Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Letters From Our Ghanaian Pen Pals

by Inanna (grade 6)

The letters we received from Ghana
This school year each student, third grade and above, got a pen pal from Ghana,  a country in West Africa. We will hopefully send three letters to our pen pals and they will send three to us. The K-3 students chose one of the Ghanian students to write to. One of the kids, Nana Yaa, is practically a princess! Her Grandmother is the mother of the King of the Ashanti region. Ghana is split into regions, and the Ashanti is one of them. The Ashanti were once very rich and powerful. Mr. Sharp told us that the kids there might talk about being part of the Ashanti with great pride.

Maddie's (grade 1) letter
Most of the students here at BBS really enjoyed getting the letters. Conner (grade 7) said, “I enjoyed reading a letter that a student from Ghana wrote about what life is like over there and what types of entertainment they have.” Some of the questions that we asked them in our letters were: What religion do you follow? What do you look like? Do you have any siblings? and many more. We will be keeping in touch with the kids in Ghana for hopefully the rest of the school year.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Winter Magic: a Variety Show

by Shelby (grade 7)
Exciting news! Black Butte School has an upcoming performance called Winter Magic. We invite you to join us to watch our performance on Thursday December 17th, at 6pm in the Community Hall of Camp Sherman. Following the performance we will have a dessert potluck with lots of yummy sweets. 

Winter Magic is a variety show, including group performances from the whole school, individual acts, and small group acts. We students will perform our own theatrical, musical, or dance performances. Also, Ms. Sharp our teacher has organized some whole school acts for you to enjoy. The show will feature a short play called the Gingerbread Girl, written by D.L. Lawrence, performed by all of us.
We have been practicing for this show every Tuesday and Thursday during our performing arts class. During that time, we make plans, practice and learn about music, rhythm, beat, theater, and dance.
Our teacher Ms. Sharp is organizing the performance. Holly Foster, Zion's (grade K)Grandma, is helping us to learn some songs and she plays the piano.
We hope for the best and that you will come to enjoy our show!

Friday, November 20, 2015

What it Means to be Thankful

by Inanna (grade 6)

To be thankful means not to just say that you are thankful for something. It means to truly believe that the thing you are thankful for is something that other people might not have and is something you love. For example, Ilya (grade 6) said, “I am thankful for easy access to food.” All over the world kids Ilya’s age don’t have refrigerators and easy access to food and water. So to be thankful means to love that thing, be grateful for that thing, smile about that thing, and recognize that other people might not have it.

On Thanksgiving it is tradition for most Americans to have a big feast. We do this because of a feast of abundance between colonists and Native Americans. I am thankful that I get to be with loved ones and get all that yummy food on Thanksgiving. Not everyone can do this, for multiple reasons: because of the lack of food and maybe even the lack of loved ones. We need to realize what being thankful is.

Here are things some of the other Black Butte students said they are thankful for. Conner (grade 7) said, “I am thankful for life.” Shelby (grade 7) said, “I am thankful for life and my cat Mizery.”

Fire Ecology on the B&B Fire Complex

by Conner (grade 7)

As part of our Field Studies class we took a trip up to the top of Santiam Pass.  The point of the trip was to learn about the B&B Complex Fire and how we can prevent large fires in the future.  We went to an information kiosk that had information about the B&B Complex Fire with explanations of what happened and why.  The students liked seeing a map with a timeline of the B&B Complex Fire and it’s growth.

Next we went on a hike in one of the areas that was burnt to see how it how it has grown back, and how different the fire burnt in some of the areas.  We saw lots of snow brush and manzanita.  In some of the areas almost all the big trees survived and in other areas almost all the life was sucked out of it.  

This trip was on the day of the first snow of the year.  So we hiked in about four inches of snow.  We had a bit of time to play in the snow too. Overall it was a fun day and we learned a lot about how fires have effected our community.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thanksgiving Pie Extravaganza

Join Black Butte School and the Lake Creek Lodge for a buffet of pies this Thanksgiving, Thursday November 26 from 2-4 pm at the Lake Creek Lodge. This is the first Thanksgiving Pie Extravaganza hosted by Lake Creek Lodge and the Black Butte School Parent Teacher Organization. There is no cost to attend, however donations will be accepted to benefit our school! We will be using the donations for supplies, field trips, activities, and more.

Please join us and help yourself to as much pie as you’d like. We will have every kind you can think of: blueberry, Cherry, Peach, Pumpkin, and more. Our very dedicated parents are making delicious pies of all flavors for the event. We at the Black Butte School are grateful that the Lake Creek Lodge is organizing this event...and thankful for our wonderful parents and grandparents for contributing pies!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Annual Wreath Sale

by Conner (grade 7)

Wreaths bring holiday cheer! Black Butte School sells quality wreaths that are decorated with a bow, cones, holly, noble fir, juniper, pine, and incense cedar. The fresh evergreens smell great.

Students sell these wreaths each year as a fundraiser for school field trips and other activities.  “The community generously supports the school every year through the wreaths.  It’s wonderful to see so many decorating town. Each wreath is a reminder of the support shown to the students and school,” says Jane Petke, wreath fundraiser organizer and head of our Parent Teacher Organization. About $5000 is raised for the school each year through this fundraiser. However, last year the school raised over $7,000!

There are two sizes of wreaths available (27" and 32" diameter), plus options for Fed Ex delivery. Wreaths are available after Thanksgiving through early December, but don’t wait to order your wreath, contact a student or the school today.

To download an order form click on this link.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Halloween Party

by T the Shrub" 
(grade 5)

Shelby (grade 7) getting a scavenger clue out
of the "dragon's mouth"
On October 30th Black Butte School had a Halloween Party. During the morning, students and teachers came to school dressed up as a plant or animal from the local environment, but during the afternoon, the party truly began. During the afternoon, parents started arriving. They brought treats!!!!!!!!!!!! While the adults set up the treats inside, the students went on a scavenger-hunt. During the scavenger hunt, I was the first one to find a clue that everyone else was stuck-on.  At the end of the scavenger hunt there were M and M’s. Inside the treats looked great. Some of the treats included: finger hot-dogs, red Gatorade as blood, and make-your-own cupcakes.
Since we've been studying bats,
this was a popular costume
A spider about to devour his prey

Fun costumes at the cupcake station
Lady bugs make the best cupcakes!
Even Inanna's Mom dressed up
as the elusive unicorn.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Physical Education

Zion (grade K) having a blast running the mile
by Inanna M. 
(grade 6)

P.E. at the Black Butte School is pretty fun! We all almost always love or like the game we play. The first couple weeks of school we learned about and played soccer. All the kids are great at soccer. For the past few weeks we haven't really had a specific sports theme, but we always play really fun games. We only have P.E on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I kinda like that, because then no one feels like they are being pushed too hard.

Everyone high stepping and clapping, a
warm up for running the mile

My favorite game that we have played, so far, is Hi-Li. Hi-Li is kind of like tennis, except instead of having to hit the ball, you catch it and throw it back to the person who threw it to you. We usually do that in pairs of two for about 15-20 minutes. Then we all get together and we have to try to throw the ball into the one of five different buckets. We have five balls each, the first bucket is worth one point, the second is two, the third is 3. The person with the most points at the end of the time period wins!

All in all, P.E is really fun here at Black Butte School. I love almost all of the games that we play and I hope the other kids do too. I am looking forward to some of off-campus P.E. adventures we will have later in the school year like cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, swimming, and rock climbing!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Batacular! Making Bat Houses

As part of the national event bat week, and as a culminating project for the bat unit students have been learning about in their field studies class, students at Black Butte School built five bat houses. Bat houses help bats find shelter in areas where their habitat has been compromised due to human development, pollution, or other factors, such as climatic changes. Bats are so important to the ecosystem in and around Camp Sherman because they help to balance insect populations by reducing their numbers by the millions. In fact, one bat may consume 600 insects in an hour!  The students hope their hard work pays off in giving some bats a comfortable shelter in the upcoming year. 

The process of making the bat houses seemed easy at first, but students and teachers really had to work together to get the nails in right and line up all the pieces correctly. 

Of course many students were not too pleased with the loud banging of the hammer...and others reveled in it! 

The finishing touch was painting the boxes black to trap heat from the sun, keeping future bat residents toasty warm on cold days. 

Art Days Making Art Books

Shelby (grade 7) and Inanna (grade 6) busy making art
 by Cody H. (grade 6)

Black Butte School has Annie Painter come to instruct us students on how to paint like an artist.We students were so excited to paint and learn how it is done. When we went to make art we were in three stations to learn how to paint different kinds of colors. We made colors like crazy! The colors we made were red, blue, green, violet, orange, red-orange, yellow-orange, green-yellow, green-yellow, red-violet, and blue-violet. We made lots of papers and helped each other out in learning the process of art. Our final products for this project were “art books” that include uniquely shaped cut-outs of our colored and textured papers, and blank pages for us to use for future drawings or paintings. I am excited to use mine to practice drawing in.
Maddie (grade 1) with her art book

The Black Butte School loved being with Annie and mixing and painting colors. Many students said, ‘’it was so fun!’’ I think that all of us liked having Annie Painter over and we were all so proud of ourselves when we had our completed books. We hope to see her again soon to do more painting and explore what we can do with art. We say to annie painter, “thank you for teaching us how to paint!”

Friday, October 16, 2015

Awesome Day at Suttle Lake

Our class working together to balance a platform,
one of the many team building activities we did at Suttle Lake
by Conner (grade 7)

On Friday, October 2nd we went to Suttle Lake Camp for the school day. Adaptation was our theme for the day. In the morning, we played cooperative games to help with our teamwork skills and learn how we as individuals can adapt to new situations. In my favorite cooperative game, we had to work together to all cross a “hot chocolate river” with “marshmallows.” What it meant was we had to cross the ground between two lines (about 30 feet apart) by only stepping on mats (the marshmallows) set at different spaces apart. It was hard because someone always had to be touching a marshmallow and couldn’t fall into the hot chocolate. It took a lot of teamwork and took a while for us to figure out how to do it successfully. But we did it and felt great afterwards.

Four students work together to make a mythical creature
 adapted to the environment at Suttle Lake
After lunch we got to play gaga ball, a silly game similar to dodge ball. We then headed down to the lake to learn about how plants and animals adapt to different environments. We made imaginary animals that would live at Suttle Lake with adaptations for the environment. Kellen, grade 3, said “I liked the animal that Makiha and I made because it had armor like an armadillo. We made its armor with two layers of bark.”

It was a fun day. Since I live at Suttle Lake I didn’t have to ride the bus. This made it even better.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Trip to the Campsite

by Inanna M. (grade 6)

The Black Butte School camping trip was pretty fun! Thursday morning before we left, we looked at a map to try and figure out how long it might take us to get to our campsite. We thought maybe it would take an hour. Then we got our packs on and off we went! Even though we could have gotten to the campsite in an hour, it took us about 4-5 hours. We played lots of games and took lots of breaks. 
My favorite game was right after lunch. We were right next to a huge log. The whole idea of the game was to line up on the log--without anyone falling off --according to our birthdays, not years, but months! It didn’t matter if you were 12 or 5, we just had to line up from January birthdays to December birthdays. There were 6 summer birthdays and 5 Fall, Winter, and Spring birthdays. It was really fun! After that game we did a stick race, a.k.a. Pooh sticks, at a little bridge. I got second place the second time, which I felt pretty good about. 

We went the rest of the way to the campsite playing games and throwing berries at each other. Ultimately we ended up at our campsite where we were met by our families, ate great food (including s’mores!), told funny stories, and saw bats. The next day we hiked and played more games all the way back to school. It was a fun trip!

Sawyer's face pretty much sums up how much fun we all had camping!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Art Program with Annie Painter Begins!

Black Butte School students had a fantastic morning as they worked together to create an abstract painting in their first art class. Students explored color and design by mixing colors and painting unrealistic designs freely. This method allows students to learn basic art skills without worrying about getting it 'right.' One student described his experience, "when I had different emotions, I changed the color." Another said, "I was just doing it!"
BBS students are lucky to have Annie to help them develop art skills and enhance their creativity 2-3 days per month throughout the year. Anne plans to first teach students basic art and design skills, such as colors, moods, design principles, and form. Once students have a solid grasp of these, they will begin to combine art with their field studies themes. For example, students will learn how to create scientific botanical drawings through nature observation and design their dream community using only natural materials. Student work will be installed school-wide for the community to enjoy and will be organized so each child has a portfolio of work. 

Annie Painter is a former award 
winning Oregon elementary principal with experience as an elementary classroom teacher (K-6), and high school fine arts teacher. She spent three years as a national arts and literacy coach and has taught more than 3000 teachers through her graduate courses and workshops. Annie continues consulting and teaching through Portland State University from her studio and homes in Sisters and Portland. Annie's teaching videos can be found on YouTube and at Black Butte School is so fortunate to have Annie as a part of our community!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Skylight Cave

by Ilya G. (grade 6)

On Friday, September 18 2015, the Black Butte School went to Skylight Cave. After a short walk and a look down the holes in the ground that light up the cave (hence the name Skylight Cave), we met up with a US Forest Service biologist named Julie who studies bats. She told us about white-nose syndrome, a disease that kills bats by waking them up. A bat waking up takes 30 minutes and uses a lot of energy. Then they start wasting more energy to clean themselves. Did I mention it usually happens in the middle of winter when there isn’t a lot of food? We also learned about different types of bats and where they live. There are tons of bats!
After the talk we geared up with head lamps and helmets and began the adventure. The first thing we had to do was climb down a ladder. The kindergarteners (Mia and Zion) went first followed by the rest of us. When we all got down, we went to see the skylights and what I call the tomb (it really looks like a tomb from Lord Of The Rings). Also, there is this amazing “sun clock.” It is a ray of sunlight that moves with the rotation of the Earth! We also saw a bat. Then we went to the caved part. It had tons of strange fungi and little worms. We saw another bat and experienced complete darkness. All in all it was fun!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

BBS is in the news!

Please read this amazing article published in the Sisters Nugget News about our new 'STEAM' curriculum at Black Butte School. Here is the link to the article, as well as, text below:
Students at Black Butte School hiked Black Butte as part of their field study. photo provided
Students at Black Butte School hiked Black Butte
as part of their field study. photo provided

A new buzzword in education these days is STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Emphasis on pulling those elements together is regarded by many experts to be what 21st century kids - and the economy - need. Students need math and science skills, but also need creativity in order to spur real innovation in current and future industries.

Leaders at Black Butte School (BBS) have redesigned the school's curriculum, schedule, and staff in order to accommodate authentic STEAM education. 

In a move designed to further strengthen its science and technology curriculum, BBS has hired Judy Craig as the school's first STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teacher.

"My job is to make sure that teachers weave the sciences and math all together so that they are not treated as separate subjects," said Craig, who taught for nearly 30 years in the Albany School District.

Craig said the classes she is now teaching at BBS are a "good fit" with her past experience. She taught "all of the subjects, including PE" at mostly tiny schools in the Albany district, adding that "the whole realm of the environment and forestry and being a community on the Willamette River allowed us to do a lot of studies on the water and the animals and the land around it." 

In her part-time position at BBS, Craig teaches math and engineering to the older students in first period and to the younger students in second. Students will work on engineering projects involving electricity (1.5-volt batteries), trees (taking their measurements) and popsicle sticks and plywood.

"We'll build bridges and see how much force it takes to break them," Craig said.

Craig, 65, joins Delaney Sharp, BBS's new head teacher, and Ethan Barrons, an eight-year veteran of the Camp Sherman-based school to complete the core faculty. Together, they plan to institute a curriculum that blends classroom instruction with field studies and arts programming. 

A visual arts program at BBS is headed by Annie Painter, a Sisters and Portland native. Painter is well known throughout the state as both an incredible art teacher and arts-education advocate. Her art classes will blend visual arts with science lessons learned through the classroom and field studies courses - STEAM education in practice. 

The field studies program at BBS is interdisciplinary and includes periodic full-day field expeditions. This month, said Sharp, students are scheduled to hike Black Butte, explore Skylight Cave, and camp out overnight on the Metolius.

"We will be partnering with the Forest Service to study bats and we will be building bat houses as part of a national effort to boost bat populations," Sharp said. 

The hike up Black Butte was challenging for some (especially the two new kindergartners), but was a perfect way to help students establish their sense of place in the Metolius Basin.

This year students will also work with the Forest Service to study fire ecology, monitoring Glaze Meadow before and after a prescribed burn to determine its effects on plants and animals. This winter, Sharp said the school and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council will study and help restore Whychus Creek. 

The STEAM curriculum at BBS this fall will also include a performing arts class, in which students will learn music and theater basics to prepare them for the winter performance. This class will help students build confidence and creativity as they apply music concepts to math lessons and theater to science and language arts. 

The historic Black Butte School serves students, grades K-8, in Camp Sherman as well as Sisters. For further information visit, or contact Delaney Sharp, head teacher,

Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Field Expedition: Hike up Black Butte

We started out our annual hike up Black Butte with a little inspiration from Louis L'Amour to always remember that, "the trail is the thing. Travel too fast, and you will miss all you are traveling for." Along the 2 miles and 1,600 feet up the old volcano we stopped to look at aspen, laugh at squirrels, take needed rest breaks and photos, and get a sense for our place in the Metoluis basin. We made it to the top in time to eat lunch and enjoy a spectacular view. We saw the winding Metoluis River, the wet meadows of Black Butte Ranch, and our home town of Camp Sherman.

After lunch we circled up to get a better understanding of some of the geographic features of this region and how we are connected to them. We studied different kinds of maps to learn about how people symbolize geography on paper, like drawing water in blue and using topographic lines to represent changes in elevation. All together the view, the maps, 
and our knowledge of Black Butte helped us to gain a better understanding of how we are connected to this place. Before we headed down, we recorded our thoughts in our field journals. One of our new students commented that, "this was like the funnest day of school I've ever had." We are looking forward to more fun field expeditions, including our next one to Skylight Cave where we will learn about bats. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

First Day of School 2015-2016!

The first day of the 2015-2016 school year at Black Butte School was a rousing success! The beautiful, sunny, warm September weather set a perfect backdrop for the many outdoor activities students experienced. One of the main goals of the first day was to begin building a tight trusting community that will support everyone as the year progresses. In the afternoon, students were challenged with a variety of team building games. They worked together, with older students helping younger students and everyone smiling the whole time. 

The photos show the students working together to beat the game "shark island," the culminating and most challenging game of the day. Students had to stay on the "island" (inside the rope circle) and "save" their own "floating" water bottles from the sharks lurking in the "water," without touching the water itself. They came up with a plan, executed, and triumphed. The best part was at the end when everyone gave high fives and cheered when all the bottles were saved from the sharks. With all this positive energy on the first day, this school year is sure to be one of the best ever!