Click here for the current issue of Inform from AWSNA
PAUL'S "SO LONG SONG"
So long, my dear Calgary Waldorf School. It's been a long and wonderful ride that I've had with this marvelous school, and with those who helped it grow over the years. At the risk of running on at the mouth... again... please forgive me if I ramble a bit this one last time.
It was at a dinner party many years ago that I first became aware of the Calgary Waldorf world. I wasn't "officially" invited to that dinner party, but I'm a much better man today for going to it, to be sure. I met a very interesting woman there who introduced me to the school's philosophies (well, to be honest, I was really more interested in her than some little ole Waldorf school). I was so intrigued by her that I went to the old school in Marda Loop the next day to make a donation (and I also just happened to bring a handful of flowers along with me). I am to this day very grateful and very blessed that she accepted my donation, and my flowers. Dinah and I have been together now for twenty-four years... living and breathing the Calgary Waldorf School, and growing flowers together. But there was a cost that came with getting so close to the woman who had been living and breathing the school since it was first conceived: I would become involved too!
It started with doing the odd bit of handyman work around the old building, a building that was so full of life, full of joyful and curious children, full of caring and devoted parents, and full of dedicated, loving and exhausted teachers and staff. All crammed into an old building with thin walls, drafty windows and a crazy little cricket that lived down in the boiler room. Getting to know many of the children by name was not something I expected to happen, and I certainly didn't see a day coming when I would direct The Shepherds' Play in the large basement room that had a couple of poles holding up the floor above – a room that for some reason was called the Gym! Then, some years later, a handful of us stood on the street to watch a large machine knock the old building to the ground, exposing ancient straw that was layered between the ceiling and the roof to act as the building's insulation. If it wasn't for all the love and positive energy that filled that old building over the years, children's lunches surely would have frozen in their cubbies. Watching the new school rise out of the ground to dominate the Cougar Ridge landscape during the old school's final year brought new excitement and much apprehension. It was so new, so modern, so fresh, so unlike that sweet, funky old Altadore building destined for the wrecking ball. I would become the maintenance guy for the new building, putting shelves together and assembling benches. Sandra and I had to learn how the heating and air worked in the building, how to install water filters, and to make trips onto the roof to replace air filters and retrieve soccer balls. I got familiar with the brand new Tom Cat and became comfortable with driving it onto the elevator to clean the floors on the main level (and sometimes break the rules by letting a child ride on top now and then). The building became my classroom. I became very attached and very protective of it, and tried to inspire the children to take pride in their beautiful school: "so pick that apple core off the floor!" Several times over the years I dressed up like an idiot during our more "adult" Faeriums in the early years in an effort to help Marty, our auctioneer, entice a few extra dollars from our supportive parents during some wildly hilarious live auctions. And then to my surprise I somehow ended up directing another Shepherds' Play, but this time in a real auditorium, our new Assembly Room.
It was when I made regular discoveries of uneaten lunches and microwaveable meals which had been dumped in the waste bins that Dinah and I got the inspiration to put a Hot Lunch Program together. It was created in an attempt to do what we could to provide healthy meals for the children, and to save precious time for our always-busy CWS parents. A well-run, healthy Lunch Program would free parents from the task of planning, shopping and preparing nutritious lunches for their children every day of the week. Initiating, cooking for, and running this program would take up the next five years of my life. The school's kitchen was now my classroom. After a while I got to know the children less by their names and more by the size of their lunch order: Small, Medium, or Large. I got to watch some of them go from being so tiny I could only see them from the nose up as they peered at me over the lunch service counter, to becoming strapping adolescents announcing proudly that they were now ordering larger meals. However, after too many ten-hour days, hauling too many heavy pots off the stove, and too many evening foot rubs from my over-worked wife, it was time to pass the kitchen over to Stephen.
Not long afterwards, one of our Lunchtime Playground Supervisors moved away and the vacancy had to be filled. I was apprehensive, and wondered if I was equipped, capable and really interested in accepting such a responsibility. Could I handle watching over a city block filled with other parents' babies? Solve tense moments caused by everything from minor disputes to much bigger ones? Accept being the killjoy "bad cop" who enforces school yard rules? Learn the healing powers of a loving hug or a little ice pack applied to everything from a slightly scraped knee or a "goose egg" over the eye, to a more serious collision with a boulder? Decide when to give an explanation to a child as to why I think it's too cold outside for her to not wear a coat over her pretty new sweater, or when to just deliver a strong "NO!" when a couple of boys think jousting with stilts on the monkey bars is a good idea? Or that one day I would tell a handful of little ones that Mr. Paul isn't crying, he just has a bit of dust in his eye. So the school yard had become my last classroom.
I do love this school. I do love the children, the supportive parents, and all the wonderful, caring, devoted, dedicated, committed teachers and staff who have passed through these doors, and who I have stood with all these years. I will miss you all. I will always remember these last twenty years among you with great affection and gratitude. I will remember watching the school grow from a funky little building held together by the love of many wonderful people, into a modern, well-run, productive, loving community. I will remember watching so many beautiful babies grow into productive and caring adults, the precious ones who had passed-on much too early, the newest little ones who have just begun their Calgary Waldorf adventure – and that crazy little cricket in the old boiler room. And I will always remember how blessed my life has been, all because I "crashed" a dinner party so many years ago. I'll be waiting on Vancouver Island for my sweet Dinah.
So long y'all, and may you all have many happy, fulfilling years ahead. I'll pop by now and then.
"Mr. Paul" (Paul Jolicoeur)
Inspiring Facts: Did You Know. . . . ?
We have a new 1½ minute video about where we can find inspiration in our school.
Please click here to watch it at youtube.
It stars a number of CWS parents and was created, directed, filmed, and edited by CWS parent and documentary film-maker, Matt Palmer, with original music by CWS parent and composer Mike Shields. Thank you, Matt, Mike, and all the mums and dads who were happy to be filmed!
How will you be inspired to give?
Thanks for making your donation to our Annual Giving Campaign today.
— From the Fund Enrichment Committee