Although we practice gratitude every day at school, November was a time for us to be even more grateful than usual. Over fifty families, community members, and businesses gave nearly $10,000 in time, prizes, and donations to the Sustaining Our Mission campaign. BMS also received two grants in November: from the The Community Foundation of the New River Valley and the Toshiba America Foundation. 


Blue Mountain School thanks each and every one of you for helping us provide a holistic approach to education that nurtures the mind and the heart, the rational and the creative, the physical and the spiritual and that honors the whole child.  

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

Shelly Emmett
Shelly Emmett


One of the things I have always liked best about holidays are the traditions and rituals: the things that happen from year to year and help us all--adults and children alike--mark the passage of time. Traditions and rituals provide reassurance, reminding us that even though things and people change with time, there are also things that we know will not change.

At BMS, we have a celebration nearly every month that we are in school. Most of the time, these celebrations have to do with marking the change in the seasons. Our intention with our celebrations is to provide tradition and ritual for our students, parents, and staff, and to provide an opportunity for us to all stop, be present, and celebrate together.
One thing I've noticed in the six years that I have been at BMS is that the power of traditions and rituals is made greater when there is a whole group participating in them. They don't have to be elaborate or even serious; in fact, with children, simple and lighthearted seems to be best. But once you have a tradition or ritual in place, and it has become 'what we do', it reflects the spirit of the place and the values of the group; it becomes an essential part of the foundation for everything else.

An example of this is our recent Thankful Celebration. For this celebration, we raked leaves at Zion Lutheran Church, which shares its playground and community spaces with us. Because we are grateful for their generosity, we wanted to provide a service to the church, and raking up the leaves from their huge, old oak trees is something that helps them.

In preparing for this event our students talked in their classes about places that they are grateful for, and then shared these in our whole-school circle, which we have twice a week and is also a part of every celebration. In these circles, each student, parent, and staff member has a chance to speak. Next we sang a song about giving thanks, we sang 'Happy Birthday' to two teachers and a student, and then we talked about how to have a school potluck where everyone has enough to eat. Then we had our traditional 'YUMMMMMMM' blessing while we held hands, and enjoyed a delicious and filling potluck.

Our Thankful Celebration was a lot of fun, and it was heartwarming to see our kids, parents, and teachers helping to take care of our neighbor's property and having fun while doing it. But one of the best parts was the comfort of knowing that our simple traditions--our inclusive circle, our practice of gratitude, our simple blessing--would be a part of this and every Thankful Celebration.

Welcome, Pippi and Harvest!
Jenni Heartway
Jenni Heartway


After a swift and gentle delivery on November 12th, we welcomed Harvest James and Pipsissewa Elizabeth to our family. Harvest was born at 1:11 a.m. He weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long. Pippi was born at 1:33 a.m. She weighed 5 pounds, 9 ounces and was 18 inches long.   

In the picture below, Harvest is on the left,  and Pippi is on the right.  We are all doing well!

Lots of love, 
Jenni and Perrin

The Fellowship
Corey Avellar
Corey Avellar


We of the Fellowship Class have been issued a challenge, and we have accepted!  


When we go out to our sit spots each day, we have different practices that we work on. Everything from sitting still and calm in the moment and taking in everything around us  to journalling, doing a field study, mapping the woods or identifying the flora and fauna. No matter what we work on, appreciation of nature and our part in it are key. So when we read about a Thanksgiving Challenge the Kamana Naturalist Training Program designed, we decided to join in. The program was originally intended to occur the 15 days leading up to Thanksgiving, but we got a bit of a late start and will be wrapping the project up after break. Each day of the project, we spend our sit spot time focusing on what we are thankful for. Here are some of our thankful thoughts from our sit spots so far.


Thankful for Weather by Ben

I am thankful for weather because the rain helps the plants grow. Thunderstorms are exhilarating to watch. The snow is fun to play in. The blue skies are calming to look at. Weather makes life more enjoyable.


Thankful for Birds by Gabriel

Birds brighten our day with their song. They sometimes are food for us. They help us with their beautiful colors when we are sad. Some people have birds as pets. Some birds talk with humans and learn the language that we speak. I am thankful for all birds give us.


Thankful for Weather By Satya

I am thankful for the weather because it makes life more enjoyable. I love the rain because it makes nice noises on the roof, and it helps makes the world stay green. I am thankful for the snow and ice because it is fun to sled on, and it is fun to skate on. I am thankful for the storms because they are so beautiful. I am thankful for the sleet and hail because it is fun to watch them fall down to earth.


Thankful for Animals by Layla

I am thankful for the animals and the meat they give. I am thankful that they appear in myths and in stories. I am grateful that animals leave behind interesting stories and fun trails to follow. I am grateful that they can learn to survive in new situations and places.


Thankful for Weather by Lotus

I am thankful for rain because it keeps all the gardens healthy. I am thankful for the snow because we can have snowball fights and go sledding. I am thankful for the thunder and lightning because it brings signs of rain and snow and because it brings bright lights to the sky.


Thankful for Nature by Anna Grace

I am thankful for color, melodies of happiness from free birds, fragileness of fawns, the wind blowing through the trees, the green grass, beautiful sunsets, and colorful animals.  


Thankful for Plants by Cedar

I am thankful for the trees that offer protection from the wind. I am grateful for moss that gives me a place to sit. I thank the leaves on the ground for blanketing the earth. I am thankful to the plants for adding life to barren land.


Thankful for Insects and Bugs by Osheanna

I am thankful for the bugs because they eat many kinds of pests. Some bugs like worms make soil for our gardens. Some bugs like spiders keep things like mosquitoes away. Bugs help us with pollination. I am thankful for bugs because they eat and break down dead plants and animals. Bugs make food products such as honey.


Thankful for Animals and Bugs by Jonah

Animals are fuzzy and cute and that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I like to hug them when I am sad. I am thankful for the meat they give us. I love animals. I am thankful for bugs because they are so interesting. Bugs have six legs, that is cool. They have exoskeletons to protect them. Bugs are colorful and brighten our life. But some bugs are mean like gnats and mosquitoes.


Throughout our thankful challenge we have been reading inspiring notes, journals and blogs of other people. When we came across an Iroquois Thanksgiving Address with our thankful challenge, it fit in with our Native Americans studies too. I love it when studies overlap and tie together!  


As part of these studies, we took advantage of one of those beautiful, warm November days we've had to visit Wolf Creek Indian Village in Bland County. Wolf Creek has done a wonderful job explaining the excavation done there and what was found. They then used their findings to bring the village back to life for visitors to explore. We highly recommend it!  


Mad Scientists
Shawna Williams & June Kelly 
Shawna Williams
June Kelly


Shawna says...

Fairy Tales, Tall Tales, Legends, Fables, and Pourquoi Myths...OH MY!!!  Throughout November, the Mad Scientists danced in a flurry of Folklore!!!!

Each type of folklore presents a new opportunity to look into specific story elements in more depth. Students worked on an assortment of activities such as Reader Theater, Tableaus, presentations of Fractured Fairy Tales, sticky note discussions, and painting a leaf animal to incorporate into their own fractured fairy tale.

June says...

I am happy to begin working with the younger Mad Scientists on reinforcing and expanding their reading, writing, and math skills, and I look forward to getting to know these students better!

Hatching Playful Dragons
Hari Berzins & June Kelly 
Hari Berzins
June Kelly


November was an exciting month for our class. For one thing, we have chosen a class name - Hatching Playful Dragons!  


To prepare for the winter holidays, the Dragons made thankfulness chains, and we will count down to Christmas by undoing a thankfulness link each day.  


This month in literacy development, we covered the entire alphabet and several consonant and vowel blends. Each child completed a quilt square (for the letter Q), and we will put them together to make a class quilt. The Dragons enjoyed making juice while we learned about letter J and created some spectacular zebras as we finished up with the letter Z.


Due to the unseasonably warm fall days, we have been able to continue our outdoor snack and explore time. The Dragons learn so much during this time. They learn cooperation as they work to move limbs to rebuild forts. Trying to find the best tool to use as a lever to remove an old stump teaches them about simple machines. They also work on gross motor skills as they balance on logs and climb. And of course, the Dragons are always learning about and developing an appreciation for nature.  

As we have been counting up the days of school (we have completed 49 so far), we increase our knowledge of place value, money, number sequencing, and making equations. The Dragons are excited to have begun reading simple books and are doing a great job at sounding out their words.  


Invisible Magic Horses
Stefi Schafer & Ashley Morales
Stefi Schafer
Ashley Morales

Things got loud in our class this month, but that was part of the play, and the plan!  


Tools have been a big interest lately, and not only did the Invisible Magic Horses enjoy playing with pretend tools, they were given the opportunity to use real tools as well. First the pretend tools were introduced, and the IMHs got to work making improvements on the loft. To extend this interest in tools, we added nuts, bolts, washers and strips of wood as a table choice. It was a popular activity, with many friends spending long periods working on picture frames, animals, or simple shapes and others enjoying the simple action of screwing the nuts and washers onto the bolts.  


Not only is this activity excellent for fine motor control, it gives children the sense that they are working with real tools and that their play has meaning and is indeed important. After Halloween, we purchased some small pumpkins and added small hammers and blunt tipped "nails" to the table. Hammering these nails into soft pumpkins was doable for everyone and another great exercise in fine motor control.

The alphabet and our names are big interests, and we chose to fully immerse ourselves in it this month, as we planned and executed a scavenger hunt. In circle, we thought of things we might find outside that had the same letter as each of our names. We compiled a big list of objects to find and went out as a group to find everything. We walked as a class from one object to the next, feeling the object and saying the letter and the sound it makes. Some friends really got into the feeling part, as is evident by Dorothy's hands (her object was dirt).


After we found everything, we came back in to document our hunt. Everyone got a chance to stamp their letter and say the object they found.


At every morning meeting when we do the job chart, more and more friends are recognizing the names of their friends and the sounds that are associated with their letters. Because we have a mixed age class, we have some beginning to read, as well as friends finding delight in knowing the first letter of their name. There is room for it all, and the older children feel proud when they can help the younger ones along.


Hibernation, migration, and celebration will be introduced in the coming month as we move into winter and the holiday season. Until then, ride on Magic Horses!

Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy


November found us spending more time indoors; though we took advantage of the few randomly spaced nice days to get outside! We continued building on our yoga skills, and the students particularly enjoyed partner yoga.


I am planning another session of the Mindful Parenting Group, and I'd love to see you there. You can read more about this group on the website, or contact me with questions!  

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan


I had some hope this year for keeping all of the classes on similar paths in the art room but as usual, each class has spun into it's own course. Although the set up and clean up becomes a bit more challenging in doing this, I just can't help but follow the interests of the students as one project leads into the next.  


The INVISIBLE MAGIC HORSES have been making art with nature; exploring the changes outdoors by working primarily with leaves.  We collected and pressed leaves, drew leaves, examined fall colors by looking at leaves, practiced leaf rubbings and made window hangings with leaves.  I love connecting art with the world outdoors, enjoying the crisp fall days as we spend time collecting and observing the nature around us. 
The HATCHING PLAYFUL DRAGONS have also been looking at and using nature in their artwork however they have been in a more "building" focused place with art making. In connecting art with their love for fort building outside, they began sculpting with sticks.  First, they made stands out of sticks to hold up their fall painted sea shells scavenged from the nature mandala.  After enjoying making art with sticks so much, they made skeletons (not in figure form, but "skeletons" of their sculpture) with sticks and then wrapped them with plaster gauze and painted them with the fall colors that they have been mixing. 
The MAD SCIENTISTS have also been sculpting.  After much enthusiasm for wanting to use plaster gauze once again, they made abstract sculptures beginning with wire, wrapping with newspaper and then plastering their form.  They just finished painting their sculptures and after we attach them to their bases the project will be complete! 
And last but of course not least, the members of THE FELLOWSHIP have been working on personal collages.  I often struggle with the desire to produce, produce, produce! in the art room, but know that in the short amount of time that I actually have with the students it is valuable to allow them to stick with a project as long as they are engaged and wanting to continue with a work of art.  This group has been working on their collages for 5 weeks now and even though a part of me wants to move on, I am going to give them the space to fully explore the meaning of their collages and hopefully push them to dive deeper into their work.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and as always, thank you for sharing your children with us! It has been a wonderful school year so far.

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
Welcome, Pippi & Harvest
The Fellowship
Mad Scientists
Hatching Playful Dragons
Invisible Magic Horses
Yoga & PE
Parent Reminder
Dec 4: Fellowship Puppet Show
Dec 10: Board Meeting
Dec 18: Half Day (9 to 1)
Dec 18: Winter Celebration (6:00)
Dec 19-Jan 5: Winter Break
Jan 6: Half Day (9 to 1) 

If you need a little extra child-free time at the end of the day, try our after-school program, which runs from 3:15 to 4:30. Contact the office before 2:30 to sign up at the drop-in rate of $10, or register a month at a time to save 20%. Call 745-4234 or email Carol for more information. 
Board of Trustees

The Board wishes everyone a very happy holiday season!

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is Wednesday, December 10, at 5:30 in the enrichment room. The public is welcome to attend.  


In Gratitude We Thank
Billy Weitzenfeld, Hari & Karl Berzins, Mitchell Berliner (in honor of grandson Casey Jones), Marjory & Randall Wells, Jon Emmett, Rick Parrish, Lake Smith, Robert & Loraine Coker, Chris & Cheryl Carter, Luke Staengl, Bob Sisk, Debra Grimes, Judy MacPhail, David Burris, Kari & Michael Kovick, Michael Maslaney, Bank of Floyd, and Lyle Martens for donating to the Sustaining Our Mission campaign.

Warren Lapine of Wilder Publications, Kristan Morrison, Rob Yard of Woodsong Instruments, Mary & John Peluso of Indian Creek Cabins, Swede McBroom of The Natural Woodworking Company, and and Hotel Floyd for donating prizes for the campaign.

Katie Cesario for running the Sustaining Our Mission campaign and for leading our grants team.

Toshiba America Foundation for awarding BMS a grant for a weather project and Jenni Heartway, Andy Volker, Lori Marsh, and Katie Cesario for preparing the application.

Community Foundation of the New River Valley for awarding BMS a grant for the scholarship fund.

Granny Summers, Linda Johnson, and RIFF for sharing their love of reading and donating books t0 the kids.

Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine for donating a basket to raffle for the scholarship fund.

Rebekah Hicks, Linda Johnson, and Martha Taylor for helping in the classroom.



Shopping on Amazon?

We encourage everyone to support local businesses whenever you can. However, if you find yourself shopping on Amazon, please use the link below, and a portion of your purchase will go into our scholarship fund.
Going Krogering?

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