Waldorf School of Baltimore dedication is 'precious moment for precious institution'

October 21, 1997|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

When you have a building with natural lighting to spare, imaginative wall coverings, nonquadrangular rooms and decent restrooms, it's usually not a school that you're describing.

All of those things are part of the Waldorf School of Baltimore's newest building in Coldspring New Town, introduced to the public yesterday during a dedication in front of the school's front doors.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Nancy S. Grasmick, Maryland's superintendent of schools, were among the speakers who celebrated the building, which opened Sept. 8 after five years and $4 million worth of planning, design and construction.

Schmoke described the event as a "precious moment for a precious institution," while Grasmick labeled yesterday as valuable "for all of us who value our children and education."

The Waldorf School has operated out of several buildings in the Coldspring New Town area since it came to Baltimore in 1971. The school emphasizes the same "head, heart and hands" philosophy that Rudolph Steiner introduced when he opened the first Waldorf school 76 years ago in Stuttgart, Germany. The curriculum at the school is an arts-based one that breaks some of the rules of traditional schools.

The school paid no homage to traditional public schools in its design. Almost every room in the building, the restrooms being the only exception, manages to avoid having four right angles. The building treats squares and rectangles as if they were illegal.

Then there's lazure, the splotchy, multilayered style of painting that is a contrast to the whites, beiges and sky-blues of most classrooms.

Andrea Swirling, 47, who taught at the school from 1976 to 1985 and was one of the group of parents and former faculty to sing to students, said the building possesses the same "love, artistic quality and the power of the will to create" that the school represents to her.

Second-grade teacher Barbara Eriksson, faculty representative on the committee that planned the building, said the differences represent the needs of the 200-plus students who attend from first grade to eighth grade.

"I would think that the children's minds would be more open than with the tedium of four white walls," Eriksson said.

Students from the first five grades and the eighth grade also performed during the dedication for the building, which the school hopes to complement with a gymnasium, library and theater within the next three years, according to Jessica Strauss, president of the school's board of trustees.

Pub Date: 10/21/97

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