Photo: Ryan carries the FISU torch with a group of NCS runners.
At North Country School, our Lake Placid location and the Winter Olympic training facilities housed here offer our students the ability to engage with and learn about the rich history of athletics, as well as the world-class athletes, that make our town so special. This year, our region had the privilege of hosting the 2023 FISU World University Games—a collegiate winter sports event that is attended by the highest level athletes from colleges and universities around the globe. As part of this event, this past week our students joined students from other Lake Placid schools in the Torch Relay that kicked off the games’ opening ceremonies. Each student on the relay was able to carry the torch for part of the three-mile run, which ended with a community social at the Olympic Center. We are so proud of our students for how well they represented North Country School, Lake Placid, and the United States during this once-in-a-generation opportunity.
Top: Sam reads to the 4th and 5th grade during Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Middle 1: Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Yunga talks to students on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Middle 2: A slide shown to the 7th and 8th grades. Middle 3: The 7th and 8th graders learn about framing and storytelling. Middle 4: The 9th grade presents to the community. Bottom: A collaborative art piece created on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
This Monday we came together to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day during a morning filled with special programming that focused on history, justice, identity, and equity. We first gathered as a whole community to discuss the importance of the day, to talk about Dr. King’s life, and to recognize the ongoing fights for equity that still exist across the world, before meeting by grade level for specific lessons and projects focused on these important themes.
Our youngest students listened to part of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech and wrote out their own goals and dreams for positive change, before they were joined by 9th-grader Sam who volunteered to lead a read-aloud of a picture book that provided more context about Dr. King’s life. Our 6th-grade class learned about the Little Rock Nine, as well as other important figures and brave young people who have fought for equity and justice in the United States. Our 7th- and 8th-grade students discussed the different roles music, dance, and art can play in the building of community, as well the power these different forms of media can have to shape how people think and feel about the world around them. Our oldest students learned about important moments of activism and protest that took place during the Civil Rights Movement, including the Freedom Riders. At the end of the morning, students from each grade shared what had been discussed while reflecting on the experience of learning together outside their regular classes. It was wonderful to see students from all around the world work together and engage thoughtfully with these important subjects, and to support one another with open-mindedness and compassion as they consider their own abilities to enact positive change in the world around them.
Top: Dave’s 8th-grade math class works on a farming math problem. Middle 1: Students discuss real-world math applications. Middle 2: Using math to calculate the benefit of growing different crops. Middle 3: 5th-grade social studies class learns about Xocolatl. Middle 4: Preparing Xocolatl. Middle 5: Information about the history of Xocolatl and a recipe. Bottom: Eleanor tries Xocolatl.
This week students in our 8th-grade math class applied what they’ve been learning in class to a real world scenario we are quite familiar with on the North Country School campus—making decisions about how many crops, and of what type, to grow on a farm. Using linear programming, which is a method of problem solving that is used to make quantitative decisions in business planning, the class examined the financial implications of planting alfalfa and corn, taking into account different land use and time restrictions.
Meanwhile, our 5th-grade social studies students also gained a deeper understanding of something they interact with regularly during a lesson on the history of chocolate. The lesson expands on the class’s unit on the Aztecs, the Mayans, and Incas who all lived in ancient Mesoamerica. This week the class met in the Teaching and Learning Kitchen to learn about the role the cacao plant and Xocolatl—a hot drink made with cacao and chilis—played in Aztec culture, before preparing the drink themselves using honey and hot peppers from the NCS farm. The class ended with a taste test of this spicy drink that is directly connected to the hot chocolate we drink on so many cold winter days in our mountain home.
Top: Matt and Joel perform at the Muddy Pig Café. Middle 1: Octa and Zephyr run the lights at the Muddy Pig Café. Middle 2: Students cheer on performers at the Muddy Pig Café. Middle 3: Liam works on a landscape piece in art class. Middle 4: Laurie works on a landscape piece in art class. Bottom: Emma adds detail to her birch tree piece in art class.
This week we saw our students explore their creativity during one of our favorite evening events—the Muddy Pig Café. The Café is an activity that takes place a few times per year as part of our Saturday night activity program. It is an open mic performance run by our study body with faculty guidance. Some students spent part of the day on Saturday making a sign and transforming the dining room into a cozy performance venue, while others designed the lighting scheme for the event and ran the light board during performances. While we watched our student singers, stand up comedians, and actors take to the stage, others took ice cream orders and brought delicious treats to the tables.
Meanwhile, our studio art classes have been busy with projects that focus on the quieter side of creativity. Our 7th-grade painting and drawing students have been working on pieces that feature the serene beauty of the natural world around us, and this week we saw their mixed-media landscape works coming together as details were added to sunset mountainscapes and elegant stands of paper birch trees.
Top: Students run with the torch at the 2023 FISU World University Games. Middle 1: Students hold the 2023 FISU World University Games torch. Bottom: NCS students at the 2023 FISU World University Games torch relay social.
The FISU World University Games is an event that takes place every two years in a different location around the world. It brings together thousands of student athletes together to compete in winter events including cross-country and alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, curling, and speed skating. This year Lake Placid and the surrounding region had the honor of hosting this remarkable event, and we at NCS were thrilled that our students had the opportunity to participate in the festivities. Last week our entire student body joined other students from the area as both runners and spectators during the Torch Relay that kicked off the Opening Ceremonies for these games, and afternoon and weekend activities offered different groups the chance to attend several of the competitions that make up the games. We are grateful for the ability to connect to others from around the globe during this rare opportunity, and are sure that the memories made during this short period of time will last long after our students leave our mountain campus.
Top: A town meeting activity about Whiteface Ski Days. Middle 1: Information about Whiteface Ski Days. Middle 2: Putting on ski gear for the Whiteface Ski Days Town Meeting. Middle 3: A weekend hiking group on the trail to Goodman Mountain. Bottom: A weekend hiking group on the summit of Goodman Mountain.
Next week we will begin a special part of our Winter Term outdoor program with weekly Whiteface Days, during which the entire school community goes to ski and snowboard at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort each Tuesday afternoon. This Wednesday, in preparation for the start of this program, we held a Town Meeting where students learned some of the logistics for these afternoons while engaged in a bit of friendly competition. Each group had to first organize a list of tasks that will take place each Tuesday before racing to their lockers to pull on ski boots and winter gear, getting checked off by teachers, and racing back to the dining room. It was a fun way to make sure everything will be prepared and ready to go right after lunch next Tuesday for our very first Whiteface Day of the season.
While we took some time this Wednesday to prepare for upcoming winter outdoor adventures, this past weekend some of our students reached a fun benchmark in the local hiking community by completing the Tupper Triad challenge. Congratulations to hikers Liz, Jack, Josh, David, and Matt for hiking Mount Arab, Coney Mountain, and Goodman Mountain this term, and joining the ranks of other Tupper Triad hikers!
FARM AND GARDEN
Top: Kevin and Marley pull plants from hydroponic towers. Middle 1: Seeding a tray for the hydroponic towers. Middle 2: A tray of cherry tomato seeds. Middle 3: Sheep in the barnyard. Middle 4: Erica explains lambing using the lambing simulator. Middle 5: Lorenza delivers a stuffed animal lamb. Bottom: Joseph with his newborn stuffed animal lamb.
It was a busy week in our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) elective class, with visits to one of our indoor growing spaces and to the barnyard to learn more about what takes place on a winter farm. The class first spent time in the hydroponics room with Garden Manager Kim. The hydroponics room is where we grow herbs and greens throughout the coldest months of the year using vertical towers, liquid nutrients, and rockwool seed trays. Students harvested the last bit of basil, sage, and cilantro growing in the towers, before pulling out the old plants and making decisions about what to grow next. Each student was then able to seed new trays of plants that will get transplanted into the towers. We look forward to harvesting the kale, cherry tomatoes, and basil that will fill the space in the upcoming months.
The class then ventured down to the barnyard, where they were met by Barn Manager Erica to learn about the lambing process. After a visit with our newly sheared sheep, everyone relocated to the barn office, where Erica explained the signs of labor in a ewe, as well as the proper ways to assist a baby that is incorrectly positioned during birth. Students had the opportunity to assist with a faux birth of a lamb using a lambing simulator (constructed from a large tupperware container, plastic bags, and real pelvic bones from a ewe), working alongside Erica to deliver a furry newborn lamb stuffed animal. As our ewes begin the lambing season in the upcoming month, our students will have the opportunity to witness and potentially assist with this powerful aspect of living on a livestock farm during classes, barn chores, and our 9th-grade overnight Lamb Watch program.