Finally it feels like Spring! We are very thankful to all our community members for helping us spruce up our buildings and grounds this last month. We would especially like to thank Martha Sullivan and her students from Virginia Tech who spent an entire Saturday working at the elementary school.

Summer is just around the corner, so don't forget to register for summer camps! Registration for the 2014-14 school year, is also now open, and we'll be hosting an open house for the preschool next week. 


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

Elementary Direction
Shelly Emmett
Shelly Emmett


At this point in the school year there is so much happening here at BMS. Suddenly everyone's lists have lists, and I'm not sure how it will all get done.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the things that need our attention in the spring, as the school year draws to a close. Being part of a school that holds mindfulness dear is a real blessing in times like these. There are constant reminders to stop, to breathe, and to notice moments before they pass.   
I hope you are all able to find a moment for at least a few deep breaths during this busy time!

High School Happenings


Into the Dark - A Caving Adventure


We spent a day last week exploring Tawneys Cave west of Blacksburg. Located on privately owned land, this cave was far different from the local tourist caves many of us have experienced. Entering the cave involved squeezing oneself between 2 bars of a metal gate, then climbing downwards. Slipping around, dropping on hands and knees and crawling about, hauling ourselves up slippery rock faces and searching for footing were all the norm. Students named a difficult spot to squeeze through  "the sphincter". Occasionally someone would ooh and aah and we would shine our headlamps up onto the walls and rocks above us to see incredible rock formations, stalagmites and stalagtites, interesting cave-dwelling creatures, and the beautiful clear stream that ran through the floor of the cave.


It was an experience filled with mud, laughter, amazing beauty, and physical challenge! Dave Allen, our math and electronics teacher and caving enthusiast, along with his wife Kazuko, led the group through this magical adventure. Deep into the cave we all turned off our headlamps and sat together in the darkest dark imaginable, meditating together, with only the sounds of water droplets and our own breathing.  

Brien Egan and Inge Terrill
Brien Egan
Inge Terrill


Brien says...


This month was super busy while still remaining super fun!  We started still being frozen by mother nature and ended it in shorts and up on the stage at Skit Night. 

A very special thanks to Cassie Pierce and all of the parents who helped with set up, clean up, kid wrangling, volunteers for acts (Everyone did SOOO great!), our bakers, Ryan Leedom with the sound and lights, Jack and Kamala for using the Ecovillage stage, Inge, Shelly, Carol, and all the other teachers and adults who lent time and/or energy to helping out with Skit Night.  We are pretty much at our fundraising goal now because of your help. This night could not have been as much fun or been as successful without you so "Thank You" from all of us!

In English, we started with our original origin myths, and now the class is wrapping up Colored Pencils to send to the presses. We are also more than half way through our analysis of The Little Prince and gearing up for one last project. 

In mathematics, we started the month working with some pre-algebra concepts and are now well immersed in fractions. We are currently adding and subtracting them, which is actually harder than multiplying or dividing when working with fractions.

Saturday May, 3rd at the Floyd Earth Day celebration, some of the BMHS Garden Project teens will be helping run kids activities such as fury house building, a nature hike and a paper airplane and kite building station.

The Demigods will also be there bringing their campaign to the streets by having folks sign a petition they created to gain support to eliminate plastic bags from the stores in the county and showing visitors a small piece of their carbon footprint by wearing our bag suits we created. We will also have a tri-fold board that was made by the group displaying our cause and its impact.

As we start to wrap up the year, we decided to do a group brainstorming activity where we reviewed what we have been up to this year academically. The kids were surprised when they saw spelled out all the topics we've covered and explored up to now.  Here is a copy of the list.  Be gentle on the spelling, our note taker was rushed as the class fired answers at her.



Inge says...


What's new with the Science Class?


The latest and greatest from the Demigods science class are the wonderful science projects that they completed. We did one round very successfully and now we are just finishing up the second round. The projects included everything from studying the Amazon Rain Forests, to dolphins, the moon, and Clydesdale horses. Let me share some photos of their first round of projects with you. There will be more photos to come from their second round of projects. Stay tuned.....



Other fun news from Science...


The Demigods joined forces with the Fire Hawks for a walk to the Jubilee land next door to the school to study macrobiotic life in the stream. The classes borrowed nets and field guides from Apple Ridge Farm to make the sampling more successful. We also borrowed field guides from Jenni and the Silverberries class so that we could make sure to identify correctly what we caught in the stream. Here is a short list of the aquatic organisms we sampled: snails, crayfish, dragonfly nymphs, mayfly nymphs, and more. Based solely on this small project and the types of organisms we found there, we concluded that the water quality of the stream is good.

Dragon Tamers
Miranda Altice, Virginia Klara, & Inge Terrill
Miranda Altice
Virginia Klara
Inge Terrill


Miranda says...


I love the Dragon Tamers. I know I'm partial, since I'm their teacher and all - but they are truly spectacular kids.  

Being in an environment like Blue Mountain School has given me the opportunity to have had some of the students for almost three years in my classroom! This has allowed me the privilege of being a part of their mental, emotional, spiritual, and academic growth, and I am honored to have been given the trust by parents to be a part of it. So, thank you. No, really. THANK YOU. And now, before I get TOO mooshy...


Last week during our Friday make-up day, the Dragon Tamers and I did final preparations to present to the school our beautiful new Zen Garden. We had created the Zen Garden late last year when we were the Red Eyed Tree Frogs, and thanks to the Virginia Tech students who came out a couple of weeks ago we now have a bamboo fence surrounding our meditation garden. It was the final touch needed to give the inside of the zen garden a private and contemplative feel. A few of the Dragon Tamers were able to test out the waters, and their reports were stellar. Watching each one take turns raking and creating inuksuks (pronounced ih-nook-sooks), you could almost immediately sense their concentrations shift to that single moment in what they were doing and creating. The slow methodical raking of the lines, the deliberate swirvey lines arching around the stones, stepping their feet cautiously over objects and attempting to not create footprints that would be out of balance with the zen they were creating. It has the ability to put the person watching from the outside of the fence into a meditative state before they even had a chance inside!

Warren Lapine from Wilder Publications, and also a parent at BMS, visited our classroom recently to talk to the Dragon Tamers about the publishing process. Why? Because by the end of the year the Dragon Tamers will have produced a beautiful children's book equipped with three sections: Tales/Children's Stories, Comics, and poetry! My own 4.5 year old still has me read to her the children's book that BMS students published a couple of years ago - so this book will be something to be cherished. The Tamers had lots of questions for Warren, as he explained the process of publication and the types of books that he publishes. We are SO thankful for him to have given us yet another opportunity to show how incredibly creative our students are! The books will be on sale at the school towards the end of May, so please be on the lookout for that. Parents are already considering these as great gifts for family members and kids!

And finally, because the Dragon Tamers are just so cool, here are a few fun pics of work and play! Spring is finally, really here!



Virginia says... 


Peers and Point-of-View


Adding Friday to our school week through May gives Dragon Tamers time with me to review some language arts concepts and explore others more deeply. We will have a chance to get into an uninterrupted 'flow' and enjoy more SSR = Sustained Silent Reading or DEAR time = Drop Everything And Read. We will also have the opportunity to cook, craft, and create in connection with our Virginia history studies.


On the first Friday, we suspended our read-aloud of Joseph Bruchac's Pocahontas and settled on listening to a story about another, note-worthy, Native American princess, Sacajawea. Some of the kids recognized her from the gold-colored $1 coin in circulation but no one knew why she had a coin minted in her honor. Thus, we have had our first introduction to the famous Lewis and Clark expedition, which I hope to cover with the group in depth next year.


Has your son or daughter grumbled to you about our American history studies? These youngsters protest to me daily about listening to the book about Pocahontas and learning some of the history of our country. I admit that US History was never my strong suit; as I lesson plan and teach, I'm learning a great deal about Virginia history, Native American tribes, and European Colonists (right along with the Dragon Tamers). Recently, even though the kids complain as we start our shared reading chapters, I can tell this has become mostly a peer-pressure-induced habit since several pages into the story, most of the kids are tuned in and ready for more.


One day, in seizing the teachable moment, we discussed changing the 'do we have to?'' attitude to 'why would we want to?' read about history. We considered how historical fiction allows the reader to time travel and visit faraway or imaginary places. Reading something written by someone different from ourselves allows us to 'get inside someone else's head,' even someone unlike us or from a long time ago. In our story, we see historic events through the viewpoints of both an 11-year-old Native American princess, Pocahontas, and a 27-year-old explorer and soldier, Captain John Smith. Now as we listen to both accounts of the same events, the Dragon Tamers have become quite skilled at questioning these conflicting interpretations of history. They are getting 'getting inside someone else's head.'


Inge says...


During the time that I had the great fortune of working with the Dragon Tamers class, the students worked on creating what are known as "lapbooks." What are these you ask? Well, let me try to explain. You start with one or two file folders and fold them in a creative way to make a little booklet. The students filled them up with pictures, pockets, tabs, flaps, etc., that contained information about a science topic of their choice. Here are some photos of them and their lovely, thoughtfully created lapbooks. 



Jenni Heartway
Jenni Heartway


How Long? How Far? How Heavy?


The Silverberries are deep in a study of measurement. 

We have practiced measuring with both standard and non-standard units of measurement.
This study builds on goals from the Virginia  Standards of Learning and national goals in science (Project 2061) and math (NCTM).

The students have enjoyed the practical applications of our study and the kinetic learning we've been able to include as well.

Fire Hawks
Hari Berzins
Hari Berzins

"Mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies: These organisms and their larvae have a very low tolerance for contamination, which means that they need clean, unpolluted waters. Where they're found, a stream is usually in healthy shape.


The Firehawks and the Demigods took a walking field trip to our neighbor property at Jubilee. We are so grateful to have access to this beautiful land. Inge Terrill and I both teach environmental education at Apple Ridge Farm, so we shared the aquatic life activity with our students. Using nets, we collected samples from the creek at Jubilee. We collected from the creek bottom, under rocks and on the edges of the bank.
We are pleased to report that we found 10 species of aquatic neighbors. These critters indicate a very healthy stream. We found the larvae, pupa and adult stoneflies, which encouraged a great discussion of life cycles. We also discussed physical and behavioral adaptations. 
It's fascinating to see what's alive in the water when at first glance it looks like nothing is there. This understanding will help to foster our student's love and respect for our clean water.   

Swinging Beetle Bugs
Stefi Schafer & Ashley Morales
Stefi Schafer
Ashley Morales

It all started at circle one morning. Cedar told us about his trip to Mexico to see Monarch butterflies. At the same circle, we were talking about getting a new class pet. The two topics intertwined, and the end result was that the SBBs wanted to grow some butterflies.

We ordered our butterfly garden and our caterpillars. The caterpillars arrived a couple weeks before spring break and became the centerpiece of our nature table. Magnifying glasses were brought out, as well as insect field guides. We watched in awe as they ate (a lot), pooped (a lot), and grew (a lot!). By the last day of school before spring break, all five of our caterpillars had formed chrysalides. The morning we returned, we had one butterfly and one emerging. By Wednesday, all of them had emerged. Now came the best part of all. We decided, as we often do in our class, to take a vote about where we wanted to release them. The cemetery won the vote, and so our Wandering Wednesday Walk ensued, joined by the Firehawks.

It was a beautiful and powerful moment for all when we took them out and they rested on our fingers. We were able to pass them from person to person for several minutes before watching our class pets take flight. One child let the butterfly rest on a dandelion, and we watched its proboscis sucking the nectar.

As much fun as it all was, it was also a tremendous learning experience. The understanding the children had of not picking up the container once the chrysalides had formed was phenomenal. Not one child needed to be reminded, though one child did have to tell a parent! We explored science concepts such as observation, prediction, and metamorphosis. New words we learned like chrysalis, proboscis, and nectar. Familiar words like migration and prediction were revisited. We read lots of books on butterflies and their life cycles, migration patterns, etc. Some children took great interest in the insect field guide and we spent time reading about different insects, identifying bugs we'd seen, or moths in the room. And finally, the grace and beauty of the butterflies' first flight was magical for everyone who was there.

Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy


Spring has arrived in full, and it is well deserved for all of us! So naturally the kids want to be outside with the fresh air and trees bursting with flowers. We did practice some new yoga asanas inside when we had a bit of rain.   


We refreshed our memory of crow, dolphin, boat, eagle, side angle balancing, locust ( and super hero pose), Warrior 3, triangle, and others. There was tons of confidence and smiles as kids moved into poses with great balance and mastery! I was amazed as we spent many minutes playing with crow pose. The kids that can do it, helped explain it to those who need more help. They just wanted to keep practicing and getting it.  


There were lots of kid-led sequences and enthusiasm as many past classes lit the way for understanding. There is something to be said for practice and repetition. Oh yes, we have been doing this for a while!!


During our beginning centering time in the Beetle Bugs, Fire Hawks, and Silverberries classes, we sat under the apple blossoms quietly and focused on the spring (and some human) sounds around us. We heard lots of birds, a lawnmower, coughing, wind, cars, kids in the distance, and our breath. In some classes we played the compliment game where we say nice things one at a time about our classmates. It is a sweet one, although not always easy. Everyone leaves the "compliment seat" with a smile.


With the Dragon Tamers and Demigods, we continued with our theme of character and "who we are." We journaled and then discussed the qualities of ourselves and classmates that went into organizing and executing skit night as well as the qualities that went into performing on stage. The organizational qualities and traits were: perseverance, effort, attention, forgetfulness, stress, fun, anger, nervousness, creativity, and relief. The qualities they witnessed in those performing were: creativity, humor, bravery, talent, authenticity, nervousness, forgetfulness, and effort. I enjoyed listening to the thoughtful examples of the qualities that make us human (using skit night as an example) and how the kids were honest about some frustrations but mostly inspired by those who chose to be brave and get up on stage.


We have been playing outside for P.E. by creating obstacle courses and exercise courses. I create some they go through: weaving soccer balls through cones, skipping, hopping through courses, balancing bean bags on heads and going through a course, target throwing, doing yoga poses on platforms. Then the kids get to use their own creativity to create a course. This last Thursday, the Demigods and Dragon Tamers partnered (one from each class making a pair) to create a fun, short course. Then we all got to try each one out. The kids take this pretty seriously, and the creativity was very impressive. The best part is that I get to use their ideas for the future!!

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan


With only 4 scheduled art classes left in the year, I am feeling a bit crunched - there is so much more I want to do with the kids!

Many of the classes are involved in on-going projects right now, and I struggle between wanting to move on when initially intended versus letting the kids go extra weeks to fully complete their work. Ultimately I believe in the value of fully completing a project, but as the days grow numbered I am sad to let go of future planned activities. I guess I'll just have to look forward to teaching a full school year next year!

I am enjoying all of our current projects, but for this newsletter I want to highlight the lower elementary, SILVERBERRIES!  When discussing, 7 weeks ago, what they were studying in class we came upon images of Chinese dragons and the kids developed (with much enthusiasm) a plan to create one themselves.  So over the past 6 art classes we used paper mache, paint, plaster cast, cloth, cardboard, various found materials and A LOT of creativity to make our very own child size Chinese Dragon!  Below are pictures of the Silverberries presenting their dragon at the school Earth Day Celebration...

The Silverberries worked very hard an this project as we navigated the excitement and challenges that come with working as a team. So please let them know if you read this as they are very excited about their work being shown on line. 

Thanks as always for sharing your children with me, and a Happy Spring to everyone!

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
Elementary Direction
HS Happenings
Dragon Tamers
Fire Hawks
Swinging Beetle Bugs
Yoga & PE
Parent Reminder
May 3: Floyd Radio Show
May 7: Preschool Open House
May 9: ES Make Up Day
May 14: Board Meeting
May 16: ES Make Up Day
May 21: ES All-School Meeting
May 23:
ES Make Up Day
May 23:
HS All-School Meeting
May 26:
Memorial Day - No School
May 29:
Last Day of School; ES Celebration at 11:30; HS Celebration at 2:00  
As the weather warms up and we start to spend more time outside, please remember to keep an eye out for ticks! 
Board of Trustees

Parents, staff, and current Board members are encouraged to vote for our new Board Trustees. 

You can vote online or pick up a paper ballot in the elementary school office. 


Please cast your vote by 5:00 pm on May 14, 2014.   


In Gratitude We Thank

Alex Bala, Alyssa Brink, Dana Brink, Leira Carreon, Tim Cejka, Sam Clark, Becca Good, Jacqueline Jennette, Abby Jetmundsen, Alexa Jostes, Kelsey Mann, Hannah McDorman, Abigail Motley, Carla Schrader, Aleigh Smith, Emily String, Sam Whitehurst, Paul Sullivan and Martha Sullivan, Karl Berzins, Andy and Carol Volker, Stefi Schaefer, Jenni Heartway, Ashley Morales, and Shelly Emmett for building picnic tables, creating a bridge between play structures, fixing the gazebo, and fixing up our gardens.

Wills Ridge Supply for donating towards the picnic tables, bridge, and gazebo work. 

Kristan Morrison for donating to the scholarship fund.

Elizabeth Laprelle and the Floyd Country Store for allowing us to be a part of the Floyd Radio Show.

Beth Spillman and Katie Wells for bringing leading the Blue Mountain School Radio Show group.

Rebecca Maynard, our bookkeeper, for being so awesome.

Jim Scott, James Durst, Bob Grubel, and the June Bug Center
for holding a benefit concert for BMS.

Dave and Kazuko Allen
for leading the high school caving field trip.

Gibby and Michael Waitzkin
for donating to the scholarship fund.

Katie Cesario
for volunteering to be our Grant Guru.

Linda Johnson, Granny Summers, the Demigods, and RIFF for sharing their love of reading with the elementary students.

CERC for their assistance with a recent grant application.

Martha Taylor
for her Dream Work Exploration with the Dragon Tamers.

Kari Kovick
for Musical Performances and Songwriting with the Dragon Tamers.

Warren Lapine
for his time, perspective and publishing work with the Dragon Tamers and for donating a new projector to the Demigods.

Stefi Schafer, Chris Newitt and Family, and Winter Koeppe and family
for donating shells to the Dragon Tamers.

Linda Johnson and Martha Taylor
for helping in the classroom.

Warren Lapine and Angela Kessler for paying the elementary school's mortgage and for donating to the scholarship fund.

Wall Foundation for paying the high school's rent.



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.

Blue Mountain Elementary School 

470 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd, Virginia 24091

Blue Mountain High School  

PO Box 943, Floyd, Virginia 24091