Any experience with Blue Mountain, Blacksburg New School or other Parent Coops in VA? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 04-06-2007, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been reading a bit about the Blue Mountain School in Floyd and the Blacksburg New School and I'd be really interested to find out more from people with personal experiences with these schools. Feel free to PM me, too.

Are there other parent cooperative schools in Virginia? I saw something about one in Roanoke, but anywhere else? Or does anyone LOVE their kids public school and can tell me about it?

We're in Richmond, but willing to relocate for the right school. We'd like to avoid NOVA and prefer the mountains to the coast... We'd also love a walkable community.

Thanks,
Emily
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#2 of 8 Old 04-06-2007, 04:31 PM
 
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Emily- I've heard great things about both these schools. But since my kids are too young for school, I've got no first hand experince to share with you.
I can tell you that Floyd is a bit too rural to be considered walkable. And the most walkable parts of Blacksburg to live in also have the highest proportion of college students- I love it, but it can be difficult during football weekends. We believe that some of the core neighborhoods are in the process of gentrification and real estate is getting too valuable to slumlords, but it is a process. Of course, if you've got lots of money there is 1 neighborhood that's walkable w/out many students, but we poor folk can't consider "snob's knob" for ourselves.
Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any questions
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#3 of 8 Old 04-06-2007, 07:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the reply! Have you heard specific stuff about the schools or just that they are great in general (which is important, too, of course )... Our daughter is an 08/04 baby, so we have a little while, too -- we just figure if we do end up deciding to relocate, we'll need some time!

So you are in Blacksburg? Are you in one of the walkable neighborhoods? As long as there weren't frat parties in my front yard, I think living around college students wouldn't be so bad We definitely want to check out Blacksburg and Floyd and see what we think. Can you tell me a little bit more about Blacksburg and what you like/dislike about it? Farmer's markets? Free and fun stuff for kids to do (Richmond has a ton of stuff through the parks and libraries)? Lots of outdoorsy things? Places to buy organic food... dog friendly? those would be our most important considerations, I think. Feel free to PM me if you'd rather... I really appreciate it!

Emily
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#4 of 8 Old 04-08-2007, 07:39 PM
 
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Emily- I've just heard great things about these two schools in general. Since we also have highly reguarded public schools, most people that I know send their kids to the local elementary schools.
Yes, I live in B'burg. In the Bennet Hill Progress neighborhood, 2 blocks from downtown & 4 blocks from campus, on a quiet dead-end street. I love it here. I actually like living among the students, 9 out of 10 are great- it's the 1 out of 10 that give the rest a bad name, but the college has so much happening that adds to our enjoyment of B'burg: lectures, plays, music, sports. We particularly enjoy the free concerts on Henderson Lawn each Friday evening in the summer. Next week we'll be attending International week events: homemade food from various students homelands, a parade and a fair. We will also be going to a concert of Broadway music on campus this month.
We are only a few blocks from the farmer's market- open Wednesdays & Saturdays, and we've got the fish ladies bringing fresh seafood from the coast every Thursday. We also have Eat's Natural Foods, Annie Kay's Whole Food and Oasis International Food.
At our library, we have various storytimes and family night- often free pizza & a movie or a craft related to a theme at the library. Also, our town has lots of activites- like a free Easter egg hunt yesterday. A lot of activities charge a fee, though. Here's a link to the spring offerings: http://www.blacksburg.gov/recreation...erecreator.pdf
and there's more in the summer.
We've got a dozen or more parks and walking trails, as well as the Huckleberry path, a rail-to-trail conversion, that goes to Christiansburg. If you like water, you can drive to the New River or Claytor Lake.
For dogs, we've got some unofficial off-leash meeting areas and paths, but nothing like a real dog park. But since we've got tons of National forest if you like to hike w/ your dogs, and the leash law is rarely enforced, there are lots of exercise options. The only thing is that pets are not allowed at our street fairs.
Basically, I think B'burg is great, but it is growing too fast and the university can be the dominating force- but growth is good for economic vitality and the university adds so much culturally, so the negatives also have a positive side.
Let me know if I missed anything- by pm or through this tread. And if you have any questions or need any help with anything.
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#5 of 8 Old 04-09-2007, 12:26 AM
 
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Pardon me for "eavesdropping" on this thread, but I'm interested in this information as well!

My dh had an interview near Blackburg and I have a ton of questions. If he got the job we'd be relocating from Ohio.

I am a potter, and I get the feeling that Floyd has a good art/crafts community, but it would be too far to drive. Blacksburg sounds like it would have a little cultural diversity, which we value -- but the housing prices look a little scary!

If I wanted a little property, maybe a place where I could have a garden, build a wood kiln and have some chickens, where would you suggest looking?

And is there a Unitarian Universalist church in Blacksburg? Any unschoolers, or homeschool organizations not exclusive to Christians? (I'm homeschooling 3 kids.)

While I'm at it.. how are your winters? (It's Easter Sunday here, and snowing. )
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#6 of 8 Old 04-09-2007, 05:14 PM
 
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Primalmommy- Did you say your husband interviewed at Mountain Lake? Giles county is a lot more affordable than Blacksburg. The little town of Newport, in Giles, is lovely as far such a tiny place can be- the fresh produce at the Super-Val-U is amazing for a gas station/convenience store. The have the cutest little 4th of July parade and a county fair that can't be beat. My friends just sold their place on 2 acres for $165,000- a very nice little 3 bedroom 2 bath home. You can get quite a lot out that way for less than 200K.
The only problems are the public schools- not so great after elementary- and the drive to B'burg & beyond for larger things- supermarkets, natural food stores, movies, shopping. Kind of like living in Floyd, too, except that there's a larger alternative/crunchy/artsy population in Floyd.
In B'burg you can sometimes find a house for under 200, but it's not going to have land, and we have ordinances against farm animals. My next door neighbor has had ducks, and occasionally chickens, for years, but that's because we neighbors don't report her. One complaint, and she'd have to get rid of them. So, you'd either have to take that risk or live outside the town limits. There are some real possibilities in Montgomery county for a little place and some land- say towards Price's Fork & McCoy or perhaps towards Luster's Gate, Ellet and Ironto (Although some areas are getting pricey there, too). But the real cute places are few and far between.
What kind of budget are you looking at?
The weather- now there's a real conumdrum. Last week it was 80 and we were out in shorts, but on Easter we had a dusting of snow. We're supposed to average 20 inches of snow a year, but this year we got maybe 3 to 5. Usually winter starts with a snowfall after Christmas and ends with a snow around Valentine's day. Our seasons are usually of equal length- 3 months of each, which I think is great. But we have had flurries in May (1989!). And it was in the 50s and 60s in January this year. I don't think it got above 90 even once last summer, but sometimes we have a week of that. Being in the mountains helps with cool nights, though. So, I guess I'm saying our weather is highly variable, usually without any extended extremes.
Yes, we have a UU that my friend attends and tells me is wonderful. We have homeschooling groups, although I don't know about their religious affiliation. (My kids are little so I haven't looked into this much yet) The town has just added some classes for homeschoolers as well- at the rec center. I'm just learning about unschooling myself, so I don't know of any groups here, but that may be my lack of knowledge.
Hope that helps- let me know if you have any other questions.
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#7 of 8 Old 04-10-2007, 12:11 AM
 
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Kristina, you rock. Thank you! I'm printing that post for dh. Yes, Mountain Lake, and Floyd is too far to drive... though it sounds like my kind of place.

My oldest son kind of wants to go to high school for that time honored homeschooler reason, "to meet more girls" -- but if the schools are bad, we could homeschool and find other ways to make social connections!

Small towns can be wonderful -- unless they are the kind where folks lead conversations with, "and what church do YOU go to? " and decide, based on your answer whether to associate with you I don't have to be surrounded by like minded people, but I don't want neighbors to tell my kids they are hellbound for reading Harry Potter, or decide I'm a communist because of my "potters for peace" bumper sticker. I have no reason to think small town VA is like that, but I've been in places that were... do you think most folks outside of town have a live-and-let-live approach, or not so much?

Under 200,000 is our budget. The housing market here is really bad, and I don't know what we can get for our current home.

How's the soil for gardening?

I'm from flat country... does altitude have a big effect on temperature/climate? Do you have nice stars there? (From the airplane looking down, Western VA seems to have lots of nice wild places and not too much light pollution...

Are roads treacherous in winter, with hills and valleys? (again, a flatlander question... my kids will be driving in a few years.)

Thanks again for taking the time to write such a helpful, detailed post. I'll take another look at the real estate mags dh brought home!

We should hear any day, one way or another. The suspense is killing me.

yrz
kelly
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#8 of 8 Old 04-10-2007, 06:34 PM
 
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Kelly- I've never been asked what church I attend- except when I'm working at the church where I'm the caretaker, but I haven't told them I'm an agnostic so I guess that they're still hoping we'll join. We do have some conservative Christians around these parts, but we are diverse- including jews, muslims, buddists, UU, new age, atheists- the university brings in the whole range. Out in Giles, it's less so, but as people move out that way for affordable housing, the locals seem to accomodate them.
The soil here is clay. Lots of clay. So, with enough organic matter and time, you can grow a lot, but it's hard to start. At my current house, it's all shade, so I really depend on the farmer's market & the natural food stores and the organic section in Krogers.
I love our little mountains here. The rule of thumb is that every 1000 feet is like moving 200 miles north. So, B'burg is at 2000 ft, so that should be similar to southernmost Ohio, I suppose. And Mountain Lake is at 4000 ft, which is as high as it gets around here. It's lots of fun to watch spring creep up the mountain over a couple of weeks after it is already in the valley, and we go to the top of the mountains every year for a Christmas day hike to look for snow. More years than not we can find it, too, even if it's warmer in town. The best thing about the elevation is how much it cools off at night. the temperature differential, on an average day is sometimes 30 degrees. So after a 90 day, you can have a 60 night. Of course that happens in the winter, too.
Yes, the roads can be a hazard- especially the little ones winding up the isde of a mountain. The schools often have snowdays, even on the forcast of snow because of the ice. It can get silly, though, with delays & closings for no reason at all.
Let me know what happens. I can't imagine the suspense your waiting is putting you through.
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