Kwanzaa celebrated by Schoolhouse students

Schoolhouse student Clare Stackpole-McGrath, age 6, of Shelburne joins Nari Penson of Winooski in lighting one of the Kwanzaa candles at The Schoolhouse Kwanzaa Ceremony on Dec.19.

Students, teachers, families, and alumni of The Schoolhouse joined together to celebrate the 28-year-old tradition of Kwanzaa. The school’s Kwanzaa ceremony held on Dec. 19 marked the end of three weeks of study and preparation to explore aspects of the holiday, of African-American culture and of one’s own family stories. Kwanzaa is a non-­religious, non-heroic African-American holiday celebrated from Dec. 26 until Jan. 1.

Resplendent in red, black, and green, Schoolhouse students shared traditional songs from the African-American tradition, lit the seven candles of the Kwanzaa Kinara, and explained (in both song and prose) the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self determination), Ujima (working together), Ujamaa (spending money wisely), Nia (purpose), and Imani (faith). 

Of the principle Kujichagulia, Clare Stackpole McGrath (6) of Shelburne declared, “I am determined to do good things in the world and to help people who are fighting stop.”

Students also reflected on African-American history and African Americans’ historic contributions.  Julia Cichoskikelly (9) of Hinesburg shared, “Jackie Robinson’s purpose (Nia) was to be able to have African Americans play in the major leagues.” 

The ceremony closed according to Schoolhouse tradition with those assembled joining together and repeating “Let’s Pull Together” in unison before heading off the Karamu or community feast.

The Schoolhouse is hosting observation mornings for interested families on Mondays, Jan. 7 and 14, from 8:30-10:30 am.  For more information about the Schoolhouse contact Liz Shayne, Head of School by email, by mail at 8 Catkin Drive, South Burlington VT 05403, or

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