Photo: The Bramwell House table eats dinner at the Holiday Banquet.
The three weeks between Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break at North Country School often fly by, and this year was no different. This week, as we prepared to head off to our various homes around the region and the globe, we saw students celebrating the season, making connections to the world around them, and expanding their knowledge and skills. In academic classes, our 4th-grade scientists visited the barnyard to make observations about how our farm animals adapt to the cold winter weather, while our art students applied the foundational skills they’ve been learning in the woodshop to design holiday ornaments. Afternoon out-times offered students the opportunity to decorate campus spaces using boughs from the evergreen trees that line our trails, and the recent drop in temperature allowed us to open up the outdoor ice skating rink for the first time this academic year.
On Wednesday we gathered in the dining room for our annual Holiday Banquet. The meal represented our student body by featuring a diverse menu of dishes from around the world, while highlighting ingredients grown and raised on our farm. It was an evening filled with good food and good company, and it came to a close with an all-school holiday singalong that showcased the ever-present creativity, enthusiasm, and joy that makes North Country School so special.
We wish all of you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season spent with loved ones. The This Week at NCS blog will return with more updates from our mountain campus in January, 2023.
Top: Emily and Nina look at Tucker the horse. Middle 1: Leo makes observations in the horse barn. Middle 2: Tahj feels Tucker the horse’s hair. Bottom: Erica records observations about the horses.
This week our 4th-grade science students expanded their understanding of seasonal changes in our cold mountain environment, as well as their previous lessons on collecting data, during a hands-on lesson in the barnyard. After a discussion about thermoregulation and how different creatures stay healthy in cold climates, the class was joined by Barn Manager Erica and the farm interns to brainstorm the different ways the different types of animals we raise at NCS have adapted to freezing temperatures over time. The class then visited our chickens, sheep, and horses, to make observations about how these animals’ feathers, wool, and hair help them stay warm throughout the winter.
Top: Claire listens to Kevin and Andrew explain their board game in history class. Middle 1: Alvaro works on his board game. Middle 2: Lorenza gives her Japanese presentation. Middle 3: Spanish students play “Dónde está García?” Bottom: García the dog.
In 8th-grade history class, students completed their unit on expansion, imperialism, and World War I by designing games that will test the knowledge of their peers. Some students adapted existing games, like Sorry! or Monopoly, while others collaborated with one another to create original games. The class ended the week by playing rounds of each game and giving one another feedback on their designs.
Meanwhile, students in our Japanese and Spanish classes spent the week completing projects and playing games that reinforced their understanding of the language structures they’ve been learning this term. In Japanese class, students have been learning how to introduce themselves; ask and answer questions; and discuss location. This week the class presented original dialogue-based stories to their peers and other guests from the NCS community. Students in our Spanish classes worked together to write their own collaborative stories that reflected the difference between the “to be” verbs ser and estar. They also played a fun game of “Dónde está García?,” during which teacher Amanda hid García—a small ceramic dog—in various places around the classroom while students used location vocabulary to discover where the elusive animal was hiding.
Top: Matt works on his weaving. Middle 1: Mina and Stanley work on their weavings. Middle 2: Alvaro works in the metal shop. Middle 3: Bird feet made from metal. Middle 4: Ryan, Riiley, and Claire with their woodshop ornaments. Bottom: Emily with her wooden car toy.
Though we are still fairly early in the Winter Term, we have already started to see projects coming together in our art program. In our fiber arts classes, students have been busy working on the large table and floor looms, making impressive progress on colorful weavings that incorporate wool sheared from our flock of sheep. In the metal shop, students in “Bandsaw Blade Birds” class have begun assembling the first pieces of their creations. We are excited to see these fantastical creatures, which are made using reclaimed scrap materials, come together after we return from Winter Break in January.
Meanwhile, our youngest students have been practicing their math and design skills over in the woodshop while learning to safely use the different tools in that space. This week students put the finishing touches on the wooden ornaments they started at the beginning of the term before beginning to draw, cut out, and assemble their second project of the class: small wooden toys.
Top: A Saturday hiking group at Marcy Dam. Middle 1: A Saturday hiking group on the way to Ampersand Mountain. Middle 2: Oliver skateboards at a skatepark in Burlington. Bottom: An out-time group takes a break while running on campus trails.
There is no shortage of ways to have fun in the outdoors, and this past week we saw our students exploring their surroundings while engaging in a wide variety of activities and interests. Weekend trips brought groups to several popular local hiking spots, including picturesque Marcy Dam and Ampersand Mountain, as well as across Lake Champlain to Burlington, Vermont, for a day spent at a skatepark. Back on campus, afternoon out-times also provided students with the opportunity to enjoy nature while engaging in a wide variety of activities, including playing woods games, helping move firewood to our storage sheds, and going for trail runs along our campus trails.
Top: An out-time group puts on their ice skates. Middle: Ice skating during out-time. Bottom: Lorenza, Vivián, and Keira skate.
Our outdoor ice skating rink is one of the newer recreation spaces at North Country School, and it is one that has quickly become a campus favorite. This week, low temperatures allowed us to open the rink for the first time this season, and it was an immediate hit with out-time groups. We were thrilled that we were able to offer our students the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful campus resource before they left for Winter Break, and we are excited to see everyone out on the ice in the cold months ahead.
FARM AND GARDEN
Top: Joseph decorates jelly donuts. Middle: Joseph, Vivián, and Roan make jelly donuts. Bottom: Jelly donuts in Edible Schoolyard class.
Celebrations of the season could be found all around campus this week, and in our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes this took many delicious forms. One ESY class recognized this holiday-filled time of year by whipping up a batch of homemade jelly donuts, or sufganiyot, which are a dessert often enjoyed as part of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. The class first made homemade jelly using raspberries, crabapples, and rose petals harvested from our farm and gardens and stored earlier in the year. Students then fried and filled the tasty confections, which also included eggs laid by our chickens and homemade berry glaze.
Top: An out-time group at hay delivery. Middle 1: Kevin decorates a tree in the barnyard. Middle 2: An out-time group makes holiday decorations. Bottom: Oliver hangs a wreath on the barn doors.
At North Country School, we all work together to care for our spaces and one another, and this past week students spent time lending their hands during two very different barnyard activities. One afternoon out-time group did some heavy lifting while unloading hundreds of bales of hay into our barn loft. The hay will be used to feed our horses, sheep, and goats throughout the winter, and will also help cushion the nesting boxes in our chicken coop. Another group collected balsam, spruce, cedar, and pine boughs from our campus woods, before using the greenery (along with ribbons, bows, and ornaments) to decorate our barnyard. The festive decorations brought even more warmth to a spot that is already filled with the spirit of community that defines our farm program.
Top: Scott, Edison, Ryan, and Tiago at Open Houses. Middle 1: Carter and Josh play chess at Open Houses. Middle 2: Riiley, Mavi, and Lauren at Open Houses. Bottom: A handmade paper snowflake decoration.
The time between Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break is the shortest part of the academic year at NCS, but it is one filled with fun events and celebrations. This past week we celebrated one of these traditions with our annual Open Houses, during which our students, faculty, and staff travel between our six residential houses to enjoy different parts of the breakfast and dinner meals. Three houses are responsible for preparing the different elements of breakfast, while the other three prepare different sections of dinner, and groups rotate between hosting guests and visiting the houses of their classmates. The event was a great success, and a fun way to expand our perspectives and see campus through a different lens.
Top: Joe welcomes everyone to the Holiday Banquet. Middle 1: The Holiday Banquet buffet table. Middle 2: Students sing and dance at the Holiday Banquet. Middle 3: Clark House students dance at the Holiday Banquet. Bottom: Jess and Liz at the Holiday Banquet.
This week we also gathered to celebrate our annual Winter Term Holiday Banquet. The dinner is one of the most intricate meals of the year, with an array of foods that represent our diverse student population and are made with local and campus-grown ingredients. This year the spread included dishes representing Nigeria, China, Ukraine, South Korea, Tanzania, and Mexico that were prepared using NCS pork, eggs, potatoes, garlic, maple syrup, onions, lamb, and cabbage. We ended the evening with a rousing all-school singalong (and dance along) of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” featuring music teacher Gwen on guitar and with art teacher Larry conducting the festivities. Thank you to our kitchen staff for preparing this incredible meal, to the many hands that made light work of planning and organizing this event, and to our entire school population for closing out this portion of our academic year with joy, kindness, and appreciation for one another.