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Replant Uprooted Mayapple School

$10,676 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 116 people in 1 month
Created December 4, 2018
The day the flags went up marking the path of the high-pressure gas line slated to run through our children's forest also marked the day our preschool began to say goodbye to our current home. Now, you can help us as we plan our move to our future home, so our preschool children can once again jump in the leaves, make friends, and explore in nature safely outside the Mountain Valley Pipeline's "blast zone." 

Nestled in a valley of the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia along the banks of Greenbrier Creek, The Mayapple School has been providing nature-based education to young children since 2015. Each day brings with it learning opportunities built upon child interest and first-hand experiences, from making signs for our classroom "donut shop" to using teamwork to find and carry the perfect sticks for a forest fort. You can find out more about our school on our website at: www.mayapple.org 


35091966_1543969278788896_r.jpegClockwise from top left: making a first journey across the "pirate ship" log; tasting the rain; writing about forest experiences; floating boats in Greenbrier Creek 


The wild places in our forest and creek have nurtured the growth of our students and teachers individually and as a community. All the special little spaces that we've stumbled upon (and revisited, and named, and loved) in our explorations -- the Honeysuckle Tree, Mossy Explorer's Trail, Deer Turtle Mountain, and so many more-- have helped to shape us. As a teacher at The Mayapple School, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to guide students in developing a sense of place in this particular corner of the Earth, where I cannot help but feel wonder and delight in life and in our opportunities to grow. 


35091966_154396968974883_r.jpegThe Mayapple is a woodland plant indigenous to the Southern Appalachians. The Mayapple's unique umbrella shape, combined with our school being named for the plant, creates high interest in tracking its growth throughout the spring season. We believe this type of attention to and affinity with nature is essential for young children to experience. Above, from left: The first Mayapple of the season; explaining how the Mayapple leaves have unfurled and how they are grouped together; measuring growth 


Yet, the high-pressure, large-diameter pipeline currently under construction through over 300 miles of Virginia and West Virginia, including within yards of our school, means that our opportunities to grow along the banks of the Greenbrier are coming to a close. Our location is approximately 500 feet from the pipeline. Chances of a pipeline explosion are rare, but just last year 10 campers in New Mexico were killed when camping 200 yards from a pipeline when it exploded.  Although defenders of the pipeline argue that it is considered safe, since 1986, pipeline accidents have killed more than 500 people, injured over 4,000 people, and cost nearly seven billion dollars in property damages. In our current location, within the blast zone of a large diameter pipeline, an explosion would mean little chance of survival, and we simply can not put our Mayapple children at risk.

It's not possible for any of us, students or teachers, to remember each tree that we've seen cut down to make way for the pipeline in "our" forest. We've mourned them all, though-- through song and dance, pretend play taking a turn at being both bad guys and the good guys (the bad guys often ended up in jail), spontaneous sign and art making, and the literal hugging of trees.  We can't remember every playful moment we've had in the forest either, nor every salamander, box turtle, pile of scat, or set of animal tracks we've found. But, whether we've been conscious of them or not, I do think that these moments have created a foundation for us-- of love, challenge, and community-- and I believe that we can take that with us wherever we go. 


35091966_1543971652714827_r.jpegThe Mountain Valley Pipeline will run across Blue Grass Trail in historic Newport, Virginia, where our school is currently located. One morning last spring, as families were driving the road to school, they were greeted with a dramatic transformation -- in two days workers had cleared a wide swath of trees, leaving a brown, denuded scar stretching up steep hillsides on either side of the road. Many students were confused, angry, sad, indignant-- one student spent his morning filling the chalkboard with this mural, above. On the left you see our school with a sign with a slash on it; he explained this was a "no pipeline" sign. In the middle is the road with avenues of felled trees lying on either side. On the right, the artist proudly signs his name and shows what will be like when the tree cutters stop and listen to our signs (one of the little people in the circle is a self portrait). Unfortunately, this was not the end of the tree clearing, and during one heartbreaking story time outside, our read-aloud was punctuated by loud booms-- each fallen tree would reveal to us another neon-clad pipeline worker going about his work. They explained nothing, of course, to the children, leaving teachers with the heavy task of answering "why." 


You are invited to share in the love, challenge, and community with us as we open our new doors in January by contributing to the "nuts and bolts" of our move and transformation of a Blacksburg church basement and yard through your generous and thoughtful donations. With your donations, we will be able to once again create an interactive classroom and an enriching outdoor learning environment, as well as pay the rent at a more expensive  location. We will be able to rent a truck that our Mayapple parents and friends will aid us in packing and unloading. Our new classroom will become inviting with new paint on the walls and rugs to cover the concrete floor. We will build cubbies for our students’ outdoor gear, locking teacher storage, a table, and shelving. Sadly, saying goodbye to our current home means leaving an expansive forest and a creek for exploration. In order to create an outdoor space that allows students to embrace nature and learning and exercise, we will install a stand for water play, a hand pump, a barrel, and a slide.  We will plant blueberry bushes and build another vegetable garden. With enough funds, we will also create a melody pole, a magnetic movable water wall, and a cedar tepee. Your donations will make this vision a reality and ensure our children can continue to thrive at our school.


35091966_154397327953322_r.jpegA couple of days after painting our new classroom, I headed back to take a picture of the room, and was greeted with this right outside the entrance- what a gift. 



35091966_1543973415887757_r.jpegOur future classroom


This fundraiser has been started by Melissa West, Abigail Middleton, Ashley Dayer, and Jenna Booth with help from Jim Secrist, Jessica Morris, Leigh Stoudenmire, and Melissa Powell. These individuals comprise the Board of Directors of The Mayapple School. The Mayapple School is a non-stock corporation that has applied for 501(c)3 non profit status and is currently awaiting determination from the IRS. Because determination has yet to be made, at this time donors should assume that their donations will not be tax deductible. All monies donated through The Go Fund Me website will be deposited directly into The Mayapple School's business checking account and will not be held by any individual. 

Thank you for the honor you give to our children through your donation to The Mayapple School.   

Sincerely,
Melissa West
Founder of The Mayapple School 


35091966_1543975125284010_r.jpeg
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Update 4
Posted by Melissa Brooke West
7 days ago
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The Mayapple School just finished its fourth day at our new location, and while the upheaval of moving was perhaps underestimated, settling in with the students has been easier than anticipated. I am thankful for all who have helped our students begin a new chapter of their preschool experience here in Blacksburg, and I am so looking forward to see what the rest of the year brings to us. As one little girl told me with a hug after her second day at school, "You guys did a good job picking out our new school. I like it more than anything." The resilience Mayapple students have shown this week is inspiring.

Although much has been done to our indoor classroom already, the outdoors is very much a work in progress. I am excited to show you our playground plan, drawn by Alyssa Short. We hope to put in some hard work this winter and spring to make the plan a reality, and many of your generously donated funds have been alloted for this purpose.

We are in the final stretch of The Mayapple School’s Fundraising campaign. To fully meet our goal of covering all moving-related costs, we are reaching for an additional $4,399 in donations to meet our goal!
We are happy to announce that in addition to support from community families and individuals, local business Real Life Smiles generously gifted $200 to help create the adventurous outdoor space that has been drawn up. We are so thankful for all business and individual donations-- you can find yourself on our website here: http://www.mayapple.org/our-donors/ In these last few days, we need some more businesses in our community to help us shorten the gap to our goal, and hope you will help us in asking the businesses you patronize. Who will be the next business to lend a hand? All donations, $50 and above will be featured in our donor section on The Mayapple School’s website!
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Update 3
Posted by Melissa Brooke West
17 days ago
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Happy New Year!

To date, over $10,000 has been donated through our Go Fund Me Campaign from over 100 donors! Thank you so much for sharing and donating!

To thank our donors, celebrate our new space, and help students and families adjust to change, we are hosting an open house at our new location this Saturday, January 5th, 2019 from 10 am to noon. Please help us create new memories in our new site by dropping in!

We are located at 404 Mt. Tabor Rd, Blacksburg VA 24060 in the bottom floor of the Quaker Friends Meetinghouse. Park in any appropriate space in the parking lot. As you walk towards the building, you will notice an asphalt path to the left which leads to the back of the building. Take this path to the second door and come right on in! Once inside, any door on the left will lead to our classroom.

I look forward to celebrating with you soon!
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Update 2
Posted by Melissa Brooke West
1 month ago
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Today was it. The big M Day. Moving! If seeing the twenty six foot moving truck parked in front of our school didn’t make it real, seeing that same truck packed full certainly did! Right now, my muscles certainly remember unloading that truck and moving (and arranging, and re-arranging) furniture around in our new space. I know there will be complete chaos tomorrow as we begin unpacking the boxes, but that empty basement is already shaping up to become The Mayapple School.

Thank you, thank you, and so many more thank you’s, you can’t even count them all, to everyone who helped us so far! We are so grateful for all your help promoting and donating to our fundraiser; moving boxes, furniture, and playground equipment; telling our story; and most importantly sharing with us and each other your belief in our perseverance and the important place we hold in our community with your words and actions. I am so grateful that you gave your time, money, energy, sweat, and (especially if you’ve watched our video) maybe even tears. So, if I didn’t stop you while you were carrying that very heavy log this morning to tell you “thank you,” maybe that was for the best in the moment, but I was and am feeling so grateful that The Mayapple School will continue because of you.

The last few days have included the last day of school at our original Mayapple location, two days of packing, a day of outdoor planning (which I’m excited to share with you soon!) and now, transporting our belongings. It’s been an emotional and physical roller coaster, and I feel like I’m still on the ride. But, before tomorrow’s adventure, let me share with you two media spotlights on The Mayapple School. The Roanoke Times featured us in their New River Valley section on Friday and today, Virginia Public Radio shares a short story about The Mayapple School.

http://www.wvtf.org/post/nature-based-preschool-relocates-away-mvp-blast-zone#stream/0

https://www.roanoke.com/news/education/nature-based-preschool-in-pipeline-s-path-raises-funds-for/article_5431848b-43cc-5d47-b8c5-c441756d35d0.html

Please help us get settled into our new home by sharing our Go Fund Me page and the above media and asking friends and colleagues to donate! If you are local and would like to help us turn our outdoor space from a blank space into a rich, interesting outdoor classroom by helping us build and landscape, please get in touch via e-mail melissa@mayapple.org – thank you!
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Update 1
Posted by Melissa Brooke West
1 month ago
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We started our last week at our current school home with one of my favorite things – a snow day! If ever you will see from the eyes of a child again, it is when you take the time to play in the snow. I love sharing snow with The Mayapple School students because it is always an adventure, and today’s little session of making snow sculptures, tiny snowmen, and adding watercolor spray to the snow reminded me of all the snowmen and igloos we have made here, our attempts to catch snowflakes on our tongues, following racoon and deer tracks, and of course protecting our snow castle from dragons. The photo above is from a snow day last year -- one of our last walks on this path (if you look closely you can see the white and blue ribbon marking for future construction on the trees).

Leaving Newport because of The Mountain Valley Pipeline is so difficult, yet every time I think about our little school’s story and what this spot had meant to us, I am overwhelmed not just with sadness but with gratitude. Last spring, when our coming departure could no longer be avoided, our grief was made easier by a group of small children at a nearby school (Blue Mountain) who spontaneously decided to hold a bake sale, buy an apple tree with the proceeds, and give it to us (to help make up for all of the trees that were cut down to make way for the pipeline). The response of The Mayapple students? Well, even though it will be a few years before it fruits, that apple tree’s first crop will be a shared one. This was just the beginning of the community rising to care for us. Although I can’t list them all here, I think often of the many similar moments that followed.

Each time you donate to our fundraiser and share our story and video, like the children sharing the gift of an apple tree, you are sharing the gift of your support for us. Thank you for taking the time to be present with us in our journey and all of our feelings that go along with it. Thank you for helping our gratitude and positive feelings to grow. With your help sharing our story and fundraiser, I know many more magical snow days are ahead for us.
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$10,676 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 116 people in 1 month
Created December 4, 2018
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KV
$10
Katherine Vivaldi
4 days ago
$40
Amanda Curcio
6 days ago
$25
Anonymous
7 days ago
SC
$50
Steven Curcio
10 days ago
LB
$100
Leslie Branch
11 days ago
$25
Jen Underwood
11 days ago
RS
$200
Real Life Smiles
12 days ago
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Anonymous
12 days ago
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16 days ago
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