Blue Rock School Celebrated
its 30th Anniversary

 

We celebrated our 30th Anniversary in April 2018 with a full day of offerings on campus, including workshops, creative activities and panel discussions followed by an evening dance and silent auction at the Nyack Center for our community.  

Staff, faculty and trustees were delighted to greet our guests: alumni, founding teachers, local educators, community members, and current and alumni parents. 

 
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Our intention was to provide a day that would speak to the past, present and future of the school— how we have changed over time while our core principles remain constant and provide a compass as we take on new initiatives and chart our course into the future.  

We began the day by honoring our founder, Peggy Flinsch, through the eyes of an alumna, a former teacher and the director who had all experienced her unflagging dedication to Blue Rock School and its mission.  Remarking on her vision, we shared how she honored children, respected their unique abilities, and most importantly, granted them the space and time to struggle and develop. Peggy held the belief that learning about oneself (both for students and teachers) is as important as any academic knowledge, and that one facilitated the learning of the other.  A special addition to the program was a slide show and recording of Peggy speaking about the importance of Blue Rock teachers’ search to understand each child’s unique needs and support their development in a balanced way.   

 
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Historic class and campus photographs decorated the wall depicting the school’s journey from North Carolina to Palisades, New York and then to the current West Nyack Campus, including images of our grounds, barn building and the renovation of our Arts  & Nature Studies Annex acquired in 2012.

 
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In the morning, teachers led three interactive workshops: 

“Weaving Meaning— The Power of Storytelling, Poetry and Literature” explored the importance of literature in our classrooms and why stories and poetry matter in daily life – and open up a child’s world to rich ideas and greater human truths.  

 
  Sharing first sentences of favorite books and poems.

Sharing first sentences of favorite books and poems.

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The second workshop, “One Small Stone Makes Endless Ripples-Self and Community,” looked at how Blue Rock strives to provide children with a balanced focus between the individual and the group, so that each student can grow in self-reliance, self-discipline and connection with others.

 
  Participants had to plan and work together to make a bridge across the woodchips with some objects.

Participants had to plan and work together to make a bridge across the woodchips with some objects.

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The third workshop, “Valuing a Child’s Curiosity-Emergent Curriculum & Project Based Learning,” focused on our use of emergent curriculum and project based learning to interweave children’s interests and passions while delving into our planned curriculum.

 
  Chick observation and handling led to journaling and examples of topics children have explored with excitement after a hands-on experiences.

Chick observation and handling led to journaling and examples of topics children have explored with excitement after a hands-on experiences.

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The workshops were followed by Being Awake: A Quest at the Heart of Blue Rock Teaching,” a panel of trustees, faculty and our director spoke about how many aspects of our program: mindfulness, respect for the development of the mind, body and feelings, and multi-disciplinary learning encourages an openness to each moment. We also addressed our interest in social justice and the principles of building community and understanding while celebrating our similarities and differences as individuals.

 
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Rockland Roots, a parent-owned catering company, offered delicious gourmet lunches from their food truck set up on the grounds.

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After lunch, alumni spoke of the influence Blue Rock School had on their current interests and their way of approaching life, developing as artists, entrepreneurs and educators who have a deep appreciation for the process of learning.

 
  Aidan Nelson and Anabel Goa.

Aidan Nelson and Anabel Goa.

  Maud Streep .

Maud Streep.

 

To give guests a real sense of current class work and projects our 4th-8th graders hosted open classrooms to share what they were studying and working on. They also demonstrated some of their rhythm studies with an open music lesson. 

 
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In the afternoon alumni parent artists and our art teachers offered activities for everyone to leave their creative mark on campus:

Colorful Rock Painting with Andy Golub to grace our garden labyrinth.

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Large Mobile Making with Andre Voumard— the magical mobiles now sway above our artistic path down to the garden named by students ‘Pine Needle Pass.’

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Arbor and Amulets with Jorge Golowasch— a cedar arbor with wood-burned symbols at the entrance of the Pine Needle Pass.

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Mandala Sidewalk Painting with Heather Cacioppo— a student initiated design to beautify the walkway to the art room.

Prayer Flags with Eileen Leith— print making project on fabric with woodblocks and hand painted designs.

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Mask Making with Gretchen Kane and Lorraine Marden—half masks of various materials embellished with sparkles and feathers for our evening masquerade.

Later that night, under a full moon, we hosted a magical Moonlight Masquerade Ball and Silent Auction at the Nyack Center.

The space was transformed into an enchanted woodland forest where guests reveled with music and dancing, wine and hors d'oeuvres, and enjoyed the opportunity to bid on some 90 auction items. All proceeds benefited the Ruth Schaeffer Scholarship Fund which continues to support 50% of our families and our ongoing commitment to a non-elitist learning environment.

 
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The Anniversary was a lovely opportunity for reconnection and a true celebration of Blue Rock’s ongoing commitment to provide a joyful, dynamic and child-centered approach to education.