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Wrapping Up the Year

This article originally appeared in The Floyd Press.

“Instead of final exams and report cards, we showcase our students’ learning with a Project Fair,” said school director Shelly Fox Emmett. This year, the fair featured several plays, a musical performance, handmade books, robots, and a pinewood derby race.

The Project Fair was also an Open House event, and community members were invited to view the exhibits and enjoy refreshments donated by Red Rooster Coffee Roaster and Confectious Shenanigans. “This event is a chance for people who aren’t here every day to see what goes on at BMS. Grandparents, new families, and BMS alumni were among those who joined us, “ said Fox Emmett.


The final event of the year for Blue Mountain School is the End-of-the-Year Celebration, which includes a Bridging Ceremony. During the ceremony, each student shares three things they learned this year: one academic, one related to enrichment, and one social. Teachers speak for younger students while the older students speak for themselves. After they share, students cross over the stage to represent moving on to the next level of learning.

This year, two students graduated and will be moving on to new adventures: Gabriel Miller and Summit Roberts. After words of gratitude and encouragement from their teacher, the graduates received the traditional “Certificate of Awesomeness” and custom-made graduation hats. “Each year, the hats are different depending on the students and what’s happened during the year. This year, I made space alien hats that reminded me of the spray painted space art we worked on,” said art teacher Lore Deighan.

Time Traveling in the Early Childhood Class

Written by BMS Office Manager, Carol Volker. Photos are from the 2010-11 school year.

A few weeks ago, I took off my Office Manager hat and put on my Future Preschool Mom hat, so I could spend the morning with my son test driving Miss Stefi’s class. As I sat on the brightly colored rug with Kostya and his friends, I remembered the first time I visited Blue Mountain School…

It was a rainy, muddy February morning six years ago. Andy, Anya, and I weren’t quite sure where to go at first because back then the buildings didn’t have signs. We took our chances with the largest building, and when we were a few steps inside, Shelly appeared and greeted us with a big smile. She ushered us into the early childhood room, which was where Shelly’s office is now, and she introduced us to the “Chickadee’s” teacher, Amy Meyers, and class assistant, Kari Zoller.

We joined the class for their morning circle and played a name game where each person says their name and then the group repeats it back. (If you’ve been to a BMS Monday-morning circle at the beginning of the year, you’ve likely played this game, too!) I remember hearing and saying, “Alonzo! Summit! Satya!” Names that belong to three people I now know well.

I remember feeling unsure about how long we should stay. Shouldn’t we just pop in, look around, and then vamoose before we interrupted the class? But it quickly became apparent that we were welcome to stay as long as wanted to. After just a moment, I already felt like we belonged. So, we stayed for a while!

After snack (“Would you like a baby bear, mama bear, or papa bear bowl of oatmeal?”), it was time for art with Lora Leigh Giesler. Anya was feeling a bit unsure and wasn’t interested in joining her new friends for this activity, so we sat on the piano bench and watched Lora Leigh and the kids put finishing touches on a project they’d been working on for some time. I think it was gnome homes, but I’m a bit fuzzy. Actually, I’m a bit fuzzy in general about the rest of the morning. A visit to the office to talk with Shelly? Taking a quick peek in the other classrooms?

What I remember most about the our visit that day was that even though it was cold and gloomy outside, inside we were all snug and cozy. The snug little classroom with the furry rug on the floor, the shelves full of wooden blocks, pine cones, and bits of cloth to create with, a basket of play clothes, dolls and a doll house, puzzles, and books. The art room with its splashes of color. And of course all the people--the staff and the students who made us feel very much at home.

If you were to visit Blue Mountain’s early childhood class for the first time today, you’d notice that a lot has changed since my first visit back in 2010. The class has it’s own building with a loft play area inside and a giant deck outside for picnics and projects with a sandbox tucked in underneath. Stefi has been the preschool teacher for five years now, and Amy and Kari have moved on to new adventures. You’d find the office right away, and although there may be some mud about, the parking lot is nowhere near as sticky as it used to be.

For all the changes you see, though, the core parts of BMS are the same. Shelly will greet you with a big smile, the teachers and students will welcome you like family, and no matter how unpleasant the weather outside, inside you will be snug and cozy.



RIT Students Give A Helping Hand

This article originally appeared in The Floyd Press on April 7, 2016.

Spring Break Visit Appreciated

Seventeen students from Rochester Institute for Technology journeyed to Floyd County recently as part of an alternative spring break experience organized through the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project. The RIT students spent most of their week on projects at Apple Ridge Farm, but they took one afternoon to journey to the town of Floyd and work at Blue Mountain School.

Along with BMS students and staff, the college students helped complete several projects including improving drainage near the main building, installing a tire climbing wall on the playground, and clearing trails in the woods. Early childhood teacher Stefi Schafer said, “Our students had a great time working and learning alongside their new friends, and they even got in a game of soccer!”

If you’d like to help make more improvements and additions to the Blue Mountain School campus, you are invited to join school students, staff, friends and family on April 20th from 1:00 to 4:00 for the school’s annual Earth Day Work Day, which is a GiveBigNRV Giving Day Event.




Week 3: Let's Build!

When you arrive at Build It! Camp, you'll be greeted by stacks of wood, tangles of wire, mountains of cardboard boxes and some great teachers ready to help you turn your dreams into reality!

Want a skateboard or scooter that works on a grassy hill? Build it!

Ever wondered how to make your own musical instruments, robots, rockets, stilts? Build it!

Want to make an alarm for your bedroom? Build it!

Have an idea for an invention, but just need the tools and materials to make it a reality? Build it!

We will have a variety of materials and tools available for all ages, and in the afternoons, our older campers (10-12) will have a chance to tackle more complex projects using more advanced tools. On the last day of camp, family and friends will be invited to join us to check out (and maybe even try out) our campers' creations!

Build It! Camp led by Shawna Williams - August 8 through 12

Use real tools and real materials to build projects you can take home. Make sure to wear clothes with lots of pockets or borrow your grown-up's tool belt because you'll need your hands free at this camp! (Ages 2 ½ to 12)

Camp is Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The cost is $150 for the first child in a family and $135 for each additional child in the family. For more information or to register, please send a message.

Camp Registration Form

Camp Scholarship Form


Week 2: Into the Woods!

Ages 2.5 to 9: This camp is Full! Please email us to get on the waiting list.

Ages 10-12: We have four spots available for this age group.

You asked for it, and here it is... Forest Forts Camp may have a new name, but it still has the same spectacular fun! (With lots of new surprises, of course!)

One exciting addition to Fort Camp will happen in the afternoons when our older campers (ages 10-12) will have a chance to broaden their outdoor skills by working with Ezekiel Fugate. Ezekiel is a former BMS teacher and current Director of Student and Staff Engagement at Springhouse Community School. Some of the activities these campers will explore are

  • learning to build survival shelters (e.g., debris huts)
  • identifying and preparing wild, edible foods
  • learning the basics of tracking
  • building and tending fires safely 
  • lots of fun outdoor games (e.g., advanced hide and seek, eagle eye, scout-style capture the flag, wren tag)
  • catching frogs and other critters  

Forest Forts led by Jenni Heartway - June 27 through July 1

Join us for a week of fun and fort building in the great outdoors! Campers will explore the woods around our beautiful campus while exercising their building and cooperative play skills. We will incorporate primitive skills, games, music, water play and art into each of our days. Younger campers will create a fort as a group and older campers will divide into small groups to create many forts. Dress for adventure because we plan on being outdoors rain or shine! (Ages 2 ½ to 12)

Check back on Monday for something totally new...


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