During November, you helped us raise over $8,000 for our scholarship fund. Your continued generosity has helped Blue Mountain School provide contemplative progressive education to Floyd and surrounding areas for 35 years, and with your support we look forward to another 35. Thank you for helping us Celebrate 35 Years of Timeless Education!

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

Shelly Fox
Shelly Fox
On a warm and sunny Friday morning in mid-November, many of our staff and several board members gathered at the Floyd Center for the Arts to begin our self-study for accreditation in earnest. The focus of the meeting was to celebrate BMS's 35th birthday by reflecting on the foundation of our school and talking about all of the ways that we bring our mission and values to life at BMS.

This was an active meeting, with post-it notes stuck all over tables to show how we support our values as they relate to our students' bodies, minds, and spirits. Thanks to board member Martha Sullivan, the post-its got organized along the trunk and branches of a large drawing of a tree. Martha's idea for organizing our thoughts helped us to get a visual sense of the many ways that we all bring our unique gifts and intentions to our roles at BMS. We were also able to see the ways that our individual intentions and actions overlap. The tree was covered! Next steps are to survey parents and students about the same topic, with the goal of highlighting the areas that we are finding success as well as the areas that continue to need attention.

We finished up our meeting with a delicious potluck and birthday cake, complete with a Happy Birthday song celebrating 35 years of Blue Mountain School. Our hope is that the accreditation process is one part of ensuring that BMS is a part of our community for another 35 years and more.

The Lunas
Holly Haworth
Holly Haworth
It is deeply disturbing and sorrowful to me that children today are able to identify more corporate logos than they are plants or trees. In navigating our modern landscapes, these are the markers that we use to get places-turn left at the McDonald's; it's right across from Wal-Mart-rather than, say, noticing where there is a large stand of beech trees or where the road crosses over the creek (because, oftentimes, the stand of beech trees has been cut down, and the creek has been obscured by highway engineers).
In this state of attrition, I think of the metaphors that are lost to children, the loss of a poetic connection with the world that they inhabit. The making of meaning and the creation of a sense of empowerment comes through navigation of our world. I have been thinking of how children today navigate themselves through an environment of corporate logos as sign and symbol, how they are able to find a purpose and a power within that muddle, how they are able to discover a relationship to the world around them that is meaningful, and how they are able to write their own narratives rather than being controlled by someone else's. 

By engaging students directly with nature in my Coyote School program, I hope to empower them to discover and make meaning of the intricate world around them in a way that allows space for their own creativity and their own narratives. With nature journaling, I hope to bring an awareness of the connection between art, nature, poetry, and self-expression. We are doing an almanac project based on Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac. In reading Leopold, we discuss why it matters to pay attention, and what the purposes of documentation are. Students are writing almanacs of their own, in order to discover the richness in their home terrain, and to discover their own internal relationship with it. The students are becoming more confident in their own creative processes and becoming more confident to pursue their own stories and paths.

Especially as we approach the holiday season, children are inundated with a story that so many today have become lost in, unable to find a meaningful way out. Corporate logos emphasize the acquisition of goods, and they are wielded with the sole purpose of controlling an individual's choices. They are produced by graphic designers and printed the same every time, without variation, whereas the shape of the leaf of a plant or tree expresses the infinite variation of design that nature employs: we are called upon to look, to read these variations for signs about a deeper web of relations that help us navigate our world (weather patterns, exposure to sunlight, disease, drought, insect populations, etc.). This naturally given variety is also enough to keep us fascinated and engaged, once we have learned the skill of looking. The subtleties and complexities of an individual plant's structure are endless. As we move forward into December, I hope to instill the sense of wonder that can empower children to seek a deeper vision.

Golden-Black Koalas
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman
The Golden-Black Koalas had many celebrations in November. We celebrated 4 birthdays in our classroom and participated in our Thankful Celebration.

We celebrated by making a thankful pumpkin, learning a new birthday song, making corn bread, sharing pomegranates, affirming each other, and singing.

One of the songs we learned was Take Up Your Spade by Sarah Watkins. The message of the song resonated with us in a way that made us want to share it with the whole Blue Mountain School community. So we did. We all sang it together at our Thankful Celebration circle.

Take Up Your Spade
 by Sarah Watkins.

Sun is up, a new day is before you
Sun is up, wake your sleepy soul
Sun is up, hold on to what is yours
Take up your spade and break ground

Shake off your shoes, 
Leave yesterday behind you
Shake off your shoes, 
But forget not where you've been
Shake off your shoes,
Forgive and be forgiven
Take up your spade and break ground

Give thanks, for all that you've been given
Give thanks, for who you can become
Give thanks, for each moment and every crumb
Take up your spade and break ground
Break ground, break ground, break ground

Rainbow Jellybean Worm Snakes
Hari Berzins & Jenni Heartway
Hari Berzins
Jenni Heartway
There's something mystifying about how certain events line up seemingly without effort. When things fall into place in a magical sort of way, it's striking. These moments are rare, though cultivatable.
Young children are open to this magic perhaps because imagination rules in their world. As a community of loving adults working to cultivate capable community members who possess the courage and wisdom to lead fulfilling lives, we are called to foster enchantment.
We do this through creating rituals of celebration while leaving room for the unknown to arrive. We celebrated just such an occasion on the day of our annual Thankful Celebration when Edna, the tea bus, and Giuseppe arrived in our driveway to share tea and inspiration.

We have much to be grateful for, not the least of which are unexpected tea parties. The more room we leave for these moments, the more they happen. We learn to notice and welcome them. Through example, we teach our children.
In this way, we cultivate joy.
Watch The Rainbow Jellybean Worm Snakes' joyful tea party with Giuseppe.

For nine years,Giuseppe and Edna have traveled the country throwing free tea parties spreading joy and an important message of sharing.  

Flying Rainbow Turtles
Stefi Schafer & Tammie Sarver
Stefi Schafer
Tammie Sarver

Our bale of Flying Rainbow Turtles has continued to grow its community with strong relationships and social connections.
One way our community grew was by inviting a new, wonderful classroom pet! Carol got word that a family was trying to rehome a red-footed tortoise. We had planned to find a classroom pet that was a little unusual and would be an opportunity to not only teach stewardship, but would also be a metaphor for respecting diversity. Our new friend, Haven, is a perfect classroom pet for our Flying Rainbow Turtles!!

Haven is more than just a pet; he has become a very important member of our classroom. He free ranges while the children enthusiastically observe, interact, and care for him throughout our day. We all share tortoise-friendly bits from our lunches, and we love to watch Haven eat! We have a list of agreements on how we will care for Haven, and the Turtles are showing wonderful responsibility and mindfulness in their interactions with him.
We have also started a new tradition in our classroom. When a friend or teacher is not in school for the day, our friends talk about who is missing during our circle time gathering. Then we rub our hearts, pulling out our love for that friend. We roll our love into a ball, hold it up, make a wish, and blow our good wishes to that friend. We also set up card making materials in the writing area, so that friends can make get well cards, which we "mail" in our classroom mailbox. It's become a beautiful tradition of building caring, connections, and community as well as literacy.
Our community is growing beyond our classroom, too. The Flying Rainbow Turtles have begun a pen-pal relationship with a preschool class in Blacksburg at Rainbow Riders. The Turtles dictated our letters during our circle gatherings. So while Stefi and Tammie are doing the physical writing, our letters are entirely in the children's words. It has been illuminating and delightful to hear what our friends want to share in their letter writing.
Another project we've been working on recently was inspired by a beautiful performance as Autumn leaves in the Thankful Celebration skit. What other things do we see outside this time of year besides leaves on the ground? How about those very green pine trees! Our creative and scientific study of evergreens began when Stefi and Tammi brought a variety of cut conifer branches to our circle.

We passed around our branches. Friends were invited to explore by comparing, contrasting, and discussing the details of each of the branches. We especially liked the smell!
Next, all the Turtles helped arrange the branches in vases. We've begun using the cut branches not only for decorations but also for inspirations as we creatively represent what we see. We look forward to a multimedia exploration of conifers that will grow into sharing our observations of winter greenery and landscape changes over winter and appreciating nature. We hope sitting around creating together will additionally inspire our friends' storytelling sharing of their own families' winter traditions.

Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy
Gratitude and Yoga

During this autumn season in P.E we have been playing group games outside as the leaves fall around us and land on the earth for the first time.

The two oldest classes tried out a new game that is a combination of basketball and soccer. There are two teams and each try to make a 'goal' in a large basket on the opposite end of the field. A player holds the ball and can only take three to four steps, then he/she has to pass the ball. It is a passing game, so everyone gets lots of ball time. Most students enjoyed it, but everyone is helping to create the rules and guidelines that feel safe and fair. Next time we play it should be interesting with the student input.

In yoga we are continuing to explore the poses, their stories and where they come from. We learned the story of Attana-asana, often called a forward bend, or ragdoll pose. The torso is folded over with hands touching the floor or reaching toward the floor. The story goes that once there was a boastful oak tree that grew next to a bamboo thicket. The oak always thought it was the strongest and best tree. News got around and the wind god heard about this and created a wind storm; the oak was unable to bend with the wind and was uprooted. The bamboo just bent to the wind's might. The lesson is of course to be flexible in life and be strong and supple like the bamboo, so we can weather the storms of life!

We had yoga class on our Thankful Celebration day, so we had a gratitude circle and learned about some Native American gratitude traditions. The two youngest classes learned about Chief Lake Swamp and the Mohawk Thanksgiving Address and their view that the natural world is a precious and rare gift. The two older classes learned about and read aloud the Iroquois Thanksgiving Address. It is a beautiful address to all the waters of the earth, the plants, animals, trees, birds, four winds, sun ,moon, star nation, and great spirit.

Every class then created a gratitude chain with things we are grateful for. Some things the kids said were: moms and dads, video games, peace and love, flowers, water, tractors, teachers, trees, the earth, everyone everywhere... Our chain got really long as we combined all the classes together and brought it to the thankful celebration to display.

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan
A picture is worth a thousand words, so this month I wanted to share with you art class in photographs.

Contemplative Studies
In last month's newsletter I left you with the idea of practicing nonreactive reflection. This is a very important practice. It leads to a deep peace within one's own self and the larger community as well. Without this ability to watch our reactions, reflect on them, and then let go, our lives can become more stressful.

So this leads us to the "letting go" part. When a reaction comes up and our reflection upon it leaves us feeling very strongly about our opinion, "letting go" is difficult.

Some key phrases that help me are:
  • LEAVE IT IN ITS SOURCE (it's natural state)           
One might think the phrase "BE AS IT MAY" is being lazy or not caring; however, it is a way to stop, see clearly, and know when and how to take action. This is an absolutely necessary skill for mindful parenting. Practice well!

(Special Note for the Lunas and the Koalas: Parents, please remind your children to write daily in their mindfulness journals, even during winter break.)

Corey Avellar
Corey Avellar
I have been at Blue Mountain school for  22 of its fun-filled years. First as a parent, then council member, teacher, committee member, parent-hours coordinator, and briefly a board member. Throughout all that time of participation and observation, I have to say one of my favorite traits of Blue Mountain School is the multi-aged activities in and out of the classroom. Yes, each classroom has multi-age levels, but the cooperation between the classrooms is priceless. All the students know each other, so when on the playground or in other group activities they are not shy to help or include each other.
Over the years I have seen the oldest class partner with one of the youngest and build a rocket together from refrigerator boxes. I have seen pen pals from one class to another. On Celebration days there may be a few from each grade in a group and they work together on the games. The list seems endless. They take care of, mentor, include, teach, encourage, and nurture each other. 
The reason I bring this up in my Drama newsletter is twofold. One is the school is celebrating it's 35th year and is asking each of us to say something we appreciate about the school. Second, the Flying Rainbow Turtles' class just performed a play with the help of the Lunas at the Harvest Celebration. We wrote the play in October and practiced through November. Stefi and Tami helped with costumes.
I thought the older class did an excellent job encouraging the youngest and understanding that it was their moment to shine and not to steal the show with their own creativeness. I thought the younger ones did an excellent job getting their cues and being good listeners. I especially loved the fact that even though not all the little ones come on Thursday and did not really know the play, they trusted the older kids enough to follow along and enjoy themselves and not be too shy to be on the stage with them. It gives me great joy to see the growth and love that comes from the multi-age cooperation and values.

Afternoon Electives
Press Corps

Our newspaper and press corps has continued to evolve as we learn and grow. Our production skills, writing, drawing, research, technical skills and INTEREST have continued to grow stronger while press corps takes time for pride and fun and friendships. This month the press corps has begun using more computers to produce their own articles, doing research and reporting more about actual places and events in our community. There has been a lot of cooperative learning as we support and mentor each other in getting a little more technical and directly hands-on in our newspaper production.
This news cycle, some of our press corps members have shown a strong interest in voting. Many press corps members raised issues that are important to them, and they have polled members of our BMS community. Some of the questions posed were about choosing dogs or cats, cookies or cake and other issues that matter to their lives. The pollsters canvased our community, tallied the votes, and declared winners. I've enjoyed hearing the issues that raise their curiosity.

We also supported our strong interest in the artistic expressive side of newspapers by inviting a local comic book artist, Justin Wood, to speak to our class. We all learned a lot about specific techniques for communicating through comic drawing. Many of us have been really inspired. I've loved seeing the direct impact Justin's visit has had on the pieces the children create.
Bonsai & Nada Yoga

All students in the bonsai elective have been given a ficus cutting to care for. They have been asked to keep a daily journal of their observations and what they did to care for them. This task is essential for developing awareness necessary to be successful with bonsai.

We discussed what bonsai are, how they are created, and what is necessary for their care. I gave demonstrations on pruning, root pruning, and repotting, and we transformed a houseplant jade into a bonsai.

The time to create our new bonsai will be this spring. Some students are interested in ficus, serissa, juniper, spruce or Chinese elm. Between now and then, we will have to find sources for the nursery stock and bonsai pots.

I would encourage all participating students to go to the library and take out one book at a time on this and related topics. Read them cover to cover. Then read them again and again. Spend more time looking at pictures of bonsai and even more time dreaming.  

In December we will begin our Nada Yoga study.

Holiday Crafts

In the holiday crafts elective, students worked on creating cards and gifts to share with their friends, family and community. They also created lanterns under the guidance of Emily Mabry. We'll be carrying these lanterns during our lantern walk at our Winter Celebration.

Forest Kindergarten
Jenni Heartway
Jenni Heartway
We were so fortunate to have amazing weather during our second session of Forest Kindergarten.

Our favorite place continued to be Twistland. We began to name other landmarks in the area; Sliding Hill, Owl Tree, and The Rock Pile. The opportunity for children to experience a place well enough to name it and to notice changes happening there is very empowering.

Having the chance to share this experience with friends allows them to deepen their connections with each other and the natural environment. 

I am grateful for the time we had outside together, and I look forward to our Spring Sessions, which will begin in early March!

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
Dec 15: Winter Celebration (6:00)
Dec 16-Jan 2: Winter Break
Jan 3: Back to school!

Be sure to check the lost and found in the office and take a peek on coat racks and in cubbies for your children's belongings.

We'll be taking remaining items to Angels in the Attic before winter break.  
Board of Trustees

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is Wednesday, December 14, at 5:30 in the enrichment room. The public is welcome to attend.  


In Gratitude We Thank
Bob Jennings, Amy & Mason Adams, Jayn Avery, Corey & Brecc Avellar, Hari & Karl Berzins, Missy Branks, Kathleen Brennan, Aja Buhler & BJ Harris, Cheryl & Chris Cater, Robert & Loraine Coker, Lore Deign & Justin Grimes, Paula Doughtie, David Eichelberger & Elisa DiFeo, Shelly Fox & Justin Miller, Shayne Goodrum, Andrea Goodrum, Ed Gralla & Randye Schwartz, Bob Grubel, Elizabeth Hammond, Bill & Linda Harris, Holly Haworth, Jenni & Perrin Heartway, Angela Kessler & Warren Lapine, Virginia Klara, Linda & Chuck Riley, Linda Fox, Michael Maslaney, Sarah McCarthy & Jagadisha, Kristan & Barry Morrison, Rick Parrish, Shanti & Kelly Posadas, Jamie & Elisha Reygle, Katie Phillips, Tammie Sarver & Eric Wolf, Stefi Schafer, Hope & Eric Sharp, Shelly & Greg Sherman, Bob & Susan Sisk, Luke Staengl & Ashera Rose, Martha Sullivan, Martha Taylor & Lester Gillespie, Inge Terrill, Andy & Carol Volker, Marjorie & Randall Wells, Naomi Smith, Tree Gigante, Agatha & David Grimsley, Jasmine Miller, Ashley Morales, Stephanie Smith, Terrie Wood, Kyla Kelleher, Eva Dyer & Chris Thompson, Lori Klein & Claude Breithaupt, Cindy & Jason Tueller, Misty Harris & Josh Clay for donating to our Fall Fundraising Campaign.

Floyd Yoga Jam, Two.One Ceramics, Hotel Floyd, and Oddf3llows for donating prizes for our Fall Fundraising Campaign.

Kristy & Eric Collins
for allowing Haven The Tortoise to live with us.

Justin Wood for sharing his comics expertise with the BMS News Corp.

Floyd Chamber of Commerce for selecting us as a finalist for the 2016 Non-Profit of the Year.

Eric Wolf for sharing his tortoise expertise with the Flying Rainbow Turtles.

Zion Lutheran Church for letting us hold our Thankful Celebration in their Oak Grove.

Giuseppe and Edna for throwing a tea party at our Thankful Celebration.

Floyd Center for the Arts for hosting our staff and board retreat.

Rainbow Riders Greenies for being pen pals with the Flying Rainbow Turtles.

Emily Mabry for making lanterns with the students.

Linda Johnson and Jessica Maas for helping in the classroom.

Susan C. Heath, CPA, for keeping our books.

Beegle Landscaping & Lawn Care for taking great care of our grassy areas.

Citizens Telephone Cooperative for donating internet services.

Clark Gas & Oil for keeping us and our water toasty warm. 



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