Photo: Crabapple blossoms by the Main Building front entrance.
The end of the academic year on the North Country School campus holds many beloved traditions, both large and small. Some of these traditions require many hours of work on our community’s part, while others arrive suddenly, like gifts. The spring theater production and our graduation ceremony require many hands and a great deal of teamwork, while the new green leaves papering the mountainscape delight us each May as nature brings warm sunny days and erases all signs of the long winter. Each year, as graduation day approaches, we watch the apple and crabapple trees around campus, looking for signs of flower buds, knowing that whatever the weather, those trees nearly always hit full bloom just as our graduating class departs.
This year, as our campus and the larger world around us faced many unforeseen challenges, the resilience of nature has been a constant source of hope and optimism for us here at North Country School. Though the winter has been a long one in many ways, this week the apple blossoms all around campus bursted into bloom like clockwork, providing the perfect backdrop for our end-of-year festivities and graduation ceremony. It is a reminder that, though we will face obstacles and setbacks, there still is and will continue to much beauty to behold all around us.
Join us in celebrating the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, and in honoring our 9th-grade graduating class. We know that our graduates will go on to do great things, and can’t wait to see all they accomplish in their next endeavors.
Note: Our campus has been closed to all students for the spring term, with the exception of the international students who remained here during spring break rather than returning to their home countries during the early stages of the outbreak. These students, along with our houseparents and faculty have been taking appropriate safety and prevention measures.
SPRING MUSIC RECITAL
Top: Spring Recital opening shot of campus. Middle 1: Azalech’s singing performance. Middle 2: Mia’s piano performance. Middle 3: Tsinat’s music production project. Middle 4: Duncan’s drum performance. Bottom: Choir performance.
This year’s Spring Music Recital was an impressive feat, assembled by students, staff, and music teacher Joey Izzo over the course of the spring term and embodying our core value of “art every day.” The final product highlighted both our student body’s incredible musical talent, as well as their dedication to collaboration and hard work. The performances spanned a wide array of musical skills honed throughout their time at NCS, and included a beautiful vocal performance where 8th-grader Azalech harmonized with herself; piano performances from students including Mia, Jack, Tianyu, Kalina, and Koga; music production projects from students Hart and Tsinat; a drum performance from 5th-grader Duncan; and several choral performances featuring Ella, Teagan, Summer, and Tiri, recorded in their separate homes and edited together into moving collaborative compositions.
Top: Cascade House girls, including Mountain Cake winner Cocona, attend Town Meeting. Middle 1: Mountain Cake winner video. Middle 2: Mountain Cake winner list. Bottom: The community celebrates the Work Award recipients at Town Meeting.
Each year to celebrate the end of the academic year, our campus community gathers together for a final Town Meeting event to honor members of our student body and express appreciation for one another. Though this year’s event looked a bit different, the spirit of this Town Meeting was stronger than ever. Students and teachers joined remotely from locations around the world to reflect on the past year and to highlight one another’s many accomplishments.
The Town Meeting included our annual Mountain Cake ceremony, which recognizes the students who covered the most ground (and water) while hiking, skiing, and canoeing in our outdoor program this year. 8th-grader Cocona was able to celebrate with her on-campus housemates as she was awarded the honor of “Most Overall Miles,” while the other students honored in the ceremony celebrated from home alongside their families. The Town Meeting also recognized the four students who have most embodied our core value that “many hands make light work,” volunteering their time to help the community throughout this past year. Students Emily, Ella, Sky, and David were awarded this honor, and their names will join past generations of caring and compassionate students on the Jamieson Roseliep Work Award Plaque that hangs on the wall of the Main Building. To end the Town Meeting, everyone was invited to express thanks and appreciation for one another, to remember significant moments from the year, and to begin their summer vacations knowing that we will continue to find creative ways to connect and support one another, regardless of any obstacles that may appear on the horizon.
One of North Country School’s long-held traditions is for our graduation class of 9th-graders to send videos to their past selves, imparting the lessons they’ve learned throughout their time at NCS. These “Dear Level One Me” videos are then edited together into a compilation of each student’s takeaways, which range from the comedic to the poignant, and are shown to the community at large during the final week of spring term. This year’s “Dear Level One Me” compilation highlighted the many challenges and successes of our graduating class, and included lessons about the importance of trying new things; encouragements to connect with and learn from those with different backgrounds; advice on how best to dress for hiking in subzero mountain temperatures; and reminders that, though it might be tough to wake up early for barn chores, those hours spent grooming horses, feeding baby chicks, and caring for newborn lambs will be sorely missed when it comes time to depart our campus. In a year when so many in our community left campus sooner than expected, the insightful thoughts and reflections of our 9th-grade graduates feel particularly relevant, and are a reminder for all of us to appreciate what we have each and every day.
To view this year’s “Dear Level One Me” compilation, CLICK HERE.
END OF YEAR PRODUCTION
Top: Ella’s Alice scene filmed in the WallyPAC. Middle 1: Mia and Dominica act together from home. Middle 2: Campus screening of Alice. Middle 3: Jessica and Sally act together in the WallyPAC. Bottom: Jonah films his performance as the Mad Hatter from home.
Our core value of “art everyday” is particularly relevant each spring term at North Country School, as nearly our entire student body puts in long hours participating in our annual spring theater production, whether it be on stage, behind the scenes, or providing musical accompaniment from the rafters. This year’s spring play faced the lofty challenge of adapting to an all-remote structure. Theater teacher Courtney Allen, music teacher Joey Izzo, and the NCS student body met that challenge head-on, collaborating to produce Alice Through the Looking Glass: A Miniseries in Four Parts. The four sections of the miniseries were distributed nightly this past week to the greater community, and brought together scenes filmed on-campus in The Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) with scenes and musical accompaniment recorded in students’ homes around the world. The final product was enjoyed by all and proved that sometimes what appears to be a setback might be an opportunity to look at something with new eyes, to think creatively, and to work together to make something interesting, innovative, and surprising.
All four links to NCS’s production of Alice Through the Looking Glass: A Miniseries in Four Parts can be found HERE.
SIGNS OF SPRING
Top: Horses in the Garden Pasture. Middle: Goose family on the lake. Bottom: Sally makes a dandelion crown.
The crabapple and apple blossoms around campus weren’t the only springtime sights on the NCS campus this week. Over in the garden pasture our horse herd snacked on fresh green grass and blooming dandelions against a backdrop of Adirondack mountains, while down at the lake our resident family of Canada geese has been enjoying some sunshine as they explore their home. Students and adults living on campus also enjoyed the beautiful spring weather, canoeing, hiking, and spending time relaxing outside when not participating in the array of end-of-year activities.
Top: Garden Manager Tess with seed potatoes. Middle 1: Kentaro, Koga, and Amon mark the garden bed with planting spots. Middle 2: Jess explains planting to Sam. Bottom: Ella carries a bucket of seed potatoes.
On-campus students and faculty families joined together for the last community farm event of the year this past week, spending some time in the dirt alongside Garden Manager Tess during NCS’s annual Potato Planting. As always, many hands made light work, and after a quick and fun out-time of planting, everyone was able to cool off by taking a dip in Round Lake. The students who helped plant this season’s potato crop joined the years of NCS students before them who have helped tend to our farm and gardens, playing important roles in caring for and feeding our community as they learn about the natural world around them. We look forward to seeing many of their faces back on campus in the fall to participate in the other half of our potato season for our annual community-wide Potato Harvest, and to enjoy the delicious fruits of this meaningful and authentic work.
Top: Graduation flower arrangement displayed in the WallyPAC. Middle: Hand-woven senior books. Bottom: Emily’s diploma bound in her senior book.
Like so many commencement ceremonies around the world, North Country School’s graduation looked quite a bit different than it has in years past. Though the distances between us are in many ways antithetical to the heart of this powerful event that focuses on community and connection, we were still able to join together to celebrate our talented graduates. In a ceremony filled with optimism and inspiration—attended simultaneously by our greater community and by those on-campus—the fifteen graduating students were recognized and awarded their diplomas, bound in NCS’s traditional handmade senior books. The senior books, this year woven by art teacher Noni Eldridge, contain thoughtfully made pages of thanks and appreciation made by NCS students and teachers. The books have been one-of-a-kind keepsakes for generations of NCS students, and are often brought along to North Country School reunion events. We hope that these beautiful books help our current class of graduates reflect upon and remember their time at NCS.
Top: Teacher Josh Briggeman gives the graduation keynote address. Middle 1: Emily’s graduation “thank you.” Middle 2: Larry Robjent gives his advisee Sky’s graduation speech with help from his family. Bottom: Student Will congratulates the class of 2020 from home.
This year’s graduation ceremony included both live streaming and pre-recorded messages to our graduates from NCS administrators and teachers, and featured a keynote address from history teacher and houseparent Josh Briggeman. Josh—who has been a part of the North Country School family for eight years and has seen many former students go on to great things—acknowledged the challenges of this particular moment in history, and offered his thoughts on how the resourcefulness and resilience learned during their years at NCS will serve our graduates well as they strive to make positive change in the world. We also heard thoughtful reflections from each graduating student and their advisors, and were delighted to see many of the students and their families attending the ceremony live from their own homes, sharing in one another’s joys and successes.
Though spring term and our final celebration week was missing many of the elements so many of us value about the North Country School experience, we have been continuously inspired by the countless ways our extended community has displayed the resourceful and resilient spirit highlighted in our graduation address. The NCS community is made up of creative, caring, and compassionate individuals who understand that we are stronger and better when we work together. Many hands truly do make light work, and though there is much work to be done in the world, we believe that our graduates will go toward their next adventures ready to make positive and impactful change. We wish them all the best, and can’t wait to see all they are capable of.
We at North Country School thank you for spending the 2019-20 year with us. We wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy summer, and look forward to returning with updates from our mountain campus in September 2020.
Check out this past week’s final installments of
CONNECTING WITH OUR COMMUNITY:
Mondays: Check our Facebook page for the last video of the year from our School Counselor, Lauren. This past week Lauren shared a technique for dealing with grief and loss.
Tuesdays: Creature Query- In this past week’s Creature Query, Barn Manager Erica explained how chickens benefit from taking a dust bath. Check it out on our Facebook page.
Wednesdays: What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops?- This past week Edible Schoolyard instructor Elie Rabinowitz provided us with two simple dessert recipes: Rhubarb Fool and Wildflower Honey Cookies. These delightfully delicious desserts are made with seasonal ingredients, including dandelion petals and rhubarb from our garden. Check out all of the recipes on Facebook and on Tumblr.
Thursdays: Birding with Jack- This past week 6th grade English teacher Jack Kiernan taught us about red-eyed vireos. Check it out on our Facebook page.
Fridays: Check our Facebook page for a final Japanese mini-lesson by teacher Meredith Hanson. This past week Meredith gave a surprising lesson on the Japanese words many of us already know. You’ll be surprised by how many there are!
For more information about the #This Week At NCS blog, contact Becca Miller: