We have a small box we open only at this time of year. It contains gaffers tape, a map, and a six foot segment of ribbon with a tiny piece of yellow chalk tied to the end. It might seem like an odd, insignificant little collection of things, but in reality, it’s quite foundational to one of the Seed’s major events, our Celebration of the Winter Solstice.
On Monday after school, Stephanie and I embarked on a ritual in which we have partaken for many years, laying down the practice space for this year’s celebration. It’s one of the best practical applications of mathematics I’ve ever experienced. And reliable. The basic markings are a giant rectangle that fills up most of the multipurpose room, several parallel lines, and a circle, twelve feet in diameter. The circle is always the most challenging and gratifying when executed properly. It’s all in the technique. Over many years, we’ve refined this process to produce a perfect circle each time. One person holds the ordinary end of the ribbon at the circle’s midpoint, and the other, holding the end with the small piece of chalk attached, simultaneously keeps the ribbon taut while drawing the circle on the carpet. As you might imagine, it requires immense teamwork. Once the chalk dust literally settles, we apply different colors of tape over the chalk markings, then add clear tape over that to keep it in place for the next few weeks. A more recent addition that completes this process, is small taped numbers along the parallel lines, which are added by one of our experienced choreographers.
Our chalk and tape ritual provides a familiar space in which students can rehearse their dances. Since the actual event is performed on a stage at nearby South Mountain High School, the taped floor configuration in the multi is the connecting link. Prior to the performance, we use the gaffers tape (a special tape used on stages) to replicate the multi markings on the stage floor. Each class, from toddlers through 3rd/4th graders, prepares a dance that is performed the night of the celebration. The fact that the children are able to make the transition from the multi to the stage is nothing short of a miracle, in my opinion.
The Seed Celebration of the Winter Solstice is magical, to say the least. To ensure that everyone can make it in time from work, the program starts promptly at 7 and ends at 8. We know it stretches our toddlers’ normal early bedtimes, but somehow it always works out. Our youngest Seeds dance first, so some parents opt to leave after seeing their toddler perform. After the dances, we have a few wonderful songs, then disperse for the evening. Yes, the kids are tired the next day, so the good news is it’s an all-school pajama day! The last day before break is generally quite festive for all.
For more history of this significant Awakening Seed event, check out these links: