On April 20th, the Community Foundation of the New River Valley will hold its third annual Give Big Day.

Nearly 100 non-profit organizations in the NRV who Give Big to our community every day will be represented. Last year, you helped us raise over a million dollars for these organizations. Let's work together and go even higher this year!

Some of the groups participating in Give Big NRV include Blue Mountain School friends Apple Ridge Farm, Plenty!, Jacksonville Center for the Arts, and the Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine.

And of course, Blue Mountain School is on that list, too. This year we have a group of BMS supports who will match your donations dollar-for-dollar up to $2,500! Check out our Give Big page to learn how, together, we can bring Buddy Benches to NRV schools and parks.

Will you help us help our community by Giving Big?

Stay tuned to your email and our Facebook group for more information and pictures.


Direction
Shelly Emmett
Shelly Emmett
 
We were very happy to welcome a group of our alumni at our Spring Celebration and Open House on March 21st. Seeing these students -- all of them bigger, older, and different (but also the same) -- was a lot of fun. But the most heartwarming part was seeing our alumni in the audience when our Knights of the Round Trailer performed their play, Jumping Mouse. The circle of being a student and then moving on but always being welcome to come back is one thing about our school that I love. As one of the alumni parents put it, "Blue Mountain was our first family when we moved to Floyd!"


Knights of the Round Trailer
Andy Anderson
Andy Anderson
 
Jump up and see the medicine wheel! 

The Knights of the Round Trailer debuted their play, Jumping Mouse, at the school's open house. Much gratitude to Corey Avellar who helped make this possible. Jumping Mouse tells the story of a mouse who is different than the other mice because she hears something that no one else can hear.  Have you ever felt that way?

Jumping Mouse learns to listen to her heart. She also learns to see things from different perspectives, which she learns is necessary to become a whole being. Finally, she learns to give-away to other beings, and when she does this, she finds herself in a very different place on the medicine wheel. To find out more about what the medicine wheel is, come by and speak to the Knights of the Round Trailer.  

Goethe, most famous for his retelling of Faust, really sheds light on this concept with a quote we studied, " The soul that sees beauty may sometimes  walk  alone." We, however, are learning to walk together, with help from Ashera Rose, who is teaching us the ways of the Rainbow Path. The Rainbow Path offers support for all individuals through empathic and centering exercises, like deep listening. It also emphasizes that there is always a win-win possibility in times of conflict.

In other news, we are working on pre-algebra with Math Max and continue to work through our Saxon math books. We will soon be finishing Custer and Crazy Horse and devoting more time to Howard Zinn. We will also be studying the science behind kombucha, and hopefully we will end up with a tasty experiment!

Thanks to everyone for supporting our coffee stand! We look forward to reopening when we have a clear idea of where we'll be going on our end-of-the-year trip and how much we'll need!



Black Falcons
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman
 
In February, we started watching a pair of eagles who were preparing a nest in Decorah, Iowa. After much waiting (approximately 35 days as our class could tell you), the eagles' three eggs are hatching!!! There is one eaglet out of it's egg as of this writing, and another just starting to emerge. We have been watching regular feeding sessions of mostly fish recently, with several that were still alive!

On hatch day we celebrated with many egg and eagle activities including making deviled eggs, creating nest hats and eagle masks, and playing eagle tag.

We also created an eagle's nest in the woods using accurate dimensions (two meters in diameter). It has been used during outside time as a nesting place for "baby eaglets" as well as a creative play space for other dramatic play.

Origami is a daily activity in our class. Interest has grown and now most days begin and end with this beautiful paper-folding art. I have reflected on how valuable this has been for the children and this is what I see: Origami requires strong concentration and can be a mindful activity. Directions need to be read and followed; therefore, contextual reading is practiced. Students work together to help each other, practicing constructive collaboration skills. There is a moderate rate of failure, providing opportunities to practice working through frustration while trying to successfully complete the process. Small motor skills get a workout! Although origami does not seem to allow for much creativity, many of our origami artists are now creating paper sculptures of their own design. Finally, this has been an activity that was initiated by the children, so they are very invested and empowered. I am still working on my own origami skills and would invite you to come by sometime to try out your own. We have our own origami master, Kanaya, who could give you some direction.

The Black Falcons are honoring Spring and new life in a variety of ways. We have been writing springtime and animal poetry, walking in the woods to look for signs of the changing season, learning and singing spring songs with Amelia from The Knights of the Round Trailer, and planting seeds in our classroom. 

Here are a few of poems written for spring:

Raining in the sunlight
With a tree right
Outside
It feels like a soft soft kitten

by Teja

The leaves are green
The eagles are aflight
Searching for a mate
While eating seeds

by Kanaya

My back is caressed with soft grass
A drizzle falls
Making my skin soft and damp

by Wubi


Ruby Diamond Dragons
Hari Berzins & Jenni Heartway
Hari Berzins
Jenni Heartway
 
Visiting the Friendship Cafe

Every Tuesday and Thursday, just across the playground, is a very special gathering.   Elders from our community come to Zion Lutheran Church to share games, a meal and conversation.The Friendship Cafe is sponsored by the New River Valley Agency on Aging and provides warm meals to people over 60 in Floyd twice a week.Transportation is also provided to those who are non-drivers.
 
Our class visited the Cafe to share snacks that we purchased with money from our classroom holiday store in December.Our visit was filled with incredibly sweet moments.We watched our students help participants paint, join in games of Rummy and dominoes, and share new games like Shut the Box and Hearts. The students also served lunch and passed out oranges.
One of the participants remarked that our visit was one of the best days he's had in weeks!The students and elders enjoyed it so much, that we'll be going back to visit soon.Hopefully we can continue to develop our relationship with these amazing neighbors!
 


Rosa Sharks
Stefi Schafer
Stefi Schafer

In the beginning of March, someone noticed the robots on Sorjn's T-shirt, and we then found even more robots on his water bottle! This, in connection with the book The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara, got the Rosa Sharks really interested in robots. During the course of several discussions, we created a list of questions about robots. The problem was who could answer them for us?

I introduced the concept of experts to the Sharks and told them that some schools even have robotics clubs! We went on a search and found several robotics clubs and labs in neighboring Blacksburg, and as a group we composed a letter to each group and put them in the mail.

The interest in robots had all but disappeared until we got a letter back. The Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology at VT answered all our questions, and even sent us a gift of a ViewFinder!

The response was thoughtful and developmentally appropriate. Phyllis Leary Newbill, PhD, not only factually answered our questions, but she took the time to explain the technological concepts in a way the Sharks could understand.

By carefully reading Dr. Phyllis' letter, we learned that robots need energy, like a battery or a plug. Robots live anywhere humans need them to do a job, even on Mars and in houses. Robots can only do what a human tells them to, and the instructions for robots are called code.
Dr. Phyllis' letter reenergized the Rosa Sharks inquiry in understanding robots.   At circle we read an article in the newspaper about robots that look like babies to help teach teenagers how to take care of babies. We learned how to draw robots by watching a video, we had a robot-themed Show n' Share, and we watched a Roomba robot vacuum commercial. Robots are cool! 
 
We had asked if the experts could build a robot for us, and Dr. Phyllis encouraged us to build our own. So we did!
At first our robots were pretty basic, but then we added more and more details, buttons, switches, antennas, and even golden arms. We now have a robot building station in the classroom with a variety of materials to create and adjust our robots any time we want.
This is learning at its finest and highlights our use of emergent curriculum techniques. The interest in the subject came from the students, and I was able to support their interest by asking provocative questions and by guiding them toward appropriate resources. The children started with a basic observation about a robot on a classmate's shirt and weeks later are continuing to go deeper and deeper.

The project is not only fun play, but it addresses a plethora of developmental and academic concepts including STEM. Where will it take us next?
 


Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy
 
Unity and a Sense of Wonder
 
Each new year is a surprise to us
We find that we have virtually forgotten the note of each bird.
And when we hear it again, it is remembered like a dream,
reminding us of a previous state of existence...
The voice of nature is always encouraging.

-Henry David Thoreau

As we move into the last months of school, we as teachers are focusing on the school's third value, Reverence for Life: "We promote environmental stewardship by participating in nature-based activities and by exploring the connection between all living things, to establish a genuine sense of wonder and responsibility in our students."

I have been re-reading Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. What a gem of a book. This book talks about why kids benefit tremendously from being nurtured by nature. Louv talks specifically about the importance of wild, natural places in childrens' lives. While it is good to have more parks and soccer fields in our towns, it is the natural woods and wild places that kids gravitate to. It is where they learn most. In a wild ecosystem, one can really see the interactions between living things and perhaps just be in wonder and amazement. For so many of us in Floyd, we know what a treasure our wild lands are.

Here at Blue Mountain School we have such sweet land for kids to be a part of and connect to. What a tremendous thing! Not only can they explore the woods and open land as part of imaginative play, but we as teachers use this land to teach and just be. Every Tuesday when I teach, before the early learners come to class, I hear kids coming out of the woods -- rain, snow or sun. Their Outdoor Explore time is an important part of their class. Each class at BMS has their own way of being with our land and exploring.

Yoga means "union." We talk about this in a few different ways in our classes. One way is to reflect on how we are truly part of and connected to this wider earth. We depend on everything around us to survive. We practice this in yoga by bowing in the beginning and end of class every day. Bowing humbles us and helps us remember we really are grateful for all of life that sustains us. We also do Savasana; we lay down and relax our muscles and mind in quiet. It is another moment to feel our union with all of life.

Doing yoga outside has a magic of its own. As we do poses, the sun is out, the air is in on our skin, and we hear the marvelous sounds around us. Yay for spring!

We took a nature walk in all the classes a few weeks ago. It was the very beginning of spring so we did something a bit different.   Small groups did a nature treasure hunt and found different signs and parts of nature. I also asked each person to find something they have never seen before in nature. This trains our senses to go beyon . We found mycorizia, hairy predator scat, buds on trees, an interesting beetle, and other neat things.

The more time I spend at BMS, the more I treasure our relationship with the land around us and how that infuses into what we teach. I see how our staff connects with the natural world in their own ways and how they each have special ways of sharing that with students.
In this day with so much technology around us, we are growing farther away from the natural and gentle rhythms of life as a society. Sometimes I think the greatest thing we can give our kids is a reconnection with the natural world around us. We are doing that at BMS.


Art
Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan
 
Both the Rosa Sharks and the Ruby Diamond Dragons have been observing and drawing spring flowers. The weather has been so nice that we all took an art day to go outside with our sketchbooks and observe the changes that are happening around our school. 

I love having the bountiful, beautiful land our school inhabits to draw inspiration from. I truly believe that the first step towards learning to draw is learning to see. Drawing is seeing, so taking a day to go out and see is the first step we took in making spring flower art. As the kids and I ran around in the warm sun, excitement over the budding flowers could be seen in the smiles and heard in the exclamations, "I found one, come look!!" 

During the next art class we looked back at our sketches, and while the kids looked at a few flowers that I brought into class, they drew from observation.
The Black Flacons have been working hard on paper mache fantasy creatures! After we studied and drew Chinese Dragons, which we learned have traits of different animals (head of a camel, ears of a cow, antlers of a dear, eyes of a rabbit, body of a serpent, scales of a fish, belly of a clam, paws of a tiger, claws of an eagle), we decided to make up our own creatures with attributes from different animals. We have just started mache-ing cloth on top of our newspaper ,but since the Falcons are still in the middle of the process, I am going to share with you their dragon drawings. These drawings are now on display at the Jacksonville Center
The Knights of the Round Trailer just finished carving and printing with linoleum. They all seemed to enjoy the process and the realization that the amount of prints you can make from one carving is infinite! They are hoping to sell some of these prints as a fundraiser for their end-of-the-year trip, and they are also planning to print t-shirts. If you are interested, the prints are only $2.00 each and the t-shirts are $5.00 plus a t-shirt to print on. If you are interested, please see any of the Knights.

And now, as we take a break from the printing process the Knights are excited to be diving into sculpture. I brought in some wood, carving tools, drills, and weaving materials, along with an example that I had started that incorporated all of those elements. I told the kids to take any of the materials that interested them and go in their own directions. And wow, are they going!

There are few guidelines with this project, and the Knights are thoroughly enjoying the freedom to explore. This is quite an engaged group of artists. It's almost as if we simply have a studio practice going, and I am just one of the artists!
 
All of the students at BMS will have artwork on display at the Jacksonville Center for the Arts in the Breezeway Gallery from April 8 to June 2. Please join us for an opening reception for this and The New Voice Exhibit, on Saturday, June 9th 5-7pm.
As always, thank you for sharing your children with us!!


Spanish
Jami Eaton
Jami Eaton
 
Hola!

We traveled the hispanohablante world on our recent Spanish enrichment day. Together, Jagadisha, Sarah and I took students on a tour of the world and visited several Spanish-speaking countries. Among the many activities that day, we heard the folktale about the Guatemalan Mayan worry doll, and then made some dolls ourselves. Our dolls even had their own Mayan huipil, the traditional dress top the women weave.

Now we are working on a fun spring song we will share with you soon, and are moving into a weather unit. We will also be talking about birthdays and the highly anticipated (in Mexico) quinceaƱera!

If you'd like to practice a little Spanish with your child, keep your eyes open for mariposas. They are coming back from their summer vacation in Mexico.


We hope you enjoyed reading the Indigo Messenger.

Be sure to  it to anyone you think may be interested.

 
Thank you,

The folks at


In This Issue
 
Apr 1: Friday Class - OM 
Apr 8: Friday Class - OM
Apr 11-15: Spring Break
Apr 20: NRV Give Big Day, Earth Day Celebration and School Spruce Up (1 to 4)
Apr 22: Friday Class - OM
Apr 29: Snow Make-Up Day for ALL Students
 

 
It's time to register for the 2016-17 school year! Forms are available in the office and online.

If we can be of assistance as you make your plans for the fall, please feel free to call (540.745.4234) or email
Board of Trustees

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is Wednesday, April 13, at 5:30 in the enrichment room. The public is welcome to attend.  

 

In Gratitude We Thank

Linda Fox for providing yummy snacks for staff meetings.

RIT students MacKenzie Thomson, Hannah Barber, Tony Mendoza, Ben Mores, Melissa Dubois, Rachel Tassoni, Jenn Palmer, Ricky Witherspoon, Netanya Lerher, Valeria Villa, Evan Zachary, Kevin Borden, Huda Ali, Nur Hidayah, Cynthia Chu, Claire Finnerty, and Julia Provenzano for spending an afternoon improving our campus.

Inge Terrill, Apple Ridge Farm, and the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project for making our RIT work day possible.

Agatha Grimsley, Aja Buhler, Andy Volker, Angie Barrett, Devona Sherwood, and Elisa DiFeo
for helping us feed the RIT student workers.

Floyd Tire for donating tires for our new playground structures.

Karl Berzins for being our project manager for the RIT work day.

Dr. Phyllis Leary Newbill from the VT Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology for answering the Rosa Sharks' questions about robots and for sending them a gift.

Ashera Rose for teaching the Knights about the Rainbow Path. 

Corey Avellar for helping the Knights with their Jumping Mouse play.

Confectious Shenanigans, Fat Bean Farm & Food Co., and Buffalo Mountain Kombucha for adding deliciousness to our Spring Celebration and Open House.

Jubilee Cohousing for participating in our Spring Celebration and Open House.

Harvest Moon for donating spring decorations.

Misty Harris & Josh Clay for helping stuff eggs for our egg hunt.

Shanti & Kelly Posadas for donating items for the mud kitchen.

Citizens Telephone Cooperative
for donating internet services.

Linda Johnson, Jessica Maas, and Max Biskup for helping in the classroom.


 

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With all the wonderful and farm fresh food in Floyd, it's hard to imagine spending much time in Kroger, but if you find yourself there, please help the school earn a little extra for the scholarship fund.

Link your Kroger Card to BMS with the Community Rewards Program. Our Organization Number is 84005.

Blue Mountain School 

470 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd, Virginia 24091