At North Country School the belief that nature is our master teacher is woven into all that we do. It is the thread that connects us to the majestic wild spaces that surround our 220-acre campus, to the seeds we sow each spring that become our food, and to the barnyard creatures that we care for together on our farm. The children who attend North Country School and Camp Treetops form a deep understanding of the life cycles of our natural world, and the lessons learned through that understanding are carried with them their entire lives. Observing the cycles of the natural world—the changing of the seasons, the sprouting of a seed, the growth of a seedling, the laying and hatching of an egg—can bring calm, appreciation, and reflection to our current lives where those peaceful moments may be in shorter supply. During a time when much of our community is scattered around the globe, we take solace in the fact that our current and past students and campers bring that connection to nature with them. We hope that, wherever you are, you can take a moment with your loved ones to observe and enjoy the outdoors. Know that we on the North Country School campus will be doing the same.
Please keep sending us your photos, and we will add them to our NCS at Home: Spring 2020 photo library. Email photos to .
Note: Our campus is closed to all students for the remainder of the school year, with the exception of the international students who remained here during spring break, rather than returning to their home countries during the early stages of the outbreak. These 18 students, along with our houseparents and faculty, are staying on campus and enjoying outdoor adventures in the contiguous wilderness during this time. They have been and will continue to take appropriate safety and prevention measures.
CREATIVITY AND CONNECTION
Top: Jack teaches 6th-grade English class. Middle: Gavi teaches 4th- and 5th-grade math class. Bottom: Gavi’s math lesson.
This week our teachers, like so many educators around the globe, continued to think of new and creative ways to engage with students. 6th-grade humanities teacher Jack introduced his class to a fun vocabulary game using the educational website Quizzizz, while 4th- and 5th-grade math teacher Gavi taught her class a fractions lesson using a tablet as a whiteboard, which allowed her to work through equations alongside the class in real-time.
Top: Cocona meets an Olympian on Zoom. Middle: 9th-grade English class poem. Bottom: Meredith teaches 9th-grade English class.
Japanese teacher Meredith and school nurse Shannon worked together this week to connect a US Olympian to several of our on-campus students. Four of our Japanese students, along with several other on-campus students, had the opportunity to talk over Zoom with Chris Kinney—a bobsledder on the US Olympic team whose grandmother is Japanese and who has worked in Japan. Chris competed in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and will be competing in Beijing in 2022. The students were able to ask Chris questions in both Japanese and English, and learned about what life looks like for an Olympic athlete.
Meredith’s 9th-grade English class has been studying poetry over the past two weeks, examining the different ways writers throughout history have used poetic writing to translate the human experience, and applying that concept to the challenges of our own time. This past week, the class read the poem “To Prisoners” by Gwendolyn Brooks, and watched a video of other writers and former prisoners discussing the work and its impact on their own lives. The class has also been working on their own poems about their experiences in nature. Below, find an excerpt from 9th-grader David’s untitled villanelle poem:
Then, I thought in the dark
I pictured myself, under an ice shelf, just by myself
I think, I reflect, I want to restart
Can’t see trails, but I followed my heart
The light, it shines, in myself,
I came, I saw, I came, I saw the art
I think, I reflect, I want to restart
A PLACE TO PLAY
Top: Rebecca roasts a marshmallow. Middle: Roasting marshmallows. Bottom: Nurse Jess and her son, Wyatt, in a running race.
While life on the NCS campus may look different in many ways, students and adults are still getting in plenty of outdoor playtime. This past week, the students living in Cascade House made homemade marshmallows, and then roasted those marshmallows over a campfire by one of our lean-tos. Nurse Jess and her son, Wyatt, also took the time for a fun outside activity, participating in a “race around your house 5k” at the suggestion of Wyatt’s local elementary school.
Top: Badminton with stage lighting. Middle 1: Participating in the Saturday Night Activity from home. Photo Credit- Jane Mellow. Middle 2: Student Ella and her brother, Pete, participate in Harry Potter LARPing. Bottom: A clue from the Harry Potter LARPing activity.
Our students and adults put their creative spin on play this week, adding fun and surprising elements to more traditional activities. During out-time this week, the students living in Mountain House played badminton under colorful stage lighting in The Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center, which added an extra layer of drama to the competition. This week’s Saturday Night Activity brought our on- and off-campus community together to participate in a bridge-building competition using unconventional materials. Students, teachers, and alumni used spaghetti, string, tape, and a marshmallow to build their structures, with the students of Cascade House declared the ultimate winners of the competition. Our on-campus community also spent this past Saturday participating in a Harry Potter live action role playing quest organized by teachers Courtney and Melissa and farm intern Bri. Students and teachers were divided into Hogwarts Houses and given clues to locate and decipher at various spots around campus. Students traveled around our campus trails, exploring outbuildings and participating in battles in order to complete their magical adventure.
NCS AT HOME
Top: 9th-grader Bladen hikes Hurricane Mountain. Middle: 7th-grader Olivia does work from home. Bottom: Olivia participates in the NCS rainbow hunt activity.
Though the majority of our students are in their respective homes around the globe, we have been thrilled to see that they are still engaging in NCS skills and interests with their families. We have loved hearing from our long-distance community members as they explore the outdoors, cook, and engage in creative work. This week we received updates from 9th-grade day student Bladen, who hiked to the summit of nearby Hurricane Mountain with his mother, and from 7th-grader Olivia, who did some schoolwork beside a pond and participated in the NCS Find a Rainbow Challenge with her family.
Top: 7th-grader JT completes school work from home. Middle: 7th-grader Colton bakes the “What’s Cooking?” blueberry muffin recipe. Bottom: Sisters Dominica and Kalina bake a berry pie.
This week we also received updates from 7th-grader JT, who has been participating in his online classes from his local home as well as making progress on his fiber arts knitting projects. 7th-grader Colton and sisters Dominica and Kalina have been practicing their Edible Schoolyard skills with their families, with Colton baking the blueberry muffins featured on the “What’s Cooking at NCS/CTT” blog, and Dominica and Kalina cooking up a pot of egg drop soup and baking a colorful berry pie.
FARM AND GARDEN
Top: Farm intern Nick harvests greens from the aeroponics room. Middle: Garlic sprouting in the field. Bottom: Spinach in the greenhouse.
Our barns and growing spaces have been busy with activity this week, with new green growth in the fields and the exciting start to harvesting in our aeroponics room. Farm interns Nick and Bri cut the first arugula, spinach, and mizuna greens from our aeroponic towers this week, and the delicious greens—which are grown without soil—were enjoyed in meals prepared by our kitchen staff.
Out in the fields, we saw the first bright green garlic shoots pushing through their mulched beds. The garlic was planted last fall by our 7th-grade Edible Schoolyard students, and welcoming the resilient crop after many months covered by snow and ice was an optimistic sign of good things on the horizon, as well as a warm reminder of the many hands that made light work of planting that crop. In the greenhouses we continued to harvest vibrant spinach greens, and look forward to the upcoming weeks when a bounty of herbs, greens, vegetables, and flowers will be filling the greenhouses and outdoor garden beds.
Top: Noni cares for the horses. Middle 1: Goats in the horse barn. Middle 2: Undyed spun wool. Bottom: Dyed wool hanging in the fiber arts studio.
Down at the barn, art teachers Noni and Katie have been helping Barn Manager Erica care for our many creatures, prepare our ewes for the upcoming lambing season, and ready our wool for use. Noni spent some time in the pasture with our horses, lending a hand with some necessary grooming as the herd sheds their thick winter coats. Meanwhile, our goats paid a social call to the horse barn, enjoying a snack of hay in the foyer. Erica and Noni also worked on skirting, or cleaning, our wool fleeces this week, as well as preparing our spun yarn for use in the fiber arts program. The spun scanes of yarn were brought to the art studio for dyeing and drying, and will soon be ready to be turned into students’ and campers’ future weaving and knitting projects.
We hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy, and that your communities are caring for and supporting one another. We will continue to update you about our community throughout this time, and encourage you all to reach out to us as well.
CONNECTING WITH OUR COMMUNITY:
Mondays: Check our Facebook page every Monday for a video from our School Counselor, Lauren, on tips for getting through this challenging time.
Tuesdays: Creature Query Barn Manager Erica Burns will be answering questions about the animals on our farm using fun and educational videos. This week Erica taught us how to prepare our sheep’s wool for spinning. Check it out on our Facebook page.
Wednesdays: What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops?- Edible Schoolyard instructor Elie Rabinowitz, along with other community members, will provide simple recipes and cooking resources you can use to prepare delicious meals at home with your families. This week Garden Manager Tess will share a garden-fresh spinach and feta frittata recipe, and next week Head of Kitchen Paulette will show us how to make sticky buns. Check out all of the recipes on Facebook and on Tumblr.
Thursdays: Birding with Jack- 6th-grade English teacher Jack Kiernan will offer the NCS community an opportunity to connect through the world of birds by providing the resources to become familiar with birds that our community is seeing around the globe. If you are out for a walk or sitting at home, looking out the window, take a moment to log the birds you see with the NCS eBird account. Jack will provide videos and information about birds being logged, as well as birds he is seeing on his daily birding adventures! Check it out on our Facebook page and on Tumblr.
Fridays: Check our Facebook page every Friday for a video featuring a Japanese mini-lesson by teacher Meredith Hanson. This week Meredith talked about forest bathing, a Japanese practice of calmly being in nature.
Saturdays:: The NCS Saturday Night Activity- Every Saturday at 8 p.m., NCS teacher Larry Robjent, along with other NCS faculty, will be hosting fun activities similar to those typically held on campus with students. Participate live from home with your own families. Last week, Larry and English teacher Melissa Orzechowski built bridges using 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of string, one yard of tape, and one marshmallow. This week, Larry and a guest host will run a reverse auction.
For more information about the #ThisWeekAtNCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .
For general school information, call 518-523-9329.