New Family Orientation

Watch the recording of The Denver Waldorf School’s virtual New Family Orientation held on August 18, 2021.


6th Grade Marketplace

Thank you for shopping our 6th Grade Marketplace. For the Business Mathematics and the Economy block this year, we formed groups to create a business plan to design, manufacture, market, and sell their products.

Goods for a Good Cause

We created our nonprofit enterprises to raise money for three organizations that we chose as a class:

Products

Please enjoy these commercials for our handmade products, and use the web form below to place your order. Curbside pickup will be available on Wednesday, 6/2 and Thursday, 6/3 after school at the 6th Grade corral (near the corner of Pennsylvania Street and Warren Avenue).

Need to contact us? Please email Ben Reynolds, our Director of Questions, Complaints, and Various Other Musings.


Onward and Upward: May 2021 Town Hall

Date: Monday, May 17, 2021
Time: 6 pm
Location: Zoom

During the end-of-school-year Town Hall, we heard from School Director Kelly Church, Board Co-Chair Ryan Gregory, Health and Safety Manager Christa Gustafson, and faculty members Dawn Archer and Vernon Dewey.

Watch the Recording


The Ancient Egyptian Spring Festival of Sham Al Naseem

Today, as Denver gets soaked in spring rain, some of our kindergarten students are learning about the ancient Egyptian festival Sham Al Naseem — thanks to DWS parent Bassant Mahran and DWS Kindergarten Teacher Kristina van’t Veer. With gratitude for a community rich in cultural diversity, we hope you enjoy the following description of this celebration written by Bassant.

Sham Al Naseem, which literally means “smelling the breeze,” is an ancient Egyptian spring festival celebrating the renewal of life and hope. The original festival name Shamo means “renewal of life” in ancient Egyptian language, and it is believed to be the first city festival ever celebrated. It dates back roughly 5,000 years, and came to be during the 3rd dynasty of the old kingdom in Heliopolis (“City of the Sun”).

Ancient Egyptians considered spring an essential time and the beginning of creation; the weather warms, the flowers bloom, and all the trees turn green again. Although the day of Sham Al Naseem was not fixed each year, it was announced at the Great Pyramids the night before the festival was to take place.

Later, when Christianity entered Egypt, the dates coincided with Easter celebrations, and Sham Al Naseem began taking place the Monday after the Orthodox Easter. This is still so today, and marks when painting eggs became part of Easter celebrations.

As a child, I remember waking up early on this morning to perfect spring weather. Fresh flowers surrounded our house, and we would start the day painting eggs and writing our names on them. As the morning turned to day, outdoor concerts and shows were held, families picnicked in the parks or took boat rides on the river Nile, and beachgoers who lived in the northern parts of Egypt dotted the coastline.

Another big part of the celebration is food: colored hard-boiled eggs, salted and smoked fish, green onions, and lettuce — each with a symbolic meaning:

Eggs — Symbolize the beginning of creation. Ancient Egyptians painted eggs and wrote their wishes and prayers on them and hung them on trees and temples the night before the festival. The next day, they would break the eggs so all their wishes would come true and their lives would be renewed.
Fish — Symbolize life development, goodness, and welfare.
Green Onions — To drive out evil spirits.
Lettuce — Symbolize hope and the beginning of spring.

To this day, Egyptians celebrate Sham Al Naseem in nearly the same way their ancestors used to celebrate it.


Mental Health Resources

Jenny’s Corner with DWS School Counselor

Thanks for visiting my mental health blog! My name is Jenny Thompson (MA, LPC), and I am the School Counselor at The Denver Waldorf School. I am glad you’re here! If you are in need of my support services, please reach out via email, and bookmark this page for helpful tips and announcements.

Tips for Tackling Summer Depression

Did you know summer depression is a thing? The sunniest of seasons can bring on feelings of disorientation, lack of feeling grounded, and even depression. A recent article I read listed the following tips for adults and children, alike:

  1.  Acknowledge that summer sadness is a thing. Let’s face it, summer puts a lot of pressure on us to have fun and enjoy the sunshine!  It may be hard to acknowledge that summer is not your favorite season.  Becoming aware you can start taking steps to care for yourself in a different way and not beat yourself up for not LOVING summer.
  2. Drop the image of what summer is supposed to look like.  There can be a lot of pressure to emulate what summer used to look like.  Allow yourself to be present and accepting of what summer actually feels like for you and try to not make it something that is not attainable!  Also, be careful with social media people only show their best selves and it can lead us to compare ourselves with a snapshot of someone else’s life.
  3. Be proactive about keeping to your own expectations.  If depression or sadness affects you during summer then motivation to do the things you love is in jeopardy.  Try to remember that after you do an activity or spend time with a friend, you rarely if ever, regret it.  Try to keep to your plans, it’s good for your mental health.
  4. Stay cool.  Heat stress is a thing and it can cause us to have low distress tolerance and become easily agitated.  Make sure you are noticing if you are getting too hot and if it has lasting effects on your mental health.
  5. Try not to isolate yourself. It can be really difficult to put yourself out there for social connection but rarely if ever do we regret it.  Going for a walk with a friend, attending that 4th of July party, or going to a movie with a bunch of friends, all things that we usually feel good afterwards.  If you notice yourself starting to say a lot more no’s instead of yes’s then switch it up.  Remember the last time you spent time with a friend and how it made you feel.
  6. Know when to get help.  Depression is depression regardless of the season. A good rule of thumb is if you know that getting out, seeing friends, and overall being active is good for you but you can’t seem to find the motivation to make it happen, it may be a good time to seek some professional help.  My blog has a list of resources and I am always open to a phone call (even during the summer).
Be well, enjoy the summer, and don’t forget to set realistic expectations! See you next fall!

May is Mental Health Month

I love that there is a month where we dedicate time to check in with ourselves, our loved ones and our whole community.  I’m excited to announce that our high school is doing just that.  With the lead of two of our high schoolers we have started a group called Waldorf Minds Matter.  This group comes together every other week to discuss mental health by using psychoeducation, support, and a safe place to share.  I also enjoy working with the middle and lower school by individually checking in and working with groups.

Each week, for the month of May, I will be posting to this blog one topic you can consider in your own and your loved ones mental wellbeing.

Week 1: Radical Acceptance

Fact sheet: Accepting Reality

Week 2: Stress and Trauma

Fact sheet: Adapting After Stress and Trauma

Week 3: Anger and Frustration

Fact sheet: Dealing with Anger and Frustration

Week 4: Cognitive Distortion

Fact sheet: Getting Out of Thinking Traps

Week 5: Adaptability

Fact sheet: Processing Change

Suicide Awareness and Prevention Resources

Click the button below to download local resources for Coloradans.

Colorado Suicide Resources

Drug and Alcohol Parent Education Evening with Colt Smith

I was joined by award-winning speaker Colt Smith for an invaluable presentation on the effects of drugs and alcohol on students. Watch the recording to hear his powerful story and garner insights and tips for parents and students, alike. Colt was also tremendously well received by our high school students during an in-school presentation as a recovering addict who brings compassion, empathy, and a breadth of knowledge. Learn more about him on his website Colt’s Drug Talks.

Resources

  • Enthusiastic Sobriety—Support group
  • Natural Highs—Amazing social group that provides peer mentoring, sober events, and reiki classes, and also teaches kids how to give the brain chemistry talks
  • Fire Mountain—Stellar residential treatment center in Estes Park for teens
  • Sandstone Care—Residential and outpatient treatment for teens and young adults. If a family member is wondering what to do, call Sandstone. Its admissions and outreach team does a GREAT job of referring out and finding what fits best for your teen
  • iTHRIVE—Early intervention for teens that are just beginning a relationship with substances; a great resource that requires parent participation
  • S.AF.E.—Sober AF Entertainment is a social group that has lots of sober events, concerts, sports, etc.
  • Nicholas Thompson—Private practice therapist who rocks, and also has a podcast called Perspective 4 Parents that’s worth a listen

Random Acts of Kindness Week

During Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 14-20), I encourage all of us to consider what we can do to bring kindness to one another. One idea is to write a positive quality about each of your family members and share this with each other, maybe at dinner time. Another idea is to send someone you care about a card of appreciation (for adults and children, alike). Together, go through your children’s toys/clothes/books that are no longer being used and donate to an organization of your child’s choosing.  The list goes on!

The takeaway: Kind acts not only help others they actually boost our and our child’s self esteem and introduce how purposeful we can be at at any age.

Podcast: Happiness Lab

Self compassion. If there were ever time we (adults and children, alike) needed to practice this, it is now. Kristin Neff joins Dr. Laurie Santos on the Happiness Lab, and goes through why it is so important to be compassionate with ourselves and to “dump our inner drill sergeant.” Neff describes self compassion as extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.  It’s worth a listen.

Mental Health Tips

The first DWS Parent Council meeting of the year included a presentation titled Minding Mental Health through Covid-19. Watch the recording and read the tips I covered below.

Tips for Parents

Here are some things we can do to help take care of ourselves

  1. Prioritize rest. Whatever that looks like for you (yin yoga, napping, sitting on the couch with our eyes closed, etc.).
  2. Again, realize the goal is to accomplish something not to be perfect.
  3. Give yourselves a break from all media. Give it up for 3 days or even 1 day and see if there is a difference in how you feel.
  4. Work on being gentle with yourself, try letting go or giving the self critic a day off. This also has an effect on how gentle we are with those around us.
  5. Pay attention to pacing. Everyone absorbs information and change at a different pace. Recognizing this can give us patience and challenge our expectations of others.

Tips for Students

Here are some mental health tips on what we as parents can do to help our children persevere through this ongoing time of pandemic and political unrest.

  1. Give your children hope. This to shall pass, there will be a vaccine and school will be back in full swing and some sort of normalcy will happen sometime in 2021. In turn, validate how they are feeling now and move onto a hopeful stance.
  2. Remind kids that we are being called on to be patient.
  3. Try to live in the present. This can be especially hard with anxious children but try to focus on today and if they start to veer off into the distant future, do your best to let them know that today is what we need to focus on and again to instill a more hopeful outlook. You can also start a gratitude practice with your children, maybe before you eat dinner or breakfast have everyone share something they are thankful for.
  4. Create a floating plan of the future. Ask what your child is looking forward to in the future and put them on a to-do board.
  5. Pay attention to and create small joys and activities for your child. Maybe baking once a week a sugary treat or bread, or facetime with a friend or relative
  6. Remind your child of how resilient they are. Point out to them that even though it hasn’t been easy they have survived some pretty big shifts in what is normal at home, school, with friends and neighbors. Remind them that they have proven they can do hard things
  7. Be aware of comparing your child to other children – everybody copes differently, we can help our children learn how to cope with their own unique perspectives and responses to stressful situations.
  8. Meditate with your child. Meditation, especially with anxious children can start pathways in the brain to not get caught up in every single thought we have (we have around 60,000 per day!). Meditation can help you and your child with accepting their emotions and can help with patience, which is greatly called upon now.

Mental Health Resources

Therapy Resources

I recommend the following therapists:

  • By Light Counseling—Natalia Samman, LCSW; (720) 295-2553
  • Blue Spruce Psychology LLC—Courtney Gallagher, PsyD; (720) 336-1477
  • Center for Child and Family Psychology—(303) 871-3306; Sliding scale
  • Amy Pickett-Williams—(303) 912-9806

Robbie’s Hope

Robbie’s Hope is geared toward helping teens with mental wellbeing, offering a vast number of resources, ideas and groups surrounding mental health. Please take some time to look over the website and share with anyone you think would be interested.

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

I wanted to remind our community that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be intensified this year because of the pandemic and our political climate. SAD is a type of depression linked to the seasons and a reduction in the amount of light one receives throughout the day. It starts in the Fall and wanes in Spring. It zaps our energy and makes us feel more moody. SAD can affect any age group but most frequently starts between 18-30 years of age. Linked here and here are two articles, with the first geared towards adults and the second for the younger population.

Upcoming Events


Parent Council Meeting: April 2021

For our last meeting of the school year, the DWS Parent Council was joined by Student Support Coordinator Dr. Sarah Boyer, Health and Safety Manager Christa Gustafson, and Advancement Coordinator Hannah Ronan-Daniell. Please enjoy the recording, minutes, and student support resources below.

We also came across this article you might find valuable from The Atlantic titled There’s a Better Way to Parent: Less Yelling, Less Praise.

Meeting Minutes

Click the button below to download the minutes from the April, 2021 Parent Council meeting.

Download the minutes

Recorded PC Meeting and Student Support Presentation

Student Support Resources from Dr. Sarah Boyer

Download Assistive Reading & Writing ToolsDownload Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text TechnologyDownload Graphic OrganizersDownload Editing Software

Spartan Senior Night

Celebrating Margaret Hecox and Alexie Pearson

It is with gratitude, excitement, and joy that we honor our beloved 12th graders on Senior Night — a DWS tradition taking place during the varsity girls basketball game on April 21st. About these incredible students, Coach Quinn reflected the following.

Margaret Hecox

Margaret is a four-year varsity player who has improved every year and is now an integral player on this year's team. As a starter for the past two seasons on varsity, she has brought stability with her skills and ability on the court and versatility to the team by playing multiple positions selflessly. Margaret has a great attitude and is a good teammate who supports the players around her!

Alexie Pearson

Lexie has been a huge part of the teams success over the past years as the starting setter for all four years of her varsity career! Her leadership and dedication is an irreplaceable part of the program. She has been an 5280 All League selection (2nd Team, 1st Team, 2nd Team, voted on by opposing league coaches) all three previous years with another selection is in the future and Player of the Year possibilities.
The Spartans Volleyball program will miss you both! Thank you for all of the hard work dedication and heart you have given to our school and program!

Step Inside The Denver Waldorf High School

Step Inside The Denver Waldorf High School

Our high school was founded more than 26 years ago, and our robust and dynamic curriculum has been taught throughout the world for more than 100 years. But today, students find that it’s our hands-on approach to education paired with a diverse and inclusive environment that best prepares them for the world beyond our doors. In fact, when students graduate from DWS, they possess the motivation and the confidence to do the work the world so desperately needs. 

Watch the video below to get a feel for our high school curriculum, culture, and community.

Hear from High School Faculty

All high school classes are honors-level courses that integrate high academics, arts, and movement to educate the whole student. Our seminars are organized into nine four-week blocks. During each block, the curriculum focuses on a single subject (such as chemistry, calculus, or history). These focused blocks allow our students the time to immerse themselves in a subject. In this way, we’re able to hone our students’ true abilities by exposing them to rigorous academics while exciting their critical thinking and developing their academic confidence.

During our virtual open house, many of our high school faculty members briefly discussed their classes and our curriculum. Watch the videos below to learn how each contributes to the larger tapestry of our high school experience.

Hear from DWS Alumni

How does a Waldorf school prepare today’s students for college? Of course, 100% of Denver Waldorf students are accepted into college, the vast majority finishing in four years. And our graduating classes, although intentionally small, average more than $4 million in scholarships per year. The investment feels worth it. But what are the experiences of our recent alumni once they go beyond our doors? During this podcast, we sit down with two recent graduates, Ellery Lewark and Vander Georgeff, and they candidly reflect and share about their experience.

About The Denver Waldorf High School

The Denver Waldorf High School offers a liberal arts education, consciously aimed to nurture and encourage adolescent ideals. The high school experience aims to balance the students’ academic needs with their longing to find meaning in the world.

Engaging Body, Intellect, and Emotion

At the start of each day, movement helps spark students’ circulation and bring them together. They then engage in a long, uninterrupted seminar (referred to as main lesson in elementary and middle school) to activate their minds, followed by music and elective classes to spark emotional expression. Music classes and elective courses promote the development of healthy emotional expression through creation.

High School Music

Regarding music, all high school students participate in chorus, with the option to participate in either music ensemble or orchestra until their senior year. Students new to DWS and who have not played their instrument before are strongly encouraged to take private lessons.

Hands-On Learning of Real-World Skills

Students apply what they’ve learned theoretically to scenarios in the real world. For example, a study of soil composition could be applied to a chemistry lesson on acids and bases, as well as a close reading of The Grapes of Wrath, and a course in black-and-white photography in which they learn to develop their own film.

Rhythm of Thinking, Feeling, and Willing

Our goal is to expose our high school students to academic wealth, and demonstrate to them that all knowledge is valuable to encourage their pursuit of wisdom throughout life.

The high school curriculum revisits themes and subjects periodically to strengthen functional knowledge. Students cultivate their ability to think critically, organize ideas and information, and clearly present thoughts through an academically challenging mix of math, English, humanities, physics, life sciences, chemistry, world language, practical, industrial and fine arts, chorus, orchestra, drama, and physical education.

About The Denver Waldorf School

The Denver Waldorf School is an urban pre-K through 12 independent school in Colorado. Founded in 1974 on Rudolf Steiner’s humanitarian curriculum, DWS believes education should foster what it is to be human, cultivate lifelong curiosity, and inspire a love for the world. We are currently enrolling for in-person learning:

Want to learn more about us? Schedule an in-person tour of our Denver campus or join us online during our virtual events.


In Response to the Boulder Tragedy

With the recent atrocities in our nation, I want to provide resources for assistance in talking with your loved ones about how to process and handle tragedy. I encourage all of you to be gentle with yourselves and allow space for different styles of processing when tragedy occurs.  Also, make extra effort to check in with the children and teens in your life. Much love to you all!

For more on the many facets of mental health, please visit my blog Jenny’s Corner. or catch our webinar led by Charlie Orphanides on the benefits of movement in educating the whole child.

Talking To Kids About The Paris Attacks—By What’s Your Grief

Starting with the awareness of our own response, this listicle gives us 12 ways in which we can actively offer children and adolescents support.

Read and Learn More

Resource List—By the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

A list of links to specific articles within the NCTSN website that help adults understand the effects different kinds of events can have on children and adolescents of various ages, and what to do to reduce trauma and promote resilience. Some articles are available in Spanish.

Read and Learn More

Explaining the News to Our Kids—By Common Sense Media

A 30 second video accompanies this article talking about the potential trauma of constant media exposure, especially when tragedy occurs. Addressed are appropriate responses according to age group, roughly matching the first three planes of development.

Read and Learn More

How to Talk to Kids and Teens About World Trauma—By Karen Young of Hey Sigmund

10 general tips for having conversations that will help children manage and accept catastrophic events and find hope again followed by specific advice for each age group, roughly following the planes of development.

Read and Learn More

Talking About Tragedy—By Jack M. Jose for Angels and Superheroes

Jack M. Jose, principal of Gamble Montessori, gives teachers 4 questions to guide student discussion, and quite a lot of insight. Although aimed primarily at Secondary teachers, this article is also useful for parents and teachers of younger students.

Read and Learn More

Kids and Disasters: How to help them recover—By Betty Lai for The Conversation

A look at the short and long term effects of trauma caused by the experience of a disaster and ongoing trauma, such as war, on children, and how to support the development of resilience.

Read and Learn More

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers—By the National Association of School Psychologists

7 tips to support children, and a list of talking points to keep in mind and emphasize in conversation that will reassure while maintaining a realistic outlook.

Read and Learn More