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Photo: Mavi enjoys the sunshine on the summit of Mount Jo.

At North Country School, the 6-million protected acres of the Adirondack Park have provided endless opportunities for adventure and discovery since our founding nearly a century ago. Watching the sense of wonder grow in our students as they traverse snow-covered mountaintops or backcountry ski through our campus woods reminds us that the connections to nature formed during childhood are crucial stepping-stones to valuing our shared environment as adults. We’re proud to continue the long tradition of providing students access to wild spaces, knowing that the connections made at NCS will stay with our students long after they embark upon their next adventures.

ACADEMICS

Top: Algebra 1 class at the Sugarhouse. Middle 1: Farm Intern Emma shows students how to measure a maple tree. Middle 2: Emma measures a maple tree. Bottom: Andrew, Max, and Carter test their aluminum boats.

This week, our math students examined the role mathematics plays in real-world scenarios. In Algebra 1 class, students met their teacher Katie, along with Garden Manager Kim and Farm Intern Emma, at the NCS Sugarhouse to learn a few of the many calculations at work during the maple sugaring process. The group first learned how to measure tree diameter to determine how many taps can be placed in each tree, then discussed how we use a hydrometer to calculate sugar content in the sap throughout the boiling process. (Maple sap starts out at approximately 2% sugar before a boil, and ends at approximately 66% sugar once it reaches finished syrup.) The students then used campus sap-collection data that has been recorded since the 1970s to make a spreadsheet showing possible sap flow patterns over time.

Meanwhile, students in our Algebra 2 class put their calculations to work during an activity determining how heavy an aluminum “boat” could be made before it sank. Students thought through different designs, constructed their boats, and calculated the volume each boat could hold. Each foil vessel was then loaded with pennies until it was unable to stay afloat. One student’s boat design was able to hold forty pennies before sinking!
Top: Global Issues students participate in a Model United Nations practice activity. Middle: Zachary works on his opening statement for the Model United Nations practice activity. Bottom: Eric defends his pizza topping during the Model United Nations practice activity.

In 9th-grade Global Issues class, students took part in a practice activity for their upcoming Model United Nations (U.N.) committee session. Model U.N. is an international program that teaches students around the world about the importance of diplomacy and civility while working together on humanitarian and environmental issues. This past week, the class engaged in a mock session during which students represented their favorite pizza toppings. Each student made their argument while following official Model U.N. protocols, and the lesson ended with the group coming to an agreement on a pizza that would meet as many of their desired outcomes as possible. In upcoming weeks, the students will participate in an authentic committee session, and use these same strategies to address human rights concerns around the globe.

ARTS

Top: Adela and Alejandro weld during stagecraft class. Middle: Adela and Alejandro look at their welding work. Bottom: Mateo works on a wall sconce during stagecraft class.

In the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) metalshop, our stagecraft students made progress on the sets for the upcoming murder mystery theater production. Siblings Alejandro and Adela worked together to weld test versions of moving set pieces, while Mateo traced designs and used a plasma cutter to transform sheets of metal into delicately-carved wall sconces.

Top: Dance students stretch at the beginning of class. Middle: Langlang teaches the class her original ballet routine. Bottom: Mia leads the class through her original jazz routine.

Meanwhile, students in our dance elective also gathered in the WallyPAC to teach one another the original dance routines they’ve been working on over the past few weeks. Each student selected a specific style of dance, delving deeper into their own particular areas of interest and taking on the role of teacher as they led one another in Latin hip hop, jazz, ballet, and Chinese dances of their own creation.

OUTDOORS

Top: A weekend trip group on the summit of Mount Jo. Middle 1: Outdoor Leadership class snowshoes to our campus Ski Hill. Middle 2: A circle of snowshoers during afternoon out-time. Middle 3: Ariana and Nadya go sledding. Middle 4: Martin sleds down the Sledding Hill. Bottom: Adela and Katie at a sledding out-time.

Last week, more than a foot of fresh snow fell on our mountain campus, providing us with the perfect powdery playground for two of our favorite winter activities: snowshoeing and sledding. Wearing snowshoes over our hiking boots allows us to continue exploring trails and hike to high-up vistas even when the snow is many feet deep. On Saturday, a group of students strapped into their snowshoes to hike up nearby Mount Jo, taking in spectacular views of the Adirondack High Peaks as they enjoyed a mountaintop lunch. Students in our Outdoor Leadership class practiced their snowshoeing skills around our own campus trails. They’ll use these skills, along with the backcountry ski skills they’ve gained throughout the Winter Term, on their expedition to New Hampshire’s White Mountains at the end of the month. The fresh snowfall also provided our enthusiastic sledders a soft landing during their many runs down our campus Sledding Hill and Lake Hill.

FARM AND GARDEN

Top: The 5th-grade Edible Schoolyard (ESY) class talks about chickens. Middle 1: Brynn collects an egg in the chicken coop. Middle 2: Alea looks at the baby chicks. Middle 3: The 5th-grade ESY class holds chicks and learns about chicken breeds. Bottom: Octa holds a baby chick.

This week, we welcomed our newest members of the NCS farm: baby chicks! Each winter, we order new laying hens for our farm, setting them up in a brooder in the barn office that keeps them warm until their adult feathers grow in. This year’s flock of chicks was greeted by many excited students, who visited them during out-times, barn chores, and Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes.

Our 5th-grade ESY students spent their Monday lesson in the barnyard, discussing why we choose to raise chickens on our farm, and why we don’t collect our own eggs to hatch new baby chicks. (At NCS, we use all of our eggs for food in the dining room.) Our farmers order new chicks each year, selecting a mix of breeds based on their health, size, temperament, and egg-laying ability. The class then visited our chicken coop, where they collected some eggs from our mature laying hens, before heading to the barn office to spend some quality time with the cute new arrivals. After a lesson about chicken breeds from Farm Intern Melody, the class used photos and information cards to identify the different types of chicks in the brooder. We look forward to watching our students care for these birds that play such an important role in our campus food system.