~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on May 27, 2010
Blue Mountain School (BMS) music teacher and Windfall band member Kari Kovick led BMS students in a music program at the Floyd Country Store on Friday afternoon. About 100 people, including students, parents, grandparents, and friends attended the free community event, titled Ripples of Blue: Celebrating the Peaceful Heart.
The program was an opportunity for the students to share what they’ve learned this year through sing-a-longs, solos, rounds, interactive, and group songs. Some of the songs were related to subjects they have studied, such as one about civil rights activists Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks in which upper class students added solos to a chorus of younger students singing ‘What can one little person do to help this world go round?’ `
The event also showcased the school’s newly defined Contemplative Progressive Education model, which Kovick explained during the program introduction. “In my definition the progressive part of the two part model means that children are generators of their own learning. As teachers we ask ‘what do you want to learn?’ and ‘how can I help you?’ After an activity, we ask ‘what did you learn?’”
She described the contemplative component of BMS education as an intentional practice of mindfulness that that the school fosters through inquiry, meditation, and yoga. “Social and emotional learning is woven into everyday by asking children to check in to see what they’re feeling and to share that if possible,” Kovick added.
The Ripples of Blue concert began with a call to the present moment with the ringing of a bell by BMS parent and teacher of the school’s Contemplative Program Sarah McCarthy.
Service Learning through projects and community activism, human rights studies, and a Teaching Tolerance Program have all been part of the school curriculum this year. At one point during the program, BMS upper classman Kyla Robbins spoke to the audience about the school’s “350 project” that they are working on with teacher Jamie Reygle. “We’re coming up with 350 ideas for reducing carbon emissions, and we’re going to put them together in a book,” she said.
The program’s most rousing number was a square dance that the entire audience participated in from their seats. Backed up by her Windfall band mates, Kovick prepared the crowd, announcing “I’ve never called a dance before, I’m going to say things like ‘all join hands, clap your hands.’”
Kovick, who has worked with some BMS students through her Early Childhood Music Program since they were babies, said “I learn songs from the Children’s Music Network, written by people who love children.” One song the students performed was taught to them by Floyd musician Tina Liza Jones. Another, performed by Kovick and BMS pre-schoolers, titled “I Wish My Daddy Was Here,” was written by Kovick when she was teaching at a camp and was trying to comfort a tearful child.
At the close of the program, Kovick invited everyone to the school’s Open House the next day. She thanked everyone for coming, thanked the band for volunteering their talents, Chris Luster for manning the sound system, and The Floyd Country Store for opening up their space. The band played an exit song as the smiling crowd made their way out, allowing store owners to set up for the next gig: The Friday Night Jamboree.