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Photo: Lauren and Abigail at Skimeister.

Winter Term came to a close this week with engaging academic presentations, an array of theater and music performances, our annual Spirit Week costume days, and one of our favorite NCS outdoor traditions: Skimeister. Skimeister is a much-anticipated event that brings our entire community together for a day of snow sports at nearby Mount Pisgah Recreation Center. It’s a day filled with skiing and snowboarding, fun competitions, and spending time with friends. This year’s Skimeister was a great success, with impressive skills—and colorful Spirit Week outfits—on full display.

This Monday, we’ll begin our week of Intersession programming, during which students take part in different art, outdoor, or farm and garden activities each day. We look forward to helping our students explore their interests and discover new talents during this special part of the North Country School experience.

Note: In order to include all of next week’s Intersession programming, the next edition of the #ThisWeekAtNCS blog will be posted on Monday, March 7, 2022.

ACADEMICS

Top: Elyssa helps Landon with his aquatic biome project. Middle: Lucy works on her aquatic biome project. Bottom: Tiago with his aquatic biome project.

Our 5th-grade scientists are wrapping up the term with a project that “dives deep” into the bodies of water that cover Earth’s surface. The class has spent the past several weeks discussing different types of ecosystems and the important relationships that exist between living and nonliving things. This week, the class completed work on their original aquatic biome projects, in which each student selected a different body of water and researched the physical structure of its space, as well as the many creatures that call it home. They also looked at the energy hierarchy pyramids for their body of water, outlining how different organisms rely on one another in order to survive. The students then shared their “in-depth” findings with one another while dressed in their favorite pajamas for Spirit Week.

Top: Max teaches his classmates about avalanches in 8th-grade Earth science class. Middle: Liz explains what to do if caught in an avalanche. Bottom: Remi talks about a specific avalanche during Earth science class.

Meanwhile, our 8th-grade Earth science students completed their avalanche unit with presentations that applied the information they’ve been studying through the winter. Using their newfound knowledge of snow metamorphosis and avalanche danger, each student selected a specific real-life avalanche to describe to their peers. Their talks broke down each incident by outlining the specific environmental factors involved, as well as the role human behavior played in causing the event. By applying all they’ve learned to these real-world scenarios, our students will be better prepared to recreate safely during their own winter adventures.

ARTS

Top: The 5th-grade class performs their original dance. Middle 1: Landon, Jacob, Alea, and Julia act out a scene in the original 5th-grade play. Middle 2: Ryan, Wyatt, and Miles perform a scene from the 4th-grade original play. Middle: Miles and Emily in a scene from the 4th-grade play. Bottom: The 4th-grade students take their bows after their play performance.

Our theater and dance students saw their creativity and hard work come to fruition this week during numerous performances at the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC). On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, local families and members of the school community were invited to watch our youngest students perform the plays and dance numbers they’ve been working on throughout the Winter Term. It was wonderful to watch our talented students perform original choreography, run the light board, manage costumes and set pieces, and act in the plays they’d written in conjunction with their academic classes.
Top: Josie as “Miss Penelope” welcomes the audience to the murder mystery dinner party within the play. Middle 1: The dinner before the murder. Middle 2: The doctor checks Miss Penelope’s pulse. Bottom: The cast takes their bows.

Our 7-9th grade theater students also performed for the greater community during the much-anticipated two-night showing of How to Host a Murder Mystery Dinner Party. The play, which changed based on audience involvement, was a rousing success, with engaging performances, intricately-painted sets, and plenty of comedy mixed in as our student-actors worked together with the audience to discover which dinner party guest killed their gracious host, Miss Penelope.

OUTDOORS

Top: Skiers in their Spirit Week attire during Skimeister. Middle 1: The view from Mount Pisgah. Middle 2: Matt, Matías, and James compete in the 3-ski Nordic race. Middle 3: Skiing down Mount Pisgah. Middle 4: Timing an alpine ski race. Middle 5: Fred snowboards during Skimeister. Bottom: Julia, Elyssa (in costume as “Bee-lyssa”), and Lucy at Skimeister.

This week we participated in Skimeister, one of our favorite events of the Winter Term. Instead of our regular academic and arts programming, this Tuesday we gathered at nearby Mount Pisgah Recreation Center for a full day of skiing, snowboarding, and winter fun, organized and run by our Outdoor Leadership class. Teacher Jess and the 9th-grade students in the class planned a fun-filled day of Nordic and alpine ski races, snowboarding competitions, and the traditional NCS 3-ski, during which three students race around a Nordic ski course together using one pair of specially-made skis. It was a great day filled with colorful Spirit Week costumes and smiling faces, and the perfect way to celebrate the end of Winter Term in our mountain home.

FARM AND GARDEN

Top: Amon, Alejandro, and Fred with newborn lambs during Lamb Watch. Middle: Amon sleeps with a lamb stuffed animal during Lamb Watch. Bottom: 7th-grader Ariana holds a baby lamb.

We’re nearly two weeks into our 9th-grade Lamb Watch overnight schedule, and so far twelve lambs have been born on our NCS farm! Since last Monday, six of our ewes have given birth—several of which had their babies while our oldest students were keeping overnight watch in the barnyard or while different student groups were visiting throughout the day. 9th-graders Fred, Amon, Alejandro, Josie, Abigail, and Tyler helped new life arrive on our farm during their Lamb Watch nights, and were so proud to participate in this powerful experience. Meanwhile, the entire school community has helped socialize and care for the new babies during daily barn chores, out-times, and weekend trip visits.

Top: Garden Manager Kim and Edible Schoolyard students meet at the Sugarhouse to tap maple trees. Middle 1: Edible Schoolyard class in the maple sugarbush. Middle 2: Kim shows the class how to tap a tree. Middle 3: Camila hammers a spile into a maple tree. Middle 4: A spile in a maple tree. Bottom: Mia hangs a sap bucket on a maple tree.

While lambing season draws to a close over in the barnyard, another of our favorite parts of the year at NCS is just beginning: maple sugaring season. This week, Garden Manager Kim brought her Edible Schoolyard (ESY) class to the Sugarhouse to talk through the sugaring process and show them how to tap maple trees. After watching a demonstration of each step of the tapping process—identifying a maple tree, drilling a hole, hammering a spile, and hanging a bucket—each student was able to tap a few trees on their own.

Our sugaring season will begin in earnest once the days become warm and sunny, but the nights are still below freezing. This temperature difference prompts the maple trees to send sap up into their limbs during the day and return to their roots at night. By tapping the trees before this weather window, we can capture the sweet sap as it makes its journey through the trees each day. Once sugaring begins, different groups of students will spend mornings collecting sap from the buckets hung in our sugarbush before heading to the Sugarhouse in the afternoons and evenings to boil the sap into maple syrup. Sugaring season is a festive time of year that reminds us that many hands make light work, and that completing tasks together as a community can be a joyous experience with sweet results.