Reading an Ode at Olympiad
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Integral to our curriculum is a series of spirited and well-loved festivals. These celebrations cultivate in our students an appreciation of the seasons, and bring us together as a school and community. Parent volunteers are integral to the success of these events. Longstanding parents and new parents alike work side by side, guided by the class teachers, to organize and orchestrate the day, infusing the gathering with spirited energy and productive goodwill, while building authentic relationships.

Our festivals draw inspiration from the land around us and are rooted in developing the necessary understanding between people and place. The two largest events are Apple Fest, the autumnal harvest festival, and May Fest, an exhilarating welcome to spring. Seen as a whole, these festivals give us a chance to be nourished by the joys of community as we work on campus together, dance, share food, and raise our voices in song. 

Opening Day Circle
After parents depart, children and teachers gather in an all-school circle in the “leafy glade” behind the school for songs and a ceremony to mark the start of the school year. The eighth graders present roses to their first grade partners to welcome them into the grade school journey. The heart of the ceremony involves each child and teacher placing a nature offering of a flower or branch from the fields into a basket, symbolizing the special contribution each makes to the whole of our school. As the children leave the circle to return to classrooms, they receive an individual greeting from each of the faculty to mark the new school year.

Welcome Back Gathering Evening
In mid-September we host a lively gathering, organized by both the faculty and parents, which starts off the school year for our parents. It is the first time in the school year that the whole parent body comes together. This is a chance for new parents to meet the faculty and staff as well as new staff to meet the parents. The evening helps set a tone of caring, involvement, and participation for the rest of the year. As part of the gathering, parents meet as a group with their class teacher(s) to receive information pertinent to their child’s class.

Michaelmas, celebrated in late September after the autumnal equinox, is an all-school celebration in which we acknowledge the end of summer and the coming of fall through the enactment or re-telling of the story of the Archangel Michael, conqueror of the powers of darkness. Just as the life forces of nature recede, we need to strengthen our own inner forces and draw the light inward to face the darkness. The story of St. George taming the dragon is an archetypal drama that allows children to live into this moment of seasonal transition and change. In many cultures, this time of the year marks the beginning of the New Year. Our Michaelmas celebration culminates with an all-school climb up Blue Hill Mountain in the afternoon. Parents are welcome to join us on the climb.

Apple Fest
The highlight of our fall is Apple Fest, an all-community harvest celebration, held on a Saturday in early to mid October. The week before the appointed day, students spend a morning at a local orchard picking apples. On the Friday before Apple Fest, the students, faculty, and parent volunteers spend the day preparing the feast as they happily peel and slice apples for pies and crisps. On the morning of Apple Fest, the entire school community gathers to lend a hand at whipping cream, slicing bread and cheese, readying the campus for winter, pressing cider, singing and dancing.

Specialty Teachers Evening
The highlight of our fall is Apple Fest, an all-community harvest celebration, held on a Saturday in early to mid October. The week before the appointed day, students spend a morning at a local orchard picking apples. On the Friday before Apple Fest, the students, faculty, and parent volunteers spend the day preparing the feast as they happily peel and slice apples for pies and crisps. On the morning of Apple Fest, the entire school community gathers to lend a hand at whipping cream, slicing bread and cheese, readying the campus for winter, pressing cider, singing and dancing.

The excitement of children on Halloween morning can hardly be contained as they exit from their cars in costume! The early morning parade around the school ends in a circle in Emlen Hall, where teachers weave stories around the strange assortment of Halloween personalities that have appeared in their classes. Halloween songs are sung and pumpkins distributed. Older children partner up with younger ones for an all-school carving session overseen by teachers, staff, and parent volunteers. Teachers and parents then set the carved pumpkins in a darkened room for students to admire while a Halloween tale is told.

Lantern Walk
In November, when the shortness of the days begins to be felt, the children in early childhood through 1st grade make lanterns during school, then come with their parents early one evening for hot cider, a story in a darkened classroom, then a walk by lantern light through the fields. It is a lovely and quiet ceremony.

Our all-school gathering honoring Thanksgiving centers around the offering of food by the children of the school to those in need within the Blue Hill community, coordinated with the Tree of Life Food Pantry. The food donations are gratefully received, a Thanksgiving story is told to the children, and students and faculty join together in festive song.

Winter Faire
Each December, the Bay School holds its longstanding fundraiser, Winter Faire, a juried crafts show and community festival. The Faire has been recognized as one of the best craft fairs in the region. All Bay School families are expected to participate in some way. Managed by a parent committee, planning for the Faire is nearly a yearlong process, beginning in late winter and continuing through the fall.

Winter Circles 
As the days get shorter, faculty and children gather in quiet early morning assemblies every Monday between Thanksgiving and Winter Break to sing seasonal songs. We light candles honoring the natural realms and as a reminder of the coming return of the light as solstice approaches. The highlight of each of these gatherings is the telling of a story by one of the faculty to the children.

Nowell is a festival of song held just before December holiday vacation in the evening in Emlen Hall.  The program includes seasonal carols and songs, narratives, verses, and instrumental music performed by the children in grades 1 through 8 and faculty. The festival ends with an all-community sing and lighting of candles.

Winter Gift Exchange
During our last all-school gathering before the winter break, each student presents a gift to another student or faculty member whose name he/she has drawn earlier in the month. Each student also receives a gift from the student or faculty member who has drawn his/her name.  We recommend a spending limit, and homemade gifts are encouraged.  The anticipation is palpable as each student in turn steps to the center of our giving circle.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day
In January, the school gathers to celebrate the visionary leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. and call to mind humanity’s deep interdependence and continued striving for peace, equality, and cooperation. Inspiring photos, pictures, and a single lit candle create a mood of somber inspiration as faculty, staff and students share stories of Dr. King’s life and parables and songs from many cultures as they evoke the universality of his vision and struggle.

Class Play Season
Winter marks the beginning of class plays. Every class presents a play each school year. Upper grade classes present their plays in Emlen Hall to include daytime and evening performances. Two important play dates occur just before the winter and spring vacations. Class teachers communicate their play dates in good time for families to schedule around them.

All-School Recital
The All-School Recital is an optional in-school event in March, for students who are taking extracurricular music lessons and who wish to play a short piece of instrumental music. Parents inform their child’s private music teacher by February, who helps the student prepare a piece for performance. It is an opportunity for the children to informally share their musical interest with their classmates, teachers, and families that all gather for the event.


Grandparents Day
Grandparents of children in our Early Childhood program through 8th grade are invited to spend the Friday morning before May Fest visiting classrooms, watching presentations from grades 1 through 8, and enjoying a full lunch together.  Grandparents may visit multiple classrooms and spend recess with grandchildren as well. A perennial favorite, this event attracts grandparents from as close as down the road to as far away as across the country or ocean.

May Fest
At May Fest, usually held on the first or second Saturday in May, the Bay School community celebrates the coming of spring with Maypole dances, singing, instrumental music, games, and a potluck lunch. May Fest also provides us with an opportunity for a spring spruce-up of the school with parents, children, teachers, and friends of the school helping with designated campus projects.

Integral to the fifth grade curriculum is the study of ancient cultures, including ancient Greece. Influencing this curriculum is our understanding of the fifth grader as particularly poised in body and spirit, at a point of graceful equilibrium between young childhood and the coming of adolescence. To mark and honor this period of time in their lives, we participate in the Olympiad, created collaboratively with Waldorf schools in Maine, New Hampshire, and Canada. This beautiful event brings together hundreds of people in a day of quiet witness of many fifth grade athletes who compete in five events: long jump, discus, javelin, wrestling, and sprinting. Olympiad is a time-honored fifth grade rite of passage, an unforgettable day in the life of each child, and a vital part of each school year. 

8th Grade Projects
In the autumn each 8th grader undertakes an independent project of his/her choosing, which upon completion is presented to the school community in an assembly.  Each student submits a proposal to the class teacher with a rationale and description for the project. Most students work with a mentor from the greater community. Projects have included the building and creation of boats, airplanes, go-karts, musical instruments, furniture, and paintings, as well as apprenticeships in hospitals, law offices, and blacksmithing, to name a few.

Graduation is a momentous ceremony for the whole school. For 8th graders it marks not only the end of their Bay School years, but their transition from childhood to young adulthood. For children in the lower grades, it is a picture of what the future holds. The program includes music performances through the grades, words from the graduates to the community, and words from faculty to the graduates. Graduation is usually held in Emlen Hall and is attended by the whole school community. Traditionally, the seventh grade class is responsible for set-up, clean-up and decorating.

The Last Day of School & Closing Circle
The children spend the first part of their morning sharing Main Lesson books, signing autograph books, and enjoying the final recess of the school year. Eighth grade diplomas, each customized by a fellow 8th grader, are on display. The children and teachers once again gather in an all-school circle to share memories from the year past and acknowledge those students leaving the school. Coming full circle from the beginning of the year, the first graders present their eighth grade partners with a rose. The morning ends with a farewell from the teachers, wishing all a good summer.