The mission of our school is to provide a community where children and parents come together to share their Latvian heritage. Some of our students speak fluent Latvian, while others are beginners, just learning the language. All levels are welcome! We differentiate our curriculum to meet the needs of every language learner. History and Latvian culture classes take a project-based approach. Folk dancing and folk song singing classes round out our program. To accommodate busy family schedules as well as participate in the congregation’s special events and services, school is held on Saturdays and/or some Sundays. We currently use a hybrid model with academic classes usually on Zoom, while whole group activities, folk dancing and singing, are held in-person on our campus.
The school has classrooms in the beautiful historic building adjacent to the church. We also utilize the church fellowship hall and kitchen. The surrounding spacious grounds provide an ideal setting for exploring and connecting with nature, which has always been integral to Latvian culture and art. Last winter our students made Puzuri, traditional Latvian straw ornaments, which they hung on the trees by our church.
An exciting addition to our program is a play group for youngsters, two through five years of age. These little ones meet once a month for Latvian songs, stories, and hands-on activities both indoors and outdoors.
Students and families join the congregation for church services and special events several times a year. Christmas and Easter celebrations are two highlights, eagerly anticipated by young and old alike. In preparation for Christmas an Advent service is followed by the traditional Eglīte, with a visit from Ziemassvētku vecītis. Children share poems, dances and musical instrument performances for Santa. In 2021, the service included sharing of the Peace Light with the congregation. We look forward to continuing the tradition this Advent. To learn more about the history of the Peace Light and its journey from Bethlehem to North America, go to: https://www.peacelightnorthamerica.org/about/history
In the spring, it is time for traditional Latvian Easter eggs dyed with onion skins, and baking pīragi! As part of our Easter activities, we have been lucky to host Al and Baiba as they lead the egg races on the now famous egg raceway.
There are also other popular events. Our students have performed folk dances at the Latvian Society of Free Letts Independence Day celebration in November and at our school year culmination program in May. Students from our school danced at the 2017 Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Baltimore Maryland, and at the 2022 Latvian Song and Dance Festival in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was truly a memorable experience for these youngsters!
To graduate, the eighth graders prepare a project of their choice in lieu of an exam. Many eighth-grade graduates participate in a two-week guided tour of Latvia sponsored by the American Latvian Association. They join students from other east coast Latvian schools. This trip has been a profound and emotional experience for many of these students.
New students and visitors are always welcome
If you cannot make a regular commitment to Latvian School, but still want to connect with the Latvian community, we welcome you to our special events. Our school has been tuition free since it’s inception. However, we appreciate support through donations, and sharing of time and talents from our families. If you have any questions or would like to join us, contact us at: Email: LatvianSchool@LatvianLuthChurchPhila.org