Photo: Brynn studies a farm egg during 6th-grade Edible Schoolyard class.
At North Country School, what we learn, how we play, and the meaningful work we do to support our community changes with the seasons. During this first full week back from Winter Break, students in our Edible Schoolyard program learned about one of the local ingredients that is available to us throughout the coldest months of the year—the eggs laid by the chickens in our barnyard coop—while a Saturday trip group helped our farmers with the important winter task of shearing our flock of sheep in preparation for the lambs that will be born in the upcoming months.
Meanwhile, some out-time groups bundled up in their winter clothes and explored our snowy campus on cross-country skis and sleds, and others helped us all stay warm indoors by bringing firewood to one of the boilers that is used to heat our residential houses. We love seeing the interest, enthusiasm, and curiosity exhibited by our students as they engage with their surroundings in these place-based, seasonal ways over the course of the year.
Top: Liz introduces the book The Ugly One to the 5th-grade class. Middle: The Ugly One read-aloud activity. Bottom: Emily draws the setting described in The Ugly One.
Our 5th-grade social studies class has been learning about ancient Indigenous groups that resided in the Americas, like the Inca. This week the students were able to bring that knowledge to the table during a read-aloud of the book The Ugly One, by Leanne Statland Ellis, which tells the story of a young Incan girl and her journey of self-discovery while growing up in a community that shunned her for her appearance. Reading teacher Liz introduced the book to the students, and everyone was invited to illustrate different elements of the book’s setting and plot as they listened to the thoughtful tale.
Top: Garth explains a math problem to pre-calculus class. Middle 1: Zephyr works on a math problem. Middle 2: David works on a math problem. Middle 3: The Saturday night geometry-construction activity. Bottom: Students race with their geometry constructions.
Geometric problem-solving was the theme this week both in math class and during a fun weekend activity. As part of their analytic geometry and conic sections unit, our pre-calculus students tackled a practical problem in which they were tasked with determining the width of a piece of lumber knowing only its length and the dimensions of a box that it barely fit inside. The class was able to visualize this complex real-world issue—which exists every day in packing facilities across the globe—using physical objects as well as modeling software and working together to test out different problem-solving methods.
Meanwhile, the Saturday night activity also challenged students with working together on a geometric task of constructing a tall three-dimensional shape out of rolled newspaper that could be worn and transported during a team relay race. The groups brainstormed the strength of different shapes, including triangular pyramids and dodecahedrons, built their projects, and put their designs to the test during a fun race that reinforced the idea that different shapes (and different methods of construction) can lead to a wide variety of structural properties.
Top: Courtney works with the 5th-grade class on The Goes Wrong Show. Middle 1: Kingston, Wyatt, and Edison rehearse a scene for The Goes Wrong Show. Middle 2: Visiting NCS alum Mia works with the Storytelling Through Dance class. Middle 3: Storytelling Through Dance class works on choreography. Middle 4: Nina finishes a weaving in fibers class. Bottom: Tahj finishes a weaving in fibers class.
It was a busy week in our studio spaces, with performing arts classes hammering out details for upcoming productions and studio arts classes finishing up some of their first pieces of the term. In 5th-grade theater class, students have been working on the blocking for their version of The Goes Wrong Show, based on the British television program of the same name. The show involves a production within a production, in which everything that can go wrong invariably does. We can’t wait to see what our young actors come up with in this farcical foray into comedy. Students in Storytelling Through Dance have also been working on narrative structures through movement, and this week they welcomed back to campus NCS alum Mia, who is currently attending the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, as a special guest. The class showed Mia the original choreography they’ve been working on throughout the term, and they learned new skills from this talented member of our extended North Country School family.
While our performing arts classes have been planning different elements of their large, ongoing projects, a few of our fiber arts students completed their smaller projects by removing the tapestries from their looms before trimming the ends and tying off the edges. We are excited to see these colorful pieces, which incorporate yarn spun from our sheep’s wool, decorating the buildings as the term progresses.
Top: A Saturday hiking group in front of the Mt. Arab fire tower. Middle 1: A Saturday trip group hikes to Black Pond. Middle 2: Natural journaling with the Adirondack Mountain Club. Middle 3: A Saturday hiking group on Mt. Jo. Bottom: Kingston celebrates his first hike alongside teacher Joe on the summit of Mt. Jo.
The Adirondack region may be most known for the High Peaks, a group of mountains that reach over 4,000 feet, but there is no shortage of destinations to enjoy beyond those 46 famous summits. This past weekend our students ventured out to some of those other spectacular spots, with one group taking on two of the three Tupper Triad mountains (the final Triad peak will be hiked this coming weekend). Another group visited the nature exhibits at the Paul Smith’s VIC before exploring the wooded trails and lean-to at Black Pond. A third group learned more about the flora and fauna of our region during a nature journaling activity led by Adirondack Mountain Club educators, before taking in the views from the summit of Mt. Jo (alongside their teacher Joe!).
Top: A wood stacking out-time group. Middle 1: Val and Matías move firewood. Middle 2: An out-time group goes cross-country skiing. Middle 3: William goes cross-country skiing. Bottom: Yehor and Wyatt go sledding.
Winter out-time activities offer our students a wide variety of opportunities to enjoy our mountain campus. This week, groups of students participated in one of our most common cold-weather jobs of the year—wood stacking. As a certified American Tree Farm System, NCS is able to manage our forests for the health of the trees and our surrounding environment, while also using the lumber we harvest in our woodshop, in building projects, and in our campus boilers. During afternoon out-times students can participate in the meaningful work of transporting some of this firewood from sheds around campus to the boilers that heat our residential buildings throughout the winter.
Meanwhile, other students took in the views while taking runs on cross-country skis and sleds along our campus trails and hillsides. The combination of fresh powder and cold temperatures allowed for plenty of speed for our thrill-seekers, who had fun seeing how much distance they could cover on each exciting run.
FARM AND GARDEN
Top: Cody collects an egg from the chicken coop. Middle 1: The 6th-grade Edible Schoolyard class learns about eggs. Middle 2: Keira and William look at the different parts of an egg. Bottom: Rhaya writes down the different parts of an egg.
Some of the goals of our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) program at North Country School are to give students a deeper understanding of where their food comes from, when it is available, and what role it plays, if any, in the natural world. This past week the 6th-graders in ESY class took a closer look at the eggs they’ve been using in lessons all year, both literally during a dissection activity, and figuratively as they learned about the role eggs play in bird reproduction. The class first visited our chicken coop, where they discussed how the shorter days cause our chickens to lay fewer eggs throughout the winter before collecting some eggs to bring back to the Teaching and Learning Kitchen. The group then discussed why chicks hatch from some eggs and whether commercial eggs are ever fertilized, before diagramming the exterior and interior layers that make up this common, but complex, culinary staple.
Top: Wyatt and Gerby help Barn Manager Erica bring sheep out to be sheared. Middle: Watching a sheep get sheared. Bottom: Mary the sheep shearer finishes removing the fleece from a sheep.
Meanwhile, over at the barnyard this past weekend a group of students was able to participate in a special twice-yearly farm job—the shearing of our flock of sheep. Last Saturday Barn Manager Erica, along with Mary the sheep shearer, led the students through the process, which involved transporting the sheep out of their stalls one by one and removing the thick fleece of wool that has been growing since early fall. Students helped get each of our 16 sheep—15 ewes and our one ram, Taco—to Mary, who calmed and quickly sheared each of the animals, before students helped return them to the flock. By shearing the sheep before they give birth in the upcoming months, the newborn lambs will be able to more easily and cleanly nurse from their mothers. Removing these fleeces before lambing also means that the new wool that grows in will be much cleaner, making our jobs of skirting the wool—or removing the dirty fibers before washing and spinning it into yarn—much easier the next time we harvest this wonderful farm resource.