After 19 Years, Anchorage’s Only Independent Waldorf School Changes its Name to “Anchorage Waldorf School”

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Name Change Honored with First-of-its-Kind Native Blessing Ceremony Tonight, Eighth-Grade Class Sculpture, Representing the Many Facets of the Waldorf Education, to be Unveiled

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We have been educating Anchorage’s children for 19 years and we see this name change as marking the maturation of our organization. We consider this a coming-of-age for our school and celebrate this milestone.

The Aurora Waldorf School (http://www.waldorfak.org) today will become the Anchorage Waldorf School, in a ceremony that will incorporate Native traditions and reveal the culmination of a significant art project that demonstrates the fully integrated curriculum of the Waldorf Education.

The name change will be celebrated tonight at the school’s end-of-the-year picnic, during which an Eklutna Tribal Elder and two members of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers will bless the school. The Anchorage Waldorf School is the first non-Native organization to ask permission for and receive a blessing from the Eklutna Tribe to conduct business on traditional Eklutna lands.

A New Name
“We have been educating Anchorage’s children for 19 years and we see this name change as marking the maturation of our organization,” School Faculty Leader Laurie Miller said. “We consider this a coming-of-age for our school and celebrate this milestone.”

The decision to change the school’s name occurred in May 2010 after a two-year evaluation process. It chose the name Anchorage Waldorf School to highlight its distinction as the only independent Waldorf School in Anchorage.

The Waldorf Approach
The Waldorf Education is unique in that it integrates academics and arts with hands-on learning, supporting the development of the whole child. For example, the study of geometry combines math lessons, interdisciplinary activities and artistic aspects. It is an intentional curriculum that serves the needs of the individual child and also provides age-specific learning. At age 9, students engage in building projects while studying measurement in order to engage both the mind and the body while offering a hands-on application to the material. At ages 13 and 14, when rebelliousness surfaces in young teens, the history of world revolutions is introduced so that their learning matches maturational needs.

8th Grade Class
The Waldorf approach is well represented in a new sculpture that will be unveiled at the event. The piece, carved from driftwood and finished with metal embellishments, was designed by the eighth-grade class with the guidance of artist-in-residence Leo Vait, an internationally acclaimed sculptor and wood crafter.

Through this process the students learned all aspects of taking a large sculptural project from start to finish and covered multiple subject areas like geometry and engineering. Each student had a unique assignment that contributed to the whole. The work is a gift from the eighth-grade class to the school.

Blessing
The unprecedented blessing is being requested of the Eklutna tribe because the school is located on lands once occupied by the Eklutna Athabascan people. In addition, the school found its tenets aligned with the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, who are gathered in Anchorage this week for other events, and sought their participation to promote synergy in education between indigenous and non-Native groups within Anchorage.

“We are a group that believes in blessing, honoring, ceremony and the cycle of the seasons,” School Administrator Zinna Heavener said. “Many of our ceremonies are spiritual, free from any particular religious association, based on ancient rites honoring the rhythms of life.”

The Sleeping Lady Singers, a Native drum-circle group, will also perform – their first such performance in a non-Native ceremony.

Event Details
The end-of-the-year picnic will take place today, Friday, May 20, between 6 and 8 p.m., with the blessing and name-change ceremony starting promptly at 6 p.m. The Anchorage Waldorf School is located at 3250 Baxter Rd., Anchorage, AK, 99504. For more information, contact Courtney Hastings at Raffetto Herman Strategic Communications, PR agency for Anchorage Waldorf School, at chastings(at)rhstrategic(dot)com or 202-585-0210; or John Raffetto at john(at)rhstrategic(dot)com or 206-245-8855.

About the Anchorage Waldorf School
The Anchorage Waldorf School was founded in 1992 and is part of a rapidly growing international community of schools that share a commitment to education integrating academics, art, and music with hands-on learning, supporting the development of the whole child. Visit http://www.waldorfak.org for more information.

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