The mood was festive. The excitement was contagious. Outside, children ran around the building, climbed trees and explored the woods. Jen Benoit, member of the Development Committee, eagerly welcomed families, poured cider, and filled the bottomless platter of cider donuts.

On the grounds surrounding the school property, Anna Ozols served as our gracious tour guide. She escorted large groups down the winding carriage lane, and provided the back-story of this historic property which started out as a wind swept pasture and is now one of the premier examples of Frederick Law Olmsted‘s work as a landscape architect. Anna spoke of Olmsted‘s careful design and the sense of purpose infused into the details of the landscape. Anna, a Sunflower Nursery parent, is a graduate of the Landscape Institute of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University and a Frederick Law Olmsted enthusiast.

“Hello, tree,” called one small girl perched atop her father‘s shoulders. One parent later commented, “It‘s like the woods themselves were welcoming us.”

Returning for a tour of the new school building, the group passed by parking lots, both filled to capacity, as was the great front room of the building where the welcoming ceremony took place. Current CAWS families, donors, dear friends, supporters, alumni, founding members from when our school began almost twenty-five years ago, all stood shoulder to shoulder as our Administrator, Susan White, led a singing round of “Rise Up O Flame” as the teaching faculty lit candles in turn.

Like at any open house, people stepped tentatively at first into a space that felt a little bit like someone else‘s home. But it did not take long before the hallways were filled with curious families, eager to explore the space inside—not only hallways and future classroom spaces, but the basements, bathrooms, stairwell and, of course, the elevator. Eager children hosted many elevator rides.

Members of the faculty, board and various committees sported name tags entreating “Ask me”. Kelly Hiselman, our Admissions Director, provided a display of photos and a table of handwork items, giving us an opportunity to pause and hold a warm, familiar hand-knitted item as we ventured into this new space.

“But how will I know how to get to the bathroom when I‘m at school here?” asked one second grader. It will take time to tread well worn paths into this place that will become our home. It will take patience. There will be much opportunity and lots of questions along the way. But the offer on those name tags is still valid. “Ask me,” they said. We‘ll continue to talk about this journey that we are on as we take our next step forward.

-story by Cathy Kennedy, a Cape Ann Waldorf School parent of three