9/6/16 – On September 17 & 18 the Annual Bluemont Fair will yet again draw thousands of visitors to the small town of Bluemont in Northern Virginia. For the students of Village Montessori School at Bluemont this is a very exciting time each year as they are eagerly preparing for this big event from the very first day of each new school year. This year, the event is even more special with the students’ involvement in a Native American Indian Village that will be part of the Bluemont Fair for the very first time.
Through a grant awarded by the Virginia Commission of the Arts to the Native American Organization ‘Sanctuary on the Trail’ and through tremendous local support, including a generous donation by Ken and Julia Falke of Bluemont, Village Montessori School students have the opportunity to learn first-hand about Native American traditions, lifestyle, history and culture and participate in building the interactive Village.
A group of local Native American artists, led by Sanctuary on the Trail founders Chris and René White, will introduce the children to their ways of life, both in the past and present. They will share their artisan skills and life experience inside and outside the classroom, and pass on truths that have been long lost, connecting the children to the land and nature, to themselves and to each other.
All Village Montessori students will be involved in various ways in the Indian Village activities during their first two to three weeks of school and beyond. Many parents are involved in the planning of the activities too.
The children in the Outdoor Classroom and in the afternoon Wilderness Awareness Club as well as all Elementary students will have the unique opportunity to assist in the construction of the Indian Village WigWam. They will gain hands-on experience that will expose them to the richness of the native cultures and the wisdom of rooted and sustainable living.
“As they participate in these activities they will learn to problem solve, to exercise their fine and gross motor skills, to work as part of a team, and to contribute their own particular part in the larger process”, said Ben Drenning, the Lead Teacher for all projects involving the Native American Program. “These activities will help them experience and explore the inherent values of self-sufficiency, cooperation, and community”, Drenning continued.
Elementary students will also help create medicine pouch bags that the students will sell during the fair explaining the tradition and use of the bag as a part of it. In other segments, all primary students will learn about Native American culture and traditions in the classroom and artists will share and impart their knowledge and skills as part of those sessions.
More program activities on the actual fair weekend are still to be determined, and activities will continue throughout the rest of the year.
While students at Village Montessori have already been learning about Native American Culture as part of their curriculum, the partnership with Sanctuary on the Trail opens up a wealth of new opportunities. “Our vision statement as informed by the works of Dr. Montessori is to create a living model of a culture of peace for the students, families, teachers and community of our school,” said Toby Gress, Head of Village Montessori School. “The collaboration with Native Americans and Veterans flows perfectly with our vision while supporting our mission to provide our students the necessary tools, in a prepared environment, indoors and out, to foster the joy of learning.”
That joy of learning can be felt all across the Village Montessori property these days. As the school year has just kicked off this week, the excitement and anticipation is rising high amongst students, parents and teachers, as well as amongst the artists. Undoubtedly, both children and adults will benefit and this partnership will impact many.
“It may take a village to raise a child, but I believe it takes artists to help children raise a village” said René Locklear White, Sanctuary on the Trail Co-Founder, Lumbee Indian artist and military veteran who is the organizer of the Indian Village project. In the weeks leading up to September 17 and 18 exactly that will now happen.
Village Montessori School at Bluemont offers an authentic nature-based curriculum for students aged 2 to 12. Its pastoral setting in the vicinity of Metro DC and its family atmosphere provide for a unique and optimal learning environment for children of all different backgrounds. The International Montessori Council (IMC) recently awarded Village Montessori accreditation for its Primary and Elementary programs. The IMC accreditation makes Village Montessori School the first Montessori School in Northern Virginia to receive this distinction by IMC. For more information please visit www.villagemontessori.org.
The Indian Village is an exciting new interactive event at the Bluemont Fair. It is designed to educate children (and adults!) about Native American culture. The Village will be open to the public during both days of the Fair. Visitors will be able to experience dance, regalia, storytelling, interactive-downloadable online passport, QR coded hidden facts, survival skills, living history exhibitors, trading post vendors, North American Bushcraft School, music from Dark Water Rising, Indigenous Virginia tea and a Military veteran and uniformed services tribute. Authentic Native American Indian jewelry is available for purchase and exhibits of unique works of art by artisans are showcased. Suggested donation for entrance to the Indian Village is $3 per person or $15 per family. The general fair entrance fee is $5 per person. Children nine and under are free to both the Indian Village and Bluemont Fair.
Proceeds help bring educational cultural programs like this to the area and set educational standards, and benefit Native American Indian artists. Event times at the Indian Village can be found within the Fair schedule at www.HarvestGathering.org.
For any further information or to set-up a school visit, please contact Birgit Zepf at 703-789-7487 or BbZepf@gmail.com.