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Nature Based Preschool Relocates Away from MVP Blast Zone

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The Mayapple School
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A preschool that focuses on the outdoors and exploring the natural world, had to close its doors in Newport last week. The Mayapple School was located inside the blast zone around the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles county. And while the school’s founder noted, pipeline explosions are rare, they couldn’t take any chances.

Mellissa West founded the school in 2015. There were no other nature based schools in the area and she wanted to give children a chance to explore the world outside their doors.  The property features a large, open field with a creek running through it, not even a foot deep, so the kids could play in it, and a forest so vast that, “We had permission to explore more acres than we could ever explore.  So that’s been awesome. I loves to go on adventures with these kids."

West says, after pipeline construction began earlier this year, they decided to move the preschool.

“Basically, the ' zone means' that, should an accident with the pipeline happen, there is no chance of survival, so that’s enough to make parents and teachers not want to put children at risk.”

This week, the Mayapple School opened in a new location on  land near the Quaker Meeting House in Blacksburg.

“They have about half an acre of woods we can explore and some other, outdoor space that we can put some play equipment on.  We are pretty grateful that they are welcoming us.” 

West says they chose the name for the school because mayapples are indigenous to Appalachia and they grew everywhere near their former location in Newport, Virginia. She’s not yet sure if they’ll show up in the new location.  They won’t bloom until spring. 

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Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.
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