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Photo: The view from Balanced Rocks. Credit: Exec. Director Todd Ormiston.

As the first week of our online classes comes to a close, we would like to thank our community members for their patience as we work through this learning process together. While we have transformed our normal ways of teaching and learning, the education of the whole child remains at the core of all we do. Over the next few days, we will be soliciting feedback from parents about the current format of the online classes as we seek to improve the system that is currently in place. Spring is such an incredible time at North Country School, from hands-on learning outdoors in warmer weather to maple sugaring to lambing season, and we deeply miss having the whole community together to enjoy it.

In addition to the weekly blog, we are excited to launch a new “Connecting with Our Community” learning and activity series next week, which we hope will help keep us all connected at this difficult time. (See the footer below for more info.)

For over 80 years, our students have been challenged and inspired by the rawness of the mountains that surround us. Living in this environment gives children a deeper understanding of the rigorous beauty of nature and the delicate balances and life cycles that define life on our planet. Immersion in nature can have a healing quality, and so, we hope that you and your family are able to spend a little time outdoors while at home together.

Slowly but surely, the last vestiges of snow will begin to melt in the Adirondacks, the trees will begin to bloom, and soon, wild shades of green will enliven the mountains. We hope that the promise of spring will inspire and reassure our community of our collective resilience. We will all get through this together.

As we are learning in our own lives, the distance created by being separated from a community can feel isolating. Know that we are here to support you and your children through these challenging times. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

Note: Our campus is temporarily closed to all students, with the exception of the 21 international students who remained here during spring break, rather than returning to their home countries during the early stages of the outbreak. These students, houseparents, and faculty are staying on campus and enjoying outdoor adventures in the contiguous wilderness during this time. They have been and will continue to practice social distancing, as well as CDC approved safety and prevention protocols.

OUR COMMITMENT TO CHILDREN






Top: Garden Manager Tess holds seedlings. Middle 1: Head of Kitchen Paulette Peduzzi prepares food. Middle 2: Local sweet potatoes for dinner. Middle 3: Jenny works from campus. Bottom: Nurse Jess Jeffery and her son, Wyatt. 

Life at North Country School looks different than it did earlier in the year, but our commitment to caring for our students and one another has not changed. Each day the adults on campus work to ensure that our community and the children that live here are cared for, happy, and healthy. Garden Manager Tess has been busy in the greenhouses starting seeds and tending to the plants that will nourish us through the rest of the year, both in the dining rooms and in the Teaching and Learning Kitchen for our Edible Schoolyard program. Head of Kitchen Paulette, along with other members of the kitchen staff, moved to campus earlier in the month to ensure that everyone on-campus will have access to delicious food full of healthy, wholesome ingredients.

While Paulette and Tess have been busy working in the kitchen and gardens, students and houseparents have been caring for our residential spaces, ensuring that those houses continue to truly feel like homes and provide a place to relax, work, and play. Our campus is also home to our two wonderful nurses, Jess and Shannon, as well as their families, and we are grateful for the thoughtful and compassionate care they provide to our students and faculty each and every day.

CREATIVITY AND CONNECTION






Top: Caroline reads to her English class. Middle 1: Melissa’s “first day of school” sweater. Middle 2: Larry teaches Earth science. Middle 3: Sierra teaches photography. Bottom: Edible Schoolyard teacher Elie makes a pizza for a “What’s Cooking on Campus?” lesson to send to families.

NCS has always been a school committed to dynamic, place-based, and hands-on learning. For our dedicated faculty, the move to online teaching demanded creativity and flexibility, but those core values remain the same. Teachers have been hard at work tackling that challenge, making sure to support one another and share resources in the process.

This week, English teacher Caroline read aloud to her 4th- and 5th-graders from The Ugly One, by Leanne Statland Ellis, while 8th-grade English teacher Melissa donned her trademark “first day of school” sweater before holding the first online class with her students. Earth science teacher Larry ran his class on erosion forces using a projector to view the group and engage in discussion. Sierra talked her photography class through their first lesson, helping them brainstorm ideas for individual creativity and thoughtful collaboration. As part of our efforts to engage with the greater community, and to reach families that are together in their own homes, Edible Schoolyard instructor Elie baked up some tortillas and a pizza to prepare for his first weekly “What’s Cooking on Campus?” lesson. Each Wednesday on our Facebook page, Elie will be posting recipes and cooking tips as resources for those cooking at home. “What’s Cooking on Campus?” is part of our new Connecting with Our Community series. Find more information on that series at the bottom of this post.

A PLACE TO PLAY






Top: Sweety makes a snowball. Middle 1: Playing sit down ball in the snow. Middle 2: Jessica ice fishing. Middle 3: Playing badminton in the WallyPAC. Bottom: Dean of Students Bryan Johansmeyer and his family build a snowman.

Access to the outdoors, exercise, and play have always been core values in the North Country School community, and their importance has never been more clear than during these challenging times. Our adults and students are still spending much of their time outside, and the fresh snow this week created the perfect playground for snowball fights, snowman building, and games of an NCS favorite pastime, sit down ball. Other groups took walks down to the lake for some afternoon out-times of ice fishing under bright blue skies, and when the temperatures dipped back toward freezing, groups took advantage of the spacious Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC), setting up a badminton court that has been a favorite after-dinner activity this week.

NCS AT HOME





Top: Faculty child Ella attends a Zoom class from her on-campus home. Middle 1: Eighth graders attend a synchronous class online. Middle 2: Sixth grader Brian attends English class from home. Bottom: Sixth grader Samantha makes homemade ravioli from home.

Homes look different across our community, but those living both on and off campus have found ways to engage with one another even when they can’t meet face to face. Whether on the North Country School campus in Lake Placid, like 8th-grade faculty child Ella, or spread all around the world like much of our student body, those in the extended community have found creative ways of connecting to their teachers and classmates, often by sending updates of their time spent at home. This week we received pictures of 6th-grader Brian attending a synchronous English class with his teacher, Jack, from the comfort of his Connecticut home’s living room. Day student and 6th-grader Samantha sent photos of her family preparing homemade ravioli and baking tiramisu cake using recipes and skills she’s learned in her years of Edible Schoolyard class at NCS.

SIGNS OF SPRING





Top: A tree frog on campus. Middle 1: Fred helps collect maple sap. Middle 2: Spinach growing in the greenhouse. Bottom: Moss peeking through the snow on campus.

While our day-to-day lives may have changed significantly in the recent weeks, we on the North Country School campus have greatly appreciated that the changing of the seasons has continued moving forward like clockwork. All around us, the snow is melting and new green shoots are pushing out of the ground. The maple sap is flowing in our sugarbush, and we have already boiled that sap down into many gallons of sweet maple syrup for use in our dining rooms throughout the upcoming year. Our greenhouses are filled with tiny seedlings and young plants stretching toward the sun, and we are already harvesting some of our first greens of the season. Soon our sheep will begin their lambing season down at the barn, and the once tiny baby chicks have started looking like adult chickens. In this challenging time, observing these beautiful and normal moments, and seeing reminders of the resilience of the natural world, have been both a comfort and source of optimism to us here at NCS.

We hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy, and that your communities are caring for and supporting one another. We will continue to update you about our community from our mountain campus throughout this time, and encourage you all to reach back out to us as well.

CONNECTING WITH OUR COMMUNITY:

Mondays: Check our Facebook page every Monday for a video from our School Counselor, Lauren, on tips for getting through this challenging time.

Wednesdays: What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops? Our Edible Schoolyard instructor, Elie Rabinowitz, along with other community members, will provide simple recipes and cooking resources you can use to cook delicious meals at home with your families. Check it out on Facebook and on Tumblr.

Fridays: Check our Facebook page every Friday for a video featuring a Japanese mini-lesson by teacher Meredith Hanson.

Saturdays:: The NCS Saturday Night Activity- Teacher Larry Robjent will be hosting a fun activity similar to the Saturday night activities usually held on campus each weekend with students. Participate live from home with your own families! Check it out on Facebook.

For more information about the #ThisWeekAtNCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .

#ThisWeekAtNCS