Class 1 & 2 Celebrate Solstice at the Amphitheatre

19 July 2023

On the last Friday of Term 2, around 180 people gathered at sunset in The Haven Amphitheatre, Castlecrag to celebrate the inaugural Class 1 & 2 Winter Festival. This included the children of both classes with their parents, siblings, grandparents, family friends. The event was hosted by Class Teachers Jamie Loftus & Jonathan Shaw and supported by class assistants, staff members, parent volunteers, as well as members of the local community. The venue had been well prepared for everyone's safety & convenience and beautifully decorated with fairy lights.

Once families were seated and welcomed by the teachers, the lights went out and the venue was awash with a sea of soft speckled light shining through handmade lanterns. Jonathan offered a moving Acknowledgement of Country, followed by Jamie playing the didgeridoo. Jonathan then told an inspiring winter story, interspersed with Jamie conducting the students playing musical instruments - wooden flute & recorders, xylophones, triangles, singing bells & bowls, all amplified by the natural acoustics of the amphitheatre.

Following a short lantern walk from the amphitheatre stalls to the main stage, the students filled our hearts with warmth & reverence in honouring the winter solstice, through their beautiful performance of 11 wonderful winter songs. In closing this festival Jamie invited everyone to think of those less fortunate in winter, as we shared a delicious treat of ‘solstice crescents’ - a simple traditional recipe baked by parent volunteers.

Please read on for what Dani, the teachers and community had to say…

While packing up the next day, we overheard local residents with a visitor walking past saying: this is the Haven Amphitheatre, visioned by Marion Mahony Griffin in the 1930s, and last night there was a group of school children here with singing and music, so great!

The generous support of local legends Richard the landscaper and Glen the neighbour made this event at the amphitheatre possible and they also attended the performance. The students made lovely cards to thank them both.

Class Teacher Jamie Loftus said: “Thank you for the enormous love and support demonstrated during our inaugural Lantern Festival. This event achieved every aspiration of community building we could have hoped for. It was a magical child-centred Festival which we would love to continue into the future.”

Dani Finch said: “What a wonderful evening we all enjoyed last Friday night! Arriving at the amphitheatre, seeing it adorned with fairy lights, and sensing the mood of quiet anticipation was magical indeed. What followed was a beautiful, child-focused event that will surely live in our hearts and memories for many years… What a fantastic way to end a full and successful term of learning and playing!”

Midwinter gratitude:

     We sincerely thank all the parents and staff who contributed in many ways. It was a real community effort and please accept our deepest thanks.

     We extend a huge round of (virtual) applause to Jamie & Jonathan for their extensive logistical and creative input and, of course, to many other staff behind the scenes. This event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Monique, Theresa, Melony & Ming-Yu.

     Around 20 parents from Classes 1 & 2 volunteered 100+ hours to help make this new festival such a success. The teamwork and collaboration was very inspiring, resulting in the creation of something special for the children and larger community. Thank you for the generous gifts of time & skill from Amanda & Alex (Class 2 class parents) as well as Guchi, Louise, Sunil, Tian, Frances, Susie (Class 2) and Sylvia & Maria (Class 1 class parents) as well as Alice, Bec, Carolina, Emma, Henryk, Jian, Kathy, Leisa, Mandy (Class 1).