Fluffy clouds made of shaving cream and glue rest on the rack, glitter and jewels sinking into the drying foam. In a few days the clouds will be transformed into hats that will rest on dancing preschoolers’ heads this coming Friday night. Every classroom has some sort of project like this going on in preparation for the Seed’s annual Celebration of the Winter Solstice. It’s an event we put a great deal of energy into, and the event always lives up to its billing. Here’s a little history:
The Seed Celebration of the Winter Solstice began in the mid-1980s as a way of celebrating the season and at the same time honoring the various traditions of families in the school. Over the years we’ve gotten into the practice of selecting a children’s book with either a seasonal theme or one that promotes celebration of diversity, and then adapting it for the event. During the month of December each class rehearses a dance for their part in the story, makes costumes and any necessary props. For rehearsals we tape the floor of the multipurpose room in the same configuration as the markings on the gym floor where we perform. This year, due to our new location, none of the children will have ever performed in the space where we’ll be.
The Celebration of the Winter Solstice is truly a community event. Teachers collaborate and help each other with all aspects of the process. Parents assist with choreography and costumes. Toddlers practice their moves to familiar music and older students rehearse more complex dance steps to perfection. On Thursday and Friday morning we hold a dress rehearsal so we can see each others‘ dances and go through the show a couple of times. By Friday evening, we’re rehearsed just enough to know what to do and still find the dancing interesting.
The time from 6:45 until 7, when the show starts, is without a question the most demanding fifteen minutes of the whole school year. Classes gather offstage to put last minute touches on costumes and prepare to walk onto the stage. Some of the toddlers cry when their parents leave them with their teachers to take their seats in the audience. Most of the kids are bouncing around with excitement, eager to perform. Once the show gets started, everyone settles down, even the toddlers. As each class offers its dance to the evening, the audience is significantly impressed. Miraculously, the whole program is finished in an hour.
Our Celebration of the Winter Solstice is the staff and children’s way to say thanks to parents and families who support us year round. It’s our gift of the season, an evening of inspiration, hope, and love.