workshop at the Vitruvian Fine Art Studio in Chicago over the summer. It allowed me to reconnect to the special and sustained process of working on drawing of a live professional model, who held the same pose for a total of 24 hours! Thanks to this fund, I will be able to take more workshops this year to develop my teaching experience and hone my artistic skills.

As a teacher it’s essential not only that I grow, and that I am developing my own skills, but that I can work in a situation where I can feel as challenged as the high school students must feel when I set an assignment before them.

< One of David’s portrait drawings from the workshop

Portrait drawing is taught in the ninth grade during the Black & White drawing block. Since art isn’t an elective at CWS–but a core block–I need to remember what a challenge it can be for our students to draw. Some of them come to me convinced that, ‘…they could never draw like that!’ or, ‘…I’m the worst artist in my class.’ I’m happy to report that when someone learns to do something they previously believed to be unobtainable, it builds self-confidence in a unique way.

I want to thank the many parents in our school community who made this summer workshop possible for me through their generous contributions to Teacher Development funds in last Spring’s Gala. Should you want to learn more about the Vitruvian Fine Art Studio, please visit their website for course descriptions and their history.”

Submitted by: David A. Dozier, High School Art Teacher

Building Intentional Community Targets Bullying

The Building Intentional Community (BIC) Committee invites families to discuss teasing with their children as a proactive way of bullying prevention. Anna Carlson’s recent article in Chicago Parent magazine provides a useful sidebar of tools and tips to dicuss teasing and bullying with your children… (read the entire article at its source). Here are some excerpts:

Judy Freedman, author of Easing the Teasing: Helping your child cope with name calling, ridicule & verbal bullying, says, “Although kids cannot control the actions or words of the teasers, they can learn to control their reactions to the tease.” If kids learn how to handle teasing early on, it will prevent bullying in the future. In the article, Freedman offers 10 Strategies to ‘Tame the Teasing.’

“In many situations, if kids are empowered with these strategies, the teasing stops,” Freedman says. Practicing these strategies at home will help the children feel confident in using them in actual social situations. Also its important to support your child’s self-empowerment, otherwise, “When children are being teased and their parents step in and solve the problem for them, children get the disempowering message that they aren’t strong enough to solve the problem themselves.”

Parents play an important role in teasing prevention. Freedman reminds parents that kids look to them for guidance and imitate their behavior. It’s important to make sure teasing is not allowed in the home and to discuss teasing with your kids.

“Just like you might talk about drug prevention and safety tips, parents need to talk about bullying prevention,” Freedman says. “It may not happen to [your child], but explain, ‘This is what teasing is, what bullying is.'”

Submitted by: Hazel Archer Ginsberg, BIC parent member

Celebrating the Early Childhood Harvest Festival

Braving the cool, wet weather last weekend, my two-year-old daughter and I attended the Early Childhood Fall Festival as guests this past weekend. Upon arriving, we were greeted with warm smiles and lots of joyous laughter. My daughter gleefully lined up among Waldorf school children to make beautiful banner flags for the upcoming Michelmas Assembly. Judging from the active turnout, the rain didn’t hold anyone back, nor did it spoil any moods.

Susan Bruck, Early Childhood faculty member, has been participating in the Fall Festival for over 11 years. She explained that in celebration of Rudolf Steiner’s 150th birthday, the Early Childhood program gifted 150 flags strung into banners for the assembly. Children proudly stamped leaves and various patterns on linen cloth and selected fall foliage to weave among the flags for decoration. As the banners took shape, they were stunning to see strung among the bushes to dry.
In between bites of apple cake, corn muffins and cider, parents and staff swapped summer stories strengthening the already vibrant and diverse community. Fathers tossed around balls with children in the parking lot next to the school. The littlest kids colored with sidewalk chalk and all wiggled to violin music and song as provided by Felipe Tobar (EC teacher, Nancy Matson’s son-in-law) . It was a wonderful kickoff for a new school year and fall season; one the children fully enjoyed and that I think Rudolf Steiner would be most proud of.

Submitted by: Lori Browder, CWS Marketing Volunteer

Welcome New Waldorf Students

We are delighted to welcome 53 new students and their families to the Chicago Waldorf School.

Early Childhood Classes —

Ms. Matson’s Sunflowers
Isabella Assirati, Kelsie Boyce, Anna Hanson, Marni Kaplan, Mica Zumann

Ms. Donkel’s Sweet Peas
Eoin Belcore-Walkden, Maxwell McCallum, Leo Salach, Leo Stover

Ms. Votanek’s Rose Garden
Zoe Fencil, Elena Lauhon, Nikolas Moliski, Luke Montzka, Maxim Nikitin, Kai Preus, Fiona Sheridan, Caroline Stanek

Ms. Culbert’s Bluebells
Georgia Bagwell, Alexandre Banks, Aidan Causevic, Sasha Hirsch-Arnett, Carter McIntosh, Luca Mele, Joel Montgomery, Xavier Probst, Nanuka Schirmer, Makayla Studie, Alexander Vrajitoru

GRADE 1 — Ms. Moskowitz
Candelaria Aguilar, Rio Kadono, Zoe Russo, Isabel Soriano, Eve Thiry

GRADE 3 — Ms. Poole
Ivan Mann, Jonas Zumann

GRADE 4 — Ms. Shortridge
Curran O’Brien, Ozell Richardson

GRADE 5 — Ms. Hartz
Julian Avar Campopiano, Lucas Zumann

GRADE 6 — Ms. Sullivan
Savitri Mann

GRADE 8 — Mr. Trevillion
Kyra Gleason

Mr. Gleichauf & Mr. Wilson
Anyah Akanni, Lauren Dubendorf, Joe Hartz, Isaiah Hasselquist, Bianca Moreno, Jonathan Normolle, Auset Muhammad, Sam Sendelbach

GRADE 10 —
Mr. Dozier & Ms. Everhart
Lindsay Thompson, Joe Wendy

GRADE 11 —
Ms. Huckabay & Sr. Correa
Natalie Good, Laura Luna, Yarden Solomon (welcome back!)

We are grateful to all the new parents and parent ambassadors who participated in the welcome event on September 6th. If you were unable to attend please stop by the Admissions Office to pick up your Welcome packet.

On behalf of all the teachers and staff, thank you for choosing the Chicago Waldorf School and best wishes for a wonderful school year!

Submitted by the Admissions Department: Lisa Payton & Jennifer Zielinski
Illustrations graciously provided by 6th grader, Maci Modean Greenberg