We sure love our traditions at EAC. They serve to mark the yearand give students and faculty a grounding in the familiar. Most of our rituals involve participation from every level, but a few are reserved for students in specific years of our overall curriculum. Extended Day children create the dragon and parade through the school for Chinese New Year during their study of Asia, for instance. Upper Level students celebrate Mardi Gras every year and also parade through the whole school.
The impact on those children who are bystanders in these instances, is either one of anticipation, “One day I will get to be inside the dragon!!”, or a memory rekindled, “They are so cute! Aww…I remember doing that. It was so fun!”.
For the participants themselves, there is always more going on than meets the eye. We love our traditions, for sure, but all are grounded in robust curriculum driven by some aspect of our mission.
A significant portion of the Upper Level experience involves small group work with multi-age collaborations. We want students to have lots of practice in navigating the complexities involved in working with others. These experiences provide opportunities for students to take on leadership roles (usually our third year students), and, over time, to gain a depth of understanding rarely seen in young people, of their own strengths and weaknesses- and those of their peers.
The celebration of Mardi Gras provides Upper Level students a host of opportunities:
The small group mask making project
allows for leadership opportunities for third year students.
Costume judging results in students being in the vulnerable position of “not winning”.
Exposure to the rich cultural traditions of New Orleans (right in our own country!), serves to put front and center the multi-ethnic fabric of the United States.
And finally, in classic Montessori fashion: Third year students create games for their younger peers based on their studies of probability. What are the chances of winning this game? Is this game statistically fair?
And, of course, one day in the not too distant future, those first year students will get to be the ones “in charge” and those third year students will be looking on from Middle School saying, “Aww…I remember when we did that. It was so fun.”