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November 2010
In This Issue
From the Director
Nature's Ninjas
Thumbs-Up Kids
Amy's class
Service Learning
Contemplative Program
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The Parent's Tao te Ching

from The Parent's Tao te Ching:

Dealing with difficult children
is like watching a garden grow.
Resist the temptation
to pull up the plants
to check on the roots.

In difficult times
children may thrive on conflict.
If you take the bait
the battle rages.
Instead step back,
breathe deeply,
and stay at your center.
Battles require two parties.
One fighting alone soon tires.

We invite you to forward this email to friends and relatives who are part of the Blue Mountain School Family.

Join Our Mailing List
We'd love to thank...

All the businesses that are participating in the Local Gifts fundraiser on Saturdays, December 4 & 11

William Walter for putting on such an excellent show, and donating all the door money to BMS

Alina Ever for talking to students about clothes swaps

Stacy Hairfield of Natural Awakenings Magazine for coming to discuss eWaste with our students

Swede McBroom of The Natural Woodworking Company for welcoming our students to his workshop

Swede and Jason Rutledge of Healing Harvest Forest Foundation for coming to the school to present the children's plaques

Cynthia Hancock of Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts for her EnviroScape presentation

Mike Burton
of Sustain Floyd for his presentation on local foods

Paige Dalton of Skyline Manor for arranging such an enriching series of visits for our students
On our calendar:

Dec 4 & 11: Local Gifts

Dec 13: Skyline Field Trip

Dec 16: Winter Celebration

Dec 20-30: Break

Jan 15: Floyd Feast


Welcome to the November edition of Blue Mountain School's Indigo Messenger.

As you know, the school makes a big point of connecting with our local community. One of the biggest ways in which we do this is our annual Local Gifts fundraiser, in which we provide free childcare at the school on Saturdays, December 4 & 11, so that parents can shop locally.

In exchange for a donation from these businesses, we do our best to promote them and encourage people to support the businesses that support us.

This is a win-win-win scenario: parents get free childcare, local businesses get more custom, and the school gets much-needed financial support.

And as an added incentive, anyone who buys gifts, gift certificates, or any of the other products and services offered by any of these businesses, and brings their receipt to the school on either of the days of this event, will be in the running to win a dinner for two at the Historic Pine Tavern, a night's stay at the Oak Haven Lodge, a $25 gift certificate from the Harvest Moon, or a $25 gift certificate from Ashleigh's Spa a'vie. Every receipt earns you another entry in the draw.

That should be enough to get you interested! So, without further adieu, here are this year's participating businesses. Please support the businesses that support Blue Mountain School:

Across the Way Productions
Medina Baskets
Ashleigh's Spa a'vie
Mickey G's Bistro & Pizzeria
Bell Gallery & Garden
Mitchell Music Company
Blue Ridge Restaurant
Natasha's Market Caf´┐Ż
Book End Natural Woodworking Company
Bootleg BBQ noteBooks and Black Water Loft
Oak Haven Lodge
Crenshaw Lighting
Oddfella's Cantina
Dogtown Roadhouse
Phoenix Hardwoods
El Charro Grill Mexican
Pickin' Porch
Elisha's Graceful Hands
Pizza Inn
EST Computer Services
Protocol Incorporated
Fancies & Follies
Red Rooster Coffee Roaster
Farmers Supply Corp
Republic of Floyd
Finders Keepers Sarah McCarthy Pottery
Flower & Gift Shop
School House Fabrics
Floyd Country Store
Shear Elegance Salon
Floyd Fitness Center
Slaughters' Supermarket - Garden
Center & Christmas Shoppe
Floyd Pharmacy Star*Song Art Gallery
G J Ingram & Son Store Streamline Timberworks
Gallery One Eleven Subway
Green Label Organic
Sweet Providence Farm Market &
Harvest Moon Food Store
Sweetwater Baking Company
Highland Hardwoods Tasting Room
Historic Pine Tavern
Thomas Auto Parts
Hotel Floyd
Treasured Toy
Icove Lighting
Troika Contemporary Crafts Gallery
Jeanie O'Neill's Gallery/Boutique
Wills Ridge Supply
Jody Minnich's Harmony
WinterSun Clothing
Living Light
Woolly Jumper Yarns
Lora Leigh Giessler Gallery

From the Director
Shelly Emmett

Shelly Emmett
Shelly Emmett
As you may know, our new Board of Directors had its first orientation meeting in November. During this meeting, we talked about some of the unique advantages and challenges of operating a small private school in a rural place like Floyd. The discussion helped many of us to have a better understanding of these issues, and seemed to strengthen our collective resolve to do what we can to help further the school's development as a thriving entity. After the meeting, several of the new Board members asked me to share more about the school's operations with the rest of our school community, so that everyone could have an appreciation of the challenges that the school is currently navigating.

According to the National Association of Independent Schools, a typical budget for a private school reflects that tuition covers only about 50 percent of the operational budget of the school. For most schools, the other 50 percent is covered by fundraising or an endowment. At Blue Mountain School, our tuition income covers 80 percent or more of our operating budget; fundraising makes up the other 20 percent for us, as we do not currently have an endowment established. In practical terms, this means that our budget is much more reliant on tuition income than that of many other private schools. And with our full-price tuition set at half or less than that of other local private schools, this is quite a challenge. Consider that Blue Mountain School's budget allows for about $11,000 a year in discounts and scholarships and you may find yourself amazed that the school is able to survive, somehow (this means that about 10 percent of the school's already tight budget is given up in order to make the school even more affordable for local families).

Hopefully, all of this inspires each of us to do what we can to help the school, beyond monthly tuition or a yearly donation. But how?

Clearly, the tuition the school receives from each family is indispensable - and its timeliness is of utmost importance each month. Financial donations are also an important part of our functioning. But beyond that, each of us who are a part of the school must understand that it is our energy, our time, our unique contributions to the school that make it the vibrant and vital place that it is. Each time that someone volunteers to drive students to a field trip, or offers to fix a swingset, or stuffs envelopes for a fundraiser, or commits to a volunteer shift at a fundraising event, that person is offering an invaluable contribution to our school that is absolutely fundamental to the school's survival. When we all work together by offering our time and energy when possible, the results are impressive. And the loss of even just one person's contribution is undoubtedly felt.

Hopefully, sharing this with readers of the newsletter will help everyone to understand that we all belong here, we are all here to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, we all have something to offer. And we are all appreciated.
Class Reports
Shannon & Hari's class
The Oxymorons
Shannon Atkins
Shannon Atkins

From Shannon:

The OxyMorons report that Scratch is one of their favorite parts of math and science class. They've even been overheard begging for time to work on their Scratch projects. So what is Scratch, and what's the big deal?

According to the program's developers, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is a programming language for creating interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art, while learning important mathematical and computational ideas, and learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.

As the middle school math and science teacher, I introduced Scratch to capitalize on the OxyMorons' enormous collective interest in video games, but wanted them to be creators rather than just consumers of interactive media. I like the way Scratch requires students to think logically to make their programs function the way they want, and encourages them to apply the Cartesian coordinate system.

Adult fluff aside, some students from the middle school class describe Scratch and how they use it, in their own words:
Interactive art programmed by Linneya and mixed by Yeshe
Interactive art programmed by Linneya and mixed by Yeshe

What is Scratch?
Jerrin: "Scratch is a program to make video games and animations."

How do you use Scratch?
Linneya: "It depends on what you want to do. You could make a game like one on game sites, or you could make a pen game where you draw and have controllers."

Jerrin: "You build scripts for characters and they do what the scripts say. A script is like instructions. So far, I've made a game where you move as a diver to get to your cheesy puffs, and then I made two drawing games - one where you control with the mouse and you can change shades and colors, which is my newest one, and my other one you move with the arrow keys and change colors."
Yeshe's programming for character movement and interactions
Yeshe's programming for character movement and interactions

Yeshe: "You make a sprite, which is a character, and then you give it scripts. A script tells the sprite to do something. Say I've got sprite one and I'm telling him to move to a certain point, I would go to 'Motion' and say 'Glide to an X point and Y point.' X goes right and left, and Y goes up and down."

What has been one of your programming challenges?
Jerrin: "My biggest challenge probably was when I had to figure out how to do it. I had to look it up online, and so I figured it out by myself. My biggest recent challenge was when I was making the pen move with the mouse."

Yeshe: "One of my biggest challenges was in 'Halloween Monkey,' when I tried to make different levels, so that when you touch something it goes to a different level. I made a variable that lets you know what level you're on."

A short video of a two-player game programmed by Jerrin
A short video of a two-player game programmed by Jerrin
Inge's class
Nature's Ninjas

Inge Terrill
Inge Terrill
No one can deny that Fall is here and that Winter is just around the corner. Nature's Ninjas have been observing this first hand through nature walks around the school's campus. Leaf and twig studies have been part of what the class has been doing to observe the changes in nature. The class has identified at least ten different species of trees on campus. They include Black Locusts, Wild Cherries, Cucumber Trees, Yellow Poplars, Flowering Dogwoods, Witch Hazels, White Oak and Red Oak species, Sumacs, and Maples.

Everyone is adjusting as best they can to the new time change, but snack time and lunch just don't seem to come soon enough for these hungry, growing Ninjas! So far, one of the classes' favorite foods are pomegranates. They just can't seem to get enough of these delicious fruits. Another snack time favorite is popcorn.

The Ninjas have been working hard on learning the names of the bones in the human body. Fortunately, they are not trying to learn the names of all 206 of them! Next time you see a Ninja, ask them if they can sing the "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" song using the proper bone names.
Natural Woodworking Company
Highlights from our past month include a Service Learning Trip to Swede McBroom's Natural Woodworking Workshop. The Ninjas helped stack rough sawn boards to air dry and measured the amount of board feet in the stack they created. They took a tour of the woodworking facility and learned about kilns and types of Natural Woodworking Companywood. They thoroughly enjoyed the field trip and are looking forward to getting the special wood creations they made at the end of the trip.

One thing the Ninjas really looked forward to this month was Thanksgiving Break. An entire week off from school! Now that's something to be thankful for!

Another thing the Ninjas are thankful for is the weekly help we are receiving from Virginia Nathan and Linda Johnson that started this month. Virginia Nathan is spending two mornings a week (Mondays and Tuesdays) with the class. She is working with the emerging readers. Linda Johnson, a volunteer from the local chapter of RSVP (Senior Corps - National Community Service Program), is with the Ninjas two mornings a week (Wednesdays and Thursdays) as teacher's aid.

The thankful Ninjas hope everyone had a happy, healthy, safe Thanksgiving!

Corey's class
Thumbs-up Kids

Corey Avellar
Corey Avellar

To see a larger version of Corey's report, just click on it...
November Thumbs-Up Kids
Amy's class
Silly Monkeys

Amy Myers
Amy Myers
The end of October and November were plentiful and fun in the Silly Monkeys' classroom. For starters, we decided on a name for our class that seems so fitting! Our field trips were so abundant this month, Apple Ridge was lots of fun, with drumming and exploring the woods. It was great to see parents get a chance to come to the workshops as well. The following week we went to Sinkland Farms for pumpkins, mazes and farm fun. Not sure what was more exciting - the tractor ride or getting to "milk" the cow. We really enjoyed carving a pumpkin together in our class the next day, in preparation for our Halloween festival that ended our week. Dressing up in our costumes was surely our highlight, as well as such yummy potluck food! Thanks for all those who contributed!!

Moving into November had us making pine cone bird feeders and getting to know our bird friends right outside our classroom. We enjoyed our trip to Plenty, where we picked up food and delivered it to the doors of folks around Floyd. It was such a wonderful hit to light up people's days with the children and food in hand.

Our circle time has been more focused on number games, body parts, counting, birds, as well as learning new songs and finger plays. Here is one that your children should be able to do with you.

"Whisky frisky hippity hop, climbed the squirrel to the tree tops. Whirly twirly round and round, down he scampered to the ground. Whirly twirly what a tail, tall as a feather, broad as a sail. Where is his supper? In a shell, snappity crackity out it fell."

We had a very thankful week last week, and have started to make lanterns together since we got back from break.

We trust you had a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Jamie's class
Community connection

Jamie Reygle
Jamie Reygle

One thing that repeatedly occurs to me as the Service Learning teacher at BMS, is how much I love my job. I remember as a kid that field trips were the best thing about school, and now I get to go on plenty of them! To see the joy in the children's faces, as well as those who directly benefit from their presence, is a very fulfilling experience.

Some of the highlights of this past month have been:

  • The Thumbs-Up Kids and Nature's Ninjas visiting the Natural Woodworking Company, where Swede McBroom gave them a full tour of his workshop, and then gave each of them their own plaques to design. A couple of weeks later, Swede returned to the school - with the plaques and Jason Rutledge from Healing Harvest Forest Foundation - to present the finished plaques to the students. This enabled them to have a clear picture of the full cycle of wood production - from the logging done by Jason's team, to the storage and drying of the lumber, to the working of the wood, and finally to the finishing of the wood.
  • The same two classes also had their first visit to the Alzheimer's unit at Skyline Manor. Understandably, this was an overwhelming experience for some of them, and it will be interesting to see how things evolve with this over the coming months. For most of the children - and certainly for the residents - the chance to peel apples with an old-fashioned peeler, and to connect young with old, was a lot of fun. In December, we're heading back to make butter with an old-fashioned churn!
  • Meanwhile, the Oxymorons have identified three types of projects they want to engage in for the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, and have had a corresponding series of guests come to discuss their options. These have included (by project):

Now it is time for the class to break into groups, and begin working on their projects, which are likely to be:

  • Recycle, Reuse, Reduce: A local-area swap meet;
  • Recycling in action
    Recycling in action
    Local Foods: Promotion of local food vendors; and
  • Stream Management: Working with local farmers to improve the water quality of Floyd streams.

If any of these look like a project you would like to be involved with, please let me know. We'd love to have you join us!

Lora Leigh's class
The Painted Word

Lora Leigh Giessler
Lora Leigh Giessler


From last month's project...

from the Nature's Ninjas class:




from the Oxy Morons class:


from the Thumbs-Up Kids class:


During the Month of November we studied Values in a Monochromatic color scheme. We all know now that Monochromatic means "One Color," and that painting in one color can produce a strong mood. The children have observed and learned that a range of values creates depth in a painting, and tints are created by adding white to a hue and a shade is created by adding black to a hue. The students are practicing mixing tints and shades with one hue, to create a value range in a fun and creative way.

And now we are preparing for our first still-life painting!

Sarah's class
Slowing Down

Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy

The most important elements of our yoga each week are slowing down and focusing. Yes, we do postures, we play yoga games, we talk about how we are feeling inside on a given day, and we listen to stories. Slowing down and learning to be comfortable in a quiet space with oneself is even more important.

Children and young adults are naturally active and excited. They are taking in a lot each day-and each moment really-about how the world works. It is quite stimulating for them. Although they are naturally active, they also need calm, quiet time: real authentic down time in a safe and comfortable place. I am hoping that through yoga class, and other times throughout the day, our children can get this so they can come to know themselves and the unique gifts they each have inside.

We usually begin with breathing exercises. We excitedly pick out a little animal breathing buddy and place it in front of us. It sounds so simple. We are breathing all the time. To stop and watch our breath for a few minutes takes mindfulness; it takes putting aside thoughts of what happened on the way to school or what is in our lunch. It requires being here right now with all our being. It also requires being in a quiet place. This is not easy. So we do it a lot. We keep practicing. Soon this will develop into concentration and this is a crucial element for learning.

Next I tell or read a story where we learn about our 'treasure' of the day. This also takes concentrating and being quiet. These stories come from different countries and different religions, and all touch on basic human needs, values, and emotions-such as kindness, anger, flowing in the moment, being our true selves, self love, etc. I find creative, interesting stories are great ways to teach and inspire.

As we move into stretching, moving, and games, we end with body relaxation, gentle music, and guided affirmations. I find that for a lot of children, this quiet time is uncomfortable and takes a while to settle into. So again we practice and practice. After a while we learn to enjoy this special time; we don't have to perform, impress, or learn anything. We can just accept being with our own self.

How do you cultivate quiet time at home? With our busy lives we sometimes forget to simply take time each day to do nothing and relax with our children. If 'doing nothing' is a stretch for you, (and believe me sometimes it is for me) try reclining on the couch with a good book, and reading to your child. The morning is a great time to be together outside, greeting the sun and birds. We all know how to create this special space, we just have to practice slowing down a little more to notice the gifts around us. Especially our amazing children. They have so much to teach us!

Thank you
We hope you enjoyed reading the Indigo Messenger, and plan to be sending you another one in a month's time!

Be sure to forward it to anyone you think may be interested.

Thank you,

The folks at
Blue Mountain School