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Photo: Farm intern Bri with a newborn lamb.

North Country School was founded in 1938 with a deep commitment to community—both within our own campus, as well as our larger global community. A respect for and responsibility to one another informs all that we do, from our daily barn chores and large-scale composting efforts to our collaborative artwork and social-justice themed theater productions. This past week has highlighted some of the ways we at NCS strive to support one another and connect to the larger world, and the ways we’ve had to adapt those goals since the distance between us has widened dramatically over the past few months.

This week the ewes in our barnyard gave birth to the first newborn lambs of the year. What is usually an all-community activity has transformed into a long-distance celebration of the hard work and thoughtful care provided by our farm staff to our barnyard creatures. We also celebrated Earth Day together as a community, though the event looked different than it has in recent years. With the assistance of technology, we were able to join together with the extended NCS family to celebrate our shared earth, and discuss ways we can continue to care for the planet. We were encouraged to see similar events put on by thoughtful communities all around the globe, and are inspired by the creative ways people continue to come together despite the new hurdles we face throughout these times apart.

Please keep sending us your photos, and we will add them to our NCS at Home: Spring 2020 photo library. Email photos to Becca Miller at .

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: Larry teaches Earth Science class in winter gear. Middle 1: Larry’s daughter, NCS 8th-grader Ella, helps him film a glacier lab. Middle 2: 8th-grader Eliza does her glacier lab at home. Middle 3: Elie teaches Spanish class from the NCS library. Bottom: Elie uses NCS alum Autumn’s Spanish children’s book as an example for the class.

As we work our way through the spring term, NCS teachers are finding new ways to engage students in dynamic lessons. This week in Earth science class, Larry—along with some help from his daughter and NCS 8th-grader Ella—got outside to demonstrate a glacier lab to his class on Zoom. The students then participated in their own lab from their homes around the world, freezing bags of sediments, ice cubes and water (using other substances if they didn’t have access to those resources). They then pushed their “glacier” around in their yards to examine how the object’s movement affected the ground beneath it. Each student drew their observations, which included seeing grooves, striations, erratics, and broken chunks of ice destined to be kettle ponds. In Elie’s Spanish class, students are beginning an ongoing project where they will be writing a children’s book in Spanish that takes place in a country of their choice. To show the class what their end product could look like, Elie read through an example made by 2018 NCS graduate Autumn about a pair of best friends living in Guatemala.



Top: Noni talks about NCS sustainability for Earth Day Town Meeting. Middle: Earth Day Town Meeting participants. Bottom: Buyerarchy of Needs screenshot from Earth Day presentation. Photo credit: Sarah Lazarovic.

Though we are currently separated by great distances, North Country School’s focus on community remains a crucial part of everyday life. This week we continued to adapt to the new structure of our lives by celebrating Earth Day together with the extended NCS family despite the space between us. In a morning Town Meeting event, faculty, staff, students, and families joined together on Zoom to talk about the significance of Earth Day, and the many ways we can care for the world around us. The gathering (which was attended by over 100 members of our extended community) featured passionate talks and poignant readings by many NCS adults, including a history of NCS’s expansive sustainability efforts recounted by art teacher Noni—the granddaughter of NCS founders Walter and Leonora Clark—and some helpful ideas on how to appreciate more and waste less by English teacher Melissa.

ART AND ADAPTATION



Top: NCS student work from the Lake Placid Center for the Arts’ Annual High School Art Show. Bottom: Tony practices piano for music class.

Like many aspects of life in this moment in time, art and creative expression looks a bit different for our NCS students than it did only months ago, but as the old adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Our need to express ourselves and create beauty remains unchanged, though the methods are ever-evolving both on the NCS campus and in our surrounding community. This past week we learned that many of our students had artwork accepted into the Lake Placid Center for the Arts Annual High School Art Show. Since visitors can’t view these works in person this year, the Center has changed the show into a digital exhibit that showcases the vibrant and powerful work created by talented students from around the North Country region. To see the NCS photographs, sculptures, paintings, drawings, and ceramic pieces that were selected for this annual show, click here.

Our musical students have also been adapting alongside teacher Joey, working on their own individual skills and collaborative projects from their own homes and in The Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) on the NCS campus. This week, Tony spent time in the NCS music studio to continue to work on his section of a group piece that will be showcased later in the term.




Top: Courtney teaches theater class. Middle: Through the Looking Glass script. Bottom: Sally rehearses her lines with Courtney over Zoom.

Though students will not be returning to the North Country School campus for our annual spring production of Alice in Wonderland, the show must go on. This week theater teacher Courtney continued her classes with the actors in the show, working through dialogue with individuals and groups over Zoom. Students Sally and Jessica ran through some of their lines for their roles as the White Queen and Alice, respectively. The production, which features five different students playing the titular role of Alice, will be recorded in pieces in students’ homes and edited together into a full-length show that will be shown at the end of the academic year.

A PLACE TO PLAY





Top: Cascade House plays badminton in the Pavilion. Middle 1: Koga plays in the Upper Field. Middle 2: Larry and Sierra host the Saturday Night Activity. Bottom: Saturday Night Activity participants show their work over Zoom.

Students and teachers on the North Country School campus found time for active play and lighthearted silliness this week. The students of Cascade House spent several out-times in the Pavilion playing some competitive ping pong, with sisters Jessica and Rebecca going head-to-head for several rounds, while the students living in Mountain House and Clark House played games of soccer, tennis, and Frisbee on the Upper Field by the Lake Hill. As temperatures continue to warm we hope to spend more time by the lake, paddling in canoes and relaxing at the boathouse.

This week marked the third remote Saturday Night Activity—part of our Connecting to the Community series. Teachers Larry and Sierra hosted the Reverse Auction activity, with students and adults participating via Zoom from their on-campus and off-campus homes. The scavenger-hunt style event was a huge success, with the students of Cascade House—clearly the team to beat—winning for the third week in a row!

NCS AT HOME




Top: Sisters Dominica and Kalina practice with their ice skating team via Zoom. Middle: 7th-grader JT bikes. Bottom: 7th-grader Colton hikes Balanced Rocks.

We were excited to see more updates from our students at home this week. We’re especially glad to see all the creative ways our community members are staying active and healthy during this time, whether it be inside or outdoors. Competitive ice skaters Dominica and Kalina have been training remotely with their teammates and coaches in Los Angeles from inside their North Country home. Though they are not able to train on the ice, the girls have been working hard on their jumping, conditioning, strength, flexibility, and ballet skills in their garage studio. 7th-graders JT and Colton have also been staying active with their respective families, spending afternoons and weekends biking around their local wooded trails and hiking through the wilderness to beautiful vistas.





Top: 9th-grader Jessica makes cream puffs. Middle 1: 8th-grader Hanna does her Earth science lab at home. Middle 2: 6th-grader Samantha attends class from home. Bottom: 6th-grader Will and his brother, Leo, make sticky buns from the “What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops?” blog. 

NCS students have also been practicing their hobbies and schoolwork from their homes around the world. The students living in Cascade House have been experimenting with baking under the guidance of their houseparent Meredith. This past week the group continued working on their tasty kitchen creations by baking up a batch of homemade cream puffs. Students in Larry’s Earth science class sent photo-updates of their glacier lab, while 6th-grader Samantha sent along a picture of her working alongside a furry friend. NCS 6th-grader Will, along with his brother and Camp Treetops camper Leo, spent some time this week preparing a recipe from the What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops? Blog. Their finished sticky buns, made using Head of Kitchen Paulette Peduzzi’s recipe—a favorite for campers and students alike—looked like the perfect sweet morning treat.

SIGNS OF SPRING






Top: A rooster enjoys the warm weather. Middle 1: Horses in the sunshine. Middle 2: Newborn lamb twins with their mother. Middle 3: A newborn lamb. Bottom: Farm intern Nick with a newborn lamb.

Sunny skies have been drawing our farm animals into the outdoors lately, and Barn Manager Erica has been sending delightful updates from our different animal spaces throughout the week. Over in the chicken coop, the roosters and hens have been enjoying their time out in the yard, finding bugs and eating scratch, while the horses practiced social distancing while they posed for their group shot.

The real news from the farm this week was the start of our much-anticipated, and always joyful, lambing season. Each spring, as the birds return back to our feeders and the frog pond becomes a riot of peeps and croaks, we welcomed the arrival of our lambs. Lambing season at North Country School has always been a community event, with students witnessing our ewes giving birth and groups there to receive and care for newborn creatures as they join the world. The start of lambing this year has been a bittersweet time, as we are not able to join together and help each other in the ways we’d hoped, but Barn Manager Erica, along with farm interns Nick and Bri, have been caring for our barnyard creatures and sending us joyful updates each day. So far we have five new lambs in our flock, and are eagerly awaiting signs of labor from the remaining seven pregnant ewes. While we miss being a part of this special season and lending a hand on the farm, we are grateful to the barn staff for their thoughtful care and tireless work on behalf of our many barnyard animals.

Join us as we watch our flock live via Lamb Cam, streaming from our sheep barn throughout lambing season.

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. Last 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 past week Head of Kitchen Paulette Pedizzi shared her much-loved sticky bun recipe. 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. Last week Jack shared a video that featured a Song Sparrow at the pond on campus. Check it out on our Facebook page.

Fridays: Check our Facebook page every Friday for a video featuring a Japanese mini-lesson by teacher Meredith Hanson. Last week Meredith shared some wisdom from around the world as she read a passage from the “Dao De Jing” by Lao Tzu.

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 Sierra ran a reverse auction, and this coming Saturday, April 25, will feature NCS/CTT Trivia!

For more information about the #ThisWeekAtNCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .

#ThisWeekAtNCS