Excitement is growing for our upcoming Welcoming the Winter Solstice: Darkness to Light celebration next Thursday, December 16. Artwork made by our students is showing up everywhere around the building, including bigger-than-life puffins and an igloo decorated with cotton balls. Personalized six-pointed stars sparkle in the hallway, and holiday desert cacti await final touches.
On Monday the teachers met to go over details of our plan, then we went outside and walked the pathway that will be created by the luminarias. By midday Tuesday, bricks were already lined for one part of the pathway. Areas of Gwen’s Castle were cleared, and a small brick space was constructed to hold the candles we’ll light that night. The plan is to have groups of families arrive and enter the event around the same time. They’ll walk along the luminaria path, stopping briefly to view art displays made by each class. After passing through the sand circle area in the middle of the playground, families will pass through Gwen’s Castle to light a candle in dedication of someone or a situation that needs extra thoughts and love. We’ll also have a table where families can write a dedication on a strip of cloth that will eventually hang in the castle. These will be distributed next week for those who would like to write theirs ahead of time. After lighting candles and writing dedications, families will exit along our newly formed brick path and out through the front door.
I was thinking it might be a good idea prior to the event to give a bit of background on Gwen’s Castle, just in case that history isn’t known . It’s been a part of our playground for ten years and was created as a memorial to one of our young students, Gwen Van Kirk, who sadly passed away in her sleep a few days after she’d completed her year in our Preschool 4s class. Here’s a link for more of Gwen’s story. In addition to the castle being a memorial to Gwen, it has also become a reminder of the importance of maintaining natural spaces for children. In many respects it’s a sacred space where children can interact with natural objects, use their imaginations, and witness the ever-changing seasons of life on Planet Earth.
We look forward to sharing our solstice event with all of our families and hope it will be an inspiring experience. Part of our intention is that it will give us all strength and an appreciation for our community, especially as we collectively move forward into our continuing path of uncertainty. Together we’ll make it through.