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Photo: The 9th-grade class visits Crown Point State Historic Park.

Spring Term is an exciting and eventful time for our 9th-grade class. The final months of the academic year are filled with special opportunities that allow our oldest students to spend time with one another as a group and reflect back on their time at North Country School.

This past weekend, instead of joining their younger classmates on different Saturday trips, the class took part in an all-day “retreat,” first navigating high ropes courses at a climbing gym in Vermont before exploring the ruins of a spectacular 200-year-old lakeside fort at New York’s Crown Point State Historic Park. The soon-to-be-graduates were all smiles as they enjoyed a beautiful day with bluebird skies and much-anticipated warmer temperatures. In the upcoming months, the 9th-grade class will see their year of teamwork and leadership come to fruition during the spring theater production of Fantastic Mr. Fox, during the annual senior hike of nearby Cascade Mountain, and when they present the “senior project” campus installation to the school community.

ACADEMICS

Top: 6th-grade science class meets in the barnyard. Middle 1: Weighing one of the lambs. Middle 2: Dexter weighs a chick. Bottom: Lauren presents Kate with her poetry award.

Our 6th-grade scientists kicked off their annual barnyard project this week, putting into practice the scientific observations skills they’ve learned throughout the year. After coming up with questions about the growth of the baby meat birds and lambs on our farm, they spent an afternoon in the barnyard weighing, measuring, observing, and documenting these creatures. The class will return to the barn over the course of the term to gather more data about the growth they see and analyze the collected information to make predictions about the continued development of their observed animals.

Meanwhile, one of our talented 6th-grade students was recognized beyond the NCS campus. Kate’s poem, Blue, was selected as one of the winners of the 2022 Great Adirondack Young People’s Poetry Contest. Kate was cheered on by her classmates as English teacher Lauren presented her with the award during an all-school lunch council. Congratulations for being recognized for your beautiful work, Kate!

Top: Students in Spanish class read monster descriptions. Middle: Zachary matches monster pictures with their written descriptions. Bottom: A monster drawing.

Our Spanish students participated in one of our favorite fun lessons this week: a monster drawing activity. This lesson, which highlights creativity and art skills while employing the descriptive vocabulary they’ve been learning over the past few weeks, tasks students to draw an original monster and write out a paragraph in Spanish that includes details of their monster’s appearance. Classmates are then given the challenge of reading the paragraphs and matching them to one another’s drawings.

ARTS

Top: Andrew paints a section of a collaborative art project. Middle 1: Students in studio art class paint sections of a collaborative project. Middle 2: Duncan, River, and Katie practice a song in Rock Band class. Middle 3: Dancers pose together in the Quonset. Middle 4: Wyatt needlefelts a snake. Bottom: Enola’s award winning glass art.

At North Country School, providing the opportunity to create “art every day” inspires our student-artists to explore their collaborative voices as well as their own unique vision. This week, our studio art students worked together to paint components of an ethereal flower installation that will be assembled and displayed together at the end of the term. In our Rock Band and dance classes, students rehearsed songs and original choreography to be performed for the community in upcoming months. Other students worked independently on impressive pieces that convey their own individual styles, like the menagerie of needlefelted animals that are taking shape in the fiber art studio using wool from our sheep.

Meanwhile, the winners of the Lake Placid Center for the Arts Annual Art Show have been announced, and included exciting news for several of our NCS artists. 8th-grader Langlang and 9th-grader Abigail received honorable mentions for their submissions, while 8th-grader Enola’s fused-glass piece, “My Memory of Spring,” won third place in the grades 6-9 category. Congratulations Langlang, Abigail, and Enola!

OUTDOORS

Top: 9th graders gear up at the climbing gym. Middle 1: Colton on a ropes course at the climbing gym. Middle 2: Tyler at the climbing gym. Middle 3: 9th graders at Crown Point State Historic Park. Middle 4: An out-time group explores our campus stream. Bottom: Emma explores the campus stream.

Weekend days at NCS are usually spent in mixed-groups, with students taking part in adventurous excursions both on-campus and in the surrounding Adirondack Park. This weekend, instead of regular outdoor programming, our 9th-grade class shared a special day of adventure by Lake Champlain. The class spent the morning pushing their limits at MetroRock climbing gym, located across the lake in Vermont, taking on high ropes courses and cheering one another on as they conquered fears and reached new heights. In the afternoon, the group traveled back to New York to visit Crown Point State Historic Park, where they explored the ruins of an impressive centuries-old stone fort. The day provided the perfect opportunity for our oldest students to appreciate one another before the start of our annual end-of-year traditions and 9th-grade graduation in May.

Back on campus, our entire student population has been enjoying access to newly-melted trails during afternoon out-times. This week’s warm (by North Country standards) weather has allowed us to hang up our winter gear and enjoy springtime activities like playing in our campus streams once more. We’ve loved seeing the bright green mosses re-emerge from under layers of snow, and the ice on our lake slowly retreat, and look forward to being able to engage in favorite pastimes like canoeing and picnicking as we move further into the Spring Term.

FARM AND GARDEN

Top: Students gather at the Sugarhouse to collect maple sap. Middle 1: Liz labels a syrup bottle during a maple syrup boil. Middle 2: The community watches Chef Nephi Craig’s presentation. Bottom: Chef Nephi Craig talks about Native foodways.

It was a busy week of maple sugaring once more on our campus, with warm days and cool nights providing the perfect conditions for sap to flow through the trees in our sugarbush. After mornings spent gathering full buckets—with some extra out-time collection added in—and many hours of afternoon and evening boiling, we produced 13 gallons of maple syrup, bringing our current total to 47 gallons! Many hands make light work on our farm, and we appreciate the many, many hands that have made this year’s sugaring season such a success.

The history of maple sugaring in the North Country begins, like with so many of the foods we eat, with the Native people who have lived on this land for centuries before Europeans arrived. In our 7th-grade Edible Schoolyard classes, students have been learning about Indigenous cultivars, foodways, and food sovereignty. As part of this unit, the group watched and discussed the powerful film Gather, which features Chef Nephi Craig. This week we welcomed Chef Craig—a member of the White Mountain Apache tribe who was named a 2021 Outside magazine “Outsider of the Year”—to our campus via Zoom to talk about Indigenous food, and to give a cooking demonstration using the Three Sisters crops of corn, beans, and squash. We were thrilled to have Chef Craig join us to lead this engaging discussion, and proud of our students for their thoughtful questions about Native foods and Chef Craig’s life.

Top: Nadya, Joseph, and Isabella groom a horse. Middle: Joseph grooms a horse. Bottom: Julia with Luna the horse.

As we collect maple sap in the sugarbush, we’ve also been busy down in the barnyard readying our horses for upcoming riding out-times and weekend days. Now that the snow and ice on our trails and riding ring have melted, our students have been helping to prepare our herd for spring riding by taking part in afternoon grooming sessions spending time brushing out the thick winter coats from our horses, which will allow these animals to more comfortably wear saddles during riding lessons. We’re excited to restart this part of our Farm and Garden program after the long winter, and look forward to a great season of students on horseback!