The Hartsbrook School
Waldorf Education In The Pioneer Valley Of Western Massachusetts
Clarity of Thought | Warmth of Heart | Strength of Purpose

Alumni Feature: Ian Curtis

Ian Curtis, Class of 2008 (12th grade)

Ian is on his way to an academic career in French, an interest born at Hartsbrook in his many years at Hartsbrook—he started at its nursery school and in 2008 graduated from its high school, before going on to Kenyon College. Ian says, “I was very well prepared for college. Hartsbrook encouraged me to look at how diverse disciplines fit together. We would study ethics in a Russian-literature block and in biology at the same time, for example.”

About his time at Hartsbrook, Ian says, “At the same time that the school emphasized community and academic rigor, it gave me the opportunity to design my own program—the intellectual and emotional freedom to pursue personal interests. In particular, the twelfth-grade ‘senior project’ lets students explore deeply something they care about passionately.” Ian and fellow classmates petitioned successfully for their own band practice group. Also, “During my junior year, I was able to live in Paris for six months with a French family, and to experience a French Waldorf School, shadowing a French student as he progressed through the year. Thanks to the language proficiency that I acquired, I was able to take French at Smith College upon my return, a defining moment for me academically.” He notes that Hartsbrook students enjoy academic opportunities at all the local five colleges, as well as study abroad options in several countries. As a senior, Ian also traveled with his class to South Dakota to help build a new Waldorf school on an Indian reservation, a chance to learn firsthand about the struggles American Indians experience.

Ian also fondly remembers his communal experiences at Hartsbrook. “Plays are very important in a small school, because they allow you to share a deeply emotional moment, to connect with students of all ages, teaching the younger students and finding role models in the older ones. And in high school, the all-school morning meeting’s singing and music provided a framework for the day. It ritualized and framed the day in a profoundly spiritual way that integrated community, arts and academics.”

His Hartsbrook experience affects his life still, he says, “There is a great artistic influence that continues beyond graduation. I still do yoga, sign and play the guitar; those activities are an important part of who I am.”