All School Gathering
The entire school—students, teachers, staff—meets weekly for about 30 minutes in the gym to sing, visit with each other, tell and hear stories, perform plays and music, mark special occasions, and spend pleasurable time in each others' company.
All students get to meet peers in other grades through our Bird Buddies program. Bird Buddies spend special, one-on-one time reading books and gaining literacy skills, playing together, and often eating and attending events at school together. These companions rotate throughout the year.
SPECIAL DAYS EVERY YEAR
Back to School Picnic
On the Friday before school starts, Prairie Creek families come with picnics and blankets for a chance to meet up with friends and greet newcomers, bring school supplies to classrooms and meet teachers, and to explore the woods and fields around the building.
First Day of School
For kids who ride the bus, their parents leave home in time to meet them at school when the bus arrives. For those who ride by car, parents park and walk them in. As our students file onto the plaza, staff and families wave and cheer. Once they're inside the building, parents have an opportunity to visit over coffee and snacks.
First Six Weeks of School
Prairie Creek asks parents to wait six weeks to volunteer in the classrooms, so that all students have a chance to settle into the routines of the school. One instance of getting settled is recess play. Teachers intentionally scaffold this time: for the first days, Prairie Creekers play with just their class, then their age-level cohorts, then other grade levels. Soon after, children lead games. Finally, we open up the surrounding woods and playgrounds, and circle up to discuss strategies for cooperation and independence. Conflict mediation and multi-age play are emphasized and taught directly by our teachers, as part of our progressive education curriculum.
This is a parents-only evening during the third week of school, during which we gather as a whole to hear from Prairie Creek's director and in various classrooms to discuss the coming year's curriculum, meet teachers and other families, and begin the crucial annual and ongoing work of community building.
All of Prairie Creek's nine classrooms get together in autumn to share a meal, get further acquainted, and play together in a local park or on the school grounds. This is a wonderful occasion for students to mix it up away from school, and for families and teachers to talk about volunteering in classrooms and to socialize.
In September parents, students, and teachers all meet to set goals for the year. These usually occur in the domains of language arts, math and numeracy, themes and projects, and development in social, emotional, and physical areas. During December conferences students present their work in portfolios and projects, and teachers present detailed narratives about each child—to do with assessment, strategies, aspirations—that spark conversation with parents. During spring conferences all three parties meet for a last time to look back at the learning year.
Special Persons Day
Prairie Creekers invite a grandparent or other important adult person to school, and we invite the Castle Rock community to join us for refreshments, musical performances, and casual tours of the school.
This is perhaps the most beloved of Prairie Creek traditions. Students bring valentines, often hand-crafted, for their classmates, friends, and teachers. Their bags for valentines are hung in a common area of the school so everyone can exchange with everyone else, in a sort of community love hug that's accompanied by music, expressions of wild affection, and general merriment. We play Love Bingo, tear into our valentine bounties, wear silly heart socks and hats, and enjoy a festive loveapalooza. Watch a video!
February at Wolf Ridge
Fifth graders attend a once-in-a-lifetime week of classes at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Spring Art Show
This is a fresh and fabulous springtime display of art by our children throughout the schoolhouse. Teachers and volunteers offer hands-on project-making to allow parents time to leisurely tour the walls, tables, and portfolios festooned with student work.
One of our most uplifting gatherings of the year, this community concert fills the spring air with children's choral voices, an eclectic alchemy of instruments, lyrics and melodies and tongues from around the globe, and a sure reminder of our collective harmony. Watch a video!
April Honoring Week
Fifth graders present their Honors Projects—in oral, written, and visual presentations. These are capstone endeavors that mark their years of academic and social work at Prairie Creek. We host Honoring Night during the week to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating students and their mentors.
This is a big, rowdy community event that most families and many alumni attend. We parade through Castle Rock, waving to our neighbors and displaying artwork and costumes we've created for the event. Afterward, our fifth graders do the Maypole Dance and we round out the occasion with a potluck meal in our big backyard. Watch a video!
Each grade level plans a camping experience. K-1 classes have a Camping Day in the spring, 2-3 classes have an Overnight Camp in the spring, and 4-5 classes enjoy their Overnight Camp in the fall.
On the last day of school, we create a carnival to welcome summer. Each class hosts a booth or two, and we enjoy each other's company for one last morning.
On the Sunday afternoon after school lets out, we gather while the 4-5 teachers speak about each of our departing Prairie Creekers. Students receive great big hugs and high-fives in a Tunnel of Love comprised of staff and families as we wish them well and send them off.
EXTRA SPECIAL DAYS
School Board meetings
Parents are invited to attend and participate in these regular evening meetings of our school board—to hear open discussions about immediate issues, politics, planning, finances, and other governance concerns.
Sweat equity enables Prairie Creek to save much of our budget for things that directly benefit students. Each year, we host Work Days and invite families to roll up their sleeves and pitch in on everything from building sheds to clearing brush to setting up our lunch serving station. We ask that each Prairie Creek family attend at least one of these gatherings.