Photo: Painted panels for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day community mural.
It was a powerful week on our mountain campus, with many reminders of what makes our North Country School community so special. On Monday, students honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with programming focused on history, justice, and equity, as well as by creating beautiful collaborative artwork that highlights our connection to one another. Later in the week we learned about the presidential inauguration in our classes, and watched together as this long-held tradition took place. Through it all, we were so proud to witness the many examples of kindness, compassion, open-mindedness, curiosity, and appreciation on full display among our students, faculty, and staff.
We are constantly encouraged as we watch the children in our care, who hail from all around the country and the world, find common ground while celebrating what makes one another unique. While we know there will be hurdles to overcome in the future, we are so proud to watch our students find common ground and support one another, and we can’t wait to see all the ways they continue to learn and grow as they strive to make positive change in the world around them.
Top: Larry’s Earth science class begins to study snow. Middle 1: Abigail, Josie, and Tyler work on their snow lab. Middle 2: Tyler measures snow crystals. Middle 3: Max’s science class learns about psychology. Middle 4: Joel answers a question in science class. Bottom: Students watch the presidential inauguration in the Dining Room.
This week our 8th-grade Earth science students moved outside to begin their snow metamorphism unit. The class gathered at our outdoor riding ring, where Larry introduced the snow lab they will be working on for the next several weeks. In order to analyze the different layers of snow and how they are changing in relation to each other, each group will be collecting data from a test pit, recording their results as the season progresses to observe how the snowpack changes and to analyze avalanche danger.
In Max’s 5th- and 6th-grade science class, observation turned inward as students learned some of the basic foundations of child psychology. The group then discussed how different psychological theories—including differences between memory and learning, Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Piaget’s Stages of Development, and Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development—applied to their own experiences.
This past Wednesday we joined together in the Dining Room and in our classrooms to watch the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Students watched the new United States president and vice president take the oath of office, asking thoughtful questions and sharing their perspective on the historic moment, which included witnessing the first woman—and the first Black and South Asian person—sworn in to hold the second highest office in our country. The community was engaged and interested as they watched the ceremony, as well as excited to see young poet Amanda Gorman, who is not much older than many of them, recite her inspiring poem in front of an audience tuning in from around the globe.
Top: Courtney talks to the 9th-grade students on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Middle 1: Selden talks to the 7th-grade students on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Middle 2: Inyene, Daven, Alejandro, Colton, and Tyler present their poster on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Middle 3: A screenshot from a video watched on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Bottom: A screenshot from one of the videos watched on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
This past Monday we took a break from our regular afternoon schedule in order to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. together as a school. Throughout the course of the afternoon, students gathered with their classmates—grouped together by grade level in different campus locations—to work on a community art project and to study different social and racial justice topics that they later presented to the larger school community.
Our 4th graders learned about the “I Have a Dream” speech, before writing their own “dream” speech about how to build a better world. Our 5th- and 6th-grade students learned the story of the Little Rock Nine through a book written by Elizabeth Eckford, one of the first nine Black students to enroll in a white southern school in 1957. In our 7th and 8th grade classrooms, students investigated the history of Civil Rights marches and learned about some of the current Civil Rights and social justice movements taking place today, while our 9th graders watched some media and engaged in conversations about allyship and advocacy as it related to equity and justice in today’s world. We were incredibly impressed by the thoughtful, compassionate, and open-minded conversations taking place all around our campus as students and teachers listened to multiple perspectives and different points of view with respect, kindness, and care for one another.
Top: Jessica, Ella, and Teagan work on sets in stagecraft class. Middle 1: Arden learns her lines for the spring production of Mary Poppins. Middle 2: Grace paints her panel on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Middle 3: Nate designs his panel on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Bottom: Nate’s panel for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day mural.
This week we were once again impressed by our talented students and with their ability to work together and create beautiful and unique art. In Larry’s stagecraft class we saw a ton of progress as everyone worked collaboratively to build and assemble the sets for the spring production of Mary Poppins. Meanwhile, in Courtney’s theater class, students ran their lines for the show together, practicing accents and embodying the roles we can’t wait to see performed on stage.
One of our favorite parts of the North Country School art program is the many impressive community art projects that decorate our mountain campus, like the wooden Mountain Bench that shows all of the summits visible from the Main Building, the amazing metal rooster sculpture that lives in the barnyard alongside our farm animals, and the beautiful Teaching and Learning Kitchen sign made of dried beans and flowers. This week, as part of our Martin Luther King Jr. Day special programming, our entire school community worked together to create the next campus art installation project—a large-scale mural made up of individually created panels.
Students and faculty painted these colorful panels, each of which was designed to express the artists’ particular visions of themselves. When assembled together, the panels will show the current graduating 9th-grade class in silhouette on top of Cascade Mountain, the mountain summit that towers above our campus. The mural will serve as a lovely reminder that, while we may come to North Country School with different backgrounds, ideas, hopes, and goals, our connections to one another and to our shared Adirondack home will stay with us beyond our time here.
Top: The NCS campus in the snow. Middle 1: JT leads a lesson as part of the Outdoor Leadership Program. Middle 2: Colton practicing skiing skills. Bottom: Inyene gets ready to ski.
Though this week was a thoughtful and reflective one in many ways, there was still plenty of time to get outside and to play, even during class time. Part of our Outdoor Leadership Program curriculum involves students leading and presenting different lessons that they prepare to their peers. This past week, 8th-grader JT ran a class showing his fellow classmates some foundational cross-country skiing skills. The students met up by the Garden Pasture to practice a few skiing techniques, including learning how to glide with only one ski on their feet.
Top: Students enjoy the first day at the Ski Hill. Middle 1: Tyler snowboards at the Ski Hill. Middle 2: Afternoon sun on the Lake Hill. Bottom: Fred sleds on the Lake Hill.
With nearly a foot of fresh snow on the ground this past week, we couldn’t wait to take part in all of our favorite winter activities. This week, for the first time this year, those activities included skiing and snowboarding at our campus Ski Hill. While some of our students arrive to campus competent skiers and snowboarders, many come to North Country School having never participated in these fun winter sports. We loved seeing students try out new skills and expand their abilities this week, and were especially excited to see how they supported one another’s successes. 9th-grader Ella has been teaching many of her peers how to telemark ski during afternoon out-times, while 8th-grader Tyler—an accomplished skier—tried out snowboarding for the first time, mastering the tow rope and making it down the hill on her board as her friends and teachers cheered her on. Our students also spent plenty of time this week engaging in many of our other favorite snow activities, including cross-country skiing and sledding over jumps on our sledding hill, on our campus trails, and at the Lake Hill.
FARM AND GARDEN
Top: Barn Manager Erica’s family helps with sheep chores. Middle: Erica’s family feels the lambs inside a sheep’s belly. Bottom: Erica’s son, Mitch, helps collect eggs.
This week saw the return of a more normal afternoon barn chores schedule, but there have still been some extra helping hands working to care for our many barnyard creatures during the times are students aren’t on the farm. This past weekend, Barn Manager Erica’s family worked alongside her to help feed and care for our farm animals. After collecting eggs from the chicken coop and making sure that the sheep had hay and water, Erica helped her children feel the lamb babies inside the ewe’s bellies and explained what signs to look for once the sheep are close to giving birth. One of our favorite elements of the North Country School experience is spending time with the wonderful families of our faculty and staff. Although our COVID health and safety procedures prevent us from seeing each other as often as possible, we are so glad our extended community members can still find ways to take part in the North Country School experience.
Top: The 7th-grade Edible Schoolyard class walks to the barn. Middle: Mia and Will watch the goats. Bottom: Ani and John Emmet pet Dumbo the goat.
This past week our 7th-grade Edible Schoolyard students met at the Teaching and Learning Kitchen to talk all about goats—one of the many types of animals we raise in our North Country School barnyard. After learning some interesting goat facts, and contributing some of their own goat knowledge to the conversation, the group walked over to the barnyard to ask Barn Manager Erica questions about our own goats, Bambi and Dumbo. At North Country School we raise goats for their fun personalities and to learn how to care for different types of creatures, and in past years we have also learned about the milking process and how to raise healthy dairy animals. The whole group was excited to greet the social, playful animals, both of whom have been a part of the NCS barnyard since they were tiny baby goat kids.