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Photo: Teagan and Grace perform Shakespeare in English class. 

It was a great week on the North Country School campus, with plenty of fun, learning, and adventure to be had. In our academic classes it was encouraging to hear lots of laughter and see plenty of smiling, though masked, faces. As January draws to a close we have started looking ahead to the exciting NCS traditions on the horizon. 

Our teachers are planning their offerings for February Intersession—a week of special arts, innovation, and outdoor programming. We are also hammering out the final details of COVID-safe versions of both Lamb Watch, which allows our 9th-grade students to take on leadership roles at the barn during lambing season, and Skimeister, our annual school-wide winter sports competition. Though certain aspects of these events may look different than in past years, we are grateful that we can honor our long history by celebrating these beloved NCS traditions together. 

ACADEMICS

Top: Arden and Steven perform Shakespeare in English class. Middle 1: Jack and Alex perform Shakespeare in English class. Middle 2: Macbeth’s dagger. Middle 3: Ira illustrates a line from Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem. Bottom: Julia’s illustration of Amanda Gorman’s poem. 

This week our 9th-grade English students paired up and got into character, with some help from a prop dagger from our theater program, to act out scenes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. During their Shakespeare unit, the class has been studying clips from numerous versions of the play, including stage productions, films, and an innovative Zoom performance. The class is also learning about Shakespeare’s English, his use of meter, and how modern linguists and actors have reconstructed the accent (or pronunciation) of his time.

While our oldest students studied the famous words of The Bard, our youngest students learned about the newly famous words of poet Amanda Gorman. This week our 4th-grade social studies students read through the poem “The Hill We Climb”—the original work performed by the National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at the presidential inauguration last week. Each student then selected a line from the poem to illustrate with their own original artwork. This activity wrapped up the class’s unit learning about the different branches of government, the process of a presidential election, and the presidential inauguration.

Top: Selden’s 7th-grade history class watched colony presentations. Middle 1: James presents his colony poster to his peers. Bottom: Jennifer explains her colony poster. 

In Selden’s 7th-grade U.S. history class, students have been learning about the early days of the English colonies in North America. Each student in the class was assigned one of the original thirteen English colonies to research and present to their classmates. Students talked about their colony’s location, detailing the climate, topography, and natural resources associated with that region. They also explained why the colony’s founding members decided to establish their new community, talking about the challenging religious differences and economic issues affecting the colonists during those times. In the upcoming weeks the class will be learning about the Salem Witch trials and their connection to theocracy, as well as examining the difficulties of daily life of early colonists. 

ARTS

Top: Raia’s silk-painting project. Middle 1: A sample silk-painting project. Middle 2: Meredith’s drawing class learns about perspective and scale. Middle 3: Josh measures horses in the barnyard. Middle 4: Abigail and Josie sketch the barnyard. Middle 5: Josh and Koga sketch the barnyard. Bottom: Josie’s horse sketch. 

Our student-artists began working in new media and continued building their foundational skills this week, with colorful and impressive work being created all around campus. In our studio art class, our 4th-grader students put the finishing touches on their first silk paintings, showing off the colorful end results. 

The 8th- and 9th-grade students in Meredith’s drawing class spent some time working outside, finding scenic spots around campus to practice their sketching skills. The group bundled up and headed over to the barnyard to discuss how to measure proportion by holding out a pencil. They then used that strategy to create impressive to-scale drawings of our horses in the pasture.

OUTDOORS

Top: Brynn relaxes in the snow. Middle 1: Amon in his quinzee. Middle 2: Amon, Brian, Alice, and Cocona play in the snow. Middle 3: Liz practices her animal tracking skills. Bottom: Lucy has fun at the Ski Hill.

While it may have taken longer than usual for winter to truly arrive on the NCS campus, January certainly brought with it the snowy, chilly conditions we’ve come to expect in our Adirondack mountain home. This week our students continued to take advantage of the perfect snow conditions in a variety of fun and creative ways, whether it be by building giant snowballs on the Lake Hill or constructing quinzee huts big enough to relax in during out-time. Saturday trips brought our students out onto our powder-covered pastures to learn about animal tracking, along our campus trails for cross-country skiing, and back up to the Ski Hill to get in some runs on skis and snowboards.

FARM AND GARDEN

Top: Isha tests water pH in Edible Schoolyard class. Middle: Testing water pH. Bottom: Eden presents a Lamb Watch proposal. 

At North Country School we know that not all important farm work takes place in the fields and barnyard. This week our 8th- and 9th-grade Edible Schoolyard students learned horticulture science in the Teaching and Learning Kitchen, working with Garden Manager Tess and Farm Intern Hania to experiment with pH testing. In the upcoming weeks the students will be apply their new pH knowledge to the plant cultivation taking place in our aeroponics towers. 

For many years we have invited our oldest students to participate in the farm through the Lamb Watch program—a special privilege for our 9th-grade class that allows them to sleep in the barn and help our sheep give birth during lambing season. Because of this year’s COVID protocols, Lamb Watch needs to be restructured, and this week a group of 9th-grade students took the initiative to present a new Lamb Watch proposal to our administrative team. The well-thought-out ideas presented by students Eden, Ella, Teagan, Arden, and Jess were approved and will be implemented in the upcoming weeks as our ewes begin lambing.

Top: Erica talks to the 5th and 6th grade about farming. Middle 1: Monty asks Erica a question. Middle 2: The lower cohort circles up at barn chores. Middle 3: Julia gets ready to lead Bo the horse into his stall. Bottom: Wyatt grooms Fern the horse.

The farm and gardens are a part of everyday life at North Country School, but we make sure to recognize how special it truly is to participate in this unique part of our campus and program. This week our 5th- and 6th-grade Edible Schoolyard students met up in the Dining Room to interview Barn Manager Erica. The students asked questions about what it means to be a full-time farmer, different aspects of caring for barn animals, and the unexpected challenges of farm life. 

The group was able to experience some of what Erica discussed with them firsthand when they began their winter term barn chore rotation later that day. The lower cohort of students met in the barnyard to receive their assigned tasks for the evening. After feeding the sheep and goats, collecting eggs, helping lead and groom horses, and bringing hay into the garden pasture, all of the students gathered back together to close the barn doors and say goodnight to our farmers before heading off to dinner.