School News: Hearthstone’s $50K challenge

Special to the Rappahannock News
A “Double the Dollars” fund-raising opportunity has been given to Hearthstone School by an anonymous donor. The donor to the Waldorf-inspired school has offered to match up to $50,000 in donations by others. For every dollar the Sperryville school receives for the remainder of this school year, Hearthstone will receive an additional dollar.

The school’s innovative methods, meant to teach children how to learn and think for themselves, have kept it ahead of many curves over the years. Hearthstone was one of the first schools in the five-county area to incorporate organic gardening into its curriculum, as well as a week of integrated camping and academic study in the woods; it was the first school to bring in musician Paul Reisler, who wrote songs with the students that spawned a nationwide Kid Pan Alley project. It has been at the forefront of using ski trips and canoeing expeditions to strengthen self-confidence and cooperation.

“Through the use of hands-on science, the power of story, the enlivening arts and community service, Hearthstone ignites the fire within a child, structuring epic experiences along with daily skill building and creative problem solving,” school director Jane Mullen said in a statement. “The science program includes such activities as stream monitoring, the creation of a vernal pond, Outdoor Classroom week and ongoing organic gardening.

“The students have the benefit of hearing the great tales of human history. These stories are told to meet the development of the children at each age level, making use of the brain’s deep wiring. Children learn a variety of musical instruments,” Mullen said.
The curriculum incorporates singing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, woodworking and gardening. Community service projects have included performing with senior citizens the music from their era as part of history and music class, volunteering at orphanages in Costa Rica and Mexico and collecting items for relief efforts in Haiti and New Orleans.

“These experiences lead to children who are learning how to learn and think for themselves,” Mullen added. “The students have an appreciation of the intricate web of life, the importance of thoughtful action and the power of bringing beauty into a world of hardship and heartache.

“Hearthstone students will be the problem solvers who think outside of the box. They will approach their careers with intellectual flexibility and compassion. They will know how to persevere and collaborate. They will be prepared for the twenty-first century with its unprecedented complexity and challenges.”

Mullen said Hearthstone’s priorities for 2010 are to continue to make available a hands-on, arts-based education to families of all income levels and to maintain its ongoing environmental programs while continuing to examine and decrease the school’s carbon footprint.

Hearthstone is asking the community to participate in the “Double the Dollars Campaign.” Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Hearthstone School, PO Box 247, Sperryville, VA 22740.

Community Quiz Bowl
The RCHS Quiz Bowl Team will hold its second annual Community Quiz Bowl Tournament at the high school on Sat., March 20 at 1:00 PM. The event will benefit the team to pay for registration expenses for future tournaments. Teams interested in participating should contact David Naser at RCHS by Wed., March 17 for details. The cost is $25 per team.

Conservation scholarships
Culpeper Soil & Water Conservation District is accepting applications for college scholarships. Students must be full time and majoring in a subject related to soil and water conservation including but not limited to agriculture, environmental science, biology, forestry and chemistry. Priority will be given to current high school seniors but undergraduate and graduate students may be considered. For an application, visit or call Stephanie DeNicola at 540-825-8591. Applications must be postmarked by April 9.

Rage goes on the road
The Rappahannock Rage wrestling club started only a few weeks ago and already has participants in the Middle Atlantic Wrestling Association’s (MAWA) western regional tournament in Shippensburg, Pa., on April 10-11.

The seven contenders who qualified at James Wood High School last Saturday for the regional tournament were David Smoot, first place; Daniel Clement, Britt Hipple and Dylan Hitt, second place; Nick Hipple, third place; and CJ Sidrow and Matt Lombardi, fourth place.

The extracurricular club is open to all ages, with practices several evenings a week at Rappahannock High School. For more information contact Jamie Harris at or Amy Hitt at 540-270-2535.

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