The Rose Ceremony

Each school year at the Eugene Waldorf School begins and ends with a Rose Ceremony. In the fall, at our welcome assembly, it is the role of the new eighth graders to present roses to the budding first graders as they begin their journey through the grades. This year the first graders stood on the stage with quiet reverence while one by one each eighth grader took a rose from his or her teacher. The students presented the roses to their new first grade buddies and then stood supportively behind them. Finally, Liz Hartman—our eighth grade teacher, offered roses to Laurie Leaf Bowman, our first grade teacher, and her assistant Tricia O’Neil. This simple ceremony is celebrated in many Waldorf schools as a marker of an important transition for the children. Entering the grades is something many of the kindergarteners have thought a lot about and looked forward to. It marks an important developmental milestone as the individuality and capability of each child emerges and grows. At the Eugene Waldorf School, we use roses to mark this passage. Roses are symbolic to many as a sign of love and beauty. In Waldorf 5th grade botany lessons, the rose is often compared with the lily. The lovely lily’s hold on the earth is more tenuous, as it grows from a bulb. The lily’s bloom can be briefer, and more succulent. The rose, while sensitive and delicate, is also quite bold. It is strongly rooted to the earth, and even has thorns to protect itself. Its unfolding is gradual, as each round of petals comes to bloom — the rose’s transformation from bud to blossom is a significant change. The hardy rose celebrates life on this earth. Next June, at the end of this school year, another rose ceremony will take place. The first graders, grown in height and confidence, will offer roses to their eighth grade buddies marking another significant transition. The eighth graders graduate from one community formed by friends and teachers, to another community the students choose and foster on their own. Waldorf education offers rituals, such as the Rose Ceremonies, as a celebration and a support to our children, and their families, as they experience these important milestones in their lives. By Marina Taylor Painting by Jelena Jaehnig, 5th Grade Teacher