Friday, June 3, 2016 – 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Waldorf School playground
An outdoor celebration & family picnic with children's crafts & Maypole festivities
Everyone Welcome !
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR VIRGINIA SMITHThursday, April 14th at 3:00 pm
with a Reception to follow at the Church until about 5:30 pm
Scarboro United Church, 134 Scarboro Avenue SW
Everyone is very welcome to attend the service and the reception.
Tuesday, April 12th
Dear Friends of the Calgary Waldorf School:
On behalf of all of us on the Faculty, Staff, and Board at the school, we are writing to you this afternoon to confirm for you and share with you in the saddest of news. Many of you will already know that our beloved friend, teacher, and colleague Virginia Smith died this past weekend. After many years of struggles with a number of difficulties and heart-breaks in her life, Virginia chose to take her own life at the end of last week. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go to everyone who grieves our loss of her.
We want you to have this “Intercessory Prayer” (by Adam Bittleston) which we have been reading together this week to send our love, hope, and peace to our dearest Virginia.
Thou angel who keepest watchVirginia joined the Faculty of our Calgary Waldorf School in September of 1995. In these past 20 years, she has been a leading and steadfast light in our community. Virginia has filled virtually all of the key roles in our school, including Class Teacher, Interim Pedagogical Administrator, Teacher Mentor, Teacher Evaluator, Division Chair, Faculty Council member, Board member, member of Faculty committees and Board committees, leader of many faculty professional development/teacher training series, and speaker/workshop leader at many adult education events. Throughout her two-decade tenure at our school, Virginia has been the embodiment of a striving Waldorf teacher. As a true “Server of the Light”, Virginia’s deep and enduring commitment to our students, our parents, her colleagues, our school, and our community has been a gift to us all which will continue to resonate throughout the whole lifetime of our school. She has touched and will continue to touch so many lives with her compassion, intelligence, insights, creativity, and clarity. As I write this, I have a picture in my mind of Virginia’s glow.
Over the destiny of Virginia
Through the waking and sleeping,
And the long ages of time:
May our thoughts, filled with hope,
Reach Virginia through thee.
May she be strengthened
From the founts of will
Which bear us towards freedom.
May she be illumined
From the founts of wisdom
Which warm the inmost heart.
May she feel peace
From the founts of love
Which bless our work.
Our deepest condolences, affection, and thankfulness go from all of us to Virginia’s family. And we also hold Jack Searchfield – Virginia’s partner in life and teaching for so many years – very closely in our hearts, with much love. Each of us will miss Virginia terribly and in so many ways.
At the school, we have heard this afternoon from Virginia’s family about the details of the service which they will be holding this week to remember and honour Virginia. Everyone is very welcome to attend the memorial service on Thursday, April 14th at 3:00 pm at Scarboro United Church (134 Scarboro Avenue SW). A reception will follow the service, at the church, up until about 5:30 pm, which everyone is also very welcome to attend. Please know that the school will be sending flowers to the church, for Virginia’s family, on behalf of everyone in our school community. Also, many of the CWS faculty and staff will be singing at either the service or at the reception.
I know we have been receiving questions from parents about whether or not to bring their children to the memorial service at the church. Of course, this is a specific decision which every parent will make in the context of who their individual child is, how old they are, how they are connected to Ms. Smith, how they might feel in the service and reception, etc. The primary thing we want to say at this point is that the school is beginning now to plan a coming-together which will be held at the school a bit later this Spring – to include and involve our CWS students and families and to take place on a school day. In this coming-together, we will have some words, music, activities, etc. to celebrate, commemorate, and honour the place Virginia holds in the history and the ongoing life of our school. We’re quite sure already that we will be doing some sort of planting in our schoolyard in Virginia’s memory. So this brief information at this time is just to say that there will definitely be a wonderful and reverent opportunity a little later this Spring for our students to take part in a ceremony and celebration here at school to honour Ms. Smith. We will let you know more about this as we put the plans in place over the next few weeks.
You will see in the obituary that is published in the local newspaper tomorrow that Virginia’s family is asking all of us to think about perhaps planting something somewhere to honour her. We know that Virginia loved everything green that grows, especially plants that help the bees.
You will also see in the obituary that Virginia’s family is immediately creating with The Calgary Foundation a memorial fund which will be linked to the Tuition Assistance Endowment Fund that the Calgary Waldorf School already has at The Calgary Foundation. By late tomorrow or certainly by Thursday, you will be able to find on the TCF website (www.thecalgaryfoundation.org) a place to make a donation to the “Tuition Assistance Memorial Fund for Virginia Smith”, if you would like to do that. We in the school are truly grateful that Virginia’s family is thinking of CWS in this caring and generous way, to honour her central, unending place within the heart of our school.
And now, a very specific and crucial piece of information for all the current parents in our school:
In the 31-year history of our school, CWS has rarely had to close for any reason. However, losing Virginia is an extra-ordinary moment in the life of our school, and so to respect her place in each of our hearts and in the heart of the school, we want to ensure that everyone on faculty and staff is able to attend the memorial service. Thus we have decided to close the entire school (that is, we will close every class and program in our school, including Afternoon Preschool, Afternoon Kindergarten, Grades One through Nine, and both Aftercare Programs) as of 1:00 pm on Thursday, April 14th. We realize that this early-closure will create difficulties for some families. But we ask that all parents come together as a true community of care and support this Thursday afternoon, and help each other with picking up your children and arranging for mutual child care, play-dates, etc. We can’t thank you enough for taking up our request for your help with a 1:00 pm school closure on Thursday. We do know how much we are asking of you in this, and we truly appreciate your help.Please note that our Gateways Conference will proceed as planned on Friday evening and Saturday daytime.
In losing Virginia, we know that everyone’s heart is breaking. All of us here on Faculty, Staff, and Board join you in this profound grief and sadness. At the same time, we are so grateful for all the expressions of love and care which are constantly pouring toward Virginia, her family, Jack, and the school.
We’ll close this letter to you with a poem, “In Blackwater Woods”, by Mary Oliver (one of Virginia’s favourite poets), which we know Virginia has turned to for many years, in order to find solace, wisdom, and the way forward.
Look, the treesYours in thankfulness and community,
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
everything I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
Cathie Foote, School Administrator
Kathy Brunetta, Pedagogical Administrator
MaryWyatt Sindlinger, President of the Board of Directors
SCHOOL CALENDAR FOR 2016/2017
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