Thank you to everyone who donated to our fall campaign! Together we raised over $10,000 and more than 200 volunteer hour pledges for our Blue Mountain Barn Raising!

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

Shelly Fox
Shelly Fox
Earlier this month, I attended the annual meeting of the Virginia Independent Schools' Association along with BMS Board of Director's President Martha Sullivan. At the meeting, we met representatives from the other schools that VISA accredits, and learned more about how the unique organization operates. VISA is a volunteer run organization, and there is a strong sense of community among the schools. VISA also
has a focus on keeping accrediting costs low so that accreditation can be attainable for a wide range of schools, and not just those with very large budgets as is often true for many accrediting associations.

There are schools accredited by VISA that have as few as around 15 students, and as many as 700. VISA accredits religious schools,
traditional schools, and progressive schools like BMS. Some of the schools have a focus on technology, and some are centered on experiential or outdoor learning. For all members the standards are high, but reasonable, appropriate, and attainable.

As candidate members of VISA, BMS has met the initial requirements to join and participate in the organization. We are currently working on our self-study, which is both time-consuming and rewarding. The often years-long self-study process culminates with submitting our self-study report for review, which is followed by a 3-day visit and peer review by a committee of fellow VISA members, after which we become fully accredited. I am looking forward to continuing the accreditation process, and the growth that it will undoubtedly bring to our school.

The Burritos
Holly Haworth
Holly Haworth
Every morning in our story circle, after our meditations, I share a poem while the students keep their eyes closed. When I ask them to blink their eyes open, their hands shoot up in response to things they heard in the poem.  Poetry  awakens our spirits and minds. It is a listening practice and an exploration of language, feeling, and imagination that is one of my favorite parts of our days together. Students talk eagerly about the poems that I read for ten to fifteen minutes each morning. Through these poems, we enter many realms of experience that intersect with our own. In our discussions we share our delight and surprise in the beauty and power of poetry. 
Here are a couple poems that we have read and discussed this month: 
Any Time 
by W.S. Merwin
How long ago the day is
when at last I look at it
with the time it has taken
to be there still in it
now in the transparent light
with the flight in the voices
the beginning in the leaves
everything I remember
and before it before me
present at the speed of light
in the distance that I am
who keep reaching out to it
seeing all the time faster
where it has never stirred from
before there is anything
the darkness thinking the light 
by Charles Simic

Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger's tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.
From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river,
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.
I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed.
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill-
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star charts
On the inner walls.

Black, Fire-Breathing Pythons
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman
We are surrounded by trees at Blue Mountain School. Trees that mark the seasons for us. Trees that give us shade and shelter. Trees that we climb. Trees that together give us a wild and wonderful woods to explore. The Pythons are learning about trees this year. Each of us has adopted a tree to study. So far we have been mostly observing our trees. We have identified them by their leaves, drawn them, done bark rubbings, learned about the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees, written poems about them, described them in detail and found their parents and siblings.

On one day we spent time talking to our trees and telling them about ourselves. After we talked, we listened deeply to hear what our tree might say. Those who wanted to share afterwards had a chance. Here are some of their experiences:

"I told my tree that I am sensitive. My tree said that it is sensitive too."

"I talked to my tree about my cousins. I told it that I wanted to make sure I include them both so no one feels left out."

"I told my tree that I love it. It told me that it loves me too."

Here is an acrostic poem written by one of the Pythons about their tree:

What an awesome tree
He's as small as three feet
Its got a mother and a father
Tiny is its name
Exceptionally beautiful little tree
Perfect for me
I'm in love with it
No bitterness in its heart
Everyone needs a good tree

We are looking forward to spending time learning about how are trees breath and change and grow.

Lemon Turquoise
Discovery Dragon Butterflies
Jenni Heartway & Anna Nation
Anna Nation
Jenni Heartway
It is time for one of our most exciting projects of the year; the Holiday Store!  This will be the third year our class has created a store for each other and the wider school community.
The idea behind the store is simple.  The students organize a store with donated, used items from our community.  They shop for their families, wrap the gifts and bring them home before the break.  We always incorporate lessons on budgeting, listing writing, money, valuation and most importantly, giving.
We'd like to thank everyone who donated items to our little store. Later in the year, we'll decide how we want to use the proceeds to help our community, and we'll keep you updated. 

Shiny Inchworms
Stefi Schafer & Tammie Sarver
Stefi Schafer
Tammie Sarver

Welcome to the Animal House

The Shining Inchworms have developed an interest in animals of all sorts. During our Rest and Read we read Charlotte's Web out loud to the children; this took several weeks since we only read one or two chapters each day. Simultaneously we set out the farm animal toys in the block area. Of course we added a spider. This inspired our young farmers to build fences and pens with the barns. To extend the play we added green fabric scraps to use as pasture. Some friends chose to recreate parts of the book, and others simply used the animal action figures to set up their own farms. We sorted by type and size, we counted, and we talked about names of groups. There was a herd of cows and horses and a flock of chickens.

During our Wild Woods Wednesday, the children discovered a hole in the ground. This discovery lead to a number of hypothesis on who might live in the hole... a wolf, a coyote, a skunk, or maybe a there is a dead person in there, no, it is too small, maybe a raccoon or a mouse..... We used this idea and added mulch in the media tub so the children could further explore the idea of underground with animals. The next time we went to the woods, we took flour and sprinkled it around the hole, that way we could see tracks and maybe identify the critter. Inside we had stamps with animal tracks on the table, and the children made paths with them on paper.

More recently, focus has shifted from wild and farm animals to pets. It all began with a "Meow" followed by a "RUFF." For several days the children would crawl around the classroom meowing and barking, sometimes chasing each other. The cats often could be found lying down being petted by other children while the dogs seemed rather active, running, jumping, and barking. To support this interest we got out our collection of cat and dog action figures. There are two identical pieces representing several breeds and poses, which invited the children to find matches and compare and contrast. "Mine is sitting," "This one is lying down," "I have two, they match!" The children used the blocks and houses to build homes for their pets.

The younger friends focused on collecting, transporting and some sorting. The older children used the action figures to play out scenes, pretending to be friends or acting out danger and rescue themes.... "That is a mean dog. He is chasing the kitties!" Often they would collaborate and save the poor kittens by either blocking the mean dog or getting a nice dog to scare it away. Nearly everyone has stories to share about their own pets or pets they know. This prompted some simple book making where Tammie took down dictations and the author drew the illustrations.

This ongoing interest in animals and the obvious change of the seasons lend themselves to many discussions about what animals do in the winter. We talked about migrating with the butterflies and now hibernation is a topic of discussion. We talked about collecting food and resting. Our bookshelves are well stocked with books about all sorts of animals and winter.

Lately some children have noticed the birds that come to our feeder, and we are off into the air, taking flight as we embark on our next animal study.

Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy

Jagadisha and I had the wonderful opportunity to share his music when he gave a workshop at a yoga festival in Florida a few weeks ago. It was a small festival, and the venue overlooked the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. We took a few classes every day, and of course there is always so much to learn about the path of yoga. I like to take the new inspirations and bring them to my yoga sharing at school.

I learned a few new yoga mudras and the importance of them. Mudra means 'seal' or 'gesture.' They are hand and finger movements and positions used in pranayama, breathing and some poses. They have the use and power of bringing us inward. When we use correct posture and mudras (such as still hands for kids!), cultivating quiet can be a little easier.  
The most common mudra in yoga, one that we practice at BMS, is ANJALI mudra, hands together placed at the heart; it cultivates respect and honor to yourself and the universe, and it expresses love and gratitude. Another is GYANA mudra or chin mudra. This one is thumb and first finger touching while the other three fingers are together slightly stretched. This mudra symbolizes the unity of fire and air as well as unity of individual and universal.  
One of my favorite mudras that I practiced at this festival is LOTUS or PADMA mudra. For this one, pinkies are touching and thumbs are touching and then you opening up the other fingers away from each other like opening a flower. We did this one as part of a sun salute, moving our lotus up past our heart to the sky and beyond. This mudra opens us up like a flower. One source I looked at described it as "representing the purity and perseverance of the lotus flower floating above the muddy waters of desire, fear, and attachment." I am certain that the kids will create their own new mudras, so I look forward to seeing what they come up with!
Along with the mudras, I was inspired by some new sequence of poses, one includes warrior poses and moves more like a dance. Another was inspired by Capeira, a Brazilian martial art that involves lunging low and moving like a low animal. Also, Jagadisha and I took a few restorative classes that were slow and deep. Restorative yoga is practicing poses with the use of props for a longer period of time. Some include, gentle forward bends, twists, and backbends. Restorative yoga is a way to really relax your body and mind as you could lie in a pose for 3 - 5 minutes. It is amazing how so many of our kids ask for savasana, relaxation pose. They seem to need and be ready for rest! So, I am eager to practice some restorative yoga with them!

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan
The Shiny Inchworms have been talking about hibernation in their class, so in following that and our exploration of fall colors and bare trees in art class, we added hibernating animals into our work.  The kids made backgrounds first, drawing fall trees and falling leaves above underground homes made with brown crayons, warm and ready for animal friends. The next week they explored using glue sticks as they collaged hibernating animals onto their work.

We looked at the book, "Chipmunk Song" by Joanne Ryder and imagined what it would be like to be a chipmunk living under ground during winter. I so enjoy connecting the art making process with classroom interests and observations of the natural world, so this project has brought me a lot of joy and the kids seems to be enjoying the process as well.

Both the Lemon Turquoise Discovery Dragon Butterflies and the Black, Fire-Breathing Pythons are working with patterns. We began with non-representational designs, exploring the abstract nature of pattern making. We talked about the definition of pattern in an art sense and discussed the concept of how we can have "patterns" in our lives.

The kids brainstormed different patterns in life and came up with ideas such as: seasons, day and night, feeding our pets and (of course) using the bathroom (perhaps one of the first "poop" answers that actually had relevance). Next, we moved into using pattern in representational drawings, repeating designs and marks and realizing that pattern is something we use a lot in art making without even intentionally doing so. The students seem to be enjoying this study which will take us through the next few weeks until winter break!

The Burritos dove into clay to work on creating their classroom spirit animals in the ceramic form. The clay that I had was almost completely dry, so first we had to reconstitute it. I enjoy having the students be a part of this process as it deepens their understanding of the material. It is hard to believe that the hard crumbly clay we started with became the wet sticky mess that we had to then deal with. The students took the saturated clay and worked it until it became the perfect consistency to begin their projects.

Contemplative Studies


As the holiday season is upon us, we may find ourselves overwhelmed from time to time. Stopping is the first step to returning to balance. Here is an excerpt from A Pebble for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hanh:


      There is a well-known Zen story about a man on a galloping horse. Someone watching him ride by shouts to him, "Where are you going?" The rider turns and shouts, "I don't know, ask the horse."
     This story is funny, but it is also true, because we don't know exactly where we are going or why we are rushing. A galloping horse is pushing us and deciding everything for us. And we follow. That horse is called "habit energy." You may have received this energy from your parents or your ancestors.
   Our task then is to become aware of this habit energy and not to let it push us around anymore. We can smile at it and say, "Hello there, my habit energy, I know you are there." So, the first way to take care of yourself is to learn how to stop and look inside. This is a very wonderful practice.

Forest Kindergarten
Jenni Heartway & Tammie Sarver
Stefi Schafer
Jenni Heartway
Forest Kindergarten is taking a break and will be returning in March. To sign up, send an email or call 540-745-4234.  
Winter Session: March 9, 16, 23, 30

Spring Session: April 13, 20, 27 and May 4, 11, 18

The cost for the Winter session is $100 and the Spring Session is $150. Register and pay for both sessions by March 9, and the cost is $210.

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 18: Last day before Winter Break
Dec 18: Winter Celebration (6:00 to 7:30 at Zion Lutheran Church)
Dec 20-Jan 7: Winter Break
Jan 8: Return to School 

Please be sure to take home all your child's items before leaving for winter break, and don't forget to check the lost-and-found. 
Board of Trustees

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be in January. The public is welcome to attend.  


In Gratitude We Thank
Amy and Mason Adams, Corey and Brecc Avellar, Jayn Avery, Angie and Chris Barrett, Kathleen Brennan, Aja Buhler and BJ Harris, Shirleyann Burgess, Chris and Cheryl Carter, Clarity Research, Robert and Loraine Coker, Jane Crouse, Tara Daystar and Scott Katznelson, Lore Deighan and Justin Grimes, Gallia, Paula Doughtie, Jon Emmett, Linda Fox, Shelly Fox and Justin Miller, Scott and Mary Freday, Andrea Goodrum, Debra Grimes, Milo, Bob Grubel, Bill and Linda Harris, Perrin and Jenni Heartway, Susan Icove and David Lander, Darbi Jewell and Adam Bresa, Virginia Klara, Charles Lang, Cerid and Justin Lugar, Michael Maslaney, Sarah McCarthy and Jagadisha, Miller Transport, Kristan and Barry Morrison, Anna Nation, Rick and Nancy Parrish, Katie Phillips, Shanti and Kelly Posadas, Loic, Ann Mary Roberts, Tammie Sarver and Eric Wolf, Stefi Schafer, Shelly and Greg Sherman, Bob and Susan Sisk, Avery, Stephanie Smith, Luke Staengl and Ashera Rose, Pat Stroud, Martha Sullivan, Amolee Tally, Carol and Andy Volker, Diane Volker, Lynn and Carl Whitaker, and Cassie Wilson and Jason Anderson for donating to our Blue Mountain Barn Raising Campaign.

Winter Store Donors for donating items for the LTDDB's winter store.

Marilyn Farah for donating a pair of grown-up-sized scissors to Carol.

Rima Forest and Lynette Johnson for donating bird feeders for the Inchworms.
Mary Freday for connecting the Pythons with students from other countries to help them with their international reports.

Enone Mellowspring for creating trail signs.

Zion Lutheran Church for allowing us to use their space for our Thankful Celebration and our Winter Celebration.

Andrew Volker for donating a router.

Teresa Harris for donating baskets.

Blue Ridge Accounting & Tax 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