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Photo: Ira and Monty bike in Henry’s Woods.

The North Country School campus offers us 220 acres on which to learn, play, and adventure, but just beyond our boundary, another six-million acres of protected land waits for us, ready to be explored. This past weekend our students ventured out into the greater Adirondack region, hiking and biking along trails and up to spectacular viewpoints.

Meanwhile, our academic classes and afternoon activities offered students the opportunity to enjoy our own mountain campus while researching animals at the barn for science class, journaling while relaxing beside Round Lake, or playing games of ultimate Frisbee on the Upper Field. Whether it be while on campus or in the wild places beyond, we have loved watching our students out in nature, observing the world around them with a sense of curiosity, excitement, and wonder.   

ACADEMICS

Top: Meredith shows Colton and Steven a Japanese recycling guide. Middle: Nate and Summer attend the High School Writing Retreat. Bottom: Aza watches Arden read her poem at the High School Writing Retreat.

As part of our recognition of Earth Day this past week our 8th- and 9th-grade Japanese students spent some time learning about the different methods communities in Japan use to manage their waste, which include systems of recycling, incineration, and landfill disposal. The class viewed an illustrated waste-sorting chart, working together to translate the Japanese text that instructs residents on the guidelines for local recycling centers. They then checked their language knowledge by sorting a collection of items into burnable, non-burnable, recyclable, and “other” categories as indicated by the chart. 

A few of our other 9th-grade students spent part of last week honing their English language skills while attending the Adirondack Center for Writing’s first virtual High School Writing Retreat. In previous years, the full-day event was held in person, with high school students from around the region joining together to learn under the guidance of professional poets. This year everyone met over Zoom, spending the full academic day in breakout workshops with poets Mahogany Browne, Jon Sands, Jive Poetic, and Roya Marsh. At the end of the day participants were invited to share their own work at the virtual open mic, and we were proud to see our own 9th-grade poet Arden read one of her poems to participants joining remotely from around the Adirondack region.

Top: Max’s science class meets at the barn. Middle: Sophie observes the goats. Bottom: Wyatt and Felix observe Bo the horse.

This term our 5th- and 6th-grade science students have been working on an ongoing, farm-focused project looking at animal behavior. This week the class began observing and analyzing different barn animals in our various farm spaces, including horses, lambs, goats, chicks, and a barn cat. Over the course of the coming weeks students will compile and present their recorded data to their classmates, highlighting any patterns found and conclusions reached over the course of their project. Some of the questions posed this past week included whether there are different results when teaching a lamb a trick versus teaching a horse a trick, and what Mercury the barn cat does all day.

ARTS

Top: Sierra critiques Summer’s still life. Middle: Isha plays bass in music independent study. Bottom: Landon organizes costumes for Mary Poppins.

This week our arts classes spread out across campus, taking advantage of the different spaces available to us for visual and performing arts. Digital photography students used the books and decorative objects in our library to design still lives, while our independent study musicians used our various practice rooms and music production studio to practice original songs. Down in the costume closet, students in costuming class have been putting the finishing touches on character ensembles for the spring production of Mary Poppins. We are excited to see the different colorful creations coming together for the show, and look forward to seeing the dress rehearsals scheduled in the upcoming weeks.

Top: Rob helps Alejandro with his bandsaw box project. Middle: Alex glues his bandsaw box. Bottom: Amon works on his bandsaw box.

In Rob’s woodshop class, students have been working on cutting and gluing the pieces of their original bandsaw box designs. This week we began to see the projects coming together, with Alejandro putting the back on his box and Amon sanding the drawer of his box to a smooth finish. The beautiful designs are being constructed out of white pine and cherry wood sourced from campus, and will serve as one-of-a-kind functional pieces once they are completed toward the end of the term. 

OUTDOORS

Top: Ultimate Frisbee on the Upper Field. Middle: Alejandro catches the Frisbee. Bottom: Josh runs to catch the Frisbee.

This year we are excited to announce the return of an ultimate Frisbee to the NCS campus. Though we have had ultimate teams in the past, it has been a few years since an enthusiastic contingent of players has decided to form an official school team. This year’s team—named Plaid—includes 22 students from across grade levels and has been practicing throughout the past two weeks for an upcoming game against the faculty. Go Plaid! 

Top: A Saturday trip on Cascade Mountain. Middle: Octa bikes at the Wilmington Bike Park. Bottom: Inyene works on her nature journaling during her Saturday trip.

This past Saturday our students explored the natural splendor of the Adirondack Park on trips to Cascade and Porter mountains, at a nearby bike park, as well as on our own campus. Our hikers made it to the summits of our closest four-thousand-foot mountains despite wind and muddy trail conditions, while our cyclists had a great time on the pump track in Wilmington and on the wooded trails in Henry’s Woods preserve in Lake Placid. Back on campus, one weekend group took part in a morning of nature journaling and sketching in different green spaces around campus. Students on the trip were asked to reflect upon both large-scale ideas about our ecosystem as well as smaller elements of the natural world around us for their writing and drawing.

 FARM AND GARDEN

Top: Mercury the barn cat watches the chickens. Middle 1: Eliza rides in the horse ring during out-time. Middle 2: Wyatt L. and Duncan make an ESY video. Middle 3: Wyatt J. meets the new piglets during out-time. Bottom: The new piglets settle into the barn.

As a diversified animal and vegetable farm, we love seeing our students interact with the many agricultural spaces around campus. This week we watched our science students make observations about our barnyard creatures, including taking notes on Mercury the cat as he spent time by the chicken coop. We also saw our riding students enjoy our herd of horses during lessons in the ring. 

Our 5th- and 6th-grade Edible Schoolyard (ESY) class toured many of our garden and barn spaces to make informative farm videos. Students Duncan and Wyatt made a video explaining how we use horse manure from the honeywagon pile to enrich our garden soil, Sophie toured us through the Aeroponics room, and Matt and Felix explained some of the ways we use and store the mint harvested from our Children’s Garden. The fun videos will be shared with other Edible Schoolyard organizations around the country as part of an initiative to collaborate on farm-to-classroom curriculum. 

Meanwhile over in our pig barn an out-time group of students welcomed the newest addition to our barnyard—piglets! The ten adorable, eight-week-old piglets are Yorkshire/Duroc crosses, and will be moved out to the woods in the upcoming weeks as the temperatures continue to warm.

Watch Duncan and Wyatt’s Edible Schoolyard farm video below!