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Photo: 4th-grade Edible Schoolyard students hold up eggs collected from the chicken coop.

This past week we were thrilled to welcome students back to our mountain campus after a long winter break. Over the course of the past year, we have asked our community to be flexible, to adapt, and to always keep one another’s well-being at the forefront of our minds, and we couldn’t be prouder of how everyone has risen to the task.

After a week of in-house quarantine for our houseparents and boarding students, we welcomed our day students back to join us for in-person learning. We have loved seeing the familiar sights and sounds that make North Country School so special, from children learning about our farm animals down in the barnyard; to playing in the fresh snow blanketing the Lake Hill; to creating beautiful work in our art studios; to simply working collaboratively with their peers in our classrooms. We continue to support the remote learning of some of our students and teachers who are not yet able to join us in person, and look forward to welcoming back more of our rugged, resourceful, and resilient NCS community members throughout the Winter Term.

ACADEMICS

Top: Garth’s 7th-grade pre-algebra class. Middle 1: Ani works on her science presentation. Middle 2: Matt, Wyatt, and Anika do social studies group work. Middle 3: Sophie, Joel, and Felix do social studies group work. Bottom: Meredith teaches 9th-grade English over Zoom.

We were excited to return to our classroom spaces this week after so many weeks away, and students got right to work learning together and beginning new academic units. In Garth’s pre-algebra class, our 7th-grade students worked collaboratively to solve some animal-related math problems, while students in Rob’s science class worked independently and with teacher guidance as they put together presentations on different methods of electrical generation. In Lauren’s 5th- and 6th-grade social studies class, students spread out and began group work researching Indigenous groups from the Adirondack region using resources from the National Park Service.

While most of our classes are taking place in-person, several of our teachers are still working hard to accommodate remote learning and have figured out innovative strategies for using technology to their advantage. 9th graders in Meredith’s English class gathered over Zoom last week and welcomed a guest lecturer, Professor Josh Calhoun from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Calhoun, a parent of one of our day students, shared tips for studying and understanding Shakespeare before fielding questions from the class.

ARTS

Top: Clark House students build sets for the spring theater production. Middle 1: Clark House students assemble set pieces. Middle 2: Meredith teaches art remotely. Bottom: Meredith explains how to draw human figures over Zoom.

Art has always been a core part of the North Country School experience, and we have loved seeing our students get right back to exercising their creativity, working together on projects, and honing their skills. The students in Clark House used their time together during last week’s house quarantine to work on some large-scale set pieces for the spring theater production of Mary Poppins, assembling what will become the walls of the Banks’ house in the show. Meredith’s drawing class met over Zoom last week to practice their observational skills when drawing from life. Meredith also used Zoom annotation tools to emphasize the different angles of the human body when the students practiced drawing scenes featuring people.

Top: Jessica works on her handbuilding project. Middle 1: Jessica’s handbuilds a clay hand. Middle 2: Mia’s tessellation project. Bottom: James works in the art studio.

Our art spaces have been buzzing with activity this week, with impressive work coming out of our ceramics and 2D art studios. Our 8th- and 9th- grade students worked independently on their clay handbuilding projects, which included Jessica’s uncanny handbuilt hand. Our 7th-grade artists continued working on the tessellations they began last week, using original shapes to create repeating decorative patterns.

OUTDOORS

Top: Dave runs a quinzee building out-time over Zoom. Middle 1: Arden builds a quinzee at home during a remote out-time. Middle 2: Cascade House students build a snow community. Bottom: One of Cascade House’s snow people.

There was lots of fun to be had in the outdoors these past two weeks, whether students were able to be on our campus or were attending programming remotely from their homes around the world. During last week’s quarantine period, our off-campus students were invited to join us for Zoom out-times, while our on-campus students played and adventured with their housemates. Our Director of Teaching and Learning Dave Steckler led students in a series of fun snow-building sessions, where at-home students including Arden and Colton Zoomed in to learn how to build quinzee shelters and igloos. Cascade House students spent some of their house time building a village of snow people on the Upper Field, setting an NCS record for most snow figures built at once.

Top: Ice skating on the new campus rink. Middle 1: Woods House snow-golfs in Dexter Pasture. Middle 2: Olivia cross-country skis in the Upper Field. Bottom: Algonquin House students go for a campus hike.

One of the most exciting new developments on the NCS campus is our new ice skating rink. We will always love skating on our beautiful ponds, but the addition of a rink (complete with lights) means that we can extend our skating season beyond when our ponds and lake are fully frozen, and it allows for safe skating during the darker times of the day. Plenty of students, faculty, and staff have already had a great time skating and playing hockey on the rink, and we are sure we have many years ahead using this exciting new space.

In addition to our afternoons and evenings ice skating, there has been plenty of time these past two weeks for our various outdoor pursuits. The students in Woods House got creative with their snow fun this week, bringing their golf clubs out to Dexter Pasture to hit some tennis balls, while most of our students and houseparents have enjoyed hours of cross-country skiing and hiking around our snowy campus trails. We have been grateful for the many sights and sounds of students enjoying the outdoors safely after a quiet winter break away.

FARM AND GARDEN

Top: Bo the horse in the barnyard. Middle 1: The sheep before shearing. Middle 2: Shearing the sheep. Bottom: The sheep after shearing.

Students may not have been on our campus during winter break, but farmwork doesn’t stop when school is out of session. This past week Barn Manager Erica worked with our sheep shearer, Mary, to get our flock cleaned up and ready for lambing season in the upcoming months. We are so grateful to our farmers and farm interns for all of their hard work caring for our barnyard creatures throughout winter break, and we are excited to see students back to begin barn chores again next week.

Top: The 4th-grade Edible Schoolyard class talks about eggs. Middle 1: Adyan, Leo, and Landon wait at the barn gate. Middle 2: Chickens in the coop. Bottom: Julia collects an egg from the chicken coop.

In our Edible Schoolyard program, Winter Term involves learning about the local foods that are available to us throughout the coldest months of the year. Students learn about the many types of storage crops, meat, dairy, and grain that come from our surrounding Adirondack region, and often from our own mountain campus. One of our favorite winter lessons focuses on eggs and the laying hens that provide us with food all year long.

This past week our 4th-grade Edible Schoolyard students gathered at the Teaching and Learning Kitchen to discuss chickens and the many ways we can cook and eat eggs. Edible Schoolyard teacher Elie, presented them with some fun egg trivia, before the group traveled down to the barn to ask Barn Manager Erica and Farm Intern Hania some questions about our flock of birds. Each student then collected an egg from the chicken coop, and the washed eggs will be used to cook up tasty egg-dishes for our community.

To learn some fun egg facts, click here!