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Photo: The 5th-grade theater class rehearses their original play.

At North Country School, creativity comes to life on the stage. Our talented students paint and weld sets that become far-away lands, design and sew character-defining costumes, and embody roles that transport us to new worlds.

This week, our 5th-grade theater students met in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) to put the finishing touches on their original play, which they wrote in English class and is based on the Aztec creation myths they’ve been learning in social studies. Their imagination, collaboration, and hard work will come to fruition when they perform the cross-curricular production for the community at the end of the Winter Term.

ACADEMICS

Top: The 8th-grade history class learns about swing dancing. Middle 1: The 8th-grade students practice dancing. Middle 2: Melody shows Sam and Jonas a new dance. Bottom: A slide from the swing dancing lesson.

As part of their unit on the 1920s and 30s, our 8th-grade U.S. history students have been learning about the role music and dancing played in the cultural revolution of the time. The class first discussed the origins and impact of jazz and swing, which developed in Black communities during the Harlem Renaissance. They also looked at how swing dancing progressed women’s liberation by challenging the traditional standards of dress and expression that existed in the preceding Victorian era, which was known for its formal dance culture. The class was then joined by Farm Intern Melody—a swing enthusiast—who brought history to life by leading the class through several different types of swing dances.
Top: Nadya gives a presentation on linguistics in 7th-grade science class. Middle 1: Roan talks to his peers about space exploration. Middle 2: Patrick shows the 7th-grade science class a poster of the Milky Way. Middle 3: Jonas and Justin read poetry from the 8th-grade English class anthology. Bottom: Emma reads poetry written by her classmates.

Our 7th-grade science class has been learning about the differences between the natural, formal, and social sciences, and about the many specific areas of study within each scientific branch. This past week, each student selected a different field of study and gave a presentation on the significance of that field throughout history, as well as its role in our modern lives. Our student-scientists became the teachers during these informative and engaging presentations, which delved into areas including linguistics, astronomy, chemistry, and Earth science.

As our 7th-grade students learned about the world around them, our 8th-grade English students looked inward during their Winter Term “Anthology Café.” The class, which has spent the past several weeks revising poems and memoirs written earlier in the term, gathered Monday over hot cocoa and homemade pastries to read their collective works. Our students impressed us with their ability to write honestly about their own experiences, and we were proud of the level of respect and support they provided to one another during this introspective activity.

ARTS

Top: Jenny and Camila perform at the “Muddy Pig” open mic event. Middle: Ira and Abel rehearse a scene for the 5th-grade theater production. Bottom: The 5th-grade theater class discusses their original production.

Our students showed off their performance skills this week during one of our favorite weekend activities: the Muddy Pig open mic night. Singers, dancers, instrumentalists, and stand-up comedians took to the stage to entertain their classmates, taking part in this beloved NCS tradition like generations of previous students before them. Meanwhile, our 5th-grade theater students gathered together in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) to rehearse the original play they’ve worked on throughout the Winter Term. The play, a collaborative project between theater, English, and social studies classes, centers around different Aztec creation myths. Students wrote a three-scene script that includes a version of the sea monster myth, a battle between the cardinal directions, and an origin story for the sun and the moon. We can’t wait to see the production in its final form at the end of the term. Top: Matt looks at the legs of his stool in woodshop class. Middle 1: Carter assembles his stool in woodshop class. Middle 2: Miles and Wyatt cut tiles during ceramics class. Bottom: Eleanor hand-builds hearts during ceramics class.

Students have also been hard at work in our 3D art classes. The 7th graders in woodshop class are nearly done with their stool projects, which they’ve constructed out of local lumber using original designs. Meanwhile, our 4th-grade artists have been working in clay, learning different methods of handbuilding to create carved tiles and small decorative pieces.

OUTDOORS

Top: An out-time group builds snow forts. Middle 1: A weekend trip group completes their “Moriah Challenge” at Crowfoot Pond. Middle 2: A weekend trip group on Balanced Rocks. Bottom: Camila on Balanced Rocks.

Students bundled up for all sorts of winter fun this week. During afternoon out-times, there were plenty of opportunities for snow building, snowball fights, and sledding, while our weekend trips brought students around the Adirondack Park to take in the sights and accomplish hiking goals. One weekend trip group finished the “Moriah Challenge” with a 6-mile round-trip snowshoe to Crowfoot Pond. The Moriah Challenge, one of the Adirondack region’s many outdoor challenges, involves hiking four trails centered around the nearby town of Moriah, New York. Another group stayed closer to home, pushing through cold temperatures and blustery wind to reach the open lookout of Balanced Rocks, which sits directly above the NCS campus.

Top: A group of skiers and snowboarders at Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort. Middle: Alice and Tina at Whiteface Mountain. Middle 2: Snowboarders celebrate the final day at Whiteface Mountain.

This week marked our last Whiteface Tuesday of the academic year, and our students were all smiles as they enjoyed the culmination of this special part of the North Country School experience. We’re so impressed by the incredible growth in our skiers and snowboarders over the course of the Winter Term, and couldn’t have asked for a better final day. Next week, our students will be able to show off their new skills during another beloved NCS winter tradition: the annual Skimeister skiing and riding competition at Mount Pisgah Recreation Center.

FARM AND GARDEN

Top: The 7th-grade Edible Schoolyard (ESY) class learns about yeast. Middle 1: Wyatt measures elderberry syrup. Middle 2: Katie and Anika mix water into their homemade soda. Bottom: Homemade sodas ready for fermentation.

One priority of the Edible Schoolyard program at North Country School is to instill in students a curiosity about the foods they eat and drink. In hands-on lessons, ESY teaches our young learners about the origins of specific foods, how they are made or grown, and about the process that brings them to our tables. This week, our 7th-grade class took a deep dive into the world of yeast, learning about the many roles this important microorganism has played in our food system throughout history. The class prepared a batch of challah bread dough using homemade butter made by our 4th graders and homemade fermented soda with garden syrups made by our 5th graders. After a day or two at room temperature, the yeast added to the soda will eat the sugars and produce carbon dioxide, creating fizzy drinks ready for tasting and sharing.

Top: The farm staff leads our 9th-grade biology class through a lambing simulation. Middle 1: Farm interns Melody and Emma check on the newborn lambs. Middle 2: Erica cares for a newborn lamb. Bottom: Nadya and Adela meet the first of the newborn lambs.

Lambing season is upon us on the NCS farm and we’ve been hard at work in anticipation of welcoming these adorable new additions to the barnyard. Over the past several weeks, our 9th-grade biology students have been preparing for lambing by participating in a lambing simulation lab exercise with Barn Manager Erica and the farm interns. Using found items, the farm staff built an impressive facsimile of a pregnant ewe, which they then used to lead each student through a hands-on lamb birth. In addition to teaching the class important biological information about this process, it set the stage for one of our most-anticipated 9th-grade traditions: Lamb Watch.

Lamb Watch allows our 9th-graders to stay in the barn overnight in small groups in order to help our ewes if they go into labor. If students see signs of labor, which include restlessness, pawing the ground, nesting, and a change in a ewe’s belly shape, they radio the farmers to come help with the process. We began our overnight Lamb Watch this past Monday, but the first ewe gave birth on Tuesday evening when only our farmers were in the barnyard. Students met the newborns the next day, and different groups will be able to check on the cuddly animals while caring for our sheep at daily barn chores. We were thrilled to welcome this season’s first baby ram and baby ewe to the farm, and look forward to the many more newborn lambs that will join our flock in the upcoming weeks.