DSD Awards (German Language Diploma)

Photo by Nicolett Miller
Photo by Nicolett Miller

Photo by Nicolett Miller

On November 9th, Shining Mountain Waldorf High School German students joined four other Denver area schools at the Deutsches Sprachdiplom award ceremony. Paula Blum, SMWHS German teacher, was one of the speakers at the ceremony (speech can be read below). Twelfth grader, Emma Schaefer, performed for the parents and students debuting her song “Heartbeat”. Emma wrote this song for the “Dein Song für Eine Welt” (Your Song for One World) competition sponsored by The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung). Emma’s song will be published on the EinsongeineWelt website.

Unfortunately, not all SMWHS recipients were able to attend the award ceremony, but they were still honored. Students were congratulated by Peter Schmitt from the German Consulate in Los Angeles, Paul Maricle, the honorary German Consul in Denver and Irene Mrázek, the German Advisor.
The following students received awards:

  • Perrin Thompson – Certificate for Reading and Speaking  (A2 level)
  • Sydney Kless – Certificate for Reading, Listening and Speaking (A2 level)
  • Corbin Altgelt – Certificate for Reading and Listening  (A2 level) and Speaking (B1 level)
  • Abby Leuchten – DSD I Diploma (A2 level)
  • Emma Schaefer- DSD I Diploma (A2 level)
  • Fiona Katz – DSD I Diploma (B1 level)
  • Eric Mahoney –   DSD I Diploma (B1 level)
  • Marcus Zeender –  DSD I Diploma (B1 level)
  • Finn Beruldsen – Certificate for Reading and Speaking (B2 level)
  • Katilyn Brown – Certificate for Listening and Speaking  (B2 level)
  • Ava Lowell – Certificate for Reading and Listening  (B2 level) and Speaking (C1 level)
  • Alec Evans – DSD II Diploma (B2 level)
  • Meishan Wright –  DSD II Diploma (B2 level)

Speech given by Paula Blum, SMWHS German Teacher

— Deutsches Sprachdiplom Awards on November 10, 2017

30 years ago I stood in a New Zealand classroom ready to give my first German lesson. I was petrified, but knew that I had better not let that show. With this class of high school beginners, I had decided that I wasn’t going to speak a word of English. For about five minutes, I gave them all sorts of orders. Mach das Fenster auf. Mach das Fenster zu. Mach die Tuer auf. Mach die Tuer zu. Steht auf. Setzt euch. Steht auf einem Bein. They fell into their seats laughing and I knew I had them. I recently received an email from one of the students in the class. I had not heard from Joanne since she graduated. She now works as the International Engagement Manager for a New Zealand Ministry of Education program that supports language learning and teaching throughout New Zealand. She wrote in the letter about that first lesson and told me how much she had been influenced by learning German.

This last summer, I was at a German conference in New Zealand organized by the Goethe-Institut. A woman came up to me saying, “Oh, I have to thank you. You changed my life.” I looked at the woman and thought. “Yikes, I have no idea who this person is.” Fortunately for me, before I had to admit I didn’t know who she was, Petra, a native German, explained that her husband, Mark, had been one of my students. She told me that he was so inspired with the language that he continued with it at university. He met Petra when she came to New Zealand as a German teaching assistant. Mark was eager to try out his German on her. They soon fell in love, got married and now have three kids who speak both English and German!

I cannot imagine my life without being immersed in different languages and cultures. Languages have shaped who I am. The first language other than English that I was exposed to was Māori, one of the official languages of New Zealand. Having just moved there from England as a ten-year old, I was fascinated with the street and town names which were full of vowels. I was so excited to start Māori lessons at school. I remember coming home and telling my family how to pronounce the names correctly. I loved learning a language so much that in high school, I started two more: German and French. Learning other languages helped me to understand English grammar better. When I decided to add Italian in my junior year, I ramped up very quickly. I have come to understand that the more languages you learn, the easier it is to learn another one.

I first went to Germany at age 16 on a school trip. I was impressed that this language I had learned at school actually worked! Of course, this didn’t mean I didn’t make any mistakes while I was there. In a shoe shop after trying on about 50 pairs of shoes, I told the exasperated shoe salesman, “So sorry for giving you so much trouble. It is always hard for me to find shoes that fit. You see, ich habe lange Zähne (long teeth). I mixed up Zähne with Zehe (toes).

Four years later, I went back and worked in a factory in the Black Forest. It was there that I really understood how cultures can be so different. In New Zealand, I would have been on first name basis with everyone, even the boss. Here I was “Frau Mckibbin.” It took several weeks before Lore, a co-worker, suggested we use the informal “du” with each other. I am still friends with Lore to this day.

Knowing languages has taken me to places I would never have gone to and given me such rich experiences. While backpacking around France, I was invited into a one-room school where I talked about New Zealand. After church in Quimper, Brittany, I received a spontaneous lunch invitation from a family who wanted to show me the menhirs, standing stones, on their farm. I spent one year on exchange teaching English at a Gymnasium in Bad Reichenhall, Germany. There, I made the grave cultural mistake of giving a test on “unsinnigen Donnerstag” during Fasching (carnival), a day normally given over to craziness. They forgave me because I was a foreigner! That same class was somewhat put out when they found out on the very last day of class that not only could I speak German, I could also understand Bavarian. They then came to the realization that this was the reason why I always seemed to know what they were whispering about and if they needed help. “But you only spoke in English to us,” they complained. “Yes, I replied, “because that is what you are learning!”

My knowledge of languages and cultures has opened the door to so many friendships. Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” Connecting with others is one of the most important and rewarding skills in life. A good relationship relies on good communication. This is why I am passionate about teaching German. I want my students to enhance their lives by getting to know people from another culture, and for that culture and language to enrich their lives as much as it has enriched mine.

Photo by Nicolett Miller

Photo by Nicolett Miller


Photo by Nicolett Miller

Photo by Nicolett Miller


Photo by Paula Blum

Photo by Paula Blum

Shining Mountain Waldorf High School German students learn how to make a radio program

Photo by Paula Blum
Photo by Paula Blum

Photo by Paula Blum

In October, SMWS German high school students spent a day with Elvis Katticaren from the organisation, KultCrossing in Cologne, Germany learning how to make a radio program. Ninth grade Michaela Panian explains, “In the time the ninth grade spent with Elvis from KultCrossing, we recorded and created a radio program about celebrities with German roots.” This opportunity was sponsored by the German Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA).

Students learned about the different types of radio programs you can make. 12th graders, Emma Schaefer and Sydney Kless, prepared and recorded an interview. The other groups used the format which in German is called an “Umfrage”. There is an introduction (Anmoderation), then various people give their opinions on the topic, then the reporter gives a conclusion (Abmoderation). 11th graders compared German sport with US sport. 10th graders discussed school. The students also got a dose of the real world as they had a deadline and some of them expressed feeling a bit stressed meeting it!

Ninth grader, Zuri Rose writes,” I loved this workshop. I really enjoyed having a whole day speaking German. I also learned a lot about pronunciation and speaking in an understandable way. I loved editing the recordings we made and learning with my friends. I had a lot of fun and would love to do something like this again.”

Danke schön to Irene Mrázek, the German advisor, for organizing the two days with Elvis at our school.

Article written by the 9th grade German class.

Audio Sample

Click below to listen to one of the recordings, “What is special about a Waldorf school?”

Translation of “What is special about a Waldorf School?”

The Central Agency for German Schools Abroad (USA) presents the KultCrossing project: FuSCH – Funk und Schule ( Radio and School) from Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder, Co with Elvis Katticaren.

All over the world there are Waldorf schools. Also here in Boulder, Co. We, the students from Shining Mountain Waldorf School, are going to explain what makes our Waldorf school so special.

Hi, my name is Cami and my school is a private Waldorf school. Rudolf Steiner started the first Waldorf school about 100 years ago. Our Waldorf school opened in 1983. We have 5 breaks during the year – summer, spring, winter, February and Thanksgiving breaks. Only American Waldorf schools have a February break. Thanksgiving is an American holiday where we eat a lot!

My name is Bodhi and our school is very small. We have about 300 students in the school. We have a lot of different sports like volleyball, basketball, athletics and cross country. In our school, we have a school system like in German Waldorf schools. (In the high school) we have compulsory subjects, but also optional subjects such as photography, knitting, music and art.

My name is Fiona. We have lots of subjects such as art, math, languages, literature and history. In the first grade, we start learning languages. Here – Spanish and German. Waldorf students are very creative and every two years we put on an all high school musical. Every year, the 10th and 12th graders both put on a play.

SMWS student finalist in US Round of International Olympiad

Photo by Paula Blum
Photo by Paula Blum

Photo by Paula Blum

Shining Mountain Waldorf School 10th grader, Becca Blum, is one of 14 students from across the USA to make it into the US round of the International German Olympiad (IDO – Internationale Deutscholympiade).

The IDO is the largest German language contest in the world. Every two years, students from around the world gather in Germany to demonstrate their German knowledge. Each country sends two students to the German language contest.

Becca will travel to Chicago at the beginning of December to compete in the US round at the Goethe-Institut. It will be held as an “Olympic pentathlon” – the students’ reading, listening, speaking, writing and presenting skills in German will be put to the test. Two students will be chosen to represent the USA in Freiburg in summer 2018. Here’s hoping that Becca will be one of them!

#SMWHSArtExhibition on Instagram

The first piece in the SMWHS Online Art Exhibition 2017-18, created by Fiona Katz in the 9th Grade fine art course Light and Dark. Fiona used ink on paper to complete this contour line drawing exercise.
The first piece in the SMWHS Online Art Exhibition 2017-18, created by Fiona Katz in the 9th Grade fine art course Light and Dark. Fiona used ink on paper to complete this contour line drawing exercise.

The first piece in the SMWHS Online Art Exhibition 2017-18, created by Fiona Katz in the 9th Grade fine art course Light and Dark. Fiona used ink on paper to complete this contour line drawing exercise.

Waldorf Education – Art Show!

On Wednesday, November 8th, we began the Shining Mountain Waldorf High School Online Art Exhibition 2017-18.

Over the next year, we’ll feature 53 photographs of original fine art course work on our Instagram profile @shiningmountainwaldorf. The work in the exhibition was created during the 2016-17 academic year from students in the 9th grade through 12th grade.

The exhibition is curated by Susanne Mitchell, High School Fine Arts Teacher, who selected work from our fine art courses: Light and Dark, Relief Printing, Mixed Media Drawing Elective, Color Theory, Figure Drawing, and Self Awareness in Art.

Follow us on Instagram to view new photographs of the work each week.

Rose Ceremony Speech by Sydney Kless

Photo by: Mark Steele

The 2017-2018 school year opened with the traditional Rose Ceremony held in the lower school courtyard on a sparkling clear day. This year’s senior speaker, Sydney Kless, welcomed students to the first grade with the speech below.

Sydney’s speech

“One can acquire everything in solitude except character.”
– a quote by Stendhal

There’s something powerful in the collective consciousness of a thriving community, brought together by the odyssey of Waldorf education. Over the past eleven years, Shining Mountain has continuously celebrated the change and growth of my class in every measure possible. But one of the greatest gifts this school has given me, was the opportunity to fully explore the misadventures of growing up. I say misadventures, in light of the fact that growing up is actually really hard and now that I’m a little older, I’ve begun to experience what is known as “The Peter Pan Syndrome”. A syndrome that can only be described as, not wanting to grow up so fast.

Throughout my years here, I have been fortunate enough to experience the tumultuous ups and downs of getting older, in fashion with the life cycle of a butterfly. You see, eleven years ago, I was merely a little caterpillar waiting for my senior to walk me down the aisle, where my journey of indulging in stories such as the Periwinkle would begin. From there, the little caterpillar that I was continued to munch my way through the knowledge of elementary school. In addition to all of the daily wisdom filling up my head, I was also exposed to the wonders of handwork, the Halloween Journey, and Michaelmas. As well as the occasional mishap. Much like the time we were blown away in tents on the first night of our third grade class trip. Then came middle school…the stage in which each and every caterpillar wrapped themselves in cocoons of puberty and self doubt. These were by far the most difficult years to overcome, and yet each of us managed to survive. Once high school came around, everything changed once again. The cocoons we had wrapped ourselves in slowly began to fall away, as each individual blossomed into the incredible beings they are today.

Each of you are about to embark upon your greatest journey yet. A journey that will take you through 12 years of knowledge, community and most importantly, the friendships you build. For instance, my dear friend Sophie and I were desk partners the very first week of first grade. While we were soon separated, never to be seated together again for the next 11 years, simply because we were having too much fun. I know that our friendship will last a lifetime. Looking back, the adventures of growing up were certainly intimidating at times, but to my beloved fellow seniors, and darling first grade class, trust me when I say the best thing is to dive in head first on whatever adventure awaits you. And may each of you conquer with the help of every gnome, fairy and elf you meet along the way.

Sydney Kless, Class of 2018


Photo by: Theresa Baker

Rose Ceremony Senior Speeches from Prior Years:

Téa Speek, September 2, 2015 (video)

HS Back to School Picnic – Monday, August 28, 2017


We did it! A not-so-old model of community activity was picked up and dusted off in the high school this season, and we, students, parents, faculty and staff, were all the beneficiaries of a great back-to-school gathering on the high school field last evening. It was a beautiful evening and the “vibe” was uplifted! This impulse to reinvigorate the feeling of “connection, togetherness and fun” among the various constituencies of the high school came from a small group of parents last spring, and it didn’t take anything other than an invitation to have high school staff and faculty on board, committed to doing what they could to supporting the endeavor, as well. It was a collective effort with happy and widespread results that we’ll encourage and offer again and again throughout the school year.

Besides being a great opportunity to see old friends and meet many new ones through conversation and games, another result that came out of the planning for this endeavor is the newly formed High School Parent Engagement Committee. This committee now exists as a platform for any parents of Shining Mountain’s high schoolers to periodically meet with our Administrator, Leigh Hill, and help in the planning and execution of several events throughout the year, all aimed at supporting parents across the high school grades to get together regularly or sporadically (whatever your own schedule will allow) for relaxed social time. Together, we’ll plan for events both on and off-campus, some with the faculty, some with the students, and some “just for us”.

The high school years are fast and furious! Slowing down and making time to connect with each other and check-in on how life is going with our blossoming teens is remarkably rewarding. Our children will see us making the effort to be in community with one another, supporting one another, and then they too will be more likely to make those forays into relationships that might not otherwise come so easily. It’s a valuable and delightful way to continue to share our stories on this Waldorf journey together. No matter how old our children are, they continue to look to all of the adults in their lives for inspiration on leading a life well-lived. Continued community participation and engagement is a goal we can all strive to remain committed to, even in the high school years.

Thank you to the parents, faculty and staff who were so instrumental in the co-creation and success of this back-to-school event, particularly Leigh Hill, Lawrence Mathews, Sarah Novotny, Keith Fairmont and Radha Schwaller. Thank you to all of the high school faculty for showing up and playing games with all of us! The bean bags, frisbees and footballs were flying! We are truly indebted and grateful to the teachers and administrators who always go the extra mile to support our school’s mission and vision, and to support our children and families.

Join the fun! If you’d like to participate in the discussions about events, or serve on the committee to help plan and prepare for upcoming High School Parent Engagement Committee socials, please contact Latané Hill.

Our apologies for not having an accompanying photo; all participants in this (Zero-Waste!) event were engaged in person-to-person activities that precluded the use of cell phones (cameras) as a means to document the moment!

Latané Hill
303-939-9105 (H)
303-810-3470 (C)

10th Grade Student Exchange to Germany By Eliza DuBose, Class of 2019


As of this moment I am comfortably curled up in my room in Teltow, a small town just outside of Berlin, Germany. It isn’t a big room, but it’s cozy with everything I need. A large closet and a desk and single bed that lies under two windows set into the sloped ceiling. At night, if I turn over on my back, I can see the stars. But in all reality, this isn’t my room. I’m simply a visitor here. Read more

SMWS Alumni White Paper


SMWS Alumni White Paper

Dear SMWS Community,

It is with great pride that we share with you our first Alumni White Paper, entitled “A Portrait of the Shining Mountain Waldorf High School Graduate”. This article is the result of 18 months of dedicated research by Nita Davanzo, our Alumni Relations Coordinator and proud graduate of our High School. Nita conducted two surveys in addition to countless in-depth interviews with a selection of our 389 High School graduates, spanning 20 years from 1996-2016. Her research identified many distinguishing traits, capacities, and themes of our graduates, creating a profile of our students and shining the light on the power of our education in making a difference in the world. Happy reading and feel free to share this article far and wide!

Jane Zeender
School Director


National German Awards

AATG 2017 prizewinners

National German Awards

10th, 11th and 12th grade Shining Mountain Waldorf German students took the American Association of German Teachers national exams at the end of January. There were about 20,000 participants in all.

Please congratulate the following students who received awards in this tough competition:

Alec Evans (12th grade) – Level 4 Goldurkunde (Gold award)

Emma Schaefer (11th grade) – Level 3 Leistungsurkunde (achievement award)

Eric Mahoney (10th grade) – Level 2 Goldurkunde (Gold award)

Marcus Zeender  (10th grade)- Level 2 Silberurkunde (silver award)

Elisa DuBose (10th grade) – Level 2 Leistungsurkunde (achievement award)

Gold award winners who have not spent more than 2 weeks in Germany also have the opportunity to apply for a three-week study award to Germany. 10th Grader, Eric Mahoney, is  the first student from Shining Mountain who is eligible to apply for this. We will keep you posted!

~Paula Blum, HS and MS German teacher

AATG 2017 prizewinners

Photo: Melissa Chilson, SMWS 12th grade student

From left to right: Alec Evans, Marcus Zeender, Emma Schaefer, Eliza DuBose, Eric Mahoney