Over the course of our school’s history, we have developed special days, celebrations, programs, and experiences that complement our academic work and build community. Here is a list of our standing traditions:
4-H For more than 15 years, Tidewater’s 4-H (Elementary) club has participated in the county fair, engaged in community service projects, planted school gardens, and promoted sustainable practices.
Family Volunteer Day (August) The unofficial kickoff to the new school year. Families and staff gather to repair, assemble, plant and get the grounds and building ready for the new school year.
Peace One Day (September 21) Our students join others around the world in a day established by the United Nations to promote peace education. The International Day of Peace, as it is officially known, is observed annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access. Our children come together as a school and join staff in singing a song of peace, doing yoga together, and engaging in the creation of an artwork that symbolizes peace.
Eid-al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr The former, known as the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, marks the end of the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. The latter marks the end of the fasting period known as Ramadan and is a time of reflection during which Muslims show gratitude to Allah and give alms to those in need. Depending on how these festivals fall during the school year, our children learn about them from special guests, feast on traditional foods from the Middle East, and elementary students sometimes visit the local mosque.
Dia de los Muertos (October) This Mexican festival, celebrating the lives of those who have passed, is common in many cultures this time of year. Our Spanish teacher organizes the annual feast and parade, which includes music, masks, marigolds and tacos. All families are invited to place a photo of a loved one at one of the tables in our classes that week.
Fall Harvest Day (October) A time for families and children to meet at a local farm to play, gather pumpkins, and share breakfast treats. This is a half day for staff and students.
Philosophy Program Based on the work of Marietta McCarthy in her book Little Big Minds: Teaching Philosophy to Children, the Elementary class embarks on its own exploration of philosophy to develop critical thinking, build appreciation for others, and prepare them for exploring deep topics throughout their lives.
Diwali (October/November) The annual celebration of the Hindu New Year. Special guests tell the story of how families around the world celebrate. During this festival of lights, debts are forgiven, homes are cleaned and decorated, new clothes are purchased, and blessings given to friends and family. It is traditional for children to receive gifts of money from their parents, given in beautiful envelopes. Families visit their temples and celebrate with relatives. Houses glitter with candles and lights, and then fireworks are set off at night. Our celebration includes music, dancing, food and lots of beautiful clothes and fabrics.
Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Tu B’Shavat, Passover With the help of our Jewish families, we rotate celebrations each year to include at least two of these holidays. Food, stories, songs, and special family traditions are shared in each class to help our children appreciate these high holy days.
Thanksgiving Feast and Wagon Train In November, the focus will be on Native American cultures and Pilgrims in the Primary classes. Then on the last Friday before the holiday, families, staff, and friends of the school gather to walk together through a local town to take wagons full of donations to the local homeless shelter. Afterwards, we gather together at the starting point for a potluck Thanksgiving feast with music and Spanish performances by the students.
Christmas, St. Lucia Day, Las Posadas, etc. (December) The Primary classes take part in celebrating cultural traditions from around the world as part of the Christian observance of the birth of Jesus during the month of December. Music is a big part of our celebrations!
Empathy Project The elementary class engages in a year long series of experiences that include class meetings, a field trip, and guest speakers. The goal is to bring greater awareness to how our actions affect others and to build communication skills that promote empathy.
World Tour (Late January-April) The two Primary classes embark on an 8 to 10-week imaginary trip around the world. The classes visit each continent and study the culture, music, art, biomes, food, and language unique to each country they visit. During this time, family members and friends who have lived in or visited different countries are invited to share their experiences.
Winter Expo (December) The Elementary students present their research from the larger science and social science themes of the fall semester.
Spring Expo and Graduation
Parent and Child Night (March) A chance for parents to be the students and have the students be their teachers through one-on-one lessons.
Elementary School Dance (May) A celebratory evening of food and dance that is planned by the oldest students at the end of the school year.
Book Swap Students and parents can bring books to the event and swap just before the end of the school year so as to insure good summer reading. The Full Day Primary organizes and oversees the swap.
Parenting Class (spring) A five-session course for parents to learn about child development and Adlerian behavior philosophy. Parents learn strategies to cope with children’s behavior in a proactive and logical manner.
Theme Sharing Monthly afternoon opportunities for students to have their parents come in and see what work they have been doing in class.
Spring Expo (May) An opportunity for parents to see the work of our students in Spanish, music, art, and research (elementary) and to socialize with each other. These are typically held as half-days just before the winter break and at the end of the school year.