The 6th Annual Floyd Mardi Gras Costume Ball is less than two weeks away, and Floyd is buzzing with anticipation! Who will be this year's King and Queen? How outrageous will the costumes be? Just how much dancing can you do in one night?


Mardi Gras has been such a success over the years because of the support it has received from the school community, and this year is no exception. We have a 'krewe' of people working on it, and they're all doing a fantastic job to help ensure this is the best year yet. But we can't do it without you! Here are some ways you can help make this year's Mardi Gras the best yet:

  •  Volunteer: We need plenty of hands on deck on the night of Mardi Gras, and most of them will be reading this newsletter. Please sign up for a shift.
  • Invite Everyone You Know: The more people who know about the event, the more people will attend, and the more money we will raise for the BMS scholarship fund! Please go to the Facebook event page and invite everyone you can think of. If you're not on Facebook, then email, call, or pick up some flyers from the office to share. Get to the event knowing that you're responsible for some of the crowd being there.
  • Donate (and Bid): Have you checked out the list of auction items? We are updating it nearly every day. If you would like to donate something for the auction (big or small, it doesn't matter!) please let us know. If you see something on the list you just have to have, but you aren't able to attend, we can help you with that, too!
  • Attend! Most of all, please join us on February 13! You'll have a great time, and we'll raise some money for the BMS scholarship fund. The more people there are, the more fun it is and the more kids we can help attend Blue Mountain School. You don't want to miss it!
We'll see you there! It should be a memorable evening.

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

Shelly Emmett
Shelly Emmett


Even though most schools are closed on MLK, Jr. Day, at Blue Mountain School we spent the day learning about and reflecting not just on Martin Luther King, Jr. as the grand figure that he was, but we also considered the 'big picture' topics on which he inspired discussion, action, and change during and after his lifetime.

When our teachers planned lessons for MLK, Jr. Day, they focused on the qualities of his graceful leadership, his powerful messages, his revolutionary ideas about equality, about war, about politics and governance. We wanted our students to be inspired, to be hopeful, and to be empowered by what they learned about MLK, Jr. and other leaders like him. Some classes listened to some of his speeches and tried to imagine what the world, our country, and our town was like at that time.  


But historical figures and events don't happen in a vacuum, and children want to know more. Is he still alive? How did he die? Why would someone want to hurt him? What happened to his family? These are hard questions, but they are important ones, too. When we answered them, we tried to stay true to the values that MLK, Jr. put forth: that we all have a place and have rights, that we must try to understand the difficulties that other people face, that we all have the ability to inspire each other and make the world a more peaceful, happier, safer place for everyone.


We also marked Martin Luther King, Jr. day with each child making a prayer flag that shows a dream he or she has for the world, and tying the flags together so that we could all take a moment to reflect on what the world would be like if all of those dreams were to come true. An ending shout, "THANK YOU, MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.!!!" summed up the open-hearted gratitude that we all felt after spending time learning about him.


(A version of this article appeared in the Floyd Press on Jan 29.)  

The Fellowship
Corey Avellar
Corey Avellar


This month has flown by, and we have finally had some winter weather. Since we are studying weather at the moment, that seems fitting and appreciated! We have also been studying letter writing and have become pen pals with the Hatching Playful Dragons and the Mad Scientists. It has been very fun, and the letters are flying back and forth.  


In addition to letters, we have also been writing poems. Below are our some of latest poems in the Cinquain form. Cinquain is a five-line poetic form in which the lines have 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 syllables, in that order. It is supposed to be a sentence or two that conveys a feeling or image.  



You have seen some of our poetry in the past. So far this year we have written poems in the following forms:

  • Acrostic: the first letter of each line spell out a word, name, or phrase
  • Shape poem: the poem forms a picture of the topic or follows the contours of a shape that is suggested by the topic
  • Haiku: a short, unrhymed Japanese poetic form with three lines of five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables
  • Clerihew: is a four-line humorous poetic form comprised of two rhymed couplets, with the first line usually being the someone's name

Next we are working on the limerick, which is a humorous 5-line poetic form with an AABBA rhyme scheme

. The first, second and fifth lines are usually longer than the third and fourth. Check back in March to read them! 


Mad Scientists
Shawna Williams & June Kelly 
Shawna Williams
June Kelly


Shawna says...

The Mad Scientists have truly been mad about their science this past month! After returning from Winter Break and (weather permitting) getting back into our classroom routine, we have been exploring basic concepts of science as well as looking into the Scientific Method.

To begin to explore the process of the Scientific Method, the Mad Scientists experimented with chicken bones and vinegar. If you happen to see one of these Mad Scientists, you should stop and ask them what exactly happened to the bones after soaking them in vinegar for three days, and maybe what a hypothesis is!

The next exciting science event in the classroom was our "Topple the TUBE" lesson, which kick started our unit on structures.
The classroom was abuzz with groups of students discussing, predicting, estimating, and creating tubes with paper and tape. Students then stacked text size books on top until their tube crumbled from the weight.
Finally, the groups reflected upon the different qualities of each tube and determined what characteristics made the tubes strongest and able to hold the most weight.


In language arts, letter writing is very popular. If you have stopped by our classroom lately, you may have seen a variety of mailboxes hanging outside the door. These mailboxes were made by The Fellowship class. Each Fellowship member has taken on a character of their choosing and written to the Mad Scientist class. In response, each member of the Mad Scientist classroom has chosen multiple Fellowship characters to become pen pals with to practice their letter writing and envelope addressing skills. This activity has stirred up excitement about writing as we eagerly await new letters in our mailbox.


During math time, the older students each created a construction company for the town of Snowville. You see, Snowville had not received any snow this winter, and the citizens were missing their snowmen! So the mayor asked our class to develop construction companies to build snowmen for the citizens.


Each student created and designed their own snowman or woman based upon a certain weight and cost criteria, integrating and developing an array of math skills through the process. These math skills included, but were not limited to, converting ounces into pounds, budgeting, adding and subtracting decimals, fractions, and money skills. After their snow creation was approved, each company wrote a sales pitch articulating at least three points of why the citizens of Snowville (the younger Mad Scientists) would want to purchase their snowman or woman above all of the others. The final step was the presentation to the Snowville citizens of each snow creation for Snowville.

June says...

When asked what they have learned so far this year in math and writing and what they would like to learn during the rest of the year in these areas, the Mini Mad Scientists said that they had learned place value, adding and subtracting, sorting words and handwriting. They would like to learn algebra, telling time, and cursive. They are also interested in writing stories and recording themselves reading. 

Since I have been working with this group, we have reviewed some basic math skills such as place value, skip counting, graphing and money. In the next few weeks, we will be working on time and estimation and continue practicing addition and subtraction with regrouping and working with money using hands-on activities and manipulatives. The students have been enjoying creating their own restaurant as a math project.

In literacy, we have been doing some phonics review as well as working on increasing reading fluency and comprehension, handwriting and sentence writing, and we will continue working on these skills.

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


As the new year began, we talked with the Dragons and asked them to reflect on what they have learned so far this year and what they would like to learn about in the coming months.


We have learned about

  • art
  • making new friends
  • having caring and peaceful relationships
  • meditation and yoga
  • sounding out words
  • reading
  • multiplying


We want to 

  • get better at reading and spelling
  • write our own book
  • learn about space, rockets, birds, trees, and dinosaurs
  • go on a field trip
  • make ice cream 


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

Once upon a time there were some Invisible Magic Horses...

Lately, there has been interest in storytelling, so we've introduced story cards at circle. Story cards are pictures of animals, the characters, places such as Venus, a house or a volcano, transportation, weather and feelings. The story of course begins with once upon a time there was...

As we go around the circle, each child can choose a card to advance the story. If a giraffe and a butterfly end up at a volcano, it's up to the next friend to choose rescue via hot air balloon or to douse the volcano with rain.

The difficult part is to remember what happened up until now and to figure out how to move the story forward. We usually stop after 3 or 4 cards have been used and retell the tale from the beginning, turning to the next child with "and then what happened?"  The children not only get to add their ideas, but they have to consider what happened earlier and then let go of their own attachment they might have to the outcome as the next child has a turn. This letting go is not an easy task for a preschooler; they are often still rather self-centered. Building a story together gives yet another opportunity to hear and understand each other's point of view; to step outside the self and consider the group. The story can only move forward if everyone cooperates.

To further the understanding of sequencing events, we have story sequencing cards out as a table choice. These are 4 pictures of an event such as baking a cake. A picture with an empty bowl next to eggs and flour, a baking pan going in the oven, a half decorated cake and finally a slice of cake on a plate. The children have to analyze the pictorial clues and put them in temporal order: first, then and so on. Looking at events in this manner helps not only with understanding passage of time and decoding visual information, it supports logical and higher order thinking.

The next step was for the children to create their own story. We put out finger puppets on the rug, and the Horses put on a puppet show. Some friends were perfectly content to be the audience, and others knew they wanted to perform. With three to four people in the show, it soon became obvious that they needed to work out the plot and parts before the show started. Ashley helped by writing down the characters and the story line. Then Vivie decided they needed a house for a prop, so she drew one and hung it up. Casey decided they needed stage lights, so we set some up, and Mena added tulle to the stage to act as a curtain. Next came the rehearsals. The puppeteers rehearsed two times before they were ready for the actual performance. Vivie, Lemuel, and Sully were the puppeteers, and Neave, Louisa and Mena were in the audience. At the end of the show, Louisa threw flowers and everyone applauded.

The amount of energy and intent that went into the puppet show was impressive. It took a lot of compromising, theorizing, patience and creativity to pull it off. This was true not only for the puppeteers but also for the audience, who waited ever so patiently with their babies on their laps. New words were introduced, like plot, characters, stage, rehearsal, props, audience, intermission and "take a bow."

Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy


The Health Benefits of YOGA!

Yoga really is amazing stuff! This week in our yoga classes we went over again the myriad of reasons why yoga is good for us. We discussed the basics of the benefits of asana practice, and I added some more, too:
  • Improves circulation, digestion, respiration, and elimination
  • Improves memory, concentration,  coordination, and overall balance
  • Helps us to be calm, and opens our heart!
  • Removes impurities from the body
  • Teaches body, exercise, and health awareness
  • Diaphragmatic breathing (deep tummy breathing) improves respiratory system and posture
  • Strengthens muscles and joints, and improves flexibility
  • help strengthen and elongate the spine to promote ideal fluid, air, and energy flow throughout the body
  • Massages internal organs and glands including the thyroid (regulates metabolism) during twisting poses and breathing exercises
  • Fine tunes the nervous system by training the body to coordinate all its parts
  • Improves confidence and positive sense of self; everyone can do it, in our class you can't do it wrong
  • Balances the body, making sleep and the transition to sleep easier for kids (and adults!)
  • Helps with stress and active minds
  • Teaches positive values
Of course you know one of my favorite reasons for practicing yoga is learning to know ourselves better. Yoga encourages us to relax and enjoy some stillness. There is a great yoga book called Moving into Stillness. I haven't read the book yet, but I love the name! What an interesting way to describe yoga. Many teachers say savasana, relaxation pose, is the most important pose. We have moved our bodies, worked our muscles, massaged our internal organs, breathed into poses, had some fun, and now it is time to release it all and relax. What a great process!
Yoga encourages us to regulate our breath and our emotions.  Learning to be okay in a quiet environment means we essentially feel good and confident inside. Yoga is a life journey, but starting young is key. It is amazing how so many of our kids at BMS take to yoga, its breathing, and its relaxation so well. I am continually inspired by our children, I really am!

Books I like: YOGA for children by Swati and Rajiv Chanchani, Yoga for Children by Bell Gibbs, and The Complete Idiots Guide to Yoga with Kids by Jodi B. Komitor and Eve Adamson

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan


All of the four classes have begun the year with drawing. This is something they all asked for, and I sure have enjoyed the minimal mess, and of course the drawings!


The Invisible Magic Horses have been exploring the 5 elements of shape as taught by Mona Brooks in Drawing With Children. We have been drawing lines - straight, curved and angled, as well as circles and dots. Some of the kids can even remember words like horizontal and diagonal! I have been leading them through abstract and representational drawings using this language, and they have seemed to really enjoy this process.  

The Playful Hatching Dragons began with the same 5 basic elements of shape and are now drawing lots of birds! I use the language of line, circle, dot, curved and angled, as I lead them through step-by-step drawings of birds they chose out of a magnificent bird book. Have you ever tried to draw a Dodo? It's not easy, but they did it!
The Mad Scientists are working on self-directed drawings that they began at home over the Christmas break. They are very enthusiastic about choosing their own content and style, they might not even realize that as I come up to them individually throughout the class and talk to them about their art, that I might be working drawing lessons into their process! :)
The Fellowship is working on creating characters for themselves. They all expressed interest in drawing cartoons and people, so they are doing just that as we talk about shading, overlapping, perspective and depth.  Although I miss the students in this class who did not return this semester, I am enjoying the small class size as I have time to work with each student as they seek instruction in drawing hands, creating texture, drawing water, etc...
And all of this drawing is leading up to an exhibit in the Breezeway Gallery at the Jacksonville Center for the Arts, opening Friday, February 13th (also Mardi Gras!). Luckily the reception for this exhibit is not on the same night, but the next evening, Saturday, February 14th from 4-6pm.  So please join us for a mellow After Mardi Gras evening at the Jax as we honor the hard work of these incredible children!

Contemplative Studies


Your Children Have Lessons to Teach   

From The Parents Tao Te Ching by William Martin

Your children have important lessons to learn,

But even more important ones to teach.

What can they teach?

How to pay complete attention.

How to play all day without tiring.

How to let one thing go, and move on to another

With no backward glances.

How to move and sit with no tension in the muscles,

no stress in the bones.

Thus the wise parent learns,

And grows younger every day.

How happy would your life become

If every time you taught your children

a new idea or skill from your world,

you stopped and watched until

they taught you one from theirs?

What will you learn from them today?

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
Feb 12: Special Person Tea
Feb 13: Mardi Gras!
Feb 16-20: Midwinter Break
March 2: Registration for Summer Camp Opens 
Refer a new family to BMS, and you will receive a $250 credit to use towards winter tuition or summer camp! Call 745-4234 or email Carol for more information. 
Board of Trustees

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is Wednesday, February 11, at 5:30 in the enrichment room. The public is welcome to attend.  


In Gratitude We Thank

Ann Roberts
for donating her time and skills for staff development.

Kristan Morrison
, for helping pay the school's mortgage.

Terri and Alan Wood for donating and putting down wood pellets to make our muddy areas less soggy.

Deborah Applequist
for helping the Mad Scientists earn their Virginia Junior Master Naturalist certificates.

The Family of Summit Roberts
for making a donation in his honor.

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