Crossing the Rainbow Bridge

On Tuesday, September 4, students, families and faculty of the Susquehanna Waldorf School paused from the excitement of the first day of school to observe the Rose Ceremony. The audience gathered in the gymnasium, where each first grade student was quietly led by their kindergarten teacher to the foot of a small, wooden bridge adorned with a rainbow of silks and bright flowers. Stepping confidently across the bridge on their own, they were each then greeted on the other side by their new first grade teachers, Victoria Hughes and Lisa Sweeney. With firm, steady handshakes exchanged, the student was then met by an eighth grade student and given a vibrant red rose.

In Waldorf education, observing and celebrating significant moments in childhood is done with great care and intention. The Rose Ceremony is one of those touchstones, celebrated on the first day of school, when the oldest students welcome the youngest with a rose as they cross the bridge into first grade. It is a heartwarming and very moving celebration, and honors the enormous shifts that are happening developmentally within the child who is leaving kindergarten and entering first grade. The bridge, for these young students, is symbolic of this transformation, as is the rose they are given after their brave crossing--complex flowers that follow a signature spiral pattern and evoke deep feelings of continual growth.

Receiving the rose from the oldest students is profound for the new first graders, as they look up to these students with real awe and admiration. But it also provides a space for reflection in the older students, reminding them of their early days of school and of the tremendous growth they have experienced since then.  Standing by each young student as a guardian, the poise, strength, creativity and clarity of thought these older students have gained over the years come shining through.

Closing the ceremony, the first grade teachers shared a story with the first grade for the whole audience to hear, giving a picture of the coming year’s studies and the unique journey they will make together (in their classroom, they will then encounter the story again, as an illustration on the chalkboard in a beautiful array of color). The students then passed through a loving archway made by their parents, symbolizing the protection, love and support they will provide to the class, and the journey they have ahead.