Those of you who are new to Anastasis are probably wondering about this crazy event that we have on our calendar for Wednesday: Birthday Bash! Without the context and history of this event, it can very much appear like a “wasted” school day. I mean really, who takes a day for a school-wide skate party?
There is method to our madness! This tradition started in the second year of Anastasis. One of the things that educators universally dread is the constant parade of birthday treats. Not only because every time there is a birthday treat brought in we lose a good portion of our day to consuming said birthday treat and recovering from the sugar rush followed by the sugar coma ... Not only because we value our waistlines (it is impossible to turn down a child handing you a sugary confection!) ... Not only because *some* (certainly not any of you!) parents turn individual birthday celebrations into a competition about who celebrates best by bringing in a personalized bundt cakes for each student, balloons, decorations, a clown, puppies!? (Based on a true story.) ... Not only because those with summer birthdays (or birthdays that happen over breaks) feel left out, so we introduce half-birthday celebrations and quarter-birthday celebrations.
The BIGGEST reason to avoid separate birthday celebrations is that this combination of things happens on a monthly basis and we regularly lose hours of learning time.
We aren’t ogres! We love your kids. We want to celebrate their special day. We want to have fun with them.
So, in the second year, we decided to try something a little different - a BIG school-wide birthday party...an opportunity to celebrate everyone! An opportunity to have fun together. An opportunity to be in community. We try to have this day coincide with other fun days (this year is the day before fall break).
The first annual Birthday Bash was a HUGE success. And we wondered, why has no other school stumbled onto this genius idea?!
The beauty of Birthday Bash day isn’t really the celebration of our birthdays. The real magic is in how it helps us build community. There is something to a little loosely-structured play time. Everyone has a common goal (to circle the rink and belt out favorite songs), everyone expects that things are going to get silly, and it is a given that some rear ends will meet with the rink before the end of the day.
Birthday Bash is a day when we don’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s a day when we laugh together, hold onto each other for dear life and help each other around the rink. It’s a day when we see that our teachers can be silly too and that many of them have some seriously awesome dance moves! It’s a day when we help each other get back up. It’s a day when the older kids join hands with the littles.
We’ve continued this tradition year after year because of the way it helps us build community. A strong community breeds individual confidence. When you feel comfortable with your peers, when you’re not constantly feeling like you need to impress them, when you have fun together, it’s easier to be vulnerable in your learning.
On Wednesday we’ll skate, we’ll dance and sing at the top of our lungs, we’ll eat pizza and hot dogs, sing happy birthday to each other, and share birthday cake. For those of your kids who aren’t THRILLED at the idea of skating, we’ll have other fun games going (Uno and chess competitions, ski ball, etc.).
On the surface, you may wonder what a Birthday Bash has to do with learning. The truth is ... this community we build? It is foundational for everything else we do.
We can’t wait!