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Photo: Eden and Azalech help plant potatoes.

Spring Term at North Country School brings with it a bounty of opportunity to participate in the cycles of farm life. Students have been caring for our baby lambs and chicks, seeding vegetables in the greenhouse, weeding the gardens, and harvesting the year’s first leafy greens. This week we celebrated one of North Country School’s favorite spring farm events with our annual community potato planting.

Spring potato planting, like all our community-wide harvests, perfectly exemplify the real and meaningful work we do to care for one another and for the land that helps sustain us. Planting the potatoes for fall harvest, we were reminded of how special it is to be able to participate in each step of the process that brings food to our tables. Recognizing the hard work and collaborative effort that goes into producing our food reminds us to take the time to appreciate eating together, and to keep a sense of gratitude for all that we have. As we often say at the start of a meal in the NCS Edible Schoolyard program: “Thank you farmers, thank you cooks.”

ACADEMICS

Top: Meredith explains ekphrastic poems to the 9th-grade English class. Middle: Meredith shows the class an ekphrastic poem. Bottom: Teagan looks at an art book for writing inspiration.

Our 9th-grade English students are finishing Spring Term with a poetry unit, and over the last three weeks they will write sonnets, villanelles, and a variety of other poems. This week students were given the choice of writing an occasional poem for a special event (for example, Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” for Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration), or an ekphrastic poem. Ekphrastic poems involve vivid descriptions of works of art, and can be written in the voice of someone observing the art or of someone depicted in the art itself. Meredith used a variety of art books highlighting a diverse group of artists from around the world to inspire her students, and she also introduced them to major museums’ online collections. Students were then able to explore the art resources available to them to glean inspiration for their own original poems. 

Top: Wyatt illustrates his timeline event. Middle: Caroline and Elyssa explain how to spread out on the timeline. Bottom: Tiago and his timeline event.

This week our 4th-grade social studies students put together much of their learning from this academic year to create a timeline of major events from all of the cultures that they have studied. In order to better contextualize events chronologically, each student decorated papers with illustrations and text about the events and symbols from the cultures they have studied, and then spread out in a line on the Upper Field to represent a sense of time. Students “spun away” from Caroline, who represented year 0, with a single spread-armed spin representing 100 years. The impressive timeline spanned the length of the field from beyond the giant Adirondack chair all the way to the 4th-grade Pavilion classroom, and showed the students how the timing of events and achievements across human history relate to one another.  

ARTS

Top: 4th-grade band class practices. Middle 1: Brynn plays the drums. Middle 2: Brian and James take landscape photos. Bottom: Mia jumps in a landscape photo.

Our students have been busy in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) all spring working on their individual and group music projects. This week our 4th-grade band classes could be heard most mornings playing lively renditions from their eclectic mix of songs, including “Celebration,” “Love Story,” and “Shut Up and Dance with Me.” In 7th-grade digital photography our students visited Dexter Pasture (where we planted potatoes this week) to take fun and creative landscape photographs.

Top: JT works on his woodshop bench. Middle: Eliza works on their woodshop bench. Bottom: Amon and Eliza’s in-progress woodshop benches. 

This week we watched as students in our woodshop began putting together the pieces of their original bench designs, which are constructed from campus harvested and locally sourced lumber. JT and Eliza spent some time sanding and cutting the different components of their projects, and Amon got to work assembling his fish-themed bench. We are excited to see the finishing touches put on these creative projects in the upcoming week.

OUTDOORS

Top: A Saturday trip group on Hopkins Mountain. Middle: Riding horses to the ring. Bottom: Nate climbs on a ropes course.

This past weekend provided us with the perfect example of the many different ways students can participate in the NCS outdoor program. Saturday trips included a group hike up nearby Hopkins Mountain, a peak that boasts spectacular views from its exposed rocky summit, riding our barnyard horses, and visiting a ropes course for a challenging day of conquering climbing ropes and high bridges. Other groups spent the day doing outdoor yoga, gardening, and creating art using plants from our gardens.

Top: Josh ziplines on the 9th-grade trip. Middle: Jess gets ready to zipline. Bottom: Grace ziplines.

At North Country School, our 9th-grade class holds the honor of being our oldest students on campus, or our “seniors.” This senior position provides the class with special opportunities throughout the year, and this Tuesday our students enjoyed one of those privileges with an afternoon of ziplining at a local outdoor adventure spot. We were proud to see the camaraderie on display and hear the words of encouragement as students helped one another through the scenic course. We only have a few more weeks with our current 9th-grade class as we near our graduation ceremony, and we couldn’t be prouder of how they have spent their time with us as part of the North Country School family. 

 FARM AND GARDEN

Top: Garden Manager Tess and students circle up in Dexter Pasture. Middle 1: Arden plants potatoes. Middle 2: Landon, Daven, and Colton plant potatoes. Middle 3: Adyan, Raia, and Alea hold seed potatoes. Bottom: Garden Manager Tess and the farm interns give out potato planting awards at the end of the evening.

Our North Country School community joined together this Wednesday for one of the final all-school farm events of the Spring Term—planting the potato crop that will help sustain us throughout the next year. Potato planting is an annual end-of-year event at NCS that is bookended the following Fall Term with our annual potato harvest and autumn celebration. The past year has seen many changes and adaptations to our usual structure, but this spring potato planting looked very similar to how it has in the past, with students gathering outside in Dexter Pasture to hear Garden Manager Tess explain the structure of the planting event. Everyone remained distanced and separated by groups as we split up roles, with some students marking the distance between planting spots while others placed the seed potatoes—which were cut earlier this week by our Edible Schoolyard classes—into the ground. The potatoes planted this week will become next year’s potato crop, and be used by our kitchen to create the delicious meals that feed our community. 

The planting flew by, reminding us all that many hands make for truly light (and fun) work, and the rest of the afternoon was spent celebrating at the Upper Field and Downhill Grill with lawn games, an outdoor meal, and potato planting awards. The many helpers at this year’s potato planting join the long line of NCS students, faculty, and staff that have participated in this beloved farm event for generations, and we can’t wait to see many of the same faces back on campus in the fall to help us dig up the tasty results of our collective work.